Small to Medium Bump – (Non)Maternity Style

Up until last week I hardly looked pregnant without the help of a food baby to push out the real baby bump.  Then, at 19.5 weeks, BAM…the baby bump was here to stay, all day everyday.

I’ve been asked by handfuls of women for tips to create a maternity wardrobe that will be useful during and after pregnancy.  I’m in the middle of writing a post on my 2nd trimester wardrobe game plan, but before I could finish it I decided to stop and write this one first.  The 2nd-tri game plan post will be my step-by-step process in building the maternity wardrobe while today’s post is all about the building block pieces.  These are pieces that were already in my closet that I’ve been able to wear for the last 20 weeks, that I think I will continue to wear for at least a few more weeks, and that I’ll be able to wear post-pregnancy.

I’m over 20 weeks right now, and so far I’ve only purchased this pair of Old Navy maternity jeans (see ways I’ve worn them here) and belly bands.  (Side note on that: I bought BeBands from Target and wish I had tried Bella Bands.  They’re a little more expensive, but the Target ones ride up on me, whereas that seems to be less so the case according to Bella Band reviews.)

Aside from those, here are the types of non-maternity pieces I’ve been rotating through:
Links to Shop:
1.  Tunic (Old Navy)  |  2.  Tee (J.Crew Factory)  |  3.  Blouse (Target)
4.  Maxi Skirt (Target)  |  5.  Belt (Old Navy)  |  6.  Tank Dress (Target)  7.  Navy Dress (Target)

Make Them Work

TunicsSince my bump has been relatively small (or so I’m told) I’ve been able to wear these until now, at 20 weeks, and I anticipate I’ll be able to wear some of them for a few more weeks.  Early on I wore them to hide my belly, and now if I belt them under my bust and above the bump they create a flattering definition while accentuating the bump.  
I only had solid colored tunics, so I picked up the floral one featured above yesterday at Old Navy.  It’s much cuter in person than in the pic!
I also had this Target popover before pregnancy and it’s still been working well.
Longer Tees – Even my normal tees worked well up until the bump popped out more prominently last week.  Now, longer tees still work for me, and even those can be belted for more definition.
Tops that Fit Over Bump and Can Be Belted – You’d be surprised by how a little belt will make a top work for your bump!  I went through most of my tops and tried to belt them, and many tops that were originally unflattering without a belt magically transformed into workable items with a little belt.
Foldover Maxi Skirts & Other Jersey or Ponte Skirts – Foldovers…I actually was not such a fan of them pre-pregnancy, even though I owned a few.  But during pregnancy, you can unfold them over the bump or fold them to sit under your bump, which is great as your belly expands later on.  During this stage I’m finding that I can incorporate some of my current jersey and ponte skirts, whether pencil or maxi or whatever.
Elastic Belts – If it’s not clear by now, I plan to become really good friends with belts again during pregnancy.  They provide fantastic definition.  Pre-bump I didn’t mind belts on my torso.  But now that I have a bump squishing things my tolerance for a belt that’s going to put even more pressure on my torso has gotten low.  Enter elastic belts!  Get definition that flatters your new shape without feeling constricted.  Plus, Grace over at Camp Patton confirmed this…and she’s on her 4th kiddo so she’s a pro and knows what she’s talking about.  
I picked up the belt shown above yesterday at Old Navy…in two colors.  There are two additional colors online, BUT I got them for almost 50% of the online price in store.  
Empire Waist Dresses – I don’t know why, but I had quite a few of these already, and they work fantastically for the small to medium stages.  Empire waistlines will sit above your bump, so as long as it doesn’t get too short you can wear this for a while–before, during, and after pregnancy!  Everyone’s torso length is different and people carry their babies at various heights, so some dresses might be empire for you while they are not for others.  But the point is to find dresses where the waistline is below your bust but above your bump, NOT across your bump!  Beware of the dresses with the cinched waists that go across your bump!
The second dress shown is one that doesn’t have an empire waist naturally, but you can remove the belt and place it higher as needed.  I did this with a few dresses that are shaped similar to the one above and that’s worked very well.
I have dresses that are more casual, like the ones shown above, or that are more office appropriate, but the common ground is that they all have an empire waist OR can be belted to create an empire waist.

See Them In Action
And, just so you’re not limited to the style of the pieces in the collage above, here are examples of how pieces like those were put into action.  
As you can see, there’s a variety of types of tunics, different ways to style a longer tee, and dresses that are not jersey cotton that you can wear to an office.  I’ve already tried these outfits with my now-larger bump, and they’re still working! 

