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How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe
Updated on
February 15, 2024

How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

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How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe.
How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

Lots of things about your life are about to get more complicated—but your wardrobe doesn’t have to be one of them.

You’ve probably already heard the term “capsule wardrobe” in your pre-pregnancy life. A limited collection of clothing and accessories designed to mix and match to create different outfits for all types of occasions, a capsule wardrobe is a style hack that can save you time, money and a lot of closet space.

Turns out you can do the same with your maternity wardrobe. Intentionally choosing classic, interchangeable pieces to accommodate your growing bump can help you feel less overwhelmed at the thought of starting a whole new wardrobe from scratch. It also makes getting dressed every day a lot easier and, with 40 weeks of pregnancy ahead of you, you should welcome all the easy you can get.

What’s the Purpose of a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe?

If you’re anything like us, figuring out what to wear in everyday life is overwhelming enough. Add in pregnancy—and the thought of revamping your entire wardrobe—and things really start to feel stressful.

Pregnancy is the perfect time to dip your toe into a capsule wardrobe. Just like in your pre-pregnancy life, you’ll need clothes for all different occasions, including everything from work and weekends to special events or a night out with friends or a partner. But pregnancy is a defined amount of time, and most people don’t want to spend too much money on new clothing that won’t fit for very long. You’ll also have your changing postpartum body to think about.

A maternity capsule lets you create a wardrobe with minimal clothing but maximum style options. Being intentional and minimalist around your maternity clothing purchases can save you time and money while still giving you plenty of outfit options throughout pregnancy and postpartum.

How to Create a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is all about finding timeless, (mostly) neutral pieces that easily mix and match to create different outfits. The same rules apply to building a maternity capsule wardrobe: choose carefully and keep the “less is more” approach in mind. Follow these tips:

  • Stick to the classics. This is the most important tip to keep in mind when building a maternity capsule. Fast fashion and trend pieces aren’t your friends here; instead, stick to timeless pieces that won’t go out of style and that work well together. Think items like straight-leg jeans or black pants, basic white or black tees, black leggings, stripes, a denim jacket or a neutral sweater. Does this mean your entire maternity wardrobe needs to be sad beige? Definitely not. (It doesn’t have to be expensive, either.) You can mix in a few fun prints and pops of color, but try to keep the essentials as basic as possible.
  • Start slow. You don’t have to build a maternity wardrobe, capsule or otherwise, all at once. Most people can wear their regular clothes for at least the first few months of pregnancy and beyond. Spend some time thinking through your lifestyle, budget and clothing needs before you start buying.
  • Shop non-maternity clothes, too. Non-maternity pregnancy clothes are 100% a thing. There are tons of dresses, tops, leggings, jackets and more that work just as well for pregnancy as they do for non-pregnant people. Invest in non-maternity pregnancy clothes whenever possible. You’ll get much more wear out of them.
  • Accessorize. Accessories are a great way to style your maternity capsule wardrobe. They’re fun, cheap and always fit 😀. They also can help make a casual outfit look more dressed up—or the other way around.
  • Think long term. A capsule wardrobe works well if you’re only planning on one pregnancy, but even better if you’re planning on more. If you’re thinking about multiple kids, you may want to invest in a few higher-quality pieces that you know you’ll wear a lot so you can be sure they’ll hold up over time. Good denim is a great place to start, as is a quality white T-shirt and a good sweater.
  • It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Love the idea of a maternity capsule but also have a deep love for sequins? You do you. Building a maternity capsule doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can focus on a few capsule basics and add trendier items, special occasion pieces or whatever makes you happy.

Maternity Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

This checklist is a good place to start if you’re interested in building a maternity capsule wardrobe.

  • Two pairs of jeans
  • One pair of black pants
  • Two to three “one-and-done” pieces
  • Two to three pairs of leggings/joggers
  • Three to four tees + two tops
  • Two to three layering tanks
  • Other items to consider: jacket or blazer, shorts, knitwear and sweatshirts

Two pairs of jeans

Jeans are a good place to start when building a maternity capsule. They can be dressed up or down, worn out to dinner or in (most) corporate environments and, if you get the size and fit right, should last you through all 40 weeks of your pregnancy and into postpartum. Whether you choose an over- or under-the-bump style is a matter of personal preference. We recommend investing in at least one pair of higher-quality denim if you can swing it; they’ll hold up to more washes (avoiding the dryer will help with this, too) and keep their shape better over time.

Pricey, yes—but also so amazing. High quality, timeless look, flattering fit and a seamless transition from maternity to postpartum, these jeans are well worth the investment.

A great more affordable option, these over-the-bump jeans come in four lengths (extra short, short, regular and long), tons of different washes and colors and can be dressed up or down.

