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plus size maternity clothes

Your Guide to Plus-Size Maternity Clothes

By Amalah

You’ve written about buying plus-sized maternity clothes before, and I was hoping you had some updated information.

I’m currently 6 weeks pregnant, and I don’t need full maternity clothes yet, but I’m already having to replace my bra. Taking my current one off every evening is an exercise in torture. And I was looking online for maternity clothes for people my size (to get an idea about what if available) and while there is more of a selection than the last time you did something on plus-size maternity, a lot of what is available is outside of my budget.

I’m also going to be getting big in the winter, and even in places that otherwise have a lot of stuff, I can’t find any plus-size maternity coats. It gets really cold here, so this is a major issue for me–I need something I can layer up under and still button up. I’m not trying to lose weight, per se, but I also haven’t put any on since the beginning of my pregnancy (thank you, morning sickness), and I think I’ll mostly grow forward, so I don’t know that going with my usual brands and just sizing up will work. I’m not desperate yet, and I thought it would be a good idea to write to you before I got there.

Recommended Plus-size Maternity Clothing Brands from BTDT Women

Since it’s been more than a few minutes since my last pregnancy, I asked a handful of Facebook friends for their opinions and recommendations on the current state of plus-size maternity clothing. Where did they shop? What did they buy and what did they skip and what brilliant hacks did they invent to get the most out of their pre-pregnancy wardrobe? You’ll see that the three online brands/ retailers that received the most shout-outs for their plus-size maternity clothes were: Old Navy Maternity, Target Maternity, Motherhood Maternity and Belly Band.

Here’s what my friends had to say and are recommending:

From Kayleigh:

I’m tall (5’10”) and plus size. For some reason, a lot of sites have tall sizes in S-XL and then a plus-size section with only regular length. Because I guess tall people can’t be fat? So it’s already difficult for me to find clothing, but then I got pregnant. I can tell you, plus-size tall maternity pants either do not exist or they cost a fortune.

For my first pregnancy, I was really only visibly showing during autumn and winter.

  • I bought a Belly Band and kept wearing my regular pants.
  • I bought three maternity t-shirts from Old Navy.
  • I wore hand-me-down plus size tops from my mom that were a size or two too big.
  • And I wore my regular cardigans because only your arms have to fit if you leave it open over a maternity tee. It wasn’t terribly comfortable, but I probably spent less than $200 total to get through my pregnancy going to work.

For my second pregnancy, I was showing sooner and staying home.

  • I bought plus size maternity dresses from Old Navy for the summer.
  • Then I stuck with tall plus size (not maternity) yoga pants from Old Navy.
  • I still only had like 3 maternity tees, so I bought some plus-sized nursing tops from Latched Mama to kill two birds with one stone. They still fit up until I had the baby, and obviously had a purpose afterward. And again with the open cardigan over a short sleeve maternity/ nursing top in cold weather.

Amy chiming back in to echo ALL PRAISE AND GLORY TO THE BELLY BAND. I owned several in various neutral shades (so if they were ever visible it’d look like I was just layering over a tank top). An absolute must-have, if you ask me. (Which you technically did, so there!)

From Ginger:

I had two plus-sized pregnancies. I am normally a size 20 – 24 (and then-some at certain points) with size 2x -3X tops for the most part.

  • Motherhood Maternity still has an incredible selection of plus!
    • During my pregnancy, they had a decent selection in the store as well, though much of it I did have to purchase online.
    • I mostly stuck to a few basic pairs of “nice” maternity pants (NOT THE JEANS as they are horrid) and switched it up with a variety of shirts and tops.
    • I don’t remember having dresses, but that would have required ultra-stretchy bike shorts to combat the chub rub AND accommodate the pregnancy belly. It was enough of a challenge just to put on a “top cover” and a “bottom cover” and waddle my way through the days – but I had my “cute” moments here and there.)
  • Sears was also a lifesaver, but I doubt it’s still as good as it was, as most of their stores have gone out of business.
  • Target Maternity goes up to 2XL, and in real BBW maternity world, does NOT cut it at all. I’m thinking you’d have to be a 14 – 16 normally to feel okay in Target “plus” maternity clothing.
  • In terms of non-maternity plus-size clothing that can moonlight as maternity:
    • Torrid seems to always have a never-ending line of empire-waisted AND long tops that are super cute, though you might need a tank underneath to account for massive boobage, as most Torrid clothing likes to play up that amply-blessed aspect on most of us BBWs.
      • So, if you’re okay with a few layers and it’s not crazy hot out, that can work. Torrid also has their “super soft” line of clothing as well which I will wear to work and then, once I’ve taken off my jacket or cardigan, transition the “lovely work top” straight into pajamas. Seriously.
    • And if it’s not too, TOO gauche, I cannot say enough great things about the Terra & Sky line of plus at WALMART (of all places).
      • If you’re too horrified or pregnant (or both) to go in there and check it out, they have a great selection online. The clothing is ROOMY and the tunics are TUNIC LENGTH. I am 5’8″ and can comfortably wear one of their tunic length tops with leggings. There are plenty of decent solids that you can always jazz up with accessories.
  • Otherwise, there’s always Thrift Shops though they are hit or miss as well as Facebook Marketplace. I imagine that with all the online clothing resellers like PoshMark, ThredUP, and even good ol’ eBay, there’s probably a crazy amount of things on those sites. Why someone hasn’t come up with a maternity clothing exchange is beyond me. (Googles “maternity clothing exchange.” Returns 28 million results.)

