Just the mention of “maternity wear” brings images of tent-like dresses, elasticised panels and strange tops that allow for easy access to baby’s food supply straight to mind! Mention these qualities to a fashion blogger and you’ll see them running for the hills faster than you can say “breast pump”! So when I saw that plus sign appear on the pregnancy test, I vowed to be true to myself and not simply give in to what is typically deemed ‘appropriate’ wear for a mama-to-be. By purchasing a few maternity pieces, you can then style your existing wardrobe in new ways, meaning you’ll look chic, spend less, and be true to your own style throughout your pregnancy. So without further ado, here’s my guide to dressing yourself with a bump in tow!
Before I dive into the fashion goodies, let me start with one tip I found overwhelmingly helpful. The minute your bump makes its grand debut and you can no longer wear your everyday faves… clean out your closet. Now I’m not saying you should actually get rid of anything (that will come later when you are nesting!), but do pull out and store anything and everything that has a fitted waist, does not allow for stretching, or any special pieces that you don’t want to ruin. Fold and tuck them in a spare cupboard or suitcase, then don’t give them another thought until your post-partum recovery has passed. This leaves you with a wardrobe that you can easily fling open, pulling out anything to wear without those “I wish that still fit” feelings getting you down. Being able to get dressed easily when you are fighting exhaustion and nausea is a blessing!
Left: Cape, Forever 21; Turtleneck, Ralph Lauren; Jeans, Paige Maternity; Bag, Kate Spade, Shoes, Sambag; Necklace, Banana Republic; Scarf, vintage
Centre: Jacket and Top, both Zara; Jeans, ASOS Maternity; Shoes, custom-made by Upper Street; Bag, Robert Clergerie; Necklaces, All Things Indulgent
Right: Navy dress, BCBG; Denim dress, Topshop; Coat, Zara; Socks, Target; Boots, Tory Burch; Bag, vintage Dooney & Bourke; Belt, Massimo Dutti; Sunglasses, vintage Jentzen
I ‘popped’ at 12 weeks, which meant that my skinny jeans were soon buried in the drawer, along with anything that sported a fitted waist. I thought that being 6’ tall would allow me to conceal the bump for a while, but my body had other plans. So, I found myself standing in a maternity wear shop trying to find a new pair of jeans for the upcoming wet weather months rather sooner than I had imagined! Luckily, I spotted the Paige jeans above on a clearance rack in the perfect shade of dark denim. They were a carbon copy of the jeans that I had been wearing only a week previously, but with comfy little panels at the top. While I had always secretly scoffed at these elastic bits, I now understood the need for them (and may well keep wearing them post-baby for any big dinners planned!).
The lighter jeans shown above are from ASOS Maternity, and I scored them for under US$20. Also from ASOS are the best pair of maternity acid wash boyfriend jeans that I have been living in… much to my husband’s dismay! The trick here is to pair your maternity denim with a longer top so as to hide the stretchy panel. This also helps disguise the fact that jeans with elastic tops tend to slide down when you sit… not attractive to those seated behind you! (I thought we’d left low-rise jeans back in 2003 where they belong, but clearly not!).
To help with this particular dilemma, add a belly band to the mix. This is basically just a piece of stretchy fabric that goes over your bump, covering the top of your jeans (that may or may not be closed with a rubber band at this stage!) and just looks like an undershirt peeking out.
I want to just point out that the only maternity items in the above photo are the two pairs of jeans. The cape is a larger size from Forever 21 (perfect for working in cold offices!) and the denim shirtdress is from Topshop and is just one size larger than I would normally wear. The lesson here? Invest in a few great pairs of versatile maternity jeans, then use what you already own to top them off!
