Even before those two positive lines revealed themselves last August, I knew non-maternity dress brands would make up most of my pregnancy wardrobe. As a bonafide “dress girl,” I’ve established a range of favorites that I routinely wear year-round, from Dôen’s dreamy, nostalgia-driven designs to Hill House Home’s viral Nap Dresses. Now, this isn’t to say that maternity brands are unstylish and lack modern offerings — I’ve accumulated many a great piece from the likes of Hatch, Seraphine, Ingrid & Isabel, and more. However, I knew many of my favorite midis and maxis would lend themselves to a growing bump throughout the trimesters. And to feel like my usual self on the often turbulent journey to motherhood, this approach to maternity style has been a practical and more sustainable choice without adding too many new items to my closet.
I found I wasn’t alone in craving non-maternity wear while pregnant after speaking to and observing other expecting women’s wardrobes. “I refuse to be complacent about my style during these months when my body is constantly changing,” Zoey Washington, editorial content director at Jellyfish, tells me of her first and second pregnancies. “I love exploring the small changes I can make to my look that keep things interesting and chic without making me look too big,” she continues. “Reaching for slip dresses or airy empire waist silhouettes has been the best way to ensure you have a little more room for growth.” Another essential element is to get items that make you feel good, says Washington. “It sounds obvious, but when you’re pregnant, you want to feel taken care of on every level, including the materials that touch your skin,” she explains. “Silks, cashmere, pillowy cotton — that’s all that I want right now.”
With a penchant for oversize silhouettes in her everyday wardrobe, Washington reached for roomy separates and breezy day dresses with interesting necklines and defined empire waists for her first pregnancy. “I stayed away from outright maternity clothing aside from maternity stretch pants from Spanx, extra supportive bras, roomy underwear, and a pair of black maternity jeans from Target.” Now during her second, she’s reviving her love of all things consignment to buy spacious yet luxe pieces that are on-trend. “Menswear-inspired sweaters from Stella McCartney that are cut with just enough bias to give me shape as my bump grows” are among Washington’s favorites.
Additionally, oversized, vintage men’s Lanvin and Gucci blazers from The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective paired with cozy stretch pants or thick sweats from Brunette the Label have become the editorial director’s ideal approach to elevated comfort for everyday life. “I find that as my pregnancy progresses, I refuse to compromise on comfort,” she adds, noting her go-to accessories to complete each look. “I love classic, black low-rise duck boots from L.L. Bean for life during inclement weather and roomy, fur-lined mules from Gucci for everything else,” she says.
Similarly, Kelsie Hayes, owner and founder of Popupflorist, who recently welcomed her first daughter, tells me that oversize and loose pieces were her go-to’s pre-pregnancy. However, once her bump started to show, transitioning to knits and tighter silhouettes felt more flattering, with material also as a factor. “I wasn’t finding the types of fabrics I liked in maternity clothing, so I stuck to other brands that offered the textured and rib knits that I found to be very flattering,” she tells me.
I, too, have leaned into heavyweight ribbed knit midis by Simon Miller and body-skimming jersey blends, like Bumpsuit’s fitted column maxis, as has Michael Kors editorial director Carolina O’Neill. “I found that tight-fitting dresses in stretchy fabrics were far more flattering on a pregnant body than tent dresses or A-line styles,” she tells me. “Maybe it’s something about the way they highlight your bump while accentuating the other parts of you that still feel relatively small?” Adding, “I’m also generally more comfortable in longer silhouettes to hide my slightly swollen legs — the joys of pregnancy.”
Keep scrolling for more non-maternity dress insights from me, Washington, Hayes, and O’Neill with an edit to shop from 15 versatile brands.
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With a laidback California aesthetic, Dôen’s dresses are often crafted from lightweight and airy fabrics, like cotton and ramie, and feature billowing shapes that beautifully enhance a growing bump. My favorites have been a mix of belted and smocked silhouettes that cinch in just enough without feeling constricting and roomy A-line shapes when maximizing comfort at home.
“When I’m feeling bold, daring, or want to add a little sex appeal, it’s Hanifa all the way,” says Washington. “She does a great job of adding alluring cutouts and playful necklines to her arsenal of knit dresses. Each piece really empowers me and makes me feel special without feeling self-conscious.”
“A.L.C. is a great line because they have great knitwear that I will wear after pregnancy,” Hayes tells me. “For my baby shower, I bought a long striped dress that I’ve already worn a few times and will be able to wear again when I’m not pregnant.”
Television host and author Elaine Welteroth epitomizes modern maternity style. Throughout her pregnancy, she’s worn fitted dresses from brands such as Lionne, Hanifa, Ralph Lauren, and Jonathan Simkhai. The knit midis and fluid maxis within Simkhai’s collection have been a clear favorite for the media mogul to showcase her bump beautifully. When confidently embracing cutouts, like Welteroth, look for silhouettes that sit at the top of the bump as a contemporary take on an empire waist.
