Tips for pregnant women dressing for the office

(This article is also available in an audio format)

By Hayley Joy Weinberg – from Hayley Joy Boutique, who creates clothes for plus-size, odd-size and regular size women. The styles and fit are beautiful and flattering for pregnant women of all shapes. Her boutique is in Dunkeld, JHB.

Being pregnant is a beautiful thing, and should be embraced as such – especially when it comes to dressing for the office. Rather than trying to cover it up, be comfortable with your soon-to-be changing shape, and these handy tips below should help you feeling confident and ready to tackle the corporate world in all your preggy glory.

One of the most important things to bear in mind when dressing for the office during pregnancy is to pick fashion styles that are generous in their sizing, so that you can grow into them as your baby bump grows. The reality is that you never know how you are going to carry, so your choice when selecting clothing styles should be around comfort first, before super fashionable. It’s worth remembering that most women don’t go straight back to their original weight after the baby is born, so you will probably be wearing your maternity wardrobe a little longer than 9 months. Buy your maternity wardrobe in three month increments.

Your choices in the first three months should be styles that ease you into this new, ever changing body. Start by buying elasticised waist pants and skirts, so that you get used to an unstructured look and feel. Swop straight cut top styles for slightly swingy cuts so that you start getting used to wearing looser fitting styles. If you are a Plus-size, then you will already have good basics in your existing wardrobe. These should be suitable as maternity wear for your first three months.

In your second trimester, stick with the elasticised waists, but now you will need to buy something a little looser. This is when you need to try and buy adjustable waistbands. Your legs are not going to get much bigger, but your tummy is going to start expanding rapidly, so the adjustable waist allows for you to expand comfortably. Your tops will almost be too tight now, so this is when you need to start buying add-ons that you can layer over your existing tops. For example, a funky sleeveless gilet or overtop, depending on whether the under garment has sleeves or is sleeveless, goes a long way to stretching your existing wardrobe. The Plus-size wardrobe is getting a little tight by now, so you need to start buying tops that are much more roomy, and that allow you to start layering in order to look fashionable as well as respectful.

By your third trimester you are all about tummy and probably breasts. As long as your pants and skirts have adjustable waistbands, they should be fine to wear right through, but your tops are going to need to be upgraded to ‘BIG SWING’. Bear in mind that your tummy will cause your tops to rise up a lot in the front (up to 15cm sometimes) so you need to choose tops that are shaped in the front and that are generously swung. There are quite a few regular sized ranges that include these generously swung styles, so choose pieces that allow you to keep expanding. The Plus-size body will now be mostly about tummy, so as long as your tops have enough swing, you will be able to go through to the end of your pregnancy.

Invest in good maternity basics, and these will allow you to stretch your new wardrobe further. Plain colours are a better option as they are less recognisable, and paired with the right accessories, you’ll have a variety of outfits to go with any mood. A couple of fabulous scarves and you already have whole new outfits. Add some affordable printed over garments and it’ll make a basic two piece look brand new.

You can take the same top and make it work for the office as well as being able to casual it down. For casual wear, a printed swing top with legging and boots works like a charm. For work, replace the leggings with smarter straight leg pants and possibly a loose fitting jacket. One top, two very different looks.

The smartest way to stretch any wardrobe is to invest in good accessories. Beautiful scarves tied in various ways draw attention to your face, so you can wear the same basics and nobody will notice – they will be marvelling at what’s around your neck. Interesting jewellery pieces, make for good talking points, so choose with a view to keeping the attention at face and chest height. Fun, colourful handbags are also a great talking point and accessory to any outfit.

With all of this, if your company has a corporate identity, you need to explain to them that with your body changing shape through this magnificent process of pregnancy, you’d feel more comfortable and confident if you can dress as best for your shape during this time – and get their permission to be able to dress as close to the corporate identity as is possible, in a way that is most comfortable for you.

Some other general and super handy tips are:

  • Swop structured non-stretch jackets, for unstructured stretch jackets that will grow with you and your baby bump.
  • Swop formal pants and skirts with zips and buttons, for stretch pants and skirts with elasticised waists.
  • If you have been wearing tailored shirts that you tuck in, you need to invest in loose fitting shirts that are longer, so that they can hang over the tummy. A-line styles work best as they have the swing over the tummy that is required.
  • If you absolutely need to wear a tailored jacket, then invest in a jacket that is a swing style.
  • If you need to wear tailored pants and skirts, take them to a tailor and have extenders put into the waistband.
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