Six Maternity-Dressing Rules, Reexamined
Let go of old assumptions to make dressing for pregnancy simpler—and a lot more fun.
Before I experienced pregnancy, I had all kinds of misconceptions about what it must be like to get dressed with a rapidly growing human inside your body. Instagram ads will have us believe it’s a nine-month parade of off-the-shoulder floral dresses that perfectly skim your bump as you twirl with glee. And Rihanna convinced me that going bare-midriffed would be a viable option. But what if it’s below freezing where you live? Or you have to follow a corporate dress code? Or—most devastating of all—you realize you’re not Rihanna?
There is hope. Now that I’m in the thick of my third trimester, I’ve learned that maternity dressing is both easier and more annoying than I expected. As with dressing in general, it’s important to take into account factors like your body type, lifestyle, aesthetic preferences, climate, and season. But as long as you remember the cardinal rule—i.e. you call the shots—it is definitely navigable. Below, we unpack six rules and assumptions, and suggest a simpler path forward.
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Old rule: You need a full “maternity wardrobe” ASAP.
Every pregnancy is different, and when/how you start to dress for your changing shape varies from woman to woman. But the idea that you should be in head-to-toe maternity-wear for nine months is likely overkill. For the first five months of my pregnancy, I wore pieces I already owned that were loosely cut (like the Corrie dress), super-stretchy (like the Harrington legging), or oversized (like the Theo pullover), and I’m not alone. “I expected it to be easy to find maternity dresses, but I’m little, and a lot of maternity clothes don’t fit me well,” says Michelle G., who oversees analytics at a nonprofit tech company in Manhattan. “So far, sticking with non-maternity clothes in a size or two larger than my normal size has worked better for my body shape.”