Still want to maintain your own personal style while pregnant? Look no further, as Jenessa Williams has the perfect guide
Pregnancy can be a magical and life-affirming experience, but it can also be a real challenge – finding ways to adapt to your changing body, coping with the emotional ups and downs, preparing to bring new life into the world. With such a focus on the health of a new baby, many new parents forget to recognise their own needs and wants, feeling distant from the person they were before.
Pregnancy dressing requires comfort and practicality, but that doesn’t mean that it has to abandon personal style. The way we dress is so often an extension of how we feel, and so finding ways to hang on to the clothes you love throughout those early baby-raising days can be a truly grounding thing. Whether it’s low-maintenance tracksuits or chic breastfeeding friendly outfits for the office, here are our top tips for feeling your sartorial best as a new parent.
While a positive pregnancy test might have plenty of us rushing for the maternity boutiques, there are likely a great many items in your wardrobe that will still work for your new shape—boxy Breton tops, smock dresses, open flannel shirts. Before you go browsing for new items, take stock of what you already own and gravitate to, and keep it in mind to ensure that your new purchases are things you’ll actually want to wear.
When stocking up on those new pieces, shop in staple block colours for maximum versatility and use nifty devices to elongate wear time—the ‘Bella Band’ by Ingrid & Isabel maternity is great for securing an unbuttoned pair of jeans, while bra-expanders are readily available in most high street shops. Lots of brands such as Isabella Oliver also have great rental options for pieces that you only need for short periods—pregnancy blazers, occasion dresses and even winter coats.
From Left To Right: JoJo Maman Bébé Dress, (£39): Carriwell Underwear, (£13): Zara Changing Bag, (£39.99); Supermom Trousers, (£40.99); H&M Wrap Blouse, (£24.99): Illia Lipstick, (£27): Oliver Bonas Necklace, (£32): Skechers Trainers, (£39.99); Hunkemoller Bra, (£24); H&M Dress, (£17.99).
There’s no getting around it—given how swiftly your body grows throughout pregnancy, elasticated fits are an absolute must. Start with some well-fitting underwear—soft-fitting triangle bras and low-rise pants are good for sensitive bodies, while underwear sets from maternity brands such as Six or Hunkemoller allow detachable nursing practicality and adjustability without compromising on the confidence that a matching set can give.
Plisse, soft-stretch cotton and high-waistbands will all become staples, but they don’t need to be frumpy. Tube skirts are a particularly low-maintenance favourite as you can easily wear them higher or lower on your body depending on how far along in the pregnancy you are. Jackets or shackets that can be worn unbuttoned are also great for jazzy up a plain combination of oversized t-shirt and maternity jeans. Pregnancy safe make-up and accessories can also work wonders to feel like your old self—try out a statement lip or a fun piece of jewellery to bring a touch of ‘you’ to any look.
From Left To Right: Pieces Maternity Cord Shirt, (£28); Topshop for ASOS ‘Hey Baby’ T-Shirt, (£14.99): Teva Sandals, (£50); Scandiborn Changing Bag, (£49.95); Seasalt Maternity Jumpsuit, (£59.95); Cosabella Twin Pack Soft Bras, (£100); Weekday Stretch Mesh Top, (£18); Cake Maternity Knickers (£19); Valet Studio hairclip, (£50.99); Isabella Oliver Turtleneck, (£17); Mamalicious Tube Skirt, (£26).
Float through every occasion.
Many people are still required to work throughout their pregnancy, or else are called to occasions where smarter dress is most appropriate—weddings, birthday parties, your very own baby shower!
Bodycon fits can be incredibly flattering for your new shape, but there might be days where you need something looser, particularly in the warm summer months. In the early days especially, many people prefer to keep their pregnancy discreet via the classic Hollywood trick; skim the body with an A-Line or Empire-Cut dress, creating a wider silhouette that minimizes the bump.
Even if you’re ready to announce your pregnancy to the world, floaty frocks never go out of fashion. The omnipresent buffet dress will easily see you through all three trimesters and beyond, pairing easily with maternity tights should you need some extra warmth. If you’re worried about seeming shapeless, a knee-length style or even a simple adjustable ribbon worn as a belt will help to make you feel more ‘fashion’.
From Left To Right: New Look Smock Dress, (£22.99); John Lewis Maternity Tights, (£8); And Other Stories Bag, (£125); Esprit Pleated Dress, (£29.99); Topshop for ASOS Ribbon Dress, (£25.99); Monki Mules, (£25); Monsoon Sandals, (£49); Isabella Olivia Maternity Blazer, (£99); Six Nursing Bra & Knickers Set, (£70).
When your baby arrives earthside, the time you’ll have to spend picking out an outfit make dramatically shorten! Nobody’s body changes throughout pregnancy in exactly the same way, and it takes many new parents at least six months before they’re comfortable to return to their pre-pregnancy wardrobe.
If you’re not immediately whipping all your old pieces out of storage, don’t be hard on yourself—that body of yours has been working hard! Focus on items that suit the demands on your new life without fuss—vests that can be whipped down, tops that can be whipped up, and dresses that can unbutton for easy breastfeeding. High cut leggings or low-slung jeans can also be great for those who have had c-sections, reducing any rubbing or irritation to the recovery area.
If lockdown hasn’t already convinced you, now is a great time to invest in a comfy tracksuit or jumper-and-leggings combination that you feel happy in. Easy to throw on for daytime naps, those early-morning feeds or even the trips to and from the hospital, team them with a comfortable pair of trainers that can accommodate any swelling. Skechers do some great low-impact styles for walking, or else Converse have been favoured by those who want a shoe that offers both light ankle support and a ‘go-with-everything aesthetic.
From Left To Right: Frugi Top, (£45); H&M Maternity Jeans, (£34.99); Verbaudet Bar Extenders, (£5.50); Uniqlo Maternity Knickers, (£7.90); Marks & Spencer Slippers, (£9.50); George at ASDA Loungeset, (£30); Mamalicious Crop Top, (£28); George at ASDA Wide Leg Trousers, (£14).
Find your hero pieces
While you won’t need to buy everything brand new, investing in a couple of hero pieces that do make you feel like yourself can be a good idea. Clary & Peg’s vintage-inspired dresses and jumpsuits are seriously fun and eye-grabbing, made from durable 100% cotton that can easily be stored for your next pregnancy or passed on to a friend. Bottoms with waist-ties or cardigans with wraps can also make for a sensible investment, given that they can be easily tightened and worn well after the birth.
If you really want to treat yourself, clothes aren’t the only answer. Invest in a nice bag—changing or otherwise—or find a piece of jewellery that will remind you of this special time in your life. You’ll likely get far more use out of them, and even if the dreaded ‘baby brain’ does result in a strange purchasing decision, they’ll likely hold much greater resale value. Take the time to cherish yourself and this new life you have created—you deserve it!
From Left To Right: Boob Bra, (£44.99); Babymel Changing Backpack, (£69); Monki Stripe Top, (£10); Isabella Oliver Geometric Dress, (£79); Mamalicious Shorts, (£35); Clary & Peg Three-Colour Dress, (£190); The Great Frog ‘Mum’ Ring, (£195); Converse Trainers, (£75); JoJo Maman Bébé Wrap Cardigan, (£39); Hoppies Maternity Trousers, (£54.99).
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