September 5, 2011

Maternity Jean Rundown – Which Styles Are Best For You? (Psst…We Have a Favorite)

PB065365 I have amassed an embarrassingly large amount of maternity jeans.  This large pile is partly due to crazy-good finds at a certain second hand maternity store (Childish Things in Boulder for you local gals), incessant Gap coupons for 40% off, serendipitously finding an old pair of maternity jeans from my first pregnancy, and borrowing from M.

The biggest difference I've noticed between my two pregnancies….which were only 2-3 years apart, BTW…is the amount of maternity jean styles available.  While pregnant with Raines, I was searching (and searching and searching) for under-the-belly jeans.  But the second time?  It's not just under-the-belly vs. panels, it's under-the-belly styles with hidden panels, no panels, side panels, back panels.  You want an actual panel?  There's a vast assortment of demi-panels and high panels with enough fabric and color choices to make my head swim.

(wearing: On S – Isabella Oliver skinny maternity jeans c/o Isabella Oliver and Isabella Oliver ruched cami….On R – Penguin striped pants, Smart Wool socks, Converse sneaks)

Want more good news?  Gap Maternity has been on fire – leading the way with a ton of panel/no panel choices that are both flattering and affordable.  But if designer denim is your thing (YUP –  it's mine!!)…as one would expect, the big name designers have also learned a few tricks in the last couple of years.  There's currently lots to love about maternity denim.

So which style of maternity jean is right for you?  After trying what feels like every style of maternity jean on the planet, there's a clear favorite (and M agrees!).  But since everyone is different – and each pregnancy is different – you'll want to take our favorite with a grain of salt.  

Below is a list of all of the styles I've tested.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of all maternity jeans on the market.  It's just an overview of the various types, along with my notes as a frustrated (and huge) second-time mum.

ps.  Never fear – I'm not actually pregnant again.  These pics are from my second pregnancy.  Little Pax will be 1 in Nov.  Sob!  

pps.  The pics are small (there's a ton) but all are clickable, if you want to see them in more detail.

 

No Panel – A True Under the Belly Fit

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What I'm Wearing:  These happen to be Gap Maternity denim shorts that I hacked off even further.

The Good: 

  • The jeans are contoured down lower in front (and a bit higher in the back) to fit expanding bellies…and avoid muffin top. 
  • Because these are truly cut to fit under-the-belly, bum slippage (resulting in a saggy bum) is at a minimum.
  • These look like normal jeans!  No one will ever guess that they are maternity.  Which gives me hope for use post-pregnancy. (UPDATE:  9 months post-partum, and I'm still wearing them!!)

The Bad: 

  • For women carrying really, really low (like me), these jeans were still not low enough in the front to last all nine months.  Midway though,at the end of the day, I was back to using rubber bands to keep them buttoned…and sitting for long periods of time was painful.  

What To Look For: 

  • Because these have the potential to be worn post-pregnancy, look for styles and washes that are meant to be worn a bit big so they don't look ridiculous when the baby weight comes off. Think boyfriend jeans, not skinny jeans.
  • Also be sure to try on several different styles and sizes.  A waistband that sits even lower in the front would be better for moms carrying low.

 

No Panel – With a Hidden Elastic in the Waistband

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What I'm Wearing:  Rock and Republic Tyler Maternity Jeans

The Good: 

  • The fabric is soft and comfortable.
  • Because there is so much stretch in the fabric and the hidden elastic in the waistband (exactly like little kid jeans), these jeans fit throughout your entire pregnancy. 

The Bad: 

  • There's so much stretch in the fabric that wearing them – even for an hour or so – leaves you with a saggy bum and billowing thighs.
  • While the elastic waistband allows you to zip them up all 9 months…the fit is off.  Major bum slippage.
  • These were some of the most unflattering jeans I tried.

What To Look For: 

  • I wouldn't.  Be very wary of any maternity jean whose only fit device is a hidden elastic waistband.  We are not toddlers.

 

Panel – Demi 

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What I'm Wearing:  Maternal America Megan Maternity Jeans

The Good: 

  • The demi-panel is a good choice for those waffling over the panel vs. no-panel debate.
  • The demi-panel has give, so will expand for a growing belly.

The Bad: 

  • If you are a second-time mum, your stomach will be big before it is hard.  So a demi panel will initially give you a weird muffin-top above the panel.  Not. Cute.
  • The demi panel has give but isn't big enough to hold onto the belly.  The result?  Major bum slippage.
  • Demi panel jeans are often cut slim (to account, I think, for the lack of hold) so if you are carrying as low as I did, they are not comfortable later in pregnancy. 

