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How to create your perfect maternity capsule wardrobe

pregnant woman in a berry coloured top looking at her phone

Shopping for maternity clothes is a minefield. You’re shopping for clothes that you will only need for about six months, during which time your body is dramatically changing shape, as the seasons around you change as well. You don’t know which styles are going to function best (under bump or over bump?!) and be comfortable and practical, you don’t want to spend lots of money on clothes that you won’t need for long, but you don’t want to be bored wearing the same few items for months on end. On top of this, most high street shops don’t seem to have a maternity section, and the clothes on offer are mostly the ubiquitous maternity stripe (why?!) or butterflies. Because when you’re pregnant you don’t care about your own personal style anymore, right?!

Before I drag us down to a place where we can’t get back from, it can be done! In this post I am collecting my personal experience and hours of research so that you don’t need to make the same mistakes that I did. It seems that most people, when looking back on their maternity wardrobe, feel the same way. They wished they had bought better quality clothes, earlier on in their pregnancy. I think most of us go through a similar cycle of thinking that we can make do and manage, to getting bored and uncomfortable and buying a load of cheap clothes, then finding that they have stretched out of shape and definitely won’t last for a second pregnancy and possibly not even until the end of the first, wishing that we’d invested in a few key quality items. Personally, I would ignore advice to just buy non-maternity clothes in bigger sizes, because they aren’t designed to flatter a bump and you will just feel rubbish, and you won’t want to wear them after your pregnancy for that reason too.

black maternity leggings shown on a model

These Mamalicious seamless leggings are comfortable and versatile.

So, what do you need? Well, firstly, there are some essentials that will help you make the most of your normal wardrobe. A belly/bump band, which simultaneously covers any gap between your trousers and tops as your bump starts growing, and also covers up the top of your trousers so that you can wear them unbuttoned or use the elastic band trick before you are quite ready for maternity jeans. For me, a couple of pairs of decent maternity leggings were also an essential, so that I could wear them with my existing tunics or dresses without seams at the waist. You might want some maternity tights for the same reason as well, but that depends on the season and the kind of events you might be going to – I got away with just leggings for the whole of my first pregnancy. These Mamalicious ones (pictured above) are great because they have a slight sheen which makes them look like tights and also makes them suitable for dressing up.

A pregnant woman wearing a stretchy skirt with a crop top, smiling at the camera

I loved wearing this stretchy non-maternity skirt when I was pregnant.

On to your capsule staples. Think about the colours and styles that you normally wear, and try to choose clothes in the same colour palette so that you can mix and match them. You will need at least one top that can be dressed up for smarter occasions (you WILL get bored if you only have casual t-shirts!). Then think about layers that you can add from your existing wardrobe. One tip is to wear a fitted maternity top but then pair it with something like an oversized shirt over the top or a dress that can unbutton all the way down so that you can wear it open. A shirt can also be tied in a knot above your bump to create a different look. In the early stages you might want to add a belt or ribbon and tie it above your bump to give some definition. You don’t need to buy maternity cardigans or jumpers – you can wear normal cardigans unbuttoned, or blazers look great too.

In terms of bottoms, you will probably want one or two pairs of maternity jeans. These Mamalicious jeans (shown in the video above) are our favourites because they are over bump, have real front and back pockets (which can be rare in maternity jeans!) and they have an elasticated waist with a button to adjust them for a perfect fit. You can rent these in either a regular or petite length and we stock similar styles in a tall length too. I always recommend going for over-bump, as you can actually fold the band over and put it under your bump if you prefer, whereas under-bump doesn’t provide the support you will probably want in the later stages.

A maternity model wearing a black floral jumpsuit

This soft jersey jumpsuit is a practical staple - perfect for running around after a toddler if you already have a little one at home!

Then choose your favourite extra items – you might fancy a pair of maternity dungarees or a jumpsuit to mix it up a bit, and you will probably want one dress that can be dressed up or down. If it’s summer, you might want a maternity skirt or shorts. If you have any stretchy skirts from your existing wardrobe you will be able to wear these pulled up over your bump, at least at the start of your pregnancy. A lot of maxi dresses don’t have a seam at the waist so they will work as well. If you plan to be active during your pregnancy or to take up antenatal yoga, Fitta Mamma have a fantastic selection of maternity activewear clothes which are available to rent from B&B.

A pregnant woman wearing a maternity sports top

Click here to see the Fitta Mamma range available to hire via B&B.

Finally, accessorise! It is still likely that you will be working with a reduced wardrobe, so use your existing accessories like shoes, scarves and jewellery to change things up so that you don’t get bored, or to dress outfits up or down, particularly if you need a smarter work wardrobe or you have more formal occasions to attend. Use accessories to add pops of colour or different textures and prints – metallics are great for this. Statement earrings are also a perfect way to dress up a more casual outfit. And if you find yourself wanting to go on a shopping spree, or you have a birthday whilst you’re pregnant, stick to accessories that will last beyond your pregnancy too!

A pregnant woman in a hot pink dress wearing silver earrings and a necklace, taking a selfie and smiling

Accessorising this dress with statement earrings and a matching necklace takes it from day to night.

You can rent your maternity capsule wardrobe from just £5 per item per month, just click here to choose your capsule. If choosing the items yourself is too overwhelming or you’d like a personal stylist, opt for our bespoke capsule option and you'll have a consultation with our Founder and Maternity Stylist Emma who will find out all about your style before sending you 9+ items to choose from. Simply send back the items you don't want to hire.

Emma provides a really personal service and all the clothes she sent me were perfect! Amazing quality. Its so nice to feel good during my pregnancy. I'm very happy with the service and clothes.

Joanna Lanham, B&B subscriber


Are you new here? Read on to find out a little bit more about us...

Belles and Babes is a UK-based rental business specialising in sustainable maternity, baby, and nursing clothes. Founded by Emma Gillespie in 2017, the company is driven by her corporate sustainability background and has a mission to provide a more sustainable alternative for parents seeking to move away from fast fashion and reduce clothing waste.

B&B offers maternity and nursing clothes to rent as part of its capsule wardrobe service for £5 per item each month, with the option to swap items and add on extras such as a maternity coat. Baby capsule wardrobes start from £25 a month for a personalised bundle of 18 items of sustainable organic clothing which are replaced as your baby grows.

If you are a parent seeking a sustainable alternative to fast fashion, you can find out more about our rental options by clicking the links in the menu above.

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