You’ve found the perfect pair of maternity jeans, rediscovered your love of breezy daytime dresses, and worn a hole in your comfiest leggings…but what’s a preggo supposed to do when she has to turn up the fancy?
If you’re slated to attend a formal event, you’re probably a little nervous about choosing the perfect outfit. Getting dressed up is always fun, but it’s definitely not as easy when you’re contending with a growing baby bump, swollen ankles, and the general discomfort that can accompany pregnancy. The good news? There are simple, affordable (or even free!) ways to score the perfect formal maternity look. So if you’re pregnant and stumped as to what you should wear to that black tie wedding or gala, look no further.
If you’re nervous about tripping over a long gown’s hem or balancing in precariously high heels, here’s our advice: Just don’t do it. Being the only person in a cocktail dress or pair of flats beats spending an entire evening stressing out about falling—and it definitely beats actually taking a spill while pregnant! Pregnancy affects your balance, so feel free to bend the dress code a little bit in order to keep yourself safe. Of course, some women are totally comfortable rocking high heels well into their third trimesters. If your doctor’s ok with it, own it.
It’s no secret: Pregnancy is not the most comfortable time in a woman’s life. You may be someone who can rock strappy shoes and bodycon silhouettes with the best of them, only to find that you just can’t manage certain things while expecting. And that’s ok! If your feet are swollen and achy, opt for the comfy shoes instead of the cute ones, leave the Spanx at home, and opt for a breezy dress over something constricting. And don’t forget to take your outfit for a test drive before you leave the house—the last thing you want is for the discomfort to set in as soon as you arrive at the event.
Dress up a maternity basic
While a full-on formal dress may be a significant investment (and one you probably won’t get much use out of in the future), a more casual, versatile option could serve you well through the end of your pregnancy. Need to wear a full-length dress? Consider investing in a simple black maternity maxi and dressing it up with makeup, jewelry, and a pretty clutch. If you can get away with a cocktail length dress, your go-to maternity LBD may just do the trick (with a little accessorizing, of course). Check out brands like Seraphine, Hatch, ASOS, Ingrid & Isabel and Isabella Oliver for super chic maternity-specific picks.
Shop your closet
Who says you have to wear a maternity dress? You may be surprised to find certain items in your closet still work through your pregnancy — and sometimes, it’s the pieces you wouldn’t expect to be bump-friendly that actually look the cutest. The tight dress you used to rock in college? It just might have to make a comeback, even if you never imagined wearing it again. Keep an open mind and try on as much as possible. You just might surprise yourself with what you find!
Borrow from a friend
…Or your mom, your sister, or any other woman in your life who may have an old maternity (or maternity-friendly) piece she can offer up—it’s worth a try!
Rent a dress
Services like Rent the Runway and Le Tote make scoring a dress for one night easier than ever — the popular services even have full maternity sections. You can get a beautiful gown for a small fraction of the price, wear it once, return it and never have to worry about cluttering your closet. Sounds like a win/win to us!
The bottom line
Remember this: If you’re pregnant, you have some wiggle room where dress codes are concerned. No one will judge you if you need to wear flat shoes, a cocktail dress instead of a full-length gown, or something a bit more casual due to your physical changes and limitations. So give yourself a break, have fun with it and show off that bump!