As a personal stylist I get many questions from pregnant women about maternity clothing and how to stay stylish but comfortable during pregnancy. This is certainly a challenge given the sometimes limited maternity clothing available on the market.
Most women still want to look and feel stylish during this happy time. Here are my tips for regular body shapes, how to develop your own pregnancy style whilst keeping your own signature look. How to know what works best for you and how to straddle the line between appropriate, comfortable and still exciting. I’ve worked extensively on covering both Kate Middleton’s pregnancies in the press and I would definitely say she really nailed this balance on both occasions.
First of all let’s discuss fabrics, this is so important even when you’re not pregnant but at this time becomes all important. Choose soft, stretchy and breathable fabrics that allow you to keep cool and feel comfortable. Fabrics with stretch allow movement while your bump grows. Cottons and natural fabrics allow your body to breathe and maintain the correct temperature.
Secondly tailoring is all important during pregnancy, I’m not a big fan of diaphanous loose clothing that makes you look overall much bigger than you are. Personally I think it’s flattering to show of your bump whilst keeping the rest of your silhouette fitted. Dresses with elasticated backs and shirts and tops with side ties are a great way to achieve this.
Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise. This is the key to brightening up the sometimes very plain maternity wear. Statement necklaces, large carry-all bags in bright colours and cute pumps and flats (gladiator sandals are great for summer) are all simple accessories that can help keep your look on trend. Super large bags will also be great for those less inclined to show off their bump.
In terms of shoes, it can be tiring and not practical to wear heels when pregnant but a small kitten heel pump is nice for occasions. For day wear ballet pumps in bright colours or pastels work well, or as Kate Middleton does flat knee high boots (although this look is certainly easier to wear in the cold UK weather).
The statement coat – this is very much something that Kate Middleton stuck to through both pregnancies. She showed an array of gorgeous coats – mostly princess style – bracelet (3/4 length) sleeves, a round collar and button down front. All very 1950s ‘Frock coat’ in style which means they were tailored to just above the bump and then flared out to mid thigh.
The current crop of ‘Waterfall’ coats available – those with draped front and lots of loose fabric (favourite of Kim Kardashian) are very flattering. Another more tailored look is introducing long line blazers into your outfits, worn over dresses or with skinny jeans this will give you an ultra stylish off duty look.
In terms of dresses, this is a girly and demure way to get a cute pregnancy look, choose floaty or silky fabrics that glide over your bump, look for delicate prints such as polka dots, depending on how you feel about getting your legs out you can go above the knee but keep the neckline round and higher if the hemline is short. For those less keen to show leg, make like Kate Middleton and wear opaque tights.
Maxi dresses are also a great look for warm weather, a long flowing skirt with a tailored or structured top half is better. I also love the crop of stretchy tube style maxi dresses available but for a contemporary look go for a midi length (below the knee or mid calf) in a striped fabric pair this with a biker jacket and a low heeled pair of ankle boots and you have a perfect on trend ensemble. This is also a look you’ll be able to recycle after pregnancy.
For taller regular body shapes, trapeze dresses can look amazing Trapeze cuts look like a triangle shape with the point being at the top of your body and the wide straight cut hem at the bottom – worn with bare legs and a small heel this is a very glam maternity style statement.
Lastly the classic wrap dress made famous by Diane Von Furstenberg is a great more sexy look, the soft jersey of these and the adjustable waistline is perfect for maternity and can be used after pregnancy as well – Kate Middleton loves wearing these too.
For jeans fans, there’s no need to give up your beloved denim during pregnancy, personally I love skinny jeans on all shapes as they keep your bottom half nice and tailored. Jeans with ribbed panels and an elasticated waistband will help for later in pregnancy. At 15-25 weeks I would say you can still most likely get away with buying regular jeans but choose ones with a good stretch and a low waistband to fit underneath your growing bump. At 25 weeks onwards those of you with a regular body shape with probably need to start investing in a pair with elasticated waistband.
For skirts and trousers, I would invest in some low slung maxi skirts – these worn with a crisp white shirt tucked in are a real fashion look. Trousers can be tricky so look for styles with a tie waistband or an elasticated waistband, for the most part keep them tailored but later in pregnancy a pair of Hareem pants with a bold print work well – but keep your top half plain and tailored.
Leggings will become your new best friend, look for super stretchy comfy leggings in black and navy – I would always recommend choosing leggings in dark fabrics to hide any lumps and bumps and give you a more streamlined silhouette. Or as in this pic from ‘Noppies’ go for a bright legging with a plain black wrap top for a more contemporary look.
For those of you working throughout pregnancy this can be challenging, adapt your normal work wardrobe to include longer shirts that fall below the hips and trousers that are still tailored but with a bit of stretch particularly at the waistband. Look for blazers in pastel colours in soft jerseys and silks, choose longer styles and also look for blazers and jackets that have a structured shoulder this will make your waistline look smaller.
Remember in all stages of pregnancy, layers work best, keep your bottom layer fitted and layer up with fine or chunky knits, wraps, and a light jacket. Here are some general guidelines to bear in mind at every stage:
For most regular body shapes you can most likely still wearing normal clothing, at this point buy a few maternity pieces but it’s better to wait a while before spending money unnecessary. Plus your bump will be changing daily so you can assess at this point what your going to need.
At this point your bump will be noticeable and you have a choice to embrace it or hide it, every woman is different I find some woman love to show off their new shape while others very much want to conceal it. Dresses and tops with adjustable ties and elasticated panels will help you keep a streamlined look hugging your shape without adding extra bulk.
Comfort starts to be a big factor now and temperature control is important. Choose light cotton fabrics for tops and dresses or soft jersey with ruched sides works very well. Definitely introduce leggings to your look (if you haven’t already) and pair them with long t-shirts, vests and tops that cover your bum. Beware that leggings can cut you off at the ankle and make you look shorter so I like leggings tucked into ankle boots or knee highs.
At this stage you will definitely need to have invested in some maternity-specific wear, clothing designed to really support you in this last part of your pregnancy which most women find fairly uncomfortable. Especially in warm temperatures, so choose your fabrics carefully and think layering so you can easily take off or put on layers depending on how you feel.
Article by: Dawn Anna Williamson