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Article: Pregnancy Style: How to dress your bump!

The 5 Pregnancy Styles You'll Want In Your Wardrobe

Pregnancy Style: How to dress your bump!

A Maternity-Style guide to embracing and navigating modern pregnancy dressing, along with advice from the experts on the fashion mistakes to avoid!

Welcome to the world of pregnancy! Dressing your bump has never been more chic and empowering - if you know the ins and outs. At CARI we believe pregnant women deserve to look and feel amazing, and our mission is to guide you through this new chapter in life with confidence. 

As experts in all-things-bumps (credentials earned through years of trial and error designing and fitting samples, styling photoshoots with various models and the outfit successes and fails of our own pregnancies) here is what we’ve learned about navigating modern maternity dressing, compiled into the ultimate Maternity-Style-Guide so you can embrace this fashion adventure with enthusiasm.

DRESSING YOUR BUMP - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW… 

Success in pregnancy dressing is about achieving the perfect balance between comfort and fashion. Your new wardrobe can be both practical and stunningly stylish with just a few expert tips and tricks…

Embrace Change:  Your centre of gravity is shifting, and your fashion style does have to adjust…at least a little. It’s not a bad thing, this just means being open to experimenting - if you try to hold fast to how you ‘used to dress’ then you are unlikely to really enjoy the experience.

Get Clear on your Style:  Before indulging in the world of maternity wear, pause  to explore your personal style preferences. Dressing your bump will involve a little experimenting, and the clothing choices suitable for pregnancy are limited - so take the time to find a brand where the quality, style and ethos appeal to you, such as a love of colorful prints or a black-is-the-new-black approach. 

You won’t need to buy that many pieces, as you will likely have quite a few pieces that are versatile enough to work through pregnancy, so make sure that what you do buy, you really love - nine months is a long time to spend in a dress that isn’t really you. 

Plan, Prepare and Organise:  Start searching for maternity staples early, ensuring you are armed with an impeccably organised pregnancy wardrobe that helps you feel confident. There will come a time when nothing fits and then you will likely grab at whatever maternity options first come to you, don’t do that to yourself.

Embrace the certainty of office-wear essentials well in advance. Create a list of must-have items like chic dresses, comfortable black trousers, and go-with-everything tops, ensuring your style is always on-point for any occasion. Avoid waiting until the last moment as it’s likely to leave you feeling overwhelmed, especially for the big events on your social calendar. You only have a few months to indulge bump dressing, so don’t miss this fun opportunity – also, the more pregnancy advances, the less you will want to walk around shopping.

Break the Rules:  Sequins, leather and fashion forward cut-out dress styles may not be traditional maternity wear, but if that’s your style then go for it. Yes, a lot of maternity wear is still very floral, but in a post-Rihanna pregnancy world, it’s all about breaking the rules and having fun dressing your bump.  

Flat Shoes - With Everything:  Stylish and supportive flat shoes are your best friend during pregnancy - but they do change the vibe of outfits. As well as bearing the extra weight and retaining fluid retention, your feet will likely expand in size and bending over to put on any sort of footwear is just not an option that will appeal to you as your bump advances. Shoes with cushioned insoles and arch support provide maximum comfort.

So first, take initiative and store away all those beautiful stilettos and slim-fit boots (unlikely to zip up over your legs as pregnancy progresses). Finding the right styles that can be effortlessly paired with all your outfits is tricky, especially for office style so will require a little experimentation - and harder to do in winter months. Order a few different styles to try on at home with your favourite outfits until you find what works for you. 

Posture:  When you’ve been hugging the toilet bowl with morning sickness, it’s completely natural to huddle in on yourself. As your body changes, you may notice you are slouching a little more, leading to a rounder appearance. Stand tall and pull your shoulders back: good posture has such a positive impact on how clothes look on us.  

WHAT'S YOUR PREGNANCY STYLE?

Now that you’ve laid the foundations, let's have some fun and explore various styles that work beautifully with a growing bump! The secret to looking blooming fabulous all pregnancy long is to create definition and shape to balance your new figure.

The Bump Silhouette

A dress that highlights the bump is perhaps the most iconic and modern pregnancy style. For form-fitting dresses that sculpt your figure, look for maternity dresses with side ruching, a detail designed uniquely to accommodate your growing belly without pulling on the seams elsewhere. (It’s hard to achieve this beautiful sculpted shape without ruching.) 

There are many different styles of form-fitting to choose, from body-con to more premium slim-fit versions with pregnancy specific design details. Always consider the quality of the fabric. My personal preference was ribbed knit dresses, in beautiful luxe fabrics that gently expanded to deliver the silhouette but without feeling ‘body con’ tight on my bum.  

Trapeze Style

For a contemporary minimalist look, the trapeze style dress is so flattering and elegant during pregnancy, especially for workwear or more dressy occasions. Fitted around the shoulders and top, the trapeze style then gently widens and flows into an A-line shape, delivering a beautiful tailored elegance that is so flattering. 

Trapeze styles are not only wonderful for disguising a growing bump, but also a favourite beyond pregnancy (especially useful for your Return-to-Work wardrobe). This style offers a seamless blend of fashion and function; and the tailored shape delivers a very modern aesthetic that works as well with trainers as with dressy shoes. 