Amy again! Thrift, secondhand, resellers and hand-me-downs would be my top personal recommendation for the winter coat problem. I only had one pregnancy where I was significantly showing in the winter, and I inherited a few maternity coats from my sister (who had a pregnancy in NYC during a particularly brutal winter). The coats were all about six “seasons” old at that point, but in reality, had only been actively worn for a few months and were all very “classic” looking and practically brand-new. My sister also had a trick where she found an inexpensive-ish maternity puffer vest that she would put on first, zip up over the belly, and then layer a non-maternity winter coat (and leave it unfastened) when it was super-duper cold. 

From Elizabeth:

I was pregnant with my second child from October 2018-June 2019. I was a size 16 pre-pregnancy so I’m on the lower-end of the plus-size clothing but especially with jeans often needed that section.

I had great luck at:

I had some maternity clothes from my first pregnancy but they were different seasons (January baby and late June baby) so I ended up wearing a lot of maxi dresses during this pregnancy. I also literally wore three Old Navy maternity tops with ruching for the last two months and a lot of long tank tops with drapey sweaters for the majority of both pregnancies.

The winter with my January baby I did just size up and wear a woolen peacoat from my mom that was an XL and that fit and I could button it. I also just didn’t button some of my nicer coats but I also live in NC so it’s not terribly cold here most of the time. I never bought a new coat for either pregnancy, I was incredibly hot as a pregnant person so even when January baby was born and it was 30 degrees with 8 inches of snow on the ground I just wore a very fuzzy, thick cardigan from the sleep section of Target my MIL gave me.

Bra wise, I just went ahead and wore nursing bras when my boobs were hurting, usually sports bra style which was also from Target but I never wanted to spend money on anything more high quality. Like her, I didn’t put on much weight initially and most of my dresses and tops that weren’t maternity we’re fine and buying new pants was my main issue.

Amy’s input again: Yeah, yeah. I said my opinions were too old to be relevant and yet I apparently still cannot shut up. But I completely forgot about the body temperature thing until Elizabeth mentioned it! I too! Was an incredibly hot pregnant person. I had two summer pregnancies in D.C. and naturally assumed none of my maternity clothing would be useful for a winter pregnancy. Except I still felt like I was walking around with a space heater strapped to my abdomen and got a lot of mileage out of my more inexpensive, lightweight clothing that I would have guessed. 

From Lexa:

For reference I am a 16W-18ish depending on the brand, I didn’t gain a ton of “real” weight while pregnant, but I had a ton of water weight (thanks preeclampsia!). I am an hourglass shape with apple leanings.

  • Winter coat: I would look for a wrap style coat without buttons that could be tied under the bust. Something like this, maybe. Motherhood has one, too. This one would be good postpartum as well. If I were going to spend any money on maternity wear, it would be on a coat. You wear it daily.
  • Day-to-day:  I would do a lot of open cardigans and fitted maternity tanks and tee shirts. I had luck with wrap dresses. Also, anything made of Ponte knit or stretch fabric. They are really forgiving and if you order an XXL, you can get pretty far.
  • I would recommend Macy’s online– they have a really decent online plus section for maternity wear and there is always some kind of coupon code of sale. (I have no idea how that place stays open.)
  • Kohl’s has some larger sizes online, too.
  • Motherhood Maternity has super basic plus size stuff, but a black dress is a black dress.
  • After a coat, I would recommend real money being spent on a black pair of pants and a black pencil skirt. Honestly, I wore one pair of black pants, one black pencil skirts, three maternity wrap dresses, and a rotating selection of really cheap tops through my whole pregnancy in regards to work.
  • For the weekends, I had one pair of shorts and one pair of jeans plus some t-shirts. I grabbed a few cotton dresses too. I spent maybe $350 total on maternity clothes which isn’t awful when you have an office job?
  • Finally, I got my cotton dresses from Amazon. I would search for something in swing style and just buy in a size 2x or 3x. They have a ton of cheap no-name brands. That stuff can be mentally hard if you have grappled with your weight, I know, but just order a really big straight-size and try not to think about it.
  • I had a lot of basic stuff I would just swap out with new jewelry. It all works out but it does suck being a plus-size pregnant woman. The options are so limited.

