I bet you didn't realize how many options you had when it came to panel styles! For the best selection of belly panel style, secondhand is the way to go! Maternity consignment has the most variety in any given season then retail. Here is a look at the different panel styles used by maternity brands to keep you stylish and comfortable during your pregnancy.
Full Panel a.k.a Over Belly Panels
There are two types of fabrics used for a full panel, a.k.a. over the belly panel, a cotton-spandex blend and a nylon-spandex blend.
Thyme maternity makes a thick cotton spandex blend band for their maternity pants. Usually, in navy, this band is designed to be worn full or folded and worn below the belly.
Brands: Thyme Maternity
Motherhood Maternity has trademarked the term, Secret Fit Panel for their nylon-spandex blend belly panels. These panels are tight fitting and designed to fit smoothly and to be seamless through your maternity tops.
Other brands have adopted the nylon-spandex tight fitting panel for some of their maternity bottoms. Old Navy refers to their nylon-spandex blend panels as a Smooth Fit Panel.
Some brands have begun to give their maternity bottoms a finished look at the front of the bottoms, adding full waistbands or buttons, and have attached the panel to the inside of the maternity bottom. This gives the wearer the look of a real pant and keeps the panel secret.
Brands Include (but are not limited to): Thyme Maternity, Motherhood Maternity, Old Navy, Gap, Indigo Blue, Liz Lang, Mexx, Jessica Simpson.
Low rise a.k.a Below Belly Panels
Low rise panels vary from a full 360 panel, front and back to a front panel.
All brands make a low rise panel on some products, usually, the full 360 low rise panel is stiff and covered with a nylon-spandex blend fabric that is navy in colour. The colour can vary depending on the colour of the maternity bottoms
Some brands have panels that are just in the front, with the maternity bottom fabric extending higher in the back.
Brands include (but are not limited to) Old Navy, Gap Maternity, Liz Lang, Motherhood Maternity, Thyme Maternity
Pocket Panels a.k.a Hip Panels
Pocket panels are found on the hips where pockets are usually located. These can be any colour. They can be the traditional navy or can be tone-on-tone with the maternity bottom making them virtually invisible!
These panels vary from a nylon-spandex blend elastic to cotton spandex blend stretchy fabric.
Pocket panels give your pants the look and feel of regular pants and the stretch you need to accommodate for your baby bump.
Brands Include (but not limited to) Old Navy Maternity, Next Maternity
There are low rise varieties of bottoms that have done away with the panel altogether. These are low rise bottoms. Some contain a band on the inside of the waistband. This elastic mini band is the backing fabric of the waistband that is visible on the front. It's designed to stick to the skin so that you aren't constantly pulling up your pants.
Some maternity bottoms with no panel have adjustable elastics integrated into the waistband. These elastics are adjusted and held into place using a button.
Brands Include (but not limited to): Thyme Maternity, Motherhood Maternity, Loved by Heidi Klum.
Which Style Is Best?
That depends on your pregnancy.
Do you have sore, tactile sensitive skin? You may prefer no panel or low rise. Then again you might like the light compression of a nylon-spandex band.
Is baby high or low? If your baby is sitting low you may not be able to sit comfortably in a low rise pant, and a full panel may be the best option for you.
Have you gained weight in your seat, hips and thighs? You may prefer the pocket panel or low rise. If you're all baby, you may find you are pulling your pants up less frequently with a full panel.
Try a few styles and see what works best for you!