If you’re looking for the best ethical and sustainable maternity clothes, I’ve got heaps of suggestions for you. From sustainable brands to where to buy secondhand maternity wear, it’s all right here.
As someone who has had two kids, I know only too well the dilemma of trying to dress ethically and sustainably when it feels like your body is changing shape on a daily basis. Everything is expanding out the way, and you’re never too sure if something is going to fit from one week to the next.
As I’ve navigated this maze twice now, I thought I’d help you out with the planet-friendly and budget-friendly approach I took in my own pregnancies. I’ve also got suggestions for great ethical maternity clothes brands.
A Sustainable Approach to Ethical Maternity Clothes
Here’s how you can dress the sustainable way – use the quick links to jump to a specific section or keep scrolling for the full post:
- Shop Your Own Wardrobe
- Rent Or Borrow
- Shop Secondhand
- DIY Options
- Best Ethical & Sustainable Maternity Clothing Brands
- Ethical Maternity Bras
- The Maternity Clothes You Don’t Need To Buy
- Sustainable Nursing Clothes
Shop Your Own Wardrobe
The most ethical maternity clothes are the ones you already own. From my existing non-maternity wardrobe I looked for:
- Leggings and tights
- Stretchy tops and jumpers
- Stretchy dresses and empire line dresses. A word on dresses. As your bump gets bigger and bigger your existing non-maternity dresses will get shorter and shorter on you so you might want to wear them as tunics with maternity jeans or leggings underneath.
- Wrap dresses
- Elastic waisted skirts
- Shirts – wear unbuttoned over a stretchy vest or top
- Oversized clothing
I put away anything I couldn’t wear. So for example, a lot of my tight dresses got put away. I don’t have a big wardrobe. Heck, I don’t even own a wardrobe. I just have one chest of drawers and a box under my bed. Therefore, I didn’t have a massive amount of clothes to choose from but the things I did have were surprisingly versatile!
As the months progress I sincerely doubt you’ll be able to get through your whole pregnancy just with what’s in your wardrobe already. The good news is that there are a few other avenues to explore before having to resort to buying new ethical maternity clothes!
Rent Or Borrow
With so many maternity clothes out there, all worn for under 9 months, I say why buy when you can rent or borrow?
It’s not just economical but eco-friendly, helping to reduce waste and over-consumption. Ask your friends if they have any maternity clothes you can borrow, or look online for one of the many platforms that allow you to curate a temporary maternity wardrobe.
Renting is particularly good if you have an event coming up, such as a party or wedding, and don’t want to splash out on an expensive maternity dress that you’ll wear only once or twice.
I found two beautiful secondhand maternity dresses that I wore for pretty much the whole duration of both of my pregnancies. If you’re into the idea of wearing dresses (I know not everyone is) I found it quite an economical way of dressing whilst pregnant. You only need one item of clothing – whereas with trousers you need a top as well.
Both times around I was heavily pregnant in winter so a cardigan out of my existing wardrobe helped keep me warm. The best thing with that is that there is no need for special maternity cardigans!
Other good things to look for on eBay or other secondhand sites are maternity jeans and trousers. I’d have been lost without my maternity jeans!
While you’re on eBay keep an eye out for maternity bundles. This is where people are selling their maternity clothing in bulk packages. You might get a whole new-to-you ethical maternity wardrobe for not much money!
There are a few other places where you might find ethical secondhand maternity clothes online. Check out my guide to places to shop for secondhand clothes online for more ideas.
I didn’t have a great deal of luck finding maternity clothes in charity shops. What I did find were regular clothes that worked well with a bump. Skirts with elasticated waists are handy for wearing below your bump – see my collection above. I also found that wrap dresses were surprisingly good at covering bumps.
Making a bump band is a great way of eking out the life of your non-maternity tops and bottoms with a band that covers the gap between your top and your trousers!
The good news is a bump band is not difficult to make. Here’s an easy bump band DIY from A Beautiful Mess. If you really can’t sew you could always cut an old stretchy vest in half (horizontally across the middle) to make your band.
Best Ethical & Sustainable Maternity Clothes Brands
If you need or want to buy something new, then there are a few ethical maternity clothes brands worth looking into:
Ethical kids retailer Frugi has a great selection of ethically made organic cotton maternity wear that is designed for fashion and functionality to keep you feeling fabulous during and after your pregnancy.
Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer Maternity Wear is another option to explore for ethical maternity clothes. Although not perfect, Marks & Spencer is a cornerstone of the British high street, and their Plan A demonstrates their commitment to sustainability.
Boob Design is an ethical clothing brand specialising in maternity and nursing wear. Its entire range is made ethically from sustainable fabrics, including GOTS-certified organic cotton.
Tiffany Rose specialises in ethically made maternity occasion dresses and maternity evening wear, with all pieces designed and made in Britain. Their pieces are definitely high-budget and have been worn by celebrities and royalty.
Whoever you buy ethical maternity clothes from, after you’re done with your clothes, either keep the clothes for potential future pregnancies, pass them on to friends or sell them online. Alternatively, you could buy items from my list at the top, such as elasticated waist skirts, shirts, etc, from any ethical retailer. I have a handy guide to women’s ethical clothing brands to help you out.
Ethical Maternity Bras
The only thing I haven’t skimped on is maternity/nursing bras. When you’re pregnant you need all the support you can get! I couldn’t find any ethical maternity or nursing bras, so settled for the Marks & Spencer maternity/nursing bras, which I really rated.
The Maternity Clothes You Don’t Need To Buy
I’ve always found that the maternity clothes market tries to sell you things you don’t really need. I found that I didn’t need maternity-specific leggings, tights, knickers, and pyjamas/sleepwear.
The good news is you don’t need too many clothes. Depending on how often you do laundry then maybe about five days’ worth of clothing (so you don’t get completely sick of wearing the exact same things over and over again).
A word of warning for the first-time mums-to-be. You may need to keep wearing your maternity clothes after you’ve had your baby for a little bit, as post-birth it can take a little while for your body to go back to some kind of normal. So I can promise you, whatever you buy you will be sick of it by the time you go back to wearing normal clothes!
Ethical Nursing Clothes
While I’m here, a note on nursing. If you’re planning on breastfeeding some people say you should stock up on specific nursing tops. The thing is, breastfeeding is a totally normal activity and does not need a brand new wardrobe or a specialist wardrobe, ethical or otherwise.
I owned precisely zero specifically designed nursing tops. Instead, I found the best approach for nursing discretely in public was to wear a vest under whatever I was wearing. When my daughter needed feeding I reached down and unhooked my nursing bra, and then pulled the vest down just enough and the outer top up just enough. It takes practice (just like breastfeeding takes practice) but once you’re used to you can feed discretely without having to buy a whole new wardrobe.
Do you have any ethical maternity clothes tips? Advice on retailers that you’ve found? Nursing tips? Do share in the comments below! And do check out my guide to ethical kids’ clothes, which might prove useful to you in the coming months! As may my guides to washable nappies and eco-friendly disposable nappies!