The go-everywhere black dress
Left: Jacket, Club Monaco; Cardigan, Steinmart; Dress, ASOS Maternity; Hat and belt both Marks & Spencer, Boots, Nine West; Socks, H&M; Bag, Phillip Lim; Necklace, ManiaMania
Centre: Jacket and bag, both Zara; Dress, Forever 21; Shoes, Marks & Spencer; Watch, Michael Kors
Right: Coat, Diane Von Furstenberg; Dress, H&M; Belt, Marks & Spencer; Bag, Phillip Lim; Boots, Nine West; Socks, H&M; Bracelet, Emi & Eve; Glasses, Ports 1961
I have a confession… the above are my cheat outfits for those days that I want to look put-together, but want to feel like I’m wearing my PJs! I have spent the majority of my pregnancy in dresses, as I have had to deal with nausea and vomiting for 33 out of the 40 weeks. Mamas, if you need any tips on this condition then just let me know as I am (sadly) now an expert! Dresses were my perfect option as they never put any pressure on my too-sensitive tummy.
The only true maternity piece above is the dress shown on the left, which was the single best maternity purchase I made. It is a basic black tube dress from ASOS that would fit anyone from a size 4-12 – pregnant or not! I would say that I would wear this post-baby, but all that tummy rubbing has left the fabric on the belly a bit nubby! This dress worked under loose tank tops (mama-to-be Christing C.’s new line is brilliant for fashionable, yet forgiving, pieces), light sweaters, and lots of jackets, and proved to be great yet again on a maternity shoot!
To spice up these basic black dresses, I simply added a belt above the bump (AKA, my new waist!), and piled on the fun accessories. Would I normally wear this much leopard or a pair of fake glasses? No! But I suddenly felt the urge to push my sartorial comfort zone, given that the basic piece in this look was no more than a comfy black dress… the perfect fashion blank canvas!
Pregnancy… the best time for horizontal stripes
Left: Dress, Zalora; Jacket and bag, both Zara; Shoes, Steve Madden; Necklace, What the Frock?
Centre left: Dress, Cotton On; Jacket, Zara; Bag, vintage Gucci; Shoes, Sam Edelman; Necklace, Golden Stella; Cuff, Emi&Eve
Centre right: Dress, Cotton On; Jacket, Topshop; Necklace, Club Monaco; Bag, DIY; Shoes, custom-made by Vickie’s
Right: Dress, Cotton On; Jacket and necklace, both Zara; Bag, Goyard; Shoes, Tom’s; Sunglasses, Ports 1961
First up, I would like to point out that nothing here is maternity wear! All of these dresses are stretchy cotton pieces, and when I say stretchy I really mean it, as I am currently typing this up wearing the dress on the left at 36 weeks pregnant!
Now, if you have ever shied away from horizontal stripes, then now is the time to don them. Who cares that they have long been heralded as making you look wider? You are wider now… embrace it! By taking these simple stripe dresses and adding a tank top here, and a big necklace or fun shoe there, you’ll take them from day to night (and be comfortable the whole time!). Plus, no need to change into something comfy when you get home, as there is nothing better than a stretchy dress to lounge about in when the exhaustion of baby-growing knocks you out!
When I found a garment that worked – like the dresses above – I bought it in every colour, or even two of the same shade (as with the turtleneck in the first image). This is worthwhile as your pregnancy clothing takes a bit of a beating from all that belly rubbing; combined with the fact that your available wardrobe has been reduced to about a third of what it once was, making wear and tear much more apparent. There’s also the fact that, having worn these dresses so many times, I now never want to see them (or stripes in general!) again, and so they will soon be off to find a new home! And that’s the beauty of not spending too much on maternity wear – once it has served its purpose it can be donated or resold without another thought!
Of course, not every outing is a casual affair, so stay tuned for my maternity guide to dressing things up coming soon!
I hope this acts as a helpful starting point for you to explore your own maternity style, and a reminder that you don’t have to give up everything you love while pregnant (ok… maybe sushi and sake night!). If you love prints, layering or classic cuts, then you can still wear them – you may just need one or two new maternity pieces to make your existing options fit your new body. And remember that – no matter how your body changes – it is all just temporary, and you’ll get a very cute and cuddly reward at the end of it all!
I hope you have an easy, blissful and fashionable pregnancy!