What To Look For: 

  • If you are a first time mum who doesn't plan on having any additional kids, then look for a demi-panel that….hunh.  No – scratch that.  You can do better.

 

Panel – Full

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What I'm Wearing:  Gap 1969 Full Panel Long and Lean Denim in Dark

The Good: 

  • The panel is flattering for all 9 months.
  • A full panel is great for second time moms – amazing during those first few 'fat-or-pregnant?' months -it helps to smooooth and hold everything in.
  • Because a full panel holds onto the belly, bum slippage is at a minimum. 
  • These jeans actually helped to relieve some back pain in the first and second trimesters.

The Bad: 

  • The panel can be hot, and can make some feel claustrophobic.
  • A dark panel shows through lighter tops.
  • At the very bitter end of my pregnancy, the panel stopped being supportive and comfortable and became constricting and simply too tight.  But I get HUGE.  So this won't happen to everyone.

What To Look For: 

  • A soft, silky panel.  Something with stretch, but very, very smooth.  Else it will itch like crazy on a sensitive, growing, belly, and anything bulky will show through.  Gap's are the best.
  • A flesh-toned panel.  Flesh toned panels hide better under tight maternity tops.  Joe's Jeans has great nude-colored panels, but I found them too itchy.  
  • Try M's trick – she came up with a DIY full-panel that solved all of the full panel issues

 

Panel – Only In the Back

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What I'm Wearing:  Uh…I'm not.  The model is wearing Gap's 1969 Back Panel Legging Jeans.  I had a pair of Gap's back-panel jeans (cropped, light-wash) during the first round of pics for this article.  I then somehow deleted most of those pics.  (Tantrum ensued, etc. etc.).  After I recovered from my mad and we took the next round of pics, I had already tossed them.  (But this also explains why my belly is two different sizes in this article, LOL!)

The Good: 

  • They were comfortable early into my pregnancy.  
  • Looks exactly like normal jeans from the front. 
  • At $80, they are one of the more affordable (yet still decent) pregnancy jeans.

The Bad: 

  • The back-panel is just a bit awkward.  It made the fit a bit too big early on…but didn't provide enough stretch to be comfortable later on.  (Remember that I carry soooo loooow.)  I ended up using a rubber-band in the buttonhole for a bit…then switched back to non-maternity denim and other maternity styles.  

What To Look For: 

  • If you try these on early in pregnancy and LOVE them…they'll probably be a good choice for now and post-partum.  I wouldn't expect them to fit for all 9 months unless you get lucky.  Also be sure to test them against your non-maternity jeggings (with a rubber-banded button).  I suspect it'll be close.

Panel – Front Only (and just a tiny one)

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What I'm Wearing:  Isabella Oliver Skinny Jeans c/o Isabella Oliver

They are no longer making these jeans, but the Bardot jeans seem similar.  These jeans have a small band of stretch ONLY in the front – just under the belly.  Click the middle picture to see what I mean.

The Good: 

  • I walked out in these jeans and my husband said, "Whoa!  Easily your hottest pregnancy jeans EVER, Babe!"  
  • Because the stretch is only in the front (where you need it), bum slippage wasn't an issue, AND I could fit into these jeans up until the last month.
  • They looked amazing post-partum as well.

The Bad: 

  • I had really high hopes for these jeans – these were the only jeans I could find that had the ingenious tiny, front-only panel.  Alas, these jeans fit more like jeggings, not jeans.  Which was a problem because the fabric was only 2% stretch (jeggings are typically 20%).  The result?  They were darn near impossible to put on.  I had to sit down and pull (and pull and pull) them over my size 5.5 feet.  Ridiculous for a pregnant lady.  However, once they were on they stayed put and looked amazing.  So YES – I did wear these from time-to-time. 

What To Look For: 

  • Isabella Oliver's Bardot jeans look wider around the ankle, so they may be easier to get into.
  • Personally, I'd like to see IO reissue their original skinny as a jegging (aka with a whole lotta stretch). The tiny front-panel has so much potential.  Readers, I'd love to know if you see this panel style anywhere else.  

 

….OUR FAVORITE Maternity Denim Style….

Panel – Side Only!!

  Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 11.30.39 AM PB145469 PB145470 PB145473

What I'm Wearing:  J Brand Maternity 12" Skinny Jeans

As you can tell from the side pic, these jeans have side panels.  The front and back look like normal jeans.

