Today I’m going to answer to one of the top questions we get… how to build a minimalist maternity capsule wardrobe!
This post will also cover in general what to wear when you’re pregnant, some outfit ideas for pregnancy, how much a maternity wardrobe costs, and how to adapt non-maternity clothes for pregnancy.
I’m expecting our fourth baby this coming spring, and as with my last two pregnancies I decluttered and organized my closet to only hold the maternity capsule pieces I’d use during my second and third trimesters.
It’s a fun and easy process, so read on for how to do it yourself!
How to Build a Minimalist Maternity Capsule Wardrobe (Free Checklist)
As you may know, I offer a free general casual capsule wardrobe plan for moms.
For the pregnancy capsule wardrobe checklist I took that same clothing list, simplified it and made a new printable to show you how the same capsule also works as a maternity capsule wardrobe.
In this maternity version of the clothing checklist I used pink to highlight all the non-maternity clothes you can use during pregnancy (such as the tunic top, athletic pants, completer pieces, and accessories) so that you can save money and use some of what you already have!
When it comes down to it, there are only a few pieces that actually need to be purchased in maternity style.
So much of your maternity capsule can be non-maternity clothes!
Step 1: Download the free maternity clothing checklist printable
Start by downloading the maternity capsule planner below.
This PDF printable includes a maternity capsule wardrobe for spring & summer and a separate one for fall and winter, depending on when you’ll be in your second and third trimesters.
Step 2: Declutter Your Closet
Next you’ll pare down to only the clothes you like/feel good in AND would work for pregnancy and only keep those in your closet or drawers.
- Go through your closet/drawers and move anything that you won’t wear during your pregnancy to either the back of the closet, a storage bin, or a different closet/drawer. For more information on how I decide what to keep and what to donate or toss, see my closet decluttering guide. Note: ALL your shoes, accessories, and completer pieces (jackets, sweaters, vests) can stay because they don’t need to be maternity style. Just remove any that won’t work for the seasons that you’re pregnant.
- If you have a storage bin of maternity clothes from previous pregnancies or hand-me-downs, pull it out now. Go through this storage bin of maternity clothes and declutter what’s in it: Pick up each piece and decide if you still like it/would wear it. If you do like it/would wear it AND it would work for the weather you’ll have during your pregnancy, hang it up in your closet. If you don’t like it anymore, donate/toss/recycle it. Anything that you like but doesn’t work for the seasons you’ll be in while pregnant can stay inside the storage bin.
- After you’re done, only pieces you like/feel good in AND will work for your pregnancy (style and seasons) should be hanging in the visible part of your closet or in your main drawer(s).
- While decluttering, look for non-maternity items that may work for your growing bump. Some examples are tops and dresses with stretchy fabrics, slouchy style tops, tunic (extra long) style tops, leggings, pants or skirts with elastic waists. And it’s worth mentioning again: ALL your shoes, accessories, and completer pieces (jackets, sweaters, vests) can stay because they don’t need to be maternity style.
- Don’t bother referring to your checklist during this process, just focus on the questions “do I like this? Would I wear it tomorrow?” and “will it work for the weather during my pregnancy?” to decide what to keep it in the closet/drawers. We’ll refer to the checklist next.
- For more details and photos on how to declutter + organize your clothes, see my closet decluttering guide.
Step 3: Use Your Maternity Capsule Checklist to Shop Your Closet
Now that your closet is decluttered and only has pregnancy-friendly pieces hanging, grab the checklist you printed out. (You can find the checklist in Step 1 above.)
- When is your due date? Count 6-7 months back from that. What seasons will you go through during your pregnancy?
- If you’ll be pregnant mostly during warmer months, use the spring/summer checklist. If you’ll be pregnant mostly during cooler months, use the fall/winter checklist. You might need to add a few pieces from the opposite checklist if say you’ll being going through both summer and fall. In that case I’d mostly use the spring/summer list and then add some pants from the fall/winter list. Keep in mind that you can simply layer cardigans over your summer tees in the fall so you don’t necessarily need to change the tops.
- Go through the list and check off the items you already have in your closet/drawers. Note that I’ve highlighted items that do not have to be maternity style in pink (if you print without color it’ll be highlighted in gray).
Step 4: Where to Shop for Maternity Clothes (Best Places to Find Cute, Quality Clothes for Pregnancy)
After you’re done checking off what you have, you’re left with a shopping list of items you might want to add.
My favorite places to get maternity clothes are thrift/consignment stores, Target, H&M, Old Navy, and Amazon.
- Thrift/Consignment Stores: Start your shopping here if possible to save tons of money. Don’t forget to check baby consignment stores because they often have a maternity section and this is naturally where mamas will drop off their items after baby arrives.
- H&M (MAMA line): While this brand is kind of fashion-forward and has an overwhelming selection, their maternity selection is phenomenal! They have a limited but complete selection of maternity basics and the quality is excellent. H&M carries my all-time favorite maternity jeans. I LOVE my H&M Mama Skinny jeans… so flattering and high quality! No saggy butt after a few wears. Sign up for their emails to get a discount. If you order online you can return for free in store.
All three of the jeans I’m wearing below are H&M Maternity!
- Target (Isabel Maternity): At Target you’ll find a great selection of basics that are quality and on-trend. Their Isabel Maternity brand’s got you covered with all pregnancy essentials. I haven’t scored as many pieces that fit me well as I have at H&M, but we all have different bodies! Target’s line might be perfect for you. If you order online you can return for free in store.
