Editor’s note: The gorgeous Jasmine Hunt from Pretty Chuffed is due to have her second baby in a few weeks and has taken time to answer many a reader question I’ve been receiving of late. Given that it’s been more than 10-plus years since I’ve been pregnant, I figured she was way more qualified to respond. You may also find tips from this post compiled last year.
Comfortable, practical and stylish.
Not necessarily the first three words that come to mind when you might think of maternity wear, but, it can be done.
As I write, I am 36 weeks pregnant with my second child and I have certainly learnt a lot of lessons along the way when it comes to what works for me during pregnancy (and what doesn’t!).
As one of Styling You’s #everydaystyle participants, I take a photo of what I’m wearing every single day and as yet, there hasn’t been one day during this pregnancy when I’ve stayed in my PJs all day (although I have been tempted!).
For me, dressing nicely every day is so important as a mood booster, especially while pregnant. It improves my self confidence and the time taken to choose an outfit, slap on some lippy and do my hair is time for me only, ever the more precious when you’re juggling other children or an energetic little toddler!
This pregnancy was different from the first in terms of outfit choices, due to the fact I am not at work. Last pregnancy I was working full time in a fairly conservative office environment. Although my day to day “work” has differed, many of the style guidelines I followed were the same, and I’ve picked up many tips along the way.
One of the first things I learnt about maternity clothing is there is a lot of daggy options out there, however the offering is improving.
The second thing I learnt was that you don’t have to necessarily buy “maternity” wear, however a few quality basics will come into their own in the later stages of pregnancy.
The third major tip is: comfort. Don’t buy anything that is uncomfortable, hot, itchy, scratchy or tight, no matter how great it might look. All of these unfavourable aspects will be magnified when your stomach has doubled or tripled in size and you’re battling water retention, heartburn, sore hips or nausea (or all of the above, all at once …)!
Here’s some of my top tips for what to wear when pregnant, what to invest in, where to save money and what to not buy.
What to invest in
Skinny black pants
Whether you’re working or not, a pair of stretch, skinny black pants is your saviour. I bought a cropped, skinny pair and have worn them to death through both of my pregnancies.
At work, you can team them with an oversized button up shirt or blouse and cute flats, and this year at home I wore them with an oversized sweater or shirt and boots in winter and when it got warmer, a pair of sandals and a tank. They’re dressier than jeans or leggings yet as comfortable as trackies. My favourites are from Soon and Bump, Baby and Beyond.
Wrap dresses and bodycon midi dress
A good quality wrap dress in a dark colour was my go-to during the first pregnancy while working. I paired it with a bright necklace or scarf and ballet flats. The wrap feature was also handy in the early days of breastfeeding.
I didn’t wear wrap dresses as much this time as I was at home, and I much preferred to wear my bodycon midi dresses. One of these bodycon dresses was from New Look Maternity, another from Bump, Baby and Beyond and another was a Sportsgirl sale buy.
As a girl who’s always had a bit of a belly I found pregnancy to be the only time in my life when I’ve felt really comfortable wearing body-conscious items, so I made the most of it! A tight-fitting dress or two is also great for the days when you feel like you need a bit more support for the bump.
If you still can’t get into bodycon, another style of of dress that I wore a lot this pregnancy was stripes – a t-shirt, shift or skater style (like this one at Mammabelle) works well.
Maternity jeans have really come a long way in recent years – even in the 1.5 years between my two pregnancies I found they have improved remarkably. I found investing in a couple of good pairs was definitely worth it, especially if you’ll be pregnant during winter (as I was).
There are many options these days, however I would definitely suggest trying some on before you buy, or buying online from a store with a great return policy as you really need comfort. There are ‘over the bump’ or ‘under the bump’ options – I had one of each, however many ladies prefer one over the other.
I don’t personally believe that pregnancy is the best time to be trialling your new 12cm stilettos or poking your toes into cheap plastic flats.
Although I wore heeled shoes in both pregnancies, I found it to be safer and better for my back and hips to wear flats. I stopped wearing heels the second time at about 25 weeks.
So, if you can, invest in a pair of flats that you really love and are comfortable to wear. I love flat sandals so I have many pairs in both leather and non-leather that I alternate. While pregnant at work, I had a few pairs of ballet flats that I alternated with a flat pair of leather boots (bought on sale from ASOS).
There are so many great options out there – this season lace up flats are huge (try buying a “faux” lace up with a zip, however, as bending to tie up laces is not easy in the later stages!), as are metallic or ’70s inspired sandals.
I also can’t go past a good pair of leather slides – they’re more stylish than thongs however just as comfortable especially when you cannot bend down at all or have swollen ankles. (Gosh, pregnancy is such a glamorous time, isn’t it?) My favourites last time were from Country Road and this time they were from Wittner.
A stretchy top or two
A good quality stretchy, comfortable top or two in a basic colour or stripes are maternity basics for me. Try Metalicus for their oversized tees or ASOS maternity for a striped tank or two. Cotton or jersey are your best bets.
A striped maternity tank or t-shirt is also a great buy. I loved ones from Blossom and Glow.
A Belly Belt
I didn’t use one of these the first time however I found the Belly Belt to be especially handy this time around. It allows you to wear your favourite jeans, shorts or skirts (that button up) for that little bit longer. Very useful in the early-mid stages of pregnancy.
A classic occasion dress
I don’t know if it’s Murphy’s Law, however when you’re pregnant you’ll inevitability be invited to at least one wedding, one engagement party, a black tie event or milestone birthday. Seriously. For this, you’ll need an occasion dress.
