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I think it is okay to buy *some* right away.
But you never know where you are going to gain your weight (some people gain in their thighs and butt too) or how you are going to carry your belly (high, low)- so if you buy too much, some of it might be worthless.
And I found that clothes that fit in 2nd tri- didn't fit in 3rd tri- and I had to get some new ones.
I wore a Tummy Tube the majority of my pregnancy so I didn't have to buy maternity pants and shorts. It worked great except in the back when I would sit or bend over- the band would ride up in the back. To solve that problem I used handy little clips called Pocket Dots (http://pocketdots.com) that held my band in place.
I think maternity pants can be pretty baggy. I much rather wear my regular pants unzipped! Those maternity bands and Pocket Dots made my pregnancy so comfortable and saved me a lot of money!!
Buy maternity clothes when you start feeling uncomfortable in your own. Why not take advatage of some sales.
I have found Japanesse weekend pant are a great fit, have that stretch where you need it and don't slide down as much, they look nice. You feel better when you have clothes on that fit. And you don't have to deal with have your regular pants open.
Check out withchildmaternity.com they have a good selection of maternity clothes.