maternity fashion through the ages

So I’m wearing an orange flowy top today and thinking about just how much I resemble a pumpkin. But normal clothes don’t fit me anymore, so I’ve been relegated to wearing what maternity retailers think is fashionable and also what a bunch of my formerly pregnant friends have been kind enough to hand over to me.

What’s more, I’m trying to shine it on through December in the clothes I’ve already got because I really, really, really don’t want to buy anymore maternity clothes in the eighth month. Add to that the fact that we are currently experiencing a change in season and you might understand a little of what I’m going through.

I am currently making do with: three pairs of jeans (two gifted, one purchased), and four pairs of pants (three gifted, one purchased; only two that are even remotely flattering), four long-sleeve t-shirts and one gigantic XL gray maternity hoodie that makes me look like a sea cow.

"I like to be called manatee!"

In my infinite whitegirlness, I was lamenting about the unfairness of it all, when a coworker piped up and said she was actually MAD JELZ of all the cool maternity clothes they make these days. She said back in her day (in the late 80s if I’m accurately dating her), the only jeans they made were all elastic, no pockets, and made you look utterly fat and stupid. (She actually didn’t say that “fat and stupid” part; I added that in myself for flavor).

Of course I nearly gushed: BLOG POST IDEA!

So let’s have a look at how maternity clothes have evolved through the years…

1950s. Loose tops and narrow skirts. The pregnant belly was looked upon as an abomination; basically the equivalent of wearing a shirt reading: “I HAD FUCK TIMES!” You were encouraged to cover it up and stay where people were not forced to imagine you mid-coitus.

Ick. And they had to be ironed.

From some weird fundie web page I found called Immodest Trends in Maternity Wear (and this is FOR REAL):

“I believe that this sublime body irregularity is an invitation for the mother to be less active socially and stay at home more doing all she can to best influence the small being she is shaping in her womb.”


1955. Debut of the maternity panty.


1960s. Respectable ladies still tried to hide the pregnancy-abomination as much as possible, as evinced below. (I couldn’t find any actual photos of Jackie pregnant, so this shot of Stepford Katie on the set of that “Kennedys” mess will have to do.)

The smock-style swing jacket elegantly screens Jackie's dirty little secret.

Unrespectable ladies, however, wore whatever the hell they pleased.

I actually love this photo...except, wait, is that a cigarette in her hand? FUCK.

[image source]

And, AR would cry if I wrote about 1960s maternity wear and didn’t reference this:

1970s. Polyester knit separates! Bell-bottoms with long flowy tops, while all the rage, will make even 6’5″, 110-pound ladies look like walruses. GENIUS.

1970s Montgomery Ward fug


Clearly, you look a lot better in a baby doll dress when you are carrying the devil's spawn.

All hail the empire waist of satan!

1980s. Finally…JEANS! But…no pockets! Fuck.

I'm not even sure if this is the front or the back.

And jumpers.


You might think in the very least, a nice, loose dress, while fug, would be comfortable, but you’d be wrong: it just creates the perfect environment for swollen thighs to rub together amid a torrent of sweat. (I’m told.)

1990s-2000s. The empire waist comes back in a big way.

A REALLY big way.

And the pinnacle of modern maternity fashion: the skinny maternity jean. I think the initial intent of this post was to point out how maternity wear has improved over the years…

The embodiment of fug.

Not so much.


28 thoughts on “maternity fashion through the ages

  1. hahahaha, oh man. i definitely recall my mom wearing those pocketless, elastic-waist jeans back in the 80’s when she was preggo with my sister.

    when are you gonna show us some pics of you??? preferably taken in the bathroom mirror with your iphone.

    can’t wait to meet the bebe!

  2. My mom definitely wore that flowered jumper in the 80’s when she was pregnant with me.
    I think when I’m pregnant I’ll just go with the muumuu. Like Homer Simpson, when he was 300 lbs.

  3. The Katie Holmes casting will never make sense in my mind. Ever. In any movie, in any TV show. If it’s not Joey Potter, she shouldn’t be playing it. Maybe even then.

  4. I have this problem that almost all of my clothes could probably easily tranlate to maternity wear. I loathe wearing anything that is fitted around my stomach and I’m sure there have been times where people actually speculated that I was knocked up.
    Luckily for my dignity and their faces they never said anything.

    • ha! I’m still wearing a few non-maternity shirts too, I just don’t have ANYTHING for winter and I can’t wear jeans to work. I need to bribe my doctor into putting me on 2 months of bedrest so I don’t have to wear real clothes anymore.

  5. From what I see from pregnant women around me, the clothes is getting really low cut so they can show off one of the positive side effects of pregnancy.

    I think pregnant women look super cute in maxi dresses.

    • Me too! I loved the maxi dresses over the summer but they can get pretty swampy underneath if it’s too hot out.
      I’m actually super self-conscious because I’ve never had huge jugs before. I wear sports bras now and tank tops under everything.

      • So agreed on the maxi dresses–and the sweaty thigh factor that comes with them… But that’s what baby powder was made for, right? I love them now that there’s a spawn in there (didn’t before), and will wear them with delight till I pop, particularly because my husband thinks I look like a caterpillar in them.


      Also, this post is amazing. Those jeans! Both pairs! And the heels! WTF! I have the same prob as you – all my maternity clothes are for summer, and now it’s 3 degrees out and I’m still f-ing pregnant – so I have been rocking leggings and a super-tight, super-long black shirt/dress thing with a long cardigan. It is not in any way modest, and none of it is technically maternity wear, but whatever. It fits.

  6. Those skinny jeans look god awful. I was akin to maternity jeans and plain maternity t-shirts. Fuck fashion, I was preggo and uncomfortable. Only an asshole would wear maternity skinny jeans. And I want to know what pregnant person can fit into heels like that.

  7. So do you think there’s every any hope for this kind of thing or do you think you’ll be able to do another post about this in a few decades with even more bad style? I cringe in horror at what I’ll have to wear in the coming years when I get around to getting knocked up.

    • I’ve never been what you’d call “high fashion” (and couldn’t afford to be anyway), I think it’s safer to stick with capris, jeans and t-shirts. Target has a pretty great line of comfortable and not fugly maternity clothes.
      And I cannot imagine how ANY pregnant chick would feel comfortable in heels. That’s just horrible and stupid.

  8. My mom had kids on and off for twelve years, so she basically covered everything from the 1970’s polyester abominations (with me) to the early days of the empire-waist dresses (with my youngest sister). It was all about tenting, and she got all nervous and fussed when I told her I plan on wearing tight things when my belly gets bustin’–I need to be careful lest I give her a heart attack at Christmas. Fitted shirts, imagine the horror….

    • LOL @ “on and off for twelve years…”
      I didn’t think I wanted to wear fitted tops when I first got pregnant. It seemed like…gloating, almost? But I got over that REAL fast when I saw how fat the alternative made me look. Also, they grow with you. I’ve been able to wear all the same t-shirts throughout. With the pants, I’ve learned what fits in the 1st trimester won’t necessarily fit in the 3rd…depressing.

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