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How Maternity Styles Have Shifted (and What's Trending Now)

Pregnancy fashion continues to evolve.
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profile picture of Bonnie Vengrow
Contributing Writer
Published
January 6, 2023
maternity fashion styles and celebrity maternity fashion
Image: Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images, Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images | The Bump
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Think maternity style is all flowy dresses, stretchy pants and empire-waist tops? Think again. There’s a revolution happening in one of fashion’s sleepiest corners, and the result is figure-skimming fabrics and bump-baring cuts that are sophisticated, sleek and downright sexy. And whether you credit celebrities for making pregnancy a style statement or forward-thinking designers who don’t make you trade your sense of self for that adorable baby bump, feel good knowing that your maternity wardrobe can be anything but boring.

Ready to embrace your growing body and reclaim your personal aesthetic? The rules are, there are no rules. Read on for a closer look at the ongoing shift that’s happening in maternity wear—and find out what it means for style-loving moms-to-be like you.

How Maternity Styles Are Changing

The transformation in maternity fashion didn’t happen overnight. It started years ago by forward-thinking moms-to-be who decided to embrace their changing bodies on their own terms. First, in 1991, there was a pregnant Demi Moore baring it all on the cover of Vanity Fair. Fast forward to 2013, and Kim Kardashian showed off her bump at the Met Gala in a form-fitting floral Givenchy gown that stunned the crowds. In 2019, Ashley Graham stole the spotlight with an endless parade of maternity body-con outfits.

And then came Rihanna. She and partner A$AP Rocky announced their pregnancy in February of 2022, in a series of photos showing the multi-hyphenate decked out in ripped jeans, belly jewelry and a bright pink vintage Chanel puffer draped artfully around her bare midsection. For the next several months, Rihanna’s bump and linea nigra were proudly on display, whether in a sheer, lingerie-inspired dress, low-slung pants, a bold red lace bodysuit or a silver mesh miniskirt and matching crop top. She broke every maternity fashion rule in the book—and enjoyed doing it. By the spring, RiRi-approved low-rise baggy jeans were selling twice as fast as other styles, and demand for chain belts had jumped 70 percent, according to the fashion shopping app Lyst. And the ripple effect permeated the maternity wear section.

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Why Maternity Styles Are Changing

Throughout the years, celebrities have helped to influence and shape trends around maternity wear; Rihanna didn’t single-handedly upend the industry. But her influence came at the right time and was further fueled by shifts in our cultural landscape. Changes in reproductive rights, growing momentum around body positivity, heightened interest in health and wellness and an increased awareness around consumption and waste are all impacting the way moms-to-be are dressing.

Pregnancy’s physical changes—the burgeoning belly, the ballooning bustline, the widening hips—are no longer seen as something to hide. In fact, women are reclaiming them as signs of beauty and strength. “The pregnant body is a source of pride for a woman. I see this as a kind of modern femininity,” explains Yoo-Kyoung Seock, a professor of textiles, merchandising and interiors at the University of Georgia.

Today’s trends also reflect a woman’s desire to be real about her pregnancy journey. “The complications and hard work the body does during pregnancy is now also more openly talked about,” says Melissa Tombro, a professor of English and communication studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “Pregnant people are looking for ways to talk about miscarriage, bodily changes and mental health to receive the support they need. Fashion is a way to express that the dialogue is opening up and becoming more inclusive of all stages of this life-changing event.”

Image: Victor Boyko/Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images, Rich Fury/Getty Images | The Bump

What Maternity Styles Are Trending Now

If Rihanna has shown us anything, it’s that being pregnant doesn’t mean sacrificing your personal style. Here are five trends reshaping maternity style right now. Feel free to experiment—and, above all else, have fun with it!

Image: BG020/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images, Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images, Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images | The Bump

Get figure-hugging fabrics

Maternity body-con dresses, jumpsuits and tops let you show off your bump without sacrificing comfort. These ultra-flattering styles are great for nights out, but they can easily transition to daytime looks too. Add a turtleneck underneath, or layer on a cozy jacket, oversize men’s button down or cardigan for extra warmth and coverage.

Pro tip: When shopping, zero in on supportive fabrics, like cotton, modal or bamboo, advises Leena Alsulaiman, a style coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “[They] ensure you can move comfortably and circulation isn’t affected.”

Image: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images, Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images, Raimonda Kulikauskiene/Getty Images | The Bump

Don’t shy away from sheer fabrics

Don’t sleep on sheer—it’s an easy way to freshen up a tired outfit. “You can get a lot of different looks out of a sheer piece,” says Alsulaiman. She likes to layer a sheer tunic or dress over a tank top and maternity jeans or toss one over a form-fitting slip dress.

Image: Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images, Christian Vierig/Getty Images, Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images | The Bump

Opt for crop tops

If you’ve previously steered clear of flashing your midsection, consider giving crop tops another look while you’re pregnant. A fresh way to show off your bump, they’re shockingly versatile and reliably sexy. Alsulaiman suggests pairing one with comfy pants or a skirt, along with a blazer or denim jacket. “Having extra layers will help you navigate temperature changes and give you a stylish way of staying comfortable all day long,” she adds.

Image: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images, Christian Vierig/Getty Images, Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images | The Bump

Go sustainable

Want to keep your consumption—and spending—in check? Wear your pre-pregnancy clothes for as long as possible or shop your partner’s closet.

Marine Delmau, founder and designer of Lâcher Prise, a sustainable fashion brand, recommends choosing pieces made of stretchy, soft and organic or plant-based fabrics. “Softness is key to carry you through the amazing journey toward motherhood,” she says. “You want to wear material that provides softness and support to your intimate parts, as well as silky stretch to your beautiful growing belly.”

Image: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images (2), Christian Vierig/Getty Images | The Bump

Try oversized and slouchy

Slightly larger pieces don’t just look cool; they can also offer comfort and coziness. But there’s a fine line between off-duty model and frumpy, and the devil is in the details. Make sure the shoulders sit properly on your frame, avoid maxi-length pieces and look for items that offer space for your growing belly, Alsulaiman recommends.

See what works for you, but remember that comfort is king—especially as your pregnancy progresses. “It’s hard to keep on feeling good and sexy the last few months,” says Delmau. “It’s essential to wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and happy.” In other words: Embrace these trends—or don’t. You do you, Mama.

About the experts:

Leena Alsulaiman is a style coach and stylist based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Marine Delmau is the founder and designer of Lâcher Prise, a sustainable fashion brand.

Yoo-Kyoung Seock is a professor of textiles, merchandising and interiors at the University of Georgia.

Melissa Tombro is a professor of English and communication studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

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