Stay tuned!  A follow-up post is coming that includes my process for expanding my wardrobe as this bump expands.  
Like I said earlier, everyone’s bodies are different during pregnancy, so these things might not apply.  Plus, I wasn’t able to squeeze in ALL THE MATERNITY DRESSING TIPS for ALL PEOPLE in this little post.  
But if you have some key tips that I missed that could be helpful to others, please, please, please leave them in a comment below.
One note: This post is specifically for going from a small to medium bump, so if you have tips that are for later in pregnancy or for larger bumps please wait until a post for that comes out.  It’ll help organize the comments and info for any people passing through looking for help.  Thank you!
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  • Reply
    April 4, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    When I was just starting to get a belly, I found that my usual non-maternity Old Navy skinny cords (that are pretty low-cut anyway, so they go ALMOST under the belly but not quite) could keep working well if I looped an elastic around the button to extend the waistband by a (stretchy) extra inch or two. Of course, then you really need a long tunic-type top to hide the fact that your pants aren't closing, but I made it a good 3 months on (cheap) coloured cords + nice boots + black tunic + patterned scarf that matched the colour of the pants. Add a blazer over top when needed, and that pretty much was my fall/winter wardrobe, early-pregnancy. 🙂

    And I'll second the recommendation for the Old Navy maternity jeans that you linked above – SO comfy. With the caveat that, when I was in my 4th/5th month, pressure on my lower stomach gave me horrible cramps, so the tighter elastic wouldn't work then. I wore them before and after, though (I'm wearing them as I type this, 9 months pregnant…) Totally worth every single penny, and they're not a lot of pennies!

  • Reply
    Vann girl
    April 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Great post. Couple of comments: 1. Bella bands are great, I used mine throughout pregnancy. Didn't try the other brand so can't compare, but was happy with the Bella band. 2. Keep in mind for dresses you want to wear post-pregnancy that you'll need access for nursing. Sometimes what seems like it would be great for post-baby body is not conducive for nursing unless you want to pull up your entire dress. Try surplice tops or loose enough necklines (or button-downs) that you don't have to disrobe to feed the baby. (I never thought of this during my first pregnancy, but a friend who had her baby 6 months before me gave me a heads up on this, and she was right.)

  • Reply
    April 4, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Ditto on Old Navy Jeans. Love the Rockstar maternity ones. The elastic was super comfy even right before I have birth. (Well, as comfy as you can be when you are already feeling huge. :)) he only thing I would add is that while I totally lived in jersey empire waist dresses before and during pregnancy (including with a Large Bump!) you can't really breast feed in them. So something to keep in mind if you're planning on breast feed but was also going to purchase a bunch of empire waist dresses.

  • Reply
    Beth Kondrick
    April 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Simply Vera Leggings from Kohls – they made capri ones that were great in the summer and longer ones that were awesome in the winter – perfect for the tunic look! I just bought up a size from what I normally would and with the elastic they just grew with me!

  • Reply
    Pickie Beecher
    April 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Deep v-neck cotton tees from Target are great for pregnancy and breastfeeding. They're long, don't highlight the post-baby belly, and are stretchy enough to easily be able to push aside to feed baby without becoming stretched out of shape.

    Throughout my pregnancy and post-partum I was a big fan of finding non-maternity clothes that would fit. They cost less, and a lot of maternity clothes are weirdly fussy, overly complicated, or have odd designs, lacy stuff, or bows. I'm having a baby, not becoming one!

    Nursing bras from Target are the best too, even compared with $200 boutique nursing bras.

  • Reply
    Ashley Brooks
    April 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Great tips! I second your thoughts on the Target BeBands. I was constantly adjusting them, and they never seemed worth all the effort. My favorite pair of maternity jeans is a full panel skinny jean from Old Navy. Sooo comfy! I also have a boot leg pair with the lower demi panel from ON, but it's too tight on my bump when I'm sitting down for a long time.

    I can't wait to see your next post on your 2nd trimester wardrobe plan!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2014 at 5:53 am

    I love you in the maxi skirt! I was pregnant so long ago, I never had all these brands available! There was just Gap, Old Navy and Pea in the Pod. ( that I knew of.) Looking forward to bump watch!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I'm 23/24 weeks and probably in a similar bump situation to you. Sadly my problem is that whilst my bump is on the smaller side my boobs have become massive! This means the belt thing just doesn't work – I look ridiculously top heavy. Tighter clothes that look good on my bump look, well, a little TOO good up top! Ha. This might all be TMI but (and maybe it's superficial of me) I find it disheartening – I either feel very self-conscious or like I'm still having to hide everything and thus feel frumpy. As well as my clothes, my budget is also tight! Part of me feels like I shouldn't care about feeling frumpy but another part of me feels my confidence drop everytime I get dressed. I'm really sorry for the negative rant! I enjoy your blog and musings on your pregnancy, I just needed to vent!