Though synonymous with barely there minis and daring cutouts, Cult Gaia makes many a versatile dress to suit pregnant women, whether for weekday moments or special occasions. “I bought this knit, off-the-shoulder dress that ended up being so flattering,” O’Neill says. “I wore it in some of my pregnancy portraits and out to dinner with a coat draped over my shoulders. The fabric has so much give, so it retains the shape and can totally be worn post-pregnancy.”
While many of the label’s dresses are destined for vacations, Zimmermann has been my go-to for special occasions such as wedding guest dresses, bridal attire, and bridesmaid duties. So when seeking out a special style to don for my maternity photos and baby shower, I found the brand offered a lovely assortment of minis, midis, and maxis that felt perfectly whimsical and less expected for the occasion. Designs featuring voluminous skirts and stretchy panels at the waist and back fit best over my bump and growing chest.
Hill House Home
Hill House Home’s viral Nap Dresses are beloved for their ease and comfort, making them perfect throughout pregnancy, as proven by the brand’s founder and mom of three, Nell Diamond. Best-selling silhouettes like the Ellie, Jasmine, and Athena accommodate a growing bump best, featuring stretchy smocking at the waist and full skirts for moments when you prefer more volume over a clingier fit. I’ve worn two of my vibrantly printed Nellies on a couple of beach vacations I took during my first and second trimesters and plan to wear a floral version for my trip home from the hospital with my newborn baby girl.
Hayes and I have both loved Simon Miller while pregnant. “They have an incredible rib-knit collection that’s comfortable and looks elevated,” Hayes tells me. The weight of the brand’s ribbed fabric truly sets it apart from other knit dresses. It feels silky, soft, and breathable, but it creates a well-fitted shape that doesn’t appear too revealing as it stretches with a growing bump.
“Early in my pregnancy, I bought two silhouettes of pants, a jumpsuit, and a top in black, and I wear them all the time,” Hayes adds. “I mix and match them and add accessories that make me feel more polished. They were definitely my best fashion investment over this pregnancy.”
“I’ve always been a fan of Mara Hoffman’s breezy cuts and structural shapes,” Washington tells me of the ethically designed label. “She has a way of highlighting exactly what I want to show off on my body while never crossing the line. Even the simplest of dresses have an element of structure and roominess that makes them easy to wear without being shapeless.”
O’Neill has also loved the label’s fitted silhouettes while carrying her first child. “I’ve gotten so much mileage out of the Amy dress,” she tells me. “I wore it to my baby shower, as well as to a wedding. Despite the tight fit, the stretchy, bunched-up treatment of the fabric keeps it flattering.”
Missoni is synonymous with slinky but not overly clingy dresses artfully designed with an effortless feel — what could be better during pregnancy? So whether you’re seeking a bump-friendly occasion outfit or tend toward vivid colors every day, as Welteroth often does, look to the Italian label for dresses with special touches for vacation and occasions, or for a vibrant weekday pregnancy look.
Understated volume is Brooklyn-based Merlette’s signature aesthetic and one I’ve been drawn to for everyday outfits, my bridal wardrobe, and now, in my third trimester. Silhouettes like the Essaouira, Paradis, and Vallarta feature tiered A-line skirts with sweet details that feel idyllic and comfortable with a growing bump. Yet, at the same time, they make for bold moments before and after pregnancy that I will undoubtedly keep in rotation throughout the seasons with sandals, heels, and boots.
Norma Kamali’s designs celebrate the female figure at every stage, and some of her fitted signatures, like the Diana, are choice for those looking to showcase their bump, like Hayes. “Toward the end of my pregnancy, I bought a few pieces from Norma Kamali,” the Popupflorist founder tells me. “One, in particular, is a matte jersey jumpsuit that I love and definitely think I’ll wear after as well. I bought it at the stage where I really wanted to show off my belly and still feel stylish but comfortable.”
Zara is Washington’s go-to for affordable non-maternity dresses that allow her to keep signature outfits in rotation. “Simple, chic slip dresses and maxi styles are all I want during the spring and summer months paired with my classic Saint Laurent trench or a blazer,” she says. “I love that they always rework one of my favorite slip dresses in shiny sateen each year with bits of lace detail. It’s my tried and true look before, during, and after pregnancy.”
“From the knit sweater dresses to the A-line poplin maxis, I found that so many of Staud’s dresses worked for me during pregnancy,” says O’Neill. “I always felt very cute and modern while wearing them.”
Misa has become a favorite of mine for summer weather and getaways, like a babymoon or destination wedding. The brand offers many fluid midis and maxis cut from airy fabrics conducive to the heat and smocked designs that beautifully accentuate a growing bump. So whether fitted or flowy is your taste, the brand’s offerings are great for a baby shower or dressier moments when you’re ready to change out of those all-too comfy sweats.