Throw away the maternity tents

How to dress to look and feel your best when pregnant.

For years we have learnt what clothes best suit our body shape. But when it comes to being pregnant, where do you start?

Make no mistake, when you get pregnant you will acquire a rather large bump on your front porch, but with a few sartorial nips and tucks, you will soon be walking on maternity easy street.

Stylist Laura Churchill, of The Style Report, says every year the availability of good maternity wear is increasing. “Some of the best maternity clothes are an adaptation of what you already love to wear, not anything that will turn you into a caricature of a pregnant woman.” 

While Churchill says fashionistas applaud some Hollywood A-listers for absolutely nailing their pregnancy looks, expectant mums should look to celebrities for broad inspiration only.

“Taking inspiration from celebrities can be a positive thing but, not everyone has a stylist, nutritionist, personal trainer, and hair and make-up team on hand every day, so it’s not realistic to look perfect everyday! But these stylish mammas can encourage us to see pregnancy as a fun time to experiment with your look.

Some of the best maternity clothes are an adaptation of what you already love to wear.

pregnant shopping
Churchill says layering is the key in pregnancy fashion, and that you don’t necessarily need to buy maternity clothes. Her tips:
  • Look for maxi dresses with high waists, which nip in under the bust and fall comfortably over the belly.
  • Fail-safe combos: a stretch skirt with a tunic top or basic tank and a long vest, and tops belted loosely or nipped in under the bust.
  • Look for long scarves (for summer think light, cotton, printed scarves with a sleeveless top or dress), beautiful earrings, long necklaces and stackable bracelets.
  • Try tops with ruching, gathering or tie backs that will expand with you. 
  • Try a bra extender or consider buying your breastfeeding bras earlier.
  • Leggings are great under tunics, dresses and skirts – never as pants!
  • Wrap dresses are a maternity style saviour; not only do they flatter your shape, but they can take you from work to weekend with the addition of a few accessories.
  • Dark denim jeans can be dressed up or down and will take you almost anywhere.
  • Buy the best quality shoes you can afford. Leather shoes will stretch and accommodate swollen feet. And think twice about high heels, even wide-based ones. If you do decide to wear heels, go for a lower heel to help take the pressure off your ankles and hips. Slip-on shoes are practical for the later stages of pregnancy.
  • Use belly bands or try altering your clothes yourself.
“People often make the mistake of trying to cover everything up,” Churchill says. “Tenting yourself in fabric is likely to only make you look and feel bigger than you are. You're pregnant! That's something to be celebrated, not hidden.

“If you do want to draw attention away from your bump and to your other assets, wear striking jewellery like a big bold pair of earrings.”

While you’re at it, consider painting your nails in a fun colour, treat yourself to some new make-up or try a new hairstyle.

You're pregnant! That's something to be celebrated, not hidden.

If you are still lost in the maternity fashion wilderness, turn to your parent friends for advice.

“They may be a treasure trove of advice on little-known boutiques and online stores and could even offer you some of their tried and tested pieces,” says Churchill.

So, mummies-to-be, it’s time to step away from the muu-muus and embrace your new shape. After all, there’s a tiny pair of hands and feet growing inside of you, and that’s far more important than any of the materials draping your body.

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