Styling The Bump – First Trimester Tips (How to Style, What To Buy)



This post is the first in a series of posts on styling the bump through all stages of pregnancy.

While pregnant with my first…if I look back honestly, I didn’t love being pregnant.  I spent much of my first pregnancy feeling fat, did enjoy a too-brief period of being cute-pregnant, and then quickly skyrocketed up to scary big.  Add to all of this my desire to remain professional-looking at work (despite my co-worker’s crazy comments), and the fact that on my petite frame, my belly looked like another person.  Who was trying to eat me.

Once Raines was born, the weight did indeed fall off…but that’s hardly the right data point to use.  The weight, it turns out, isn’t the problem.  The problem is the belly.  Or maybe the cellulite. Or just gravity in general.  In any case, things are different now.  So when I got pregnant for the second time, I kept my expectations low.

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  This time around, not only have I learned a thing or two, but I’m also desensitized to my ballooning silhouette, and my belly now just makes me look pregnant, not like something is trying to eat me. (Although, I still find it annoying that people already are asking if I’m due “any day!”  I still have a week left in my second trimester, people!  C’mon!)

In any case, what I’ve learned from my own two pregnancies, as well what I’ve learned while styling pregnant moms for the Hopscotch Hustle (Weecycle’s annual fashion show) can pretty much be summarized into the following three rules:

Trimester One – Hide the Bump

Trimester Two – Work the Bump

Trimester Three – Flaunt the Bump

In this article, let’s talk about the first trimester.  It can be a toughie.

Trimester One – Hide the Bump

Your boobs are bigger, your belly is flabby, and for some of you (like me)…you may have started gaining weight in your bum area, leaving many of your pants too tight. So how to deal?  Try some of the following tips:

1.  Empire Waist / Swingy Tops

This is the old stand-by of pregnant moms everywhere.  However, be wary – this silhouette is rather outdated.  While it does hide the initial jelly-like belly, it’s also like wearing a sign that says, “I’m pregnant!!”  (Although, I do still love this one.  Was amazing through my entire pregnancy.)

To make this look more flattering, keep other parts of your top fitted.  Empire waist tops should either fit
nice and tight over your shoulders or show off your shoulder (like the halter top pictured below).  A little cleavage never hurts, either.  Especially since the first trimester makes ‘the girls’ look fab.


(photo credit:  Hopscotch Hustle model, wearing clothing from Becoming Mothers boutique in Boulder, CO.)


2. Trapeze Tops

A much better choice is a trapeze top.  The swing starts from above your bust (instead of under it, like an empire waist).


The advantage here is that instead of accentuating your belly, there’s enough swing to hide it.  And trapeze tops will be your very best friend in the jelly-belly post-partum phase.



3.  Over-sized, Slouchy Tops

Remember the over-sized, off-the-shoulder tops of the 80’s?  Well…they’re back.  And like most trends that resurface, they are much more flattering.  These tops have amazing drape, a little swing, and hide a first-trimester belly like no other.  (And the off-the-shoulder part is completely optional.)

Best of all?  They’ll hide a post-partum pooch, too!


(wearing: JBrand lovestory bells, Clarks booties, Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent sweater, Vanessa Bruno bag, Mike’s watch) 

These come in many forms.  You can find tank tops, tees, blouses, or sweaters that are all slightly over-sized, and fabulously drapy pooch-hiders.


4.  Banded-Waist Tops

I love banded-waist tops for early pregnancy.  These tops are often just enough to hide the initial belly, but the band keeps the focus on the narrowest part of your hips.

Most banded tops have enough room to last through the second trimester and most of the third…but if you tend to get a huge belly (Yup, that’s me), then they won’t be very helpful at the end.

This is also one of my favorite looks for post-partum gals, and will look cute long after the kiddo is born.

Who knows what I’m hiding in there…


(wearing: forever 21 stretch-waistband pants, Mia bukaroo boots, Banana Republic button-down, Vince ruffled dolman sweater with banded-waist bottom, marc jacobs bag, J.Crew headband, Salt sunnies)

5.  Capes and Ponchos

You will love them now, you will love them post-partum.  If the weather is warm, look for ponchos that are really just glorified t-shirts.  In cold weather, cozy sweater-ponchos will solve many what-to-wear dilemmas.