A good reminder from Lexa that by shopping selectively and strategically, you can build a full maternity wardrobe with just a few purchases! The same black work dress can be changed up with fun jewelry, scarves, hosiery, stretchy cardigans, etc. NO ONE IS GOING TO JUDGE YOU if you heavily recycle the same dress/skirt/pants during your pregnancy. We’re all in this shopping wasteland together, after all.

*********

And before I kick it over to the comment section, here a few extra short-n-sweet Facebook comments from friends on the topic:

Martha: Just saw a post from actress Danielle Brooks (of Orange is the New Black) that she loves to take advantage of Universal Standard’s Fit Liberty policy (you can exchange clothes for free within a year if you change sizes) to be able to use a lot of their clothes during her pregnancy. Might not be traditional maternity source, but a lot of their styles could work, and they’ve bundled the best options into kits for expectant moms!

Meredith: I had our daughter in 2014. It’s slim pickings. Old Navy had some up to an XXL. Outside of that, I wore clothes from Motherhood Maternity. They carry plus sizes online but not really in stores. We live near an outlet, so I could buy things there and try them on. I live in Alabama, and it doesn’t get super cold for long here, so I didn’t have to worry about a good heavy coat. Capes and blanket scarves did okay. I had one coat that did fit and got me through Snowmageddon that January. It’s slim pickings for truly plus sizes women in the maternity lines though.

Erin: ThredUP was actually very helpful for me — I bought a bunch of clothes there and then was able to send them back for resale after baby came. I also bought a couple lots of plus size maternity clothes on eBay — same idea as ThredUP but typically older items with a bit more out of date on style…but if you just need some black pants for work, you can find it. For new stuff, Old Navy & Target were my go-tos for casual stuff and LOFT actually had some good maternity options for more formal work-wear.

Jenn: WRAP DRESSES. It’s also been a minute since I was last pregnant (my youngest is 5) but wrap dresses let me get away with not buying a lot of actual maternity clothes and they were often good for nursing too.

Diane: I loved Target’s different lines in maternity wear. Even for XXL. I have an empire waist dress I fell in love with so much that even though it’s too big, I can’t bear to part with it. It’s so pretty. I pretty much stayed at Target, or checked out the sale rack at Motherhood Maternity.

Katie: My (third) child just turned two, and I essentially sourced from eBay when I was looking for specific pieces (maternity convertible cargo capris for double duty spring through fall wear). My favorite stuff came from a friend who had picked some really nice pieces to wear from department stores – I am tall as well as plus size and Target was hit or miss for pants but great for shirts, and Old Navy was ok but sometimes the sizing was inconsistent. Motherhood Maternity is good for some things but they need to update their style.

Tiffany: I didn’t wear maternity clothes… I wore a Belly Band with jeans and tunics or fitted dresses. Six foot tall and size 24-26 plus. I bought the Belly Band at Walmart after I priced Motherhood Maternity’s at “GTFO.”

More on Building a Maternity Wardrobe at Alpha Mom:

1. In Search Of: Plus-Sized Maternity Clothes
2. Five Steps to Extending Your Non-Maternity Wardrobe Throughout Your Pregnancy
3. How Soon is Too Soon For Maternity Shopping?

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Ros
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Ros

I just had my third, and I’m regularly a size 18ish/XL/XXL, so on the lower end of plus size. Because it was my third, I was in maternity pants at 6 weeks (and not impressed, but tight waistbands on my lower belly gave me cramps, so…) I lean towards all-black clothing and bright red lipstick, so I kinda stuck with that. Old Navy and Gap have some good maternity jeans up to size 20 (and great online shopping and returns for rural canadians) – I got black, so office-appropriate for me. I also got pregnancy t-shirts and tank tops from… Read more »

Annie
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Annie

You can also find zip in panels for your existing coat (I found mine from “make my belly fit”). The one that I used could be flipped for baby wearing down the line. I loved it! Plus then, you don’t have to buy a new coat

Cat
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Cat

That was my thought, maybe find a large coat and get it to a tailor? If the coat is cheap, it shouldn’t break the bank.

Selena Luna
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Selena Luna

The only problem with that is that you have to already have a zipper coat. I have one now, due to my current pregnancy, but prior to that, I only had button down coats or tie-up coats.

Selena Luna
Guest
Selena Luna

At 22 weeks pregnant, I’ve found a few more options by now. I’m typically a size 20, and so anything that goes up to an XL or XXL at 16 won’t do for me. Still, I’ve found some things. Torrid has been a life saver. They don’t sell proper maternity wear, but many of their clothes are long waisted anyway. I have two items they were selling as “sweater dresses” that just fit for sweaters for me. Motherhood and Pink Pearl have some good, inexpensive basics. I usually wear dresses or skirts with leggings, and their 3X maternity leggings are… Read more »