What to Wear to Work While Pregnant

what to wear to work while pregnantToday at CorporetteMoms we’re doing a mini-Hunt for the best maternity dresses for work, from sheath dresses and beyond – please do check it out. But in the meantime, I thought now might be a great time to talk generally about what to wear to work while pregnant here at Corporette — what are your favorite maternity options for workwear? What gaffes have you seen pregnant the best maternity dresses for workwomen make in your conservative office — and who did you really think looked great? It’s been a while since we talked about the best maternity stores for workwear, how to hide an early baby bump, and what to wear to court when you’re pregnant – so let’s discuss.*

For my $.02, some of my general advice for maternity shopping for work include tips like:

  • Don’t buy maternity workwear too early — you just don’t know how you’re going to carry (low, high), where you’ll gain weight (bust, arms, bum), and so forth. Budgeting for your maternity wardrobe is already difficult, and the last thing you want is a bunch of wool low-rise maternity pants for your third trimester when a) it turns out it’s way too hot for wool and b) you vastly prefer high-rise maternity pants. (I’ve also advised readers not to buy a fancy diaper bag before you’re actually a mom — save it for a treat when your baby turns six months old or something else after you’ve been in it for a bit.) I could still wear my regular (non maternity) blazers until week 38 or 39 with my second child, and I never owned a maternity winter coat. Stylish maternity suits are notoriously hard to find (we’ll be updating this post soon)!
  • Maternity dresses are the easiest thing to wear to work when you’re pregnant. For underpinnings, I was a big fan of maternity Spanx and maternity tights — keep an eye out at Target for their more affordable line, Assets.
  • Raise the neckline. One of the first things you’ll notice when you’re pregnant (for me it was even before the at-home pregnancy test told us!) is that your bust will get bigger — if this makes you uncomfortable you may want to raise the neckline either with camisoles, demi camisoles, or even use statement necklaces to draw the eye upwards.  (Along those lines: make sure you buy bras that fit as needed through your pregnancy — I went through several sizes. You may want to buy nursing bras at the very end (this was our last discussion on the best underwire nursing bras over at CorporetteMoms) but personally I didn’t bother with maternity bras; I just bought my regular brands on sale.)

Readers, what are some of your best tips on what to wear to work when you’re pregnant? What looks worked best to help you feel and look professional when you were pregnant — and what did you throw back on the rack (or back in your closet) and say, nah, I’ll wait until I’m on the other side? 

* Just an administrative note, since I know people will wonder — I tend to think of the dividing line between Corporette and CorporetteMoms as being maternity leave, at least in terms of content from us (please feel free to discuss whatever you want in the comments). So for all the good stuff after maternity leave, please come check out our regular discussions at our blog for working moms!

Stock image credit: Fotolia / © Svyatoslav Lypynskyy

Wondering what to wear to work while pregnant? We rounded up some of our best tips for how to look professional but stylish during your pregnancy -- as well as what expecting moms should NOT buy.


  1. Anonymous :

    The only gaffe I’ll mention, because we should be verrrry understanding to pregnant working women, is that I’ve seen people wear non-maternity dresses thinking they are fine, but they end up being way too short, especially in the back for some reason. So make sure it’s long enough from all angles before you decide it works!

    • Anonymous :

      I wore pretty much all dresses for work while pregnant. During the last 4-6 weeks, they definitely were shorter than I’d prefer but not so short that I bought more clothes. I wouldn’t wear non-maternity dresses to work that short, but I just didn’t have any $%&*# left to give at that point. If it had gotten bad enough to buy new clothes, I would have just worn my leggings under them and called it good.

      • I ended up using a 1 month subscription to Le Tote maternity for my last month just so I wouldn’t flash people. Even my maternity dresses were too short.

    • Yay! I can’t wait to have as much up front as I do in the back, b/c now, everyone focuses on my tuchus, but once I am pregnant, I will start wearing A line dresses that have alot of room in BOTH the back (tuchus) and front (baby bump). Rosa had no tuchus, so her dresses will NOT work for me, but I first need to find a boyfreind, then get him to impregnate and MARRY me. Why is it so difficult for us professional women to find eligibel mento mate with? FOOEY!

  2. i’m almost 13 weeks (FTM) and my clothes (esp pants) have started to become uncomfortable (although i’ve only gained 1-2 lbs so far). I bought a few items on super sale from destination maternity yesterday but would love to hear suggestions! Family and close friends know, but no one else at work does and I probably won’t tell for another few weeks at least.

