Maternity Fashion: What to Wear When Pregnant

Tips and tricks for mums-to-be for the perfect pregnancy fashion wardrobe that will have you looking stylish ... and sexy!
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What to wear when pregnant has come a long way since 1950s housewives flaunted smocks and house coats. Modern maternity fashion can be every bit as stylish as regular wear but specialist pregnancy fashion items do not always come cheap.

And for a young mother with not so much cash to flash, how can you be sexy and fashionable with a giant belly and stay within budget when pregnant? It’s tricky because it is not always easy to know how quickly and dramatically one’s body changes and how often there will be the need for new, comfortable but still stylish clothes.

So here are some tips on how to make maternity fashion easy, sexy and fun, helping with one of those stresses of pregnancy.

shop your wardrobe
(Credit: Getty Images)

Shop your wardrobe 

You may be so thrilled to let everyone know you are up the duff that you want to celebrate by going out and buying a whole set of pregnancy clothes. But splurging on a new maternity fashion wardrobe to show off your growing bump too early can blow the budget. Your shape may change faster than you expect and what was perfect this week may not be so next week!

In the first few months, try a DIY approach to your maternity fashion. Look for styles of tops and dresses you already have in your wardrobe that might still flatter your changing shape and bottoms that have a bit of give. See what works and what doesn’t push to the back – or pack away for after.

Have you checked out your partner’s side of the wardrobe? Their shirts, T-shirts and even pants may be more roomy than yours and teamed with a more feminine piece, can be a sexy winner of an outfit.

Where there starts to be a gap – perhaps you need a pair of work pants to fit over the burgeoning bump – buy essential new items piece by piece as needed. 

God bless elastic

They may not always be the most trendy thing but stretchy skirts, leggings and pants can mean the difference between the agony of feeling constricted and uncomfortable and the ecstasy of a snug fit.

Elasticated items will grow as you do and can be worn first around your waist, then under your bump. See what clothes you have that already fit this bill, then splurge if you can on good quality items for work and leisure.

Try this Ripe Ponte pencil skirt for $69.95.

Under armour

Don’t skimp on bras and undies but don’t buy more than you need for the time.

Surprisingly, even though people can’t see it, it’s what goes on next to your skin that should be where you consider investing your maternity clothes budget at this time, as uncomfortable underwear can really make you miserable.

“Your breasts will grow a couple of sizes and your ribs will expand when you are pregnant,” advises Storm in a D-Cup’s Esther Labi. “It’s best to get fitted for a maternity bra at a lingerie store where the fitter has experience, rather than at a maternity store.”

As for the underwire-or-no-underwire while pregnant debate, Esther says, “You can wear a flexiwire bra while you are pregnant and if your breasts are large, this will feel more supportive,” but once the bub is born, “You should wear a wirefree bra for at least 6-8 weeks … or until breastfeeding is established.”

So if you don’t want to invest in too many pairs of maternity bras, you might opt for a wirefree nursing style towards the end of the pregnancy. 

Terrified of ugly feeding bras? Fear not, maternity lingerie has come a long way. 

Try the Warrior balconette nursing bra for $59.95. 

Embrace the new

As the pregnancy proceeds, your go-to-style might have to go by the wayside and you may find different silhouettes suit your changing shape better.

Consider embracing a maternity style of A-line dresses and coats, ballet flats, style sneakers, leggings, open blazers and loose tops. Just check the length, items will get shorter as your belly gets larger.

Growing boobs are often flattered by v-necks and scoop necks, but make sure you have not outgrown your top – you want to attract with your new assets, not frighten!

You probably will get more wear than you think from a few new t-shirts and tops as, if you are feeding, your breasts will stay bigger, and your shape may take a while to come back. Also, if you aren’t working or plan to cut back your hours once bub comes along, you may enjoy your more comfy clothes well into motherhood.  

When buying tops and dresses consider their practicality for breastfeeding. Jeanswest does a stylish and affordable range, including summer dresses like this pretty one that hides a multitude of sins and makes for easy breastfeeding.

Jeanswest dress
(Credit: Jeanswest)
Angelina Jolie
(Credit: Getty Images)

Make like Angelina and go black

Sometimes celebrity style inspires cute outfit ideas. Not only is the neutral colour more slimming for your bottom-half pregnancy wardrobe (especially in the early stages when you spread out but before it is obvious you are carrying a child!) it will also be practical after the baby is born, when  mess becomes a fact of life. You may not want to think about baby vomit and leaky boobs (and – please, nooooo – leaky nappies!), but packing a spare t-shirt in case of accidents becomes a fact of life.

Target has good basics at reasonable prices, such as tops, bottoms and dresses, including organic cotton tops from $12. So when you find something you like, you can just update your size in the same piece as you grow.

Shoe thing

Wearing heels when pregnant is an art, your centre of gravity has shifted and your ligments can be stretchier, making you more susceptible to injury. So take care.

Otherwise consider the opportunity to indulge in a stylish pair of ballet flats or runners instead. Just bear in mind you may need a bigger or wider size than normal as you head towards the end of pregnancy when feet and ankles can swell.

We like these Toms Alpargatas for $79.95 for casual and these Asos ballet flats for $28 for formal.

ASOS ballet flats
(Credit: ASOS)

Size up

If you find a good basic, you might want to consider buying it again in the next size up as your stomach swells. For example, these TopShop Under-bump Jamie jeans for $84.95 come in sizes 8 to 16. As a bonus, they are also designed to look good post-pregnancy.

Top Shop jeans
(Credit: Top Shop jeans)

Hire power

Why fork out more than you need pregnancy fashion-wise for going out dresses for the likes of Christmas parties and weddings? Ask around at work or check with your friend group to see if anyone you know has something suitable you can borrow.

Or check out the bump friendly sections of regular rental websites like Glam Corner and The Volte for fashionable dresses that might work. There are even specialist maternity hire sites like Mama Rental or Baby Bump Cover that can make you feel a million bucks at your baby shower for a fraction of the price of buying a one-off special occasion dress.

Positive vibrations

As you near the end of your pregnancy and your wardrobe choices become more limited, put away the clothes that don’t make you feel good about yourself so you can focus on those that do.

This might be the time to invest in a few good pieces from specialist maternity stores. Some offer capsule collections that will make you comfy in those last awkward weeks, such as Ripe Maternity’s Hospital Set for $139.

And if you do need to get a few new items to get you through to the end, look for something that you might also be able to use after the baby arrives, such as stylish trackie dacks like Remember When joggers for $89 from Bae the Label and winter dresses like this Pea in a Pod Hanna piece, now only $49.95.

Bloomin marvelous

However you decide what to wear when pregnant, the principle for maternity fashion is the same as for choosing a regular wardrobe – it’s better to splurge on a few pieces that make you feel fab than plenty that make you feel drab.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t scrimp on a few bargain basics and beg, borrow and steal for items that will keep you covered for the short time necessary.

And embrace the amazing you.

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