One pair of black pants

Even if you may not think you need them, a pair of black pants deserve a spot in every maternity capsule wardrobe. (And odds are you will need them at some point during pregnancy or postpartum.) They’re perfect for when you need—or want—to look a bit more polished throughout your 40 weeks and beyond. We recommend a classic straight-leg style.

Affordable + comfortable = a winning combo, especially for maternity clothes. The wide waist panel fits most bumps and the ankle-skimming length gives them a polished look.

Old Navy has a huge selection of well-priced maternity clothing that’s updated seasonally. This pixie-style pant sits below the belly and is made from a blend of cotton, spandex and rayon.

Two to three “one-and-done” pieces

One-and-done pieces—think dresses, jumpsuits and overalls—are quick and easy to put on yet still keep you looking pulled together. They’re also super versatile, always something to look for when picking things out for a capsule wardrobe. By pairing things like a jacket or blazer, jewelry, flats or sneakers with simple items like a black dress or a pair of denim overalls, you can create a completely different look with each outfit. You don’t need to stick to maternity clothing; many non-maternity dresses and jumpsuits work with or without a bump.

This viral jumpsuit works before, during and after pregnancy and can be paired with a tank or long sleeve underneath, a jacket and any type of shoes or accessories depending on the look you’re going for. There’s a more affordable dupe, too, of course.

Pregnant or not, you can’t go wrong with a black dress. We love the style and versatility of this one and, of course, the price.

We think every pregnant person looks great in denim overalls. These feature a classic design and a wide, comfy leg. There’s also an elastic waist to accommodate your growing bump.

Two to three pairs of leggings + joggers

Maybe these should have been at the top of the list? 😛 For many (um, most?) pregnant people, leggings and joggers are a maternity wardrobe staple, capsule or otherwise. And we couldn’t agree more. They’re comfortable, supportive and can (and will) be worn pre-, during and post-pregnancy. A few pairs are likely plenty, but no one has to know if you buy more…

The worst kept maternitywear secret ever: Lulu Aligns are the GOAT. They’re not maternity-specific, but they’re truly magical, fitting just as well when you’re three months pregnant as when you’re 40 weeks. And they never stretch out, which means you can wear them after baby, too. They’re pricey but worth it.

Can you have two GOATs? Why not? These leggings are perfect in every way. So soft, so comfortable. And, pockets! (And no, you don’t have to do yoga to wear them. They work just as well for every day as they do for workouts.)

Adding some joggers into the mix is always a good idea. These are affordable and versatile.

More Leggings and Joggers to Shop

Three to four tees + two tops

Once you’ve built the bottom foundation of your maternity capsule wardrobe (denim, pants, etc.), you can turn to the top. We recommend a few go-with-anything basics (think white, black or striped tees or turtlenecks, depending on your climate) mixed with a button-down or two plus a few dressier tops or sweaters. You can rotate through these items to create almost any type of look. You can also add another top layer like a jacket or a blazer to mix things up even more.

This oversized tee isn’t maternity-specific but the loose fit means it still works well with a bump. It’s soft, comfortable and comes in four neutral hues. You can also wear it postpartum.

Quince is a go-to for capsule wardrobe-friendly basics both for maternity and non-maternity. These crewneck tees are a staple. They work with jeans, leggings, jumpsuits…pretty much anything. And we like that there isn’t any shirring on the sides like on some maternity tops.

We love a good stripe, always. You can layer this one with a tee or tank underneath and wear it well into postpartum.

A versatile button-down is easy to wear and can look either tailored or relaxed depending on how you style it. This one has a boyfriend fit and comes in classic white as well as two other colors.

Two to three layering tanks

A layering tank doesn’t sound like much, but it’s something you’ll likely reach for almost every time you get dressed. You can wear it under shirts or sweaters for more belly support, use it for coverage under a shorter top and even wear it when you’re nursing so you don’t have to show your midsection.

These tanks are a splurge, but are perfect in every way—and SO versatile. They’re soft and stretchy yet supportive and hold their shape throughout and after pregnancy. (The scoop neck pulls down easily for nursing.) They also hold up extremely well wash and after wash.

What Else to Consider

Once you have the basics covered, you can add on a few other pieces based on your needs, lifestyle and the climate where you live. Here are a few suggestions.

Jen LaBracio

Senior Gear Editor

Jen LaBracio is Babylist’s Senior Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines her love of all things baby gear with her love of (obsessive) research. When she’s not testing out a new high chair or pushing the latest stroller model around her neighborhood, she likes to run, spin, listen to podcasts, read and spend time at the beach. In her past life, she worked for over a decade in children’s publishing. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their two boys, Will and Ben.

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