5 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy a Maternity Dress

Every mom has been there. You see this beautiful maternity dress online, you order right away, only for it to show up and NOT fit correctly. And then it falls apart after you wash it. And then it becomes your new kitchen rag. Okay, maybe you already have enough rags, but you get the idea.

This is the issue (actually, two issues) that many moms-to-be face when they start shopping in maternity stores. First, finding high quality maternity clothes that last is a struggle. Next, choosing stylish pregnancy outfits that actually compliment your figure is like… what?

Yes, this is ridiculous. Maternity fashion literally evolved to accommodate pregnant women. But as a result of the industry expansion, there are more maternity boutiques and pregnancy dresses than you can count! Different fabrics, designs, and textures have flooded the market — and they’re not created equal. 

You know those people that slay shopping every single time? They walk into a store, throw on some clothes, and walk out with stunning outfits like it was no work at all. Some of them don’t even step foot in a fitting room! They just have this knowledge of which clothes work and which don’t. 

That’s the kind of expert you’re going to be when you’re through with this article! We’re going to let you in on the secrets of maternity dress shopping. You’ll never get duped by cheap maternity clothes and unflattering gowns again. Here’s what you need to look for.

1. The Material

The fabric is one of the most crucial features of all maternity gowns! The cloth determines how durable the dress is, its elasticity, its temperature, and ultimately, its comfort.



For your baby bump, you want a maternity dress that’s flexible, stretch-resistant, and able to conform to your figure. Like any long-term romance, you want your pregnancy dresses to grow with you. So, always ensure your maternity dress is made with stretch material like elastic or spandex.

If you don’t see those materials on the tag or online description, they might be hiding in other names like:


  • Stretch Jersey Knit
  • Cotton Jersey Knit
  • Stretch Cotton Poplin
  • Stretch Cotton Jacquard
  • Stretch Viscose Jacquard
  • Stretch Silk Crepe
  • Stretch Silk Lining

A fitted maternity dress will contain more stretch fabric than a loose, flowy pregnancy dress. But even if you’re shopping for a relaxed style, stretch material is essential! 

Why? Because the best maternity dresses are the ones you can wear post-baby, so they have to snap back when your bump is gone. Stretch fabric also prevents tears and, obviously, stretching. Anyway, maternity clothes that can’t hang through your whole journey just look… meh.


a woman wearing a fitted black maternity dress made with elastic materials




Besides stretch, you also want material that can help regulate your temperature. That means you need breathable material that allows air circulation. Porous, lightweight fabric helps you beat the heat and keeps you dry.

For example, a maternity summer dress should be made of lightweight fabric that won’t trap heat. On the other hand, a winter maternity dress can have a denser cloth to help you stay warm. Breathable, mom-approved fabrics:

  • Rayon
  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Linen
  • Silk

With the exception of cotton, all of these materials are moisture-wicking! Ideal for your motherly comfort? We’d say so. Also, if you’re thinking that some of these materials (like rayon or polyester) are no good at all, keep in mind that they become more durable when blended with a stretch fabric. 


2. The Length

We all want pretty maternity dresses. But there’s like, 6,967,4658 beautiful maternity dresses to choose from. To narrow down the ones that will look pretty ON YOU, consider the length.

Maternity Maxi Dress (Floor-Length)

Ah yes, the magical maternity maxi dress.

These maternity gowns sweep the floor. They’re the longest pregnancy dresses you can buy, and they look terrific on practically all mamas. 

“Practically”? If you are a petite mommy (5’3” or under), SOME maxi dresses can shorten your stature. But not all! It actually depends on where the waistline sits (keep a high waist, avoid drop waist). 

Maternity maxi dresses are still a stunning option for short women. As long as the gown suits your proportions and you aren’t tripping over the hem, go for it.

Maternity Midi Dresses (Between Knee and Ankle)

We can already hear the sighs. Maternity stores market midi dresses like they’re the best thing since buttered bread, yet it’s the most frustrating style for many women. If you want to rock a midi-length dress, find one that hits right below YOUR knee.

Keyword is “your” — not the model’s knee, not your friend’s knee, but yours. This below-the-knee-length is the most flattering for midi dresses, whether you are tall or short. But, you have to get personal with the fit and make sure the hem falls in the right place on your leg.

If a dress falls mid-calf or right around your ankles, it tends to make you look shorter. This is the problem many women have with midis, especially more petite women. Regardless of your height, you can rock a maternity midi dress if you find THE gown with the right length for your body. 

Petite Maternity Dresses (Above the Knee)

Great news! All mamas can rock an itty-bitty pregnancy dress. It’s up to your judgment how short you want your skirt.

Do you know who looks especially good in short maternity dresses? Petite mamas! A mini skirt lengthens the leg and adds height. Bare legs also help create the desired 2/3 look that puts every outfit on point.




3. The Waistline

All pregnancy outfits depend on their waistline! It’s super duper important! 

Okay, specifics please? When your waist is expected to almost triple in size, your clothes have to switch up their design to accommodate the bump. That’s the whole point of maternity fashion. This means pregnancy dresses will have a strategic waistline (or lack of) to help define and compliment your new figure.

If you’re carrying high — meaning your bump sits closer to your breasts — an empire waistline will be best for your figure. An empire waist maternity dress will separate your bust and tummy for a more defined silhouette. 

Now, if you have a low bump that sits closer to your hips, a high waistline won’t do you justice. You’re better off without a waistline at all! We recommend going with drop waist maternity dresses or ones that are fitted all over.

Fitted all over? Like a glove? Like a bodycon maternity dress?

Yup! A bodycon dress flaunts a low bump like no other style. Because there is no waistline, there is no line to divide your torso. While mothers with a high bump benefit from a dividing line, it can throw off the proportions of mommies with a low bump.

4. Nursing Access

This is a big one. Don’t 👏🏼 Buy 👏🏼 A 👏🏼 Maternity 👏🏼 Dress 👏🏼 Unless 👏🏼 It’s 👏🏼 NURSING FRIENDLY!👏🏼

Okay, it’s not a SUPER STRICT requirement, but it does help a ton. And there are so many stylish maternity gowns with nursing access it would actually be hard to not buy one. 

Nursing friendly dresses will make your fourth trimester life much, much easier. When you can breastfeed comfortably on the go, your whole world will run smoother.

And that’s why a maternity wrap dress will soon become your fourth trimester friend.

Despite what some might think, nursing dresses can be cute AF. When you wear a wrap dress, no one even knows you’re in nursing wear — it just looks like you stepped in fashionable maternity clothes. The surplice neckline makes nursing a breeze, and it just so happens to be in style all year long.

Besides, if the gown is nursing friendly, that means it can pull you through the 4th trimester in style! Pospartum dresses are a fashion savior during this period — we def recommend buying at least 25.


RELATED: Your Guide to Postpartum Dresses: Cute and Comfy Babe Style


5. Is it Cute?!

Last but not least, you must look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Is this maternity dress cute?”

Further interrogation sounds like:

  • Is this dress in season?
  • Does the color compliment my skin tone?
  • Is the design trendy?
  • Do I feel comfortable and confident in what I’m wearing?