6. Dresses Are Your Friends

Dresses hide many a poochy stomach, and are comfortable to boot!  Even better, many dresses that fit nicely now (and hide your new stomach) will be your superstars for the post-partum period as well.

Look for swingy trapeze dresses, slouchy sweatshirt dresses, dresses with strategic ruching, or just shift dresses that skim, rather than squeeze.



Trimester One – What Not to Buy

1.  Don’t Buy Maternity Jeans

I know it’s tempting.  But don’t do it. Borrow larger sizes from friends, use the rubber-band-through-the-buttonhole technique, invest in a bella band.  Your body is about to start some cr-Azy changes…but what you’ve experienced thus far pales in comparison to what’s ahead.

2.  Don’t Buy a Diaper Bag

You will be carrying this thing around for years.  Buy it now, and you’ll be sick of it before the kid turns 5 months.  I promise.  Besides, if you try to find a diaper bag in the same time-frame as registering for needed baby items….you’ll likley end up trying to “make due” with whatever you happen to find at BabiesR’Us.  It’s better to wait.

Trimester One – What to Buy

1.  A Bella Band

You wear the Bella Band over the top of your un-buttoned jeans.  It simply looks like a longer tank top peeking out.  I personally found the Bella Band a bit uncomfortable…but it did help me get through the awkward early stages of pregnancy.  You can pick up one of these at Target for about $16, called the BeBand.


2.  Invest in Cute, Drapey Tops, Ponchos and Dresses

Treating yourself to some cute swingy, drapey tops, ponchos or dresses (like the ones discussed above) will go a long way to help you cope with the chubbies.  And everything you buy in this period will also look fab post-partum.

If you are really the practical sort, look for tops with a larger, stretchy neckline should you decide to nurse later (rule of thumb: if you can easily pull it down over a boob, you can nurse in it) and tops or dresses that are easily washed.  Spit-up will happen.  White or light-colored tops get extra bonus points in this category.

3.  Cozy-Knit Tie Sweater

In addition to the fab drapy tops and ponchos, I think most moms will benefit from a wrap sweater with a tie, like this one:


(photo credit: Piperlime)

The tie can help hide a poochy stomach during the first part of the pregnancy, then the cardi can be worn open once the belly gets bigger.  You simply tie the belt in the back, or above the bump for a flattering silhouette.  Something like this:



This type of sweater will be great for nursing, and instantly helps to dress up (aka hide) spit-up stained tanks.  Or baby-food splattered tees.  Or muddy camis.  Or…well, you get the picture.  It’s instant polish.

4.  Comfy Flat Shoes (or Small Wedges, if you must)

For many of you (and I include myself in this category, post first babe)….the assertion that you may stop wearing heels once you get bigger is ludicrous, I know.  But the fact is…your center of gravity will shift.  And once the baby comes, things get even less heel-friendly.  I know many a die-hard heels gal who has been known to bust out the flats once she realizes how hard it is to carry around a little babe.  Especially in the ice and snow.

A note for the broken-hearted:  You’ll still wear your heels, just probably not as much.  Like running around while babywearing, for example.  I’m guessing you’ll go with flats.

Finding cool-yet-still-practical footwear is something we are obsessed with.  We spend tons of time trying to style comfy flat shoes (here’s an example).  Some safe bets are shown below, and be sure to check out our reader’s recommendations here.


(shoes: converse, asics, clarks desert boots, sperrys, minnetonka mocs….frye jaydenfrye paige trapunto)

5.  A Great Scarf

Unless your first trimester falls in the dead of summer, a great scarf will go a long way to distracting the eye up away from the baby bump.  My favorite types of scarves tend to be lightweight.  You can use them virtually all-year, and they make a great impromptu blanket, shady covers or (in a pinch) a sling once the baby comes.


(photo credit: JCrew)




Last Updated 9/17/2013