I’m Petite and Pregnant, So I Asked a Stylist How to Best Dress for My Shape

Proportions matter

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

petite and pregnant styling advice universal

One of the most awkward parts about pregnancy is how—even in the first trimester—you already start to feel a bit squished and uncomfortable in your clothes. That’s been my experience: I’m well into my second trimester now with my second child, but nothing (not my jeans, not my dresses) seems to fit like I want it to. But when I reached for my the dusty box with my maternity clothes from the first time around, I noticed: Way back then, I wasn’t really thinking about how to best dress for my petite shape (I’m 5’2”). So, I decided to turn to an expert, specifically Jillian Obarski, a stylist for Stitch Fix, who also happens to specialize in maternity wear. I asked her: How do I shop for maternity clothes that won’t overwhelm my frame? Here, her recommendations.

Meet the Expert

Jillian Obarski is one of several stylists on the Stitch Fix team who are dedicated to helping with maternity wear. In fact, she’s part of a recently launched program called M.O.M., which stands for milestones of motherhood, which aims to support the style needs of mothers throughout every single phase from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.

Want to know which buzzy products are *really* worth buying? Sign up for our shopping newsletter to uncover our favorite finds.

petite and pregnant empire waist and wrap dresses

1. A Wrap Dress (or Anything with an Empire Waist) Is a Petite & Pregnant Gal’s Style Savior

With all bump-friendly styles, the number one goal is to shop for clothes that come with a bit of give and flexibility. Per Obarski, this is where a wrap dress is destined to be your best friend. Instead of choosing a style with a ton of volume, a wrap dress—plus its adjustable belt—comes with a waist-defining feature that you can adjust as you move through each trimester, she explains. In a lot of cases, you can wear it on the other side, too, meaning the months (and sometimes years) after giving birth. Another silhouette that’s particularly flattering for petite moms? Empire waist dresses. “They’re a fantastic choice because they sit right below the bust and emphasize the slimmest part of the torso before flowing outwards,” Obarski says. This helps lengthen your frame and make you appear a bit taller.

petite and pregnant denim
Frame/Hatch/Belly Band

2. Belly Bands for Denim Are Clutch—But So Is Choosing Jeans with a Straight or Slightly Flared Leg

As much as it’s tempting to stick with your favorite pair of skinny jeans—we’re talking to you, millennial moms—maternity clothes for petites call for a looser (but still tailored!) silhouette. “Choosing a straight or slightly bootcut leg can help balance the proportions of a petite frame better than a skinny pant might,” Obarski says. The ideal fit is one that hits at an ankle length, which helps elongate your legs. Additionally, a straighter cut feels like a sister to skinny styles in that it still offers a close-to-the-leg fit, but comes with a bit more flexibility without too much volume or anything that feels over the top. Add a belly band to a favorite style and you’re ready to go.

petite and pregnant oversize button up
Frank & Eileen/lululemon/Gap

3. When It Comes to Non-Maternity Wear, an Oversize Button-Up Is a Must-Have

If you haven’t yet noticed, it’s A-OK to borrow from your non-maternity wardrobe to assemble a bump-friendly look. Case in point: the oversize button-up. While volume in many cases can overwhelm a petite frame, proportions are what matter. “For a look that’s equal parts comfortable and stylish, every petite pregnant person needs an oversize button-up that can be paired with black leggings,” Obarski says. “This particular top silhouette offers plenty of coverage that also flows nicely over the belly without overpowering a petite frame, while the leggings ensure flexibility and comfort.” In fact, Obarski says it’s her go-to pregnancy uniform for petites. “Reach for it every time you’re running errands,” she says.

petite and pregnant body con or t shirt dress
Frank & Eileen/Jenni Kayne/Beyond Yoga

4. A T-Shirt Dress or Bodycon Style, Plus Layers, Is a Winning Look

Again, while bump-friendly, anything shapeless is going to drown a smaller stature. (Of course, it that’s what makes you feel comfy right now, go forth.) Still, you can find a happy medium—say, a shirt dress which is a bit more figure-hugging around your belly or even a body con style. Per Obarski, styles like these allow you to play up your bump in a way that’s flattering while still looking relaxed. (Pop on a cardigan for an easy—and cozy—layer, she adds.)

petite and pregnant midi skirt
Hatch/Gap/Jenni Kayne

5. All Hail the High-Waist Midi

You’d be surprised what a workhorse a high-waist midi skirt can be for anyone petite and pregnant (bonus points if you find one with stretch). “Another tried-and-true combo is a midi skirt that sits over your bump, paired with a tucked-in maternity blouse,” Obarski says. “It works because it accentuates the smallest part of the waist, but the midi-skirt hemline elongates the body without overpowering it.”

Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...