The Good: 

  • I can't say enough good things about these jeans.  The side panels give you just enough stretch as you grow, without sacrificing the fit in the bum.  These jeans look amazing and fit well through your whole pregnancy.  And well into the post-partum stage. 
  • Because the panel is on the side, you don't need to worry about feeling it on your skin…and if a little panel peeks out from under your shirt?  Who cares!  (And BTW – no one ever noticed. ) 

The Bad: 

  • Because of the panel placement, the front pockets are fake.  Gives you a nice lean silhouette, but no place to stash your hair-bands. 

What To Look For: 

Did we miss any other styles of maternity denim?  And we'd love to hear which pairs of denim you swore by…

xo,

S

9 Comments
  • Amy (BiblioMOMia)
    September 5, 2011

    You are utterly amazing, and you have one hot pregnancy belly! Kudos to you for doing this rundown for all of us–I KNOW I will be coming back to look at this for our #2! For #1, I was so darn sick that my regular jeans fit the whole time (albeit with rubberbands by the end), but I’m hoping that won’t happen again. The number of styles they have now is AMAZING.
    GORGEOUS mama!

  • Margie
    September 5, 2011

    Love. Love. Loved my Paige Jimmy boyfriend maternity jeans. Still wearing then post-partum!! Wish I would have seen the side panel ones from Paige though. Great article. ALMOST make me want to be pregnant a 3rd time! (give me a few more months, my 2nd is only 6 weeks!)

  • Sara
    September 6, 2011

    I hope never to need this post in the future (I think we’re done with pregnancy, with 2 kids now). But I read through it anyway (because you’re always interesting!), noting how many more options there are now than 6 years ago, even 3 years ago, when I was last pregnant.
    I have a whole issue with jean-butt sag completely unrelated to pregnancy and maternity jeans. I -have- an ass, but you wouldn’t know it by the look of my jeans an hour after I’ve put them on. You wouldn’t happen to have any help for that, would you?

  • Olivia
    September 7, 2011

    I love the full belly panel. Since I’m overweight, I don’t like anything that sits under my belly flab. I’m just barely pregnant with #2, and it is ridiculous how much I am looking forward to wearing my maternity pants again.

  • Ashley
    September 7, 2011

    Shana, do the J Brand jeans you linked to run true to size? I immediately ordered some last night after reading this post, but now am thinking that I ordered the wrong size. I’m usually a 28-29 in jeans but ordered a 30. I gained a lot of weight with my last pregnancy and was thinking that my maternity jeans were bigger than they were. I pulled them out today and they’re all smalls. Boo.
    Also, I’m short (5’2″), and think that you are too, yes? Did you have these hemmed?

  • Shana
    September 7, 2011

    @Amy – Thanks for the love, Chicky! So nice of you to take the time to comment!
    @Margie – Good for you! I’m still wearing my maternity denim shorts…but boyfriend jeans are a smart buy. Those will look good for a while…
    @Sara – The saggy bum problem is so annoying. To get rid of it, I’d first stop with lower-end denim. Target, Old Navy, Gap, etc. all sag like crazy. Secondly, if you are spending upwards of $100 on jeans, try a different brand. Sevens are notoriously bad for stretching, but I have had good luck with Paige’s. Or, you could try denim with a larger back flap pocket – these tend to help hide the saggy bum. Check out Hudson’s or William Rast.
    @Olivia – I was shocked at how much I loved my full belly panel. Shocked.
    @Ashley – Ooooo…Chicky, I think you ordered them too big. I’d stick to your pre-pregnancy size. They are pretty forgiving as you pack on the pounds. But you’ll use them longer post-partum if you start with a smaller size. And yes, I did hem the heck out of mine. :)

  • Amanda
    September 8, 2011

    I just discovered this blog and LOVE it! Even better that you’re in my hood! I just discovered Childish Things last week and my whole intent was to find designer denim. No luck, but I’ll be going back. Thanks so much for this run-down on maternity denim. I’m 19 weeks pregnant with my first baby and not wanting to spend a lot on maternity clothes (rather spend on regular clothes!), but I am willing to pay for maternity denim that makes my butt look good! I’ll check out the side-panel jeans and keep reading this blog religiously! Thanks so much!

  • Amanda
    September 9, 2011

    Also, do you think this is one day of the week when the selection at Childish Things is better than the others? I’d love to know!

  • Bellissima Maternity
    September 21, 2011

    I love her pants, it really great.

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