Dressing While Pregnant: How To Maintain Your Personal Style Despite Your Growing Bump

06/04/2016 2:21 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 02: Chrissy Teigen seen leaving her apartment on March 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Team/GC Images)

baby bump

For many women, going up a couple of dress sizes can be interpreted as a sign to lay off the Tim Tams. For those who are pregnant, it's just a way of life.

As if coping with the myriad of pregnancy side effects isn't enough, there's the added pressure to look amazing (thanks, celebrities) as well as to continue dressing like you don't have a watermelon hidden under your shirt. Which, as many style-loving women out there can attest, can prove to be a bit of a challenge.

Thankfully, it doesn't have to be all muumuus and trackie dacks, with many fashion labels expanding their ranges to include stylish and affordable maternity wear. According to fashion blogger Phoebe Montague (otherwise known as Lady Melbourne) the art of dressing your bump all comes down to knowing where to shop, stocking up on a few pregnancy essentials and perfecting the art of the mix-and-match.

"The very first thing I did was buy maternity jeans," Montague told The Huffington Post Australia. "Because at the beginning, mainly you just get a little belly. The rest of your body might not change as much, which means you can still get away with wearing your regular jackets and tops and that kind of thing. You just need a bit more room in your jeans.

"The maternity jeans at Jeanswest were recommended to me. I bought one pair just to see how it would go, and I ended up with three of their maternity styles because they were so good.

"The denim quality was oustanding and they look fantastic. Plus you can get the ones where you have the band that goes all the way over your belly or the short ones that just extend from the waistband. It's a personal choice, as some people don't like having that big elastic that goes over."

Another item Montague suggests investing in sooner rather than later is a good maternity bra, for both style and comfort reasons.

"This was something else I did very early in my pregnancy. Even though you’re not nursing, it's the support it gives you that makes all the difference," Montague said.

"Not only does a good bra help and support your growing shape, but affects the way you look under your clothes. Any stylist will tell you lingerie and underwear are the foundation of any silhouette, and so when you're pregnant, a proper bra can make a huge difference.

"There's also the argument that you shouldn't wear underwire anyway because it can affect the development of your milk ducts, so that's another reason you should look into maternity bras early on. I went and got fitted -- that's actually a tip I would suggest -- rather than buying online or just guessing what size you are. Definitely go to a department store or a proper lingerie store and get fitted. I actually had to buy three lots of bras during my pregnancy -- that's how much I changed in size."

Details of my latest outfit adventures via @farfetch wearing @prada @givenchyofficial @spijkersenspijkers #myfarfetch 💋

A photo posted by Lady Melbourne (@ladymelbourne) on

As you continue to grow and find your normal tops and jackets aren't cutting it anymore, Montague says looking at the larger sizes of your favourite brands can be a good alternative to going full-on maternity (but don't worry, that will come later).

"While you can get away with maternity jeans and your normal tops for a couple of months, the rest of you will eventually start to thicken out and other body parts might change too," Montague said.

"For me personally, I really wanted to resist going and buying striped jersey. That seems to be a huge offering for maternity wear. I don’t know what the stylists are thinking but everything seems to be elasticated jersey in black and white stripes --every maternity label seems to do it.

"So I went shopping, looking for loose, comfy tops -- nothing too too tight -- and ended up buying things three sizes bigger than my normal size. This basically meant I could still look fashionable and stay in regular labels that I really liked to wear and be comfortable without having to buy the ubiquitous muumuu."

Of course, there will come a time in your pregnancy when the muumuu starts to look like an attractive option as you deal with your ever-expanding size.

"All that happens is you just get bigger and bigger and bigger until you think it's absolutely impossible to get any bigger... and then you do," Montague said. "At that stage you just want to be comfortable.

"Around this time I really enjoyed popping into opshops or Savers and looking in bigger sizes for vintage kaftans.

"I was lucky, because the end of my pregnancy was in summer, so it was easy to find loose, flowing things easy to wear. It might be different when it's winter.

"Regardless, I knew this was all a temporary thing and I didn't really want to go out and spend lots and lots of money on clothing that I might not either ever wear again. Because even if I put it away, let’s face it, the amount of time I am going to wear it is months.

"So for me, shopping second hand was really handy. I was able to find cool quirky pieces I liked without having to break the bank."

Another option for those looking to avoid spending up big is to head online, with Montague listing the ASOS maternity range as one of her go-to shopping destinations.

"ASOS does really fantastic maternity wear. They get it so right. And I have had so many pregnant people say the same thing," Montague said.

"What makes them stand out, I feel, is they don’t compromise on their cuts or fabrication in terms of maternity wear.

"Unfortunately for me, I had Fashion Week right at the end of my pregnancy, and it's hard, because at that stage you don't feel fashionable and you feel as big as a whale.

"In the end I decided it was a really good opportunity to combine some vintage and second hand things with some new things I had bought online that I thought were on trend."

In terms of accessories, the fact sizes don't really come into play means the sky is the limit when it comes to maternity style.

"I went for it! If there was one thing that made me feel normal, it was having a gorgeous handbag. I absolutely piled on my jewelry and accessories," Montague said.

"I do feel pregnancy is like going through a very out of body abnormal experience, particularly if it's your first pregnancy and you have never done it before. Every single day it's a case of, 'OK, that’s not the same as it was yesterday.' You want to be fashionable and maintain normalcy and, for me, handbags and shoes helped with that.

"So if you have a $5 vintage dress on, make sure you're wearing that with a beautiful handbag or leather slides. Personally I felt like through my accessories, I was able to add that element of glamour."

And as for those leather slides? Montague says investing in some good, comfortable (but fashionable) footwear is something no pregnant woman will come to regret.

"Flat shoes are a must, but try to avoid thongs. Especially because I was pregnant during summer, I just felt like I saw thongs everywhere, which, in my opinion, are akin to ugh boots. In other words, they shouldn't leave the house," Montague said.

"So I bought a pair of really nice leather slides -- which really are the same principal in that they have no laces or buckles -- but are a really fashionable alternative to wearing pair of rubber thongs in public.

"It's funny because I got complimented all the time on those slides, or a skirt or a dress. And I would say, 'I bought it, so you can buy it. It's not hard.'

"There's nowhere I shopped that was off limits or exclusive. Everything was accessible."

In saying that, Montague understands pregnancy can be a difficult time and the latest handbag might not be at the top of every woman's priority list.

"I do think there’s a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way during pregnancy, to bounce back very quickly, to lose baby weight, and even during pregnancy now to look fit and healthy. What I learned through being pregnant is there's so much is out of your control," she said.

"I guess my big message is all you’ve got to do is worry about yourself and your health and being comfortable. If that means dressing up every day and looking for fashionable clothes, then great! But if it means getting around in a pair of leggings and trainers for nine months, then do it.

"There's enough pressure already, so do whatever makes you comfortable."

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