  • Reply
    Adrienne Schenck
    April 5, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Thanks for posting! I am 17 weeks and starting to have the visible bump. This is my third pregnancy, and I honestly don't remember caring what I wore during my last pregnancies. I'm not sure why, but this time is way different. I'm wanting to look more like "me" and not just pregnant. Looking forward to implementing some of your ideas and shopping with those things in mind. I LOVE my maxi skirt!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks your your great post I am loving your ideas and they have really helped me put together some lovely outfits.
    If you interested in keep cost down on your maternity pants you should look into the Belly Belt Its an elastic strap with different button holes that lets you extend your waist line of your pants. I'm 28 weeks and only just had to purchase my first pair of maternity pants, though I can still till rotate through my usual non maternity pants at this point and I have a fair size belly. Most outfits I wear a longer shirt and cover the gap between where the zipper can't go up other times I pair it with the Bella band. Its really helped me with my budget and I can focus on purchasing more tops and dresses.
    Can't wait for further ideas, keep up the great posts!

  • Reply
    April 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Maternity leggings maternity leggings – I'll say it again – MATERNITY LEGGINGS. I splurged on a really nice pair and never regretted it. They fit me from barely visible bump all the way up to the end and through postpartum recovery. I loved wearing them with jersey dresses. Felt like pajamas on the days when I was feeling blah or sore or huge. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 6, 2014 at 2:44 am

    I got an awesome pair of maternity leggings from Gap Maternity, but also bought non-maternity leggings on sale from Target. I just rolled down the band! I thought that it was going to be a waste, but my mom convinced me and they were the best idea ever!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2014 at 3:05 am

    About 20 weeks was when I needed to start purchasing things for my bump (I'm 4 weeks postpartum). I was told that with being pregnant it shouldn't matter what you are wearing because you are just going to get huge. That was not the approach I took– while I didn't go crazy I did buy clothing that I found to be super comfortable and fit in my lifestyle of church activities, hanging out with family and friends, and teaching. I was careful about the shape of the clothing because I wanted to be able to wear them postpartum and not feel pregnant. I totally don't regret it! I think that putting forth the effort to look put together really helped with the mental aspect of pregnancy and I have cute items to remix until I am closer to my pre-pregnancy size.

  • Reply
    Talitha Belokonny
    April 6, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Thanks for this great post, Audrey! I love those distressed Old Navy maternity jeans. Do you think they would look alright as more of an ankle-length pant? I ask because I'm 5' 11"…

  • Reply
    Audrey @ Putting Me Together
    April 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Sorry, Talitha…I wouldn't know what to tell you unless I saw them on.

  • Reply
    Audrey @ Putting Me Together
    April 6, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I identify more with your approach, especially if it affects the way you feel! It's not like you have to spend oodles of money on a new wardrobe, but for me I need it to be more than "it doesn't matter at all." What I'm wearing has a huge effect on my mood, and I don't feel like I have to (nor do I WANT to) mail it in just because I'm pregnant.

  • Reply
    Audrey @ Putting Me Together
    April 6, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    I'm not *loving* the full panels from ON, but my friend absolutely loves them. I don't know what it is that makes it so different for every person, but the elastic part of the top panel cuts into me in a not-awesome way. Sadly the low panels aren't working for me anymore, so I don't know what to do. Any thoughts on why the full panels work for some and not for others? Do you find it cuts into you at all?

  • Reply
    Ashley Brooks
    April 7, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Sorry to hear you're stuck without comfortable pants! I don't know this for sure because I haven't had my mid-point ultrasound yet, but I feel like I'm carrying low. My bump is basically in my lap, and there's still oodles of space between bump and bust.

    So the low panels that should sit under the bump end up cutting into it or being folded over so they show under my shirts (even the long ones). The full panels sag a little throughout the day, so it's a pain to pull them up every now and then, but at least they don't cause any discomfort! Hope you find something that works for you soon!

  • Reply
    Lauren Pascoe
    April 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I love how you've styled your baby bump so far and can't wait to see more! I definitely lived in tunics and I was able to stay in most of my normal pants for about the first 22 weeks using a hairtie (here is a youtube tutorial – I also had a belly band that I borrowed from my sister, but it did tend to move around until I got bigger, so this hairtie trick was amazing! It eventually becomes uncomfortable, so that is when I made the switch to maternity pants!

  • Reply
    Lauren Pascoe
    April 7, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    ON maternity pants sadly did not work for me! I bought all my maternity pants on clearance at Motherhood Maternity. The full panels felt so much more comfortable and not as constricting as the ON ones.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I am so excited/grateful that you are doing this when I am pregnant!!! And right now I can use ALL the help I can get! THANK YOU!!!

  • Reply
    April 7, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    I love this concept, I didn't even think about this with my first three. But it really does have an effect on my mental well-being. (which has an effect on everyone around me's mental well-being!) Very well said.

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