Maternity Fashion Mishap: Stripes, Stripes, and More Stripes

Pile of stripped maternity wear.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I quickly began outgrowing my closet of XS size tops and size 0 pants. As a young lady with few other friends with children, I resorted to a Google search of the stores that carried maternity clothes. At the time Destination Maternity was listed, as well as Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod, Target, and Old Navy. Some other stores had a small selection of clothes for us women growing humans, but the selection only consisted of a couple racks shamefully hiding behind nightgown moo moos.

Getting new clothes felt like a rite of passage, physical proof that I was beginning to show, change shapes, and that the little one inside me was making cozy its new home. I imagined that I’d be in the most fashionable, cute clothes with my precious baby bump showing, and that shopping would be a breeze. I called my mom, and off we went.

The Shopping Spree:

Of course, although enjoyable, shopping wasn’t quite as easy as expected. There’s a lot of algorithms you have to consider: how big you are now + how big you’ll get + what season you’re in and will be in + does this fabric make my skin itch? When you’ve only been pregnant once, it’s hard to gauge if the size small shirt that fits now will last another three months or two weeks. Of course, there’s that fake baby bump you can strap to your already pregnant belly to help you out. The funny thing is, they made the side that goes against your belly flat when your belly is already round!

So there I was, trying to reach behind me, put the belly bump pad in place, and strap it on as it’s rocking left and right on my belly like a mechanical bucking horse. I think I ended up taking it off and instead just pulling at the middle of my shirts to test if it had any give. Should I go with the soft cotton fabrics with no give, or the itchy stretchy kind that has a better shot at lasting through my third trimester? *sigh* Like I said, maternity shopping ain’t that quick.

The Mishap Moment:

While I was fretting over fabrics and sizes, I paid no attention to what would be my biggest shopping mishap. When I returned home and began hanging up my clothes, I started to notice a very unsightly pattern, literally: suddenly 3/4ths of my closet looked like a 19th century prison rack of clothes waiting to be assigned to inmates. 

I had always heard not to buy horizontal stripes, that instead of the lengthening vertical stripes, horizontal only served to shorten as well as accentuate curves. Standing at 4’10” I didn’t really need much more shortening, and it not only accentuated my belly, but the growing upper region that I didn’t care much to emphasize.

Lessons Learned:

To make up for this fashion trend, I attempted to shop for a few solids to wear. To my surprise, there were only a select few on the racks. And, once I picked up two styles, I just about had every solid color style option I could choose from: fitted, ribbed T-shirt, or loose, hanging T. I ended up buying the exact same shirt in about three different colors to make up for the lack of selection and balance out my closet. Truly I tell you, I looked incredibly sexy in my striped shirts, week-long-cant-wash-cause-it’s-my-only-pair-that-fits pants, with my flat shoes that I wore every day because my feet were too swollen for anything else.

Friday become my solid color shirt day, and OH man was it like having candy after a sugar ban.

After awhile, I started to recognize horizontal stripes as the uniform of the pregnant American woman, and taking pictures of the maternity section started becoming a running joke between my friends. “Notice anything?” I’d say. “Guess what section I’m in?” After my pregnancy was over, I vowed to NEVER buy anything in stripes again.

Now pregnant with my second child, I once again unpack all my maternity clothes, and I wonder to myself who in the fashion industry decided to condemn pregnant mothers to nine months of stripes?

Please, someone, I beg you, design us some new clothes.

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Kaley is a full-time working mother of two. She stands 4’10” married to her 6’1″ husband, with kids set on the growth chart to outgrow her by age 7. While not working, she enjoys literature, writing, exercising, experimental cooking (no recipe, just winging it by smell and taste!), tea (always loose leaf!), and getting to bed by 9pm (although that never happens). Follow Kaley’s blog at


  1. Oh, Friend! You should’ve seen the selection of PLUS maternity when I was pregnant with Christopher in 1999…and how little it had changed in a DECADE when I was pregnant with Jane Ellen in 2010! o_O


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