Saturday, 9 March 2013

Dressing Well for Pregnancy: An Essential Guide

Before I fell pregnant I always imagined that finding decent maternity wear for someone of my stature would be incredibly difficult. Hell, finding normal clothes for someone of my stature is incredibly difficult!

If you're less than five feet tall, but actually have hips and boobs then clothes shopping can be a nightmare. Add to the equation the desire to shop on a budget (you're only going to wear most of these clothes for a period of about 4 months, remember) and I thought I had an impossible mountain to climb.

Enter New Look.

My life saver.

I mean it!

My Maternity Wardrobe
My Maternity Wardrobe by emilydavieswrites Everything pictured available from

New Look has by far, the best value, best quality, high street maternity range that I've come across. I would recommend it to anyone, whatever shape or size. Here's a list of my maternity wear essentials, plus a few tips and secrets, that will see you through your whole pregnancy.

Before we start, you should probably note the following:

1. My office had quite a casual dress code so no need for tailored suits and pencil skirts (Thank God!). This meant that variations on the outfit pictured was pretty much acceptable whatever the occasion. If you have a high powered city job, I've got nothing. Sorry!
2. I was pregnant over the winter, if you're pregnant over the summer you'll probably just want to live in a maxi dress and flip flops. In winter, you're going to need to make extra provisions as outlined below.

Essentials, Tips & Hints for Dressing Well in Pregnancy

1. Your normal wardrobe will last longer than you think
Seriously. I'm 37 weeks pregnant and still wearing some of my normal clothes. Obviously, don't try and squeeze into your favourite, most expensive items, but basic essentials that can easily be replaced if they get stretched out of shape - like vest tops - will last longer than you think. Because of my short torso, a lot of my tops had the extra length in them to accommodate a bump, and it meant I didn't have to invest in many basic items, allowing me to spend my hard earned cash on nicer things instead.

2. Invest in the essentials
Here's what I really needed:
Maternity Jeans: I was pleasantly surprised to find that New Look ran maternity jeans in different lengths ('Hooray!' cried all the short people!). AND they were only about £15! Bonus tip coming up on how to make your regular jeans last longer....
Winter Coat: There's no getting away from this one, and it was my biggest expense. Get something that will last you through the coldest winter. I got a long, black number from H&M for £40. And I have worn it practically every day since November. Be warned though, in terms of quality I wasn't that impressed. Had I unlimited funds I would have gone totally upmarket and got something that suited my height a lot better, but hey, we can't have it all (and I probably would have got cold!).
Bump Bands: These are essential! And they were hugely helpful in making my regular wardrobe go further. (That Bonus Tip I mentioned? All will be explained....)
Jersey Tops: I have lived in these. They're inexpensive, look good and once you've built up a little collection you can wear a whole host of colours. Get a well fitting black one and it can be dressed up with accessories for a special occasion. (They're also often on 2 for £12 in New Look).
Want to make your regular jeans last longer through your pregnancy? 
1. Pull on your regular hipster style jeans (high waisted jeans won't work) and you'll probably find that although they won't fasten, they'll sit neatly under your bump.
2. Pull up the zip as far as you can, grab a hair elastic, fasten it through the button hole and loop it round the button.
3. Pull on a bump band like the one pictured (they're designed to be quite stretchy) and this will help hold your jeans up. Layer over with a vest top and a jersey top and no one will know!
I'm still doing this at 37 weeks and actually prefer them to my maternity jeans!
3. Layer, Layer, Layer
Layering is the key. You'll get much more out of a limited amount of clothes if you layer. Think bump band, vest top, jersey top, chunky knit (I bought a few cardigans from Primark and because you don't need to do them up, they're absolutely fine throughout your pregnancy), pretty scarf / accessories. Sorted!

4. Shoes, glorious shoes!
Shoes are the key item which will dress up an outfit in the event of afterwork drinks, date night or party. Alright, so you're not supposed to wear heels - your centre of gravity will change so you're at more risk of falling over. In my opinion (and because I am a shortie!), heels every now and again, if you feel able, are fine. You know your limits! If heels aren't an option for you, think patent flats teamed with skinny jeans. I spent the rest of my pregnancy in my trusty brown leather boots with jeans tucked in. Still smart. Still comfy.
The same principle applies to accessories. A nice scarf, bag or pretty jewellery are all you need to dress up the basic outfit for a special occasion.

5. Shop as and when you need to
Shopping is fun, but if you're trying not to spend a fortune then you'll be surprised at how little you need. I didn't need much in the way of maternity wear until I was at least 25 weeks - up until this point, layering up worked for me. So don't rush out after your 12 week scan and buy a whole new wardrobe! I then slowly built up a collection of tops and that was enough for me! (Of course, your own shape will dictate this to some extent!).

6. A note on Bra Shopping
We all know that a well fitting bra is an essential and that during pregnancy your body is going to change a lot. Most of the advice I read was that you shouldn't wear underwired bras and that you should get measured at 20 weeks and then again towards the end - buying maternity / nursing bras each time. Apparently you can increase by three cup sizes!
So at 20 weeks I dutifully went off to M&S for a fitting. Here's what I learnt:
a} Maternity bras are often the most ugly things in the world. Don't feel pressured to get them during pregnancy. The only difference is they're easily accessible for breast feeding. So save them for when you actually are breast feeding. Instead, look in the normal, non-wired section and you'll at least find some prettier t-shirt bras.
b} You might not grow that much. Over the course of my pregnancy I've only gone up by one cup size. This might change once I actually start breast feeding, I don't know, but there's no point in investing hundreds of pounds in maternity bras until we know for sure!
c} New Look has a limited range of maternity / nursing bras, but they are great value (think £12.99 each) and much nicer than the ones you might find in M&S. Mothercare is also a good bet for pretty things if you have more money to spend and they obviously have specialised experience in measuring pregnant women.

In summary, do get measured by a pro, do buy a few well-fitting, non-wired bras as and when you need to, do invest in some pretty maternity / nursing bras; but don't feel you need to go all out at 20 weeks and stock up on numerous ugly tents that you will hate wearing and will probably grow out of once you start breast feeding!

7. A Final Tip for Short People
One final word of advice if, like me, you're a bit vertically challenged. Show off that bump! It might be tempting to wear all those floaty tops but trust me, they're not designed for you. They will be far too long and will most likely reach your lower thigh area. They will look like tents! Dresses are the same. You will end up looking much bigger than you actually are. Stick to fitted tops, fitted jeans, fitted trousers and fitted skirts.

When I follow this rule, I get lots of comments on how neat my bump is, how I'm carrying it all out front and how I haven't put on any weight anywhere else. I tried on a couple of dresses in preparation for a party, and I looked like OctoMum! Ignore at your peril.

So there we are. Maternity shopping essentials.

Any other hints and tips? Comment below!


  1. Hi Emily!
    Great tips for Mums to be!

  2. Love your article and could not agree more on the layer advice. Have a look at my styling tips on the subject.
    Bises de Paris!


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