One of the most rewarding things about maternity style is having fun with trying things on. That doesn’t come without frustrations including the struggle to find jeans that don’t fall down or not being able to wear shoes that have buckles to tie. But I’m learning a lot about my body, both in terms of how it is so powerful to create this little human being I am harbouring, as well as how it is changing at a rapid pace. The first thing I did when I started to show was to do a wardrobe audit and edit. This was a gruelling process (I have a lot clothes, more than I’d like or is necessary). I went through everything, starting with dresses, then tops and bottoms and then outerwear. Anything that didn’t fit at that time, or didn’t have potential to fit over 40 weeks, was boxed and labelled in those categories. So what remained was anything I already had that I could wear over my pregnancy. The next step was to make outfits, casual and work, that I could pull out and wear with no stress. But I could also see what I was missing.
I promised myself that I would not buy many maternity pieces – simply because they would only be worn for a very short time. So for purchases, I would limit myself to buying jeans, a dress or two and some stretchy bits. With the exception of the jeans, everything I have bought has been from main lines where I have sized up slightly, so I can wear after baby. I am a big fan of re-wear and re-style so I can make my clothes last, and it’s my own attempt to be more sustainable in style choices. I am also incredibly grateful for the lovely comments and messages I am receiving on my instagram posts and reels – I’ve been sharing what I am wearing with some tips that I am picking up on maternity style. To lean into that a little more, I need to give you some more details. So here is how I have demystified maternity style.
Playing with shape and not excess fabric
Searching maternity style online would make you want that glass of wine you can’t have. It’s not inspiring. I understand why some maternity lines are so limited; it’s a smaller customer base so designing lines based on trends isn’t feasible as production would cost too much with not enough return. So they way I see is that brands stick to basic pieces that they carry in maternity lines year round. But that doesn’t pack any punch for the pregnant woman who wants to look and feel stylish while she carries around a watermelon in her tummy. With the exception of brands such as Seraphine, for example, who are a dedicated maternity brand, your choice is limited. And I hate to say publicly, but some of the pieces can only be described as drab. So how am I navigating this? I’m looking for pieces that have a shape that suits my tummy and boobs rather than buying dresses, let’s say, that are like tents. I don’t want to cover up, I’m proud of my body right now and I want to wear clothes, I don’t want them to wear me.
Dresses are key (and the weather is co-operating), for example, halter neck dresses that kick out from the neckline in a-line or trapeze shapes means the fabric is voluminous enough to fall over you, but not overwhelm you. I found this worked when I picked up the famous blue dress from Dunnes Stores (€35). You can apply this to halter tops too. Just make sure they “fan” out rather than being cut straight down your torso (you won’t have any room for bump). Empire lines do kind of the same thing; this is not anything new, it’s long been a stylist recommendation for pregnancy. The seam is cut under the bust line meaning the fabric drapes down from a higher point that your waist line.
I didn’t think I could admit to it, but I love elastane, lycra, stretchy jersey fabric, elasticated waists, and the list goes on. Primarily because I have been able to buy my regular size so I get to wear them after baby arrives. One key purchase has been 100% jersey cotton dungarees from COS. The main concern here was not bump, but my chest. I’ve gone up three cup sizes, so this has caused some concern in choosing outfits. But thankfully the minimal and sometimes oversize aesthetic COS alludes to, the choice is excellent. The seam of these is at the waist, but by going one size up, I get ample room for boobs and bump while retaining a flattering shape over my hips and bum which have remained the same size so far. Another experiment that has worked is wearing ribbed midi dresses. Stretch and comfort, and they bounce back to size after washing. The winners here have come from H&M, Penneys, COS (sorry it’s been great!) and Mango. They layer well under shirts and blazers, and have been worn almost daily on these warm days.
Maternity clothes that have worked
It got to a point around 22 weeks that none of my jeans would fit and I needed to make the move over to maternity fits. But I had no idea how hard it was going to be to find a pair that fit well. I will caveat this point by saying, prior to pregnancy I was an avid fan of River Island Molly jeans, Topshop Jamie and H&M high waited skinny jeans. They were all styles I bought repeatedly when I need some new ones. But these brands’ maternity shapes, sadly, didn’t do anything for me. You can technically buy your pre pregnancy size, which I did in all of them; the over the bump band is certainly comfortable but it doesn’t hold the jeans up like a regular zip and button.
At week 22, I found the bump section still to be too big (note: I am now 30 weeks and they are still too big). So when walking, they all slid down making me very uncomfortable. I also bought some Spanx leggings; these are tremendously comfortable, but again, I found my regular size to be too big. Also to note, every bump is different, so I recommend trying jeans on to see how you feel in them. The winners so far for me are JoJoMaman Bébé; at €51 they were more than I wanted to pay but the fit is very good. They are a baby and maternity brand so perhaps that experience pays off in design.
Other brands that have produced chic looking pieces is Next. Co-ords, dresses, activewear, underwear and more are all covered in their maternity collection. My most worn outfit is a black plissé shirt and wide leg trouser set that fits perfectly and can be worn together, or as I do, I wear the trousers just with a t-shirt and blazer. Plissé is a fabric that has been deliberately shrunk so that it puckers giving it a kind of crinkled effect, but it stretches and it’s an ideal fabric type for pregnancy thanks to the comfort. As well as Next, & Other Stories always have a plissé set during the summer season.
If I could conjure up the perfect maternity dress it would be a halter neck, pleated, midi length style. But for now, I’ll just have to keep up the search. Or many design my own line. Now there’s an idea….
Shop a few more styles I like below….