Flowing Styles 

Often the most reached for pregnancy style, particularly during the summer months and for good reason! Enjoy the ease of flowy dresses or skirts with tiered layers but resist the temptation to size up. Now is not the time for creating a poorly fitting silhouette, lots of extra material and too wide shoulders will make you look rounder. 

Instead, opt for tops with more shape, ensuring a more flattering silhouette. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton or linen to keep you cool and comfortable throughout your pregnancy. During winter, you should still be able to find a good selection of flowy dresses - maternity brands usually carry a selection of all-year styles that also have breastfeeding zips. 

Kimono Styles 

Welcome the graceful charm of the kimono style with its enchanting loose and flowing sleeves gently draping from the shoulders. It's one of our most beloved pregnancy styles at CARI that we can't get enough of! The chic bat-wing design looks divine on any shape and is crafted to be beautifully draped on top, (with discreet breastfeeding poppers) balanced with a graceful slim-fit silhouette through the skirt. Whether you opt for a top or a dress, search for kimonos with adjustable waist ties or belts, that define your waistline and accommodate you from bump-to-beyond and back again.

Wrap Dresses

An insider tip from stylists: showing a little skin, especially around the neck, as V-necks or wider collars, works wonders to counteract a slightly puffy face. 

Wrap dresses are wonderful for this, and the combination of v-neck and empire waistline definition delivers such a flattering look for all body shapes.

And yes, flaunt your love for mini dresses as over-the-knee style dresses that are tailored to maternity fits look very chic and modern, especially when combined with beautiful long knitted cardigans in winter, but avoid body-con fits as you may feel a little too exposed. 

Over-the-bump Skirts

A satin bias midi skirt is my personal style signifier, and my go-to each season. During pregnancy, I adapted one to wear over-the-bump and felt very chic when pairing with cropped tops or long knit sweaters. CARI’s black satin skirt, in a magical satin fabric with stretch, was one of the first items I created, and it’s now become what we are best known for - offering so many styling options for mums-to-be.  

Elastic Waisted Trousers

As someone who is not a fan of the leggings look, I rejoiced in finding stylish elastic waisted trousers. Dresses are easy and comfortable during pregnancy, but it’s also great to have trouser styling options so these are a wardrobe essential for me, especially for office wear - and work so well postpartum too 

Look for styles that you can wear on the bump, or else with waistbands that can be folded under. Trousers with ruched bands deliver a great shape, designed to silhouette the bump but also to sit properly on the hips so they look good - and are as comfortable as leggings. 

THE STYLISTS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WHAT TO AVOID: 

  • Dropped waist dresses – as pregnancy advances the waistline will look awkward, and give a tent-like appearance.
  • Lightweight jersey dresses with no shoulder definition – water retention can affect the upper back, making the shoulders appear rounder. Instead look for shoulder pads or features that will define this area. 
  • Sizing up in flowy dresses – will make you appear bigger, and can look a little sloppy. Plus anything falling off your shoulders will likely be irritating with all those hormones.
  • Skater or Baby Doll dresses – while they can look cute in early pregnancy, the bigger your bump grows, the shorter the dress becomes as the fabric is pushed out to accommodate it.
  • Dresses or tops tight around the shoulders and top of arms – even in jersey these will be uncomfortable as you progress. 

TAKE INSPIRATION

Social media is wonderful for style inspiration, and if you are a fashion obsessive, you’ll likely be adding a few pregnant influencers to your follow list. Seeing their outfits is great for shaking you out of a fashion funk and will encourage you to experiment a little. If you are not a fashion follower, well lucky for you we do a very regular #BumpStyle round-up of the best dressed bumps and new mum style on Instagram (@cari.maternity), so follow for all the amazing outfit inspiration. 

Check out our Pinterest (@CARImaternity) too, we have lots of styling boards dedicated to help you discover style and outfit options for modern office wear, baby showers, babymoon and all-things-motherhood related. But while social media may offer wonderful style inspiration, we are acutely aware that it also proliferates unrealistic expectations of how women look during pregnancy - especially when it comes to super skinny influencers proclaiming they don’t need maternity clothes while you are bursting out of your trousers by week 16, and then ‘bouncing’ back into their jeans minutes after the baby. 

Get yourself a good pregnancy buddy so you can laugh, instead of cry, at the comparison. As you embark on this extraordinary style adventure with your new body, remember to make it fun and exciting! Indulge in the convenience of online ordering and experimenting to discover what works best for you and do embrace the multifunctionality of modern maternity clothes, as they offer versatility and lasting value. In the words of fashion journalist and author Pandora Sykes: 

"My one tip is to ignore the person who says don’t spend money on maternity clothing and the unhelpful unicorn who trills ‘I just undid my top button for 9 months’. When your closet shrinks to 10 pieces to last 6 months, the cost-per-wear is more than anything you ever wore. So, buy yourself at least one thing you love." 

REDEFINING MODERN MOTHERHOOD

Although it can feel like you’ve been thrown in at the deep end, try to enjoy the oh-so-fleeting magic of pregnancy fashion! Celebrate each outfit as a tribute to the extraordinary adventure that is motherhood. At CARI, we're committed to supporting you with sustainable and versatile maternity wear, ensuring you feel utterly fabulous every step of the way.

You and your bump deserve looks that make you feel radiant and utterly beautiful. 

Until Next time x

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