- Old Navy: While ON’s quality is slightly lower, you’ll find some adorable trendy maternity clothes here! Just sign up for their emails and wait for a sale (which is like every day 😜) to get some bargains. If you order online they pay for your return shipping!
- Amazon: Yes I know, lots of clothes on Amazon are terrible quality. But I still find lots of gems here. The key is to use the filters on the side bar to narrow down to your category and 4+ stars. Then always read the reviews. See this list for some cute options. Amazon Essentials (a high-quality Amazon brand) also has maternity items!
- Once you find a brand that you love (and know your size) you can easily search for those items on online consignment stores like Thredup or Poshmark and save big!
- Not sure what to prioritize buying first? Shop for neutral pieces first (they remix with other pieces the easiest). Get at least a couple of comfy bottoms and 2-3 tops you feel cute in. Skimp on the accessories and shoes. You really don’t need that much in those categories!
You might be wondering why I didn’t mention Motherhood Maternity or A Pea in a Pod. From the few times I shopped there I felt their prices were inflated and their clothes weren’t very flattering. However if I find pieces from these brands at a thrift store and I like how they fit then I’ll happily buy it.
- My Favorite Maternity Clothes on Amazon
- My Favorite Postpartum/Nursing Clothes on Amazon
- How to shop on a budget
- How to save money thrift shopping
- Bras 101: How They Should Fit During Pregnancy & Beyond
- Best Nursing Bras & Gear for Breastfeeding Mamas
- Stylish Gift Ideas for Pregnant & Nursing Moms
Video: Basics of Planning a Pregnancy Capsule Wardrobe & Tour of My Maternity Wardrobe
In this Facebook Live video I talk through how I use my usual capsule wardrobe and simplify it to use for my second and third trimesters, as well as give you a tour of my own closet during this pregnancy!
How to Put Together Complete Outfits from Your Maternity Wardrobe (Mixing & Matching Your Capsule)
Here are some of the outfits I’ve put together with my capsule pieces.
If you’d like help creating these kinds of outfits, grab our bestsellers below:
FAQ About Maternity Fashion
How Much Does a Maternity Wardrobe Cost?
Here’s some good news about maternity wardrobes… they can be SO SIMPLE and yet feel varied and complete. My maternity capsule is much smaller than my normal wardrobe because I crave extra simplicity when I’m pregnant AND I know I’ll only need many of the pieces for about 6-7 months. Plus, your cute baby bump makes any basic you wear look so cute!
Let’s make a few estimates about how much it might cost you to pull one together.
- Shopping mostly THRIFT STORES: Let’s say you go with the free checklist I provide in this post. Assuming you have the highlighted non-maternity items on the list, that leaves you with about 12 pieces to buy in maternity style. If you had to buy all of these (and didn’t get any hand-me-downs) you might be able to get them for an average of $10 per piece ($5 for tops, $15 for bottoms) at thrift and consignment stores. That comes out to $120 for a well-rounded maternity capsule.
- Shopping mostly NEW: If you purchase everything brand new, but look for sales/discounts, you might be able to get your tops for around $15 each, your pants/shorts for around $30 each. That comes out to around $255 for a brand new, well/rounded maternity capsule.
So assuming you re-purpose everything non-maternity that you already have, you can usually pull together a nice minimalist maternity wardrobe between $120-250 USD.
You can save some money by:
- Asking friends for hand-me-downs after their pregnancies
- Starting your shopping at thrift/consignment stores
- Buying fewer items from the capsule checklist
- Stacking sales and coupons (and never paying for shipping when ordering online)
- Insuring you purchase items large enough to fit in the third trimester (to avoid purchasing more later)
- Read my post: 9 Hacks to Updating Your Wardrobe on a Budget
How to Dress During Pregnancy Without Maternity Clothes
Can you get through a pregnancy looking cute but not wearing maternity clothes?
My answer: It depends how scrappy you want to get and how simple you like to dress.
On one extreme, you can stick to only wearing your stretchy, long shirts, bottoms and dresses your entire pregnancy and probably get by. Think stretchy dresses, tunic tops, yoga/stretchy pants, oversized sweaters.
I’ve heard some moms use their regular pants + a belly band.
You could also look for pieces like this button-down tie-front top that is stretchy enough for your bump but looks cute postpartum too–and is nursing friendly!
But if you don’t want to go extreme then limit your maternity-style pieces to your pants/shorts and a couple of fitted tees (to avoid ruining your regular tees).
It’s all about your preference.
My personal preference is to get a few tops, my jeans, and my shorts in maternity style (for ultimate comfort and to feel cute during those tiring 6-7 months).
It ends up being just 10-15 pieces to purchase in maternity style, many of which are hand-me-downs and thrifted items.
It really isn’t that expensive!
What Maternity Clothes Do I Really Need? How many clothes should be in a minimalist maternity capsule wardrobe?
As I’ve answered above, you really only need to get a few of your tops (like the fitted tees) and your jeans/shorts in maternity style. If you’re using my capsule checklist (download below) that comes out to around 12 pieces to buy in maternity style for a well-rounded capsule.
You can pretty much re-purpose regular clothes for the rest of your wardrobe. (Like stretchy dresses, oversized sweaters, skirts with elastic waist bands.)
And of course your regular shoes, accessories, jackets and cardigans should all work during pregnancy too!
In total, you can enjoy a complete but minimalist capsule with about:
- 9 tops
- 2-3 dresses
- 6 pants/shorts/skirts
- All your usual shoes, accessories, jackets, cardigans, etc
And there you have it! If you have additional questions please let me know in the comments below so I can add the answer to this post.
To get started with your maternity capsule, download the printable!