In-store: Mavi jeans will transform any pair of regular Mavi denim into custom maternity pants for a $20 flat rate. Because a lot of maternity jeans are hopelessly ill-fitting – or, honestly, just kind of lame – finding an in-style pair of jeans that you can wear through pregnancy is like searching for the Holy Grail. Both Vancouver Mavi stores – Kitsilano and Yaletown – offer this service. If you don’t want to buy a new pair of Mavis, bring in one of your old pairs and they’ll happily convert those too.
Online: Online U.K. fashion brand Asos has an amazing maternity selection and will ship to Canada for free when your order is over $35. They have everything you could possibly need, from denim to jackets and beachwear to lingerie.
What to get: If they have denim in stock, their skinny jeans with belly bands that sit below your belly (rather than the large fabric that pulls right over them) are super comfortable for the second trimester. Non-pregnant women always asked me where I got my jeans when I wore the “Leigh” in dark denim.
What to avoid: The selection at Topshop has gone from decent to sparse, so avoid going here altogether if it’s out of your way… you may be disappointed. In the past year, the section has expanded and contracted several times, so you never know what kind of stock they’ll have.
Insider tip: Despite the abysmal selection here in Vancouver, Topshop does have plenty of trendy maternity wear, so shop online to find the best of what they offer.
Location: Topshop at The Bay – 674 Granville Street
What to get: Just as it’s true for non-maternity shopping, Old Navy is best relied on for basics and not much else. Look for plain maxi skirts, cotton tanks and tees. The tanks and tees with ruching down the sides may look strange on the rack, but they accommodate your belly, are ultra-flattering and double as functional workout tops. Old Navy is a great spot for workout clothing, and sizing up in their non-maternity exercise tops can accommodate a growing belly. For pants, though, stick to their black maternity workout tights – they’re well-made, not too expensive and the waistband can cover your belly or fold down underneath it, depending on your preference.
What to avoid: Make sure you pay careful attention when selecting sizes. Although it seems counterintuitive at a time when you’re getting larger, try going a size down in the maxi skirts – the band loses its elasticity fairly quickly, so you’ll need something tighter to keep your skirt up and in place.
Insider tip: Check out the baby section, which is often right next to the maternity duds. Cheap newborn clothes are essential when your babe grows at a rapid clip in his first year.
What to get: A lot of H&M’s maternity pants and jeans have thinner elastic waistbands than you’ll find in other pants. And when you have an additional panel of fabric pulled halfway up your stomach, it’s essential that it’s not super thick and stifling.
What to avoid: It’s tempting to buy clothes from H&M without first trying them on – anything to avoid those epic change-room lineups – but their maternity-wear sizes may surprise you, sometimes fitting much larger or smaller. So unless you’re planning another visit in the near future, suck it up and try everything on before making your purchase.
Insider tip: Buy one size up in H&M’s non-maternity flowy, sleeveless tunics – paired with leggings, these can be worn in any season (pair it with a cardigan in the fall/winter) and will take you to at least seven or eight months.
Check out the Merona line’s patterned cardigans and array of dresses, from long to short and tight to flowy. As your belly grows, nothing feels as good as the absence of a judgmental waistband.
Target also sells the BeMaternity line, by Ingrid & Isabel. Do yourself a favour and buy a pair of the belly leggings early on in your pregnancy – they offer an amazing fit and always snap back into place, no matter how large your belly is getting. I wore mine from the first trimester through the third.
What to avoid: There is a lot of questionable denim (stiff, ill-fitting, dated styles) lingering on the Target racks. Be realistic about how comfortable the jeans are, because if they make you the least bit irritable when you slip them on, chances are you’ll wear them once and never again.
Insider tip: Check out the sale selection before you fall in love with everything on the full-priced racks. Major sales in the maternity section seem to occur without much advertisement or fanfare. You can easily find dresses that were once $25 marked down to $7, with every size still available.
What to get: Need a special occasion dress? Want to splurge on a few items that you’ll be wearing often? Destination Maternity is filled with designer options for the discerning (and well-funded) mama-to-be.
The A Pea in a Pod clothing line is pricey, but the quality is incredible and the styles are trendy enough that non-pregnant women will be inquiring about your outfits. Check out the A Pea in a Pod side-ruched T-shirts – they’re long enough to easily cover your bum, so wearing them with tights is a no-brainer (comfort is key, especially in the last few months), and they’re ridiculously soft.
The Motherhood Maternity line is priced well and has lots of pretty, flowy tops that will accommodate your growing belly for months, plus a great selection of plus-sized clothing. Motherhood Maternity also has its own store on West 4th Avenue – it's kind of like Destination Maternity, but without the warm customer service and about a quarter of the selection. It is, however, located between two high-end kids stores: Crocodile Baby (a great place for stroller research) and Hip Baby (more wooden toys than you can shake a stick at).
What to avoid: Try not to lose your mind and blow your budget here. Remember that you’ll need to clothe that future baby of yours, too.
Insider tip: Go for the amazing selection, but stay for the service. Ask the women who work here for clothing suggestions and let them know your budget – they’re incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and they’ll probably (correctly) guess how far along you are before you even tell them. Take them up on their offer for a drink and they’ll bring you an ice-cold bottle of water or juice.
Location: 805 Boyd Street, New Westminster; 6070 200th Street, Langley
What to get: Make one of your first maternity purchases here and pick up the Ingrid & Isabel BellaBand. This simple swath of stretchy fabric goes around your hips over your pants, and will take your regular-sized bottoms into pregnancy by allowing you to wear them with the button and zipper undone. This name-brand band is a pinch pricier, but for a piece of fabric whose job is to hold your pants up and together, it’s worth the extra cost.
For those moms-to-be who need business-casual wear, Thyme has plenty of blouses and bottoms that are office appropriate. For layering underneath your blouses, the Thyme-brand tanks fit well without losing their shape after wearing them nearly every day.
What to avoid: Don't bother with Thyme's leggings – they'll lose their shape after a couple of wears and you'll be constantly questioning their transparency.
Insider tip: Sign up for the Thyme Maternity card, and close to your due date, you’ll get a goodie bag (or should I say, box) in the mail filled with newborn diapers, a bottle, a changing pad, backpack and a few other necessities.
Comfort and fashion are key when you've got a baby on the way. Take a look at the best maternity stores Vancouver has to offer
For moms-to-be, it can be tough finding comfortable and fashionable maternity wear. But don't stress – from fancy to casual, we’ve put together a list of the best maternity stores in Vancouver. Keep your baby belly comfy while still looking stylish before and after baby is born.
Kristen is an SFU master of publishing graduate and the associate editor at BCBusiness magazine. She enjoys live music, wordplay and stories well told. She snowboards in the winter, skim boards in the summer and drinks wine all year round. Blog | Twitter