I’m pretty traditional in that I don’t like wearing black to weddings, so I invested in a navy, full length maternity dress from ASOS when I was pregnant for the first time and have since worn it to four weddings while pregnant, and one while breastfeeding, as it was a semi-wrap style. BEST BUY EVER.
I actually wore it last weekend to a friend’s engagement party (that turned into a surprise wedding – amazing!) and I felt comfortable and dressy.
I advocate for full length as you can pair it with a pair of dressy flats and still look elegant and classy. Look for a relatively simple style that won’t date, in a block colour or basic print, and a style you can dress up with jewellery.
There’s no need to spend a fortune, however if you plan on having more than one child it’s best to spend a little bit more on a good fabric that will wear and wash well. My personal favourite is from ASOS Maternity.
Leggings are not an item to scrimp on, despite there being many cheap options available. You want a pair that will not stretch out of shape or go see-through after a few washes, especially if you’re pregnant during winter. I loved tights from Fertile Mind.
Black tunic top
The first pregnancy I invested in a black, dressy, tunic style top which has been invaluable for those “I have no idea what to wear” occasions. Worn with black pants to work, jeans and flats to a friend’s birthday or a pair of leggings on “getting stuff done” days, it’s a flattering and versatile piece. My favourite was from ASOS Maternity.
What to save on
Stretchy harem pants
You can buy these at just about every chain store these days and they are an alternative to trackies or leggings. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea however I paired them with a comfy plain t-shirt and sandals for a casual, boho vibe.
Some women swear by these, especially in the early days of breastfeeding. I didn’t wear too many, however I found worn with a pair of comfy shorts or pants and a cape or scarf they were a useful addition to my wardrobe.
Bonds, Target, ASOS and Kmart have great affordable options. I would suggest a black and/or white singlet to start.
Kimonos and capes
I’ve only really discovered how useful kimonos can be during this pregnancy, and boy am I in love! I throw one over a simple t-shirt or bodycon dress and not only do I feel a bit more dressy, it’s a great, dead-easy way to add a bit of pizzazz and inject new season style into an outfit.
As a bonus, they’re also great for after the baby is born and you might want a bit of coverage in the early days of breastfeeding. You don’t need to spend a lot. My favourites are from St Frock, however Kmart, Target and many of the chains have cute buys this season.
Bright, fun dresses
Hooray for the boho trend! This season it has been super easy to find affordable dresses in the major stores that fit during pregnancy. Look for loose smock shapes or if you’re after more structure, a shirt dress that can be worn open in the later stages is a great find.
Maxi dresses are also super useful, especially if you’re taller or are constantly on the go after a toddler or two. My favourites have been from St Frock and DressTemple.
I know many of you are chambray fans, as am I. This pregnancy, as I am not at work, I’ve found a good chambray shirt to be invaluable.
Worn buttoned up in the early stages and open during the later stages over a dress or shirt and shorts/pants, a chambray shirt adds a casually cool vibe to any outfit. Most of the chains have great chambray shirts at the moment.
Not necessarily worn only while pregnant, a pair of statement sunnies is my absolute go-to on those days when your eyes are practically hanging out of your head and a good strong coffee (or decaf …) is not going to do the job.
What not to buy
I’m a big advocate in shopping your style and buying and wearing what you love, and while pregnant it shouldn’t be any different. Your body is rapidly changing shape and what may work in your wardrobe usually may not work during pregnancy. Ditto for pieces that work for other pregnant women – they may not work for you.
Try a few new things, however don’t feel pressured into buying a piece of clothing just because it says “maternity” on the label. If you don’t love it, you won’t wear it, and if you do wear it, you won’t feel good.
Don’t buy too many trend-driven, maternity-specific pieces. Especially in bright colours or trend-driven prints. I did the first time around and I wore them maybe twice. This time around, they looked daggy, I felt daggy and it was inherently a waste of money. Lesson learned.
Pregnancy is a wonderful, amazing time in your life, however there may be many days when you don’t feel amazing. Dress in what you love and what is comfortable. Don’t feel that you can’t wear colour, or lipstick, or shorts, or anything else just because you are pregnant.
Experiment – play up the bump or play it down – it’s your choice.
If you’re small to medium-busted, strapless or spaghetti strapped dresses and tops are not off limits while pregnant. I wore many strapless items – just find a comfortable strapless bra and go for it. I found some non-wired, bandeau bras at Kmart.
In the early days of the pregnancy (if you’re keeping it a secret), loose smock or oversized tops and dresses are saviours.
Wear all of the accessories! Especially if it’s your first (and don’t have a toddler or other children about), get out your costume jewellery and WEAR ALL THE DANGLIES. Scarves are also fantastic for trying to disguise or detract from an early baby bump.
Here’s a a versatile, on-trend outfit featuring some of my favourite maternity and non-maternity pieces. The tank worn with a button up shirt over the top in the early days opf pregnancy will disguise a mini-bump, and wear the shirt open over the tank later on. These are the exact pants I have worn throughout both pregnancies, and the cropped capri style means you can show off a pair of flats – these are leather. Add a fun scarf and you have an outfit that can easily be worn to work or casually.
Are you pregnant right now? Just had a baby? Got any maternity wear tips to share?
Jasmine Hunt is a Brisbane-based clothes lover, style blogger, mother (and currently pregnant mum-to-be again), wife and professional window shopper who loves to find the latest trends on a bargain and shares them on her blog Pretty Chuffed www.prettychuffed.com.au. Pretty Chuffed is a blog that aims to share the fun, the fashionable and the affordable, because you don’t need to spend a lot of money to look and feel great. Jasmine posts what she is wearing every day on her Instagram account @PrettyChuffed.
What’s your best tip for maternity dressing? What did you wear the most while pregnant? Anything you regret buying or wearing?