An Idiosyncratic Survival Guide to Maternity Wear

Trust me, you’ll be so much happier on the style front if you find ways to show off your bump instead of concealing it.

I’m not going to lie to you. Buying for a pregnant bod (we’re talking morphing inside and out on a weekly, if not daily, basis) ain’t easy. And having just about completed my nine months (currently wearing £10 Topshop beach short three sizes up, a tatty, but belly-covering H&M vest, and no bra) I don’t claim to have cracked it. But for what it’s worth, here’s what I learnt.

Assess Your WardrobeHow much proper maternity wear you’re going to need depends on your personal style. If you’re all about body-con, nipped in waists and structured, tailored pieces hit the shops now. If, like me, sloppy tees, loose jumpers, low-slung jeans and the odd floaty dress or skirt are more your thing, then you can take things a bit slower. A big loose top with skinny jeans or leggings is a totally workable pregnancy silhouette with muchos longevity over the months. And carefully thought through new purchases, like cape coats and anything in jersey fabric, will work post-pregnancy too.

Work Those Hips & A Few Sizes UpEven before you start properly showing you’re going to start wanting a little extra comfort room for that burgeoning tum. For me this equated to wearing everything on my hips and making sure my belly was covered with long tops before scavenging my boyfriend’s wardrobe for suitable slacks which could be belted under the waist. You can keep going in this vein by borrowing from friends or buying second hand clothes a few sizes up.

Jersey: Your New Best FriendAh, stretchy fabric, how did we ever live without you? First stop, head straight to American Apparel or the basics sections in places like Topshop and H&M and find yourself long t-shirts, vests, leggings and dresses that are comfortable, fit your shape and will last you – at least for a few months. For jersey inspiration, check out this sickeningly cute video montage.

Show Off That BumpTrust me, you’ll be so much happier on the style front if you find ways to show off your bump instead of concealing it. For example, if you have a dress that hangs straight down over your bump making you look as wide as a house (ok, ok, pregnancy is all about hyperbole, so bear with me) then whip out a belt and sling it round your hips. Yes, it’s a not-quite-nailed-it outdated boho look, but it’s your best option I promise (and one ex-boho queen Sienna Miller is currently pulling off quite well IMHO).

Clingy But ComfyClingy but comfy – your new holy grail. I’ve lived in jumpers that are oh-so-comfy but cling just so around your belly and now that the sun is out anything with a smock elasticated waist band is equally wondrous.

Highstreet Vs DesignerIt sucks, doesn’t it? Highstreet seems perfectly serviceable, until you try the expensive stuff. I went through and discarded three pairs of highstreet jeans – Dorothy Perkins (bad stretch fabric, at first too big, then too small) Topshop (I didn’t like the feeling of the over-bump band and crotch rode down) and H&M (one size too small, next size up too big) – until I allowed myself to try on a pair of designer jeans and was instantly sold. First off, my chunkier, and growing, legs looked (almost) as good as they did pre-pregnancy, secondly the superior elasticated fabric meant the crotch sat just where it should and the bump band was roomy with space for more. They were obscenely expensive but I wish I’d bought them first off; I’ve had more use out of them than anything else I bought.

DIY TricksIn the early months when I could still fit into my regular jeans I loosened the waist using an elastic band threaded around the button and looped through the button hole carefully concealed beneath aforementioned long tops. Elasticated dresses can work as skirts and the low-slung belt for definition, as mentioned earlier, even if goes against all your style principles, is one I wish I’d done more of… and if only I had more to tell, but, frankly, I’ve been a total slattern on the DIY front, however, there are loads of good projects at The Bumpwear Project.

My Best Maternity BuysCitizens of Humanity Avedon leggings-style jeans net-a-porter.comTopshop floral print maternity dress (one similar), topshop.comTopshop maternity jumper (one similar), topshop.comGap striped jumper, gap.euH&M stretch jersey vests, hm.com

My Maternity WishlistSeraphine Grey Skinny Luxe Jeans (as worn by January Jones), seraphine.comKeungzai Maternity Perfect Tee keungzai.com Noppie Alison jeggings prettypregnant.com

The Bottom LineSpend as little as possible has been my mantra qualified (of course!) with splashing out on one (or two) pricey purchases on items that will be worn day in day out; for me – a die hard work-at-home type – it was a pair of skinny jeans, and for you? I’d love to hear all about your best and worst maternity buys. Start sharing now!