By Shakira Quiñones 

I became pregnant for the first (and so far only) time when I was a PhD student.

Although this pregnancy was planned and very wanted, I couldn’t help but worry about my research:

  • Would I complete my classes on time?
  • Would postponing my fieldwork ruin my work flow and really cut my time…?
  • Which will be due first, the baby or the paper?

At the end of my worries, the what will I wear? arrived –  followed by how in the world will I afford a whole new wardrobe?!

After a lot of “research”, which was basically scrolling done through Pinterest and watching YouTube videos, I came across many ideas on how to build a maternity wardrobe on a budget.

Here’s the good news: You DON’T have to buy a whole new wardrobe!

There are plenty of pieces that you already have, which you can wear through at least half of your pregnancy and some even through it all.

So, let’s get started.


During your first trimester you will mostly wear your normal clothes.

This is a great moment to start planning and saving money for your future purchases.

Women have different pregnancy experiences. I was one of those whose bump started to make its first appearances around the 10th week.

The hairband trick was not cutting it anymore by that point, but luckily a good friend came to my rescue. She donated two pairs of maternity pants into my coffers, which saved me a lot of money!

Before you start planning, ask friends for donations or offer to buy their maternity clothes off them.

Most women are very willing to give away or sell their maternity clothes at very affordable prices.

Also, save some money by getting thrift items that are in good condition and start planning your wardrobe around them.

Your future purchases should “go” with the style and color palette of what you already have.


Well, hello there, bump!

By your second trimester your belly starts to peek out, and your pants and skirts don’t fit you anymore.

Before you freak out, let me tell you about a wonderful thing called “the capsule wardrobe”.

Now, if you know about this term, you have a head start, but don’t go shopping just yet…hear me out 😉

A capsule wardrobe is a way to simplify your closet (and your life) by only having a few pieces that make your core outfits.

The idea is that these pieces can easily mix and match so you don’t have to think about it too much.

You’re an academic, you already think too much to add the “what should I wear today” to the list of your worries.

To make matters even simpler, I suggest a 10-item maternity wardrobe. Yes, 10!

This doesn’t mean that your closet will only have 10 items.

It means that you will have 10 CORE items to mix and match, and then some extras, to add diversity and dimension to your outfits.

Of course, it is a flexible idea, so if your lifestyle requires 15 pieces because you teach, have administration tasks, and also do fieldwork, then by all means, adjust to your needs.

Watch this TED Talk by the pioneer of the 10-item wardrobe.

20 places to shop for maternity clothes – Stylish Academic

Start with the bottoms

Actually, to start with the pants you need to look at your shoes.

Get maternity pants that can be worn with the shoes you wear the most.

Flats are going to be your best friends, which is great since they go with everything.

However, if you will be pregnant during winter and you mostly wear high boots, skinny trousers, leggings, and tights are your safest bets.

You don’t need more than 4 bottoms including skirts and dresses.


Although your belly is growing, you will most likely be able to wear many of your flowy-shirts, sweaters, and blouses during the first half of your second trimester.

Make sure you have at least 4 tops that you can mix and match with your maternity bottoms.

Cardigans and blazers from your normal wardrobe are a great way to add texture and dimension to your outfit, so those 4 tops can really go a long way when mixed with different pants, skirts, outwear, and accessories.

Even if you still fit in a lot of your clothes now, your third trimester is around the corner and you need to get maternity tops to accommodate your belly.

This is my money saving tips: Buy maternity tops that double as nursing tops.

Button-down maternity shirts are stylish, professional looking, and will be “easy access” when you come back to work and need to pump.

Another great idea is to get maternity/nursing tops in the form of fitted tank tops. They are my favorite because you can wear a blazer or cardigan over them and they don’t have all that extra fabric of the loose tops.


Enjoy. Seriously.

By this point you already have a wardrobe and now it’s time to just wrap up things at work, get the finishing touches of your nursery done, sit back, and enjoy your baby kicks.

Who has time to think what to wear, anyway? 😉

Here are some capsule wardrobe ideas to inspire you:

jadore 3

Bottoms (4 items):

  • Option 1: 1 pair of slacks, 1 pencil skirt, 2 dresses
  • Option 2: 2 pairs of slacks, 1 skirt, 1 dress



Maternity jeans: H&M Mama | Maternity T-shirt: Old Navy | Boots: Bata

Tops (4 items):

  • Option 1: 2 t-shirts, 2 blouses
  • Option 2: 1 t-shirt, 1 blouse, 2 shirts
  • Option 3: 1 t-shirt, 2 blouses, 1 shirt

Outwear (2): (borrow from normal wardrobe)

  • Option 1: 2 cardigans
  • Option 2: 1 cardigan and 1 blazer
  • Option 3: 2 blazers


  • 1 or 2 pair of leggings and/or tights
  • Casual t-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Winter coat
  • Belts

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