    • Anonymous :


    • Lana Del Raygun :

      If it’s just in your belly (for me at 13 weeks it was mostly abdominal bloating, and I’d gained more like 10 lb) I would recommend wearing a belly band if you can wear long-ish untucked tops, and wearing regular pants a size up if not (this didn’t work for me because I grew 1.5 sizes, but I think it would be better for the pretending-you’re-not pregnant phase if you can swing it).

    • Anonymous :

      I was the same way. I was bloated and nauseous, and it really made it all worse to have anything remotely tight (or properly fitting???) on my belly. I wore dresses, which was a common theme throughout my summer pregnancy.

      Motherhood Maternity, Target, Old Navy, Gap, Asos. I think all of my maternity clothes came from those stores. For Gap and Old Navy, the selection is usually much better online than in store.

    • YMMV depending on office dress code, but after buying a bunch of fancier brand maternity jeans I bought H&M full band ones and LOVED them. They were $20 or something. I’d place an order from there to start.

      • Anonymous :

        Old Navy jeans ended up being the best for me. Something with side panels or tabs that were below the belly. The fully belly ones from other stores made me so, so, overheated.

    • Anonymous :

      Old Navy knit pencil skirts in a larger size are really helpful for early bloat through when you really need maternity (and might potentially last you through 40 weeks depending on how you carry)!

    • I’m 19w (FTM) and just started a new job with a professional dress code (last position was business casual). Yikes, I had to invest in a whole maternity work wardrobe.
      I did it for $350 (yass) using ThredUp (site for used clothing).
      First I visited Pinterest to find “maternity business capsule wardrobe” and made a list of what I wanted to buy and headed to ThredUp. I filtered my list to “like new” and “new with tags” (I’ve gotten questionable quality items in the past).

  3. Anonymous :

    I wear dresses 80% of the time when not pregnant, but maternity dresses didn’t work for me for some reason. I found that most of the ones I got were too tight and form-fitting and I felt self-conscious in them at work, and also slightly physically uncomfortable (I didn’t gain that much weight and I even tried sizing up from my normal size, so I don’t think the dresses were too small). I didn’t like maternity camisoles for the same reason – the fabric was Spanx-like and not very comfortable. In contrast, I found maternity jeans (especially the side panel ones) way more comfortable than regular jeans. I’m lucky to have a casual office so I just wore jeans all pregnancy. I will confess that I did go in in leggings a couple times in the last couple weeks, but I went two weeks past my due date. I was able to work from home a lot in the last few weeks, which was great for several reasons, including that getting dressed in anything resembling workwear was a giant PITA at that point.

  4. Mrs. Jones :

    I wore clothes a size or two bigger than normal, for a few months. I also borrowed maternity clothes from a couple of friends.

  5. Lana Del Raygun :

    I am really struggling to find long/tall maternity pants (34″+ inseam) for the second trimester. I’m not big enough for full-panel pants yet, but all the side- and demi-panels seem to be ankle pants. :( Any suggestions?

    • Anonymous :

      I received a bunch of hand-me-down work maternity clothes from a very tall friend. I didn’t wear them because I am not tall. The pants were mostly Pea in the Pod and Gap. I remember her telling me she had to spend a lot on maternity pants – but that could also have been because she was required to wear suits most of the time during her first pregnancy.

    • Anonymous :

      I gave in to the full panel pants before I really needed full panel because that’s all I could find. Honestly, the panel doesn’t bug me as much as I thought it would, just feels like a cami basically.

    • Anonymous :

      If you can throw money at it, buy a couple of normal pants that fit you and look on etsy for someone to turn them into maternity pants. I did this for my second pregnancy and got to about 8 months before I had to go full panel. I went to an Ann Taylor outlet, bought 4 or 5 pairs of pants both in my usual size and a size up, and had someone (can’t remember who) on etsy put a low panel elastic waist on them. I’m not describing it well, but they looked like maternity pants, they fit, and I really enjoyed wearing them. It was probably $60 – $70 per pair.

    • Full panel gap and or old navy. Only ones I could find. The full panel wasn’t uncomfortable at all.

    • You can just fold the panel down and wear under belly– I do this with all full panel pants because they never fit right.

  6. Blueberries :

    TLDR: Go for quality, both for maternity and slightly larger than your regular size but not maternity.

    I got maternity clothes pretty early with my first; it was very comfortable and no regrets on starting early. I was really happy that I had some higher quality pieces that also lasted me through a second pregnancy.

    One thing I did regret was not having larger, non-maternity clothes ready to go post-maternity leave (or postpartum, really). I quickly went out and bought things before returning, but they weren’t as nice as if I’d had more time to select them and selected them with the idea that I’d wear them for awhile.

  7. I loved the second base half-camisoles to raise necklines while pregnant. Really good for wrap dresses (even when not pregnant).

  8. In the beginning, I wore pants and loose shirts. Side panel maternity pants were my friend, even in the early weeks because I was feeling bloated and didn’t want anything pressing my stomach. I found belly bands (the ones not attached to your pants) to be too much positioning and re positioning. As I got larger, I almost exclusively wore dresses. ASOS, Seraphine and Isabella Oliver (with some Isabella Oliver designs for Pea in the Pod as well) were my friends. I had about 8-10 solid dresses that I wore on rotation and just subbed in and out different non-maternity blazers. Nothing looked like a suit obviously, but I was in Court and it looked like I had made the effort, because I was giant and in a dress, heels and a color coordinated blazer. Second tights or Spanx. I totally wanted to feel that support and found that I needed it to hold my belly up. I did well with Asos and Old Navy for casual clothes as well. ON jeans were great. I second the commenter who said to invest in PP clothes. I hadn’t thought of it and had to scramble to buy a few pieces for back to work in a size up, which was an unnecessary stress, as I wanted to return to work looking and feeling my competent best.

  9. 14 weeks right now (but I look like I’m 20). I’ve found dresses not only to be more comfortable, but also more budget-friendly. They’re not much more expensive than maternity pants if at all, but then you don’t have to buy long maternity tops as well. I’ve been having a hard time finding decent work clothes (Biglaw, so formal end of business casual most of the time)…I got about 5 solid color dresses from Seraphine, Isabella Oliver, and Rosie Pope. That plus two MMLF Harlem skirts that are OTB so I can wear with my existing work blouses are basically going to be what I do all summer. Fortunately my existing shoes and blazers are all still fitting well. We’ll see what happens when I get a lot bigger and the weather gets cooler.

    I’m honestly shocked at how few decent maternity clothing options there are for more formal work clothes. Most of the stuff I’ve found is not stylish, not well made for the price, and/or inappropriate in some way (too short, too low cut, details like cold shoulders that wouldn’t fly in my office). It’s really frustrating since you would think there is a market for these things.

    For casual wear, I’ve been getting by with a Storq skirt, one pair of maternity jeans, and some of my existing shirts (though this is quickly becoming unsustainable). As hard as it is to find appropriate work wear, it’s also been hard to find casual clothes that feel like myself (since I typically wear neutrals, clean lines, and sometimes menswear-oriented stuff, whereas I feel like most maternity clothes are far more girly). Gap Maternity has a few options. But it is really slim pickings.

  10. 28 weeks in second pregnancy. Had a trial at about 22 weeks and wore my normal skirt suits and some dresses with mismatched blazers and pantyhose for making it look like I was trying to be formal. I have two MMLF dresses from the maternity friendly selection, two jardigans and a Didion top that have been invaluable and that I plan on hitting hard post partum. Recently I have been wearing some Seraphine dresses and trousers. I suggest looking on Thred Up for second hand of more expensive items. A black jules and Jim T-shirt dress has also been a lifesaver and Old Navy tees and gap jeans for weekends that I got from a friend.

  11. For both of my pregnancies, my favorite items ended up being Loft dresses, non-maternity, one or two sizes up. I bought tent shaped, empire, or tulip shapped dresses and put a normal blazer over them. Perfect for my Biglaw office and really affordable with 60% off sales.

  12. Nice article.Keep up the good work.

  13. megmarmor :

    Very new to this and only 6 weeks along. Are there any good plus suggestions?

    I have two modes of dress at my company: formal for HQ, and business casual (blazer + jeans) for everything else. I normally buy custom suits, but will not make that level of investment in maternity clothes. I’m hoping I can continue to wear my blazers and add a solid black maternity pant, but I’m a size 20 and concerned about my limited options. Other thoughts?

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