Dressing for work when pregnant

This week, our image management expert, Sally Smy, founder of Queen Bee Styling, shares her thoughts on dressing for work when pregnant.

Even when you are not pregnant it's important to remember that we all come in different shapes and sizes. When we are pregnant our bodies will change in their own individual way and at various different times so please use the timings below as a guide only.

One thing you can be certain of though is that your body will change, so it is a good idea to have your wardrobe prepared to ensure you look your best and eliminate stress. The good news is that you do not need to spend a fortune on a whole new wardrobe. Just a few well chosen pieces will see you through to the end of your pregnancy. Based on my own experience of two pregnancies and working with expectant clients I've devised some simple, practical steps to help you retain your style.

Up to 12 weeks

For the first three months of pregnancy you can more or less wear your regular wardrobe. After a few weeks however, you'll notice that your waistbands feel tighter. Two easy ways to gain a few more inches on the waistbands of trousers and skirts are detailed below:-

Looping a hair band through a button hole will increase the waistband by a vital few centimetres as shown in picture A below. Picture B and C show a bump or belly band that sits over the top of your regular trousers when you can no longer fasten them. This will give you a few more weeks wear before you buy maternity trousers.

12 - 16 weeks

This is the tricky period when you may not look pregnant but you have gained weight. If this is your first pregnancy, most maternity clothes will still be too big at this stage. A couple of non maternity pieces in a size larger than you usually wear are ideal now. I call these transitional pieces. These can be very useful after the birth too as most women do not snap back to their pre-pregnancy size for a good few months, if at all! Below are a list of transitional styles that I have found most helpful:-

  • Elastic waistband trousers - these look better than they sound. No longer associated with being an octogenarian - there are now lots of contemporary versions on the high street.
  • Blouson top - these have a band at the bottom and are made of drapy fabric which sits nicely over the bump.
  • Loose fit woven shell top or blouse - smart, yet comfortable and you can wear them with your regular jackets unfastened. Also useful with jeans for social occasions, if you have the energy!
  • Knitted cardigans - the current trend for long, loose fit cardigans make them perfect for pregnancy.
  • Loose fit dress - a loose fit woven dress or jersey style would be ideal. Avoid anything that is remotely fitted or that has lots of seam detail and instead choose a style that has a cocoon shape in midi length.
  • Stretchy jersey camisoles - as your bust expands these will give you an extra level of security when worn under lower cut blouses and tops. They are essential throughout pregnancy and afterwards for breastfeeding.

16 plus weeks

Now is the time to embrace the bump and create a small capsule wardrobe of pieces. You will be surprised at how few pieces you need. If your budget will allow, invest in a couple of special pieces that will make you feel great for those occasions when you need an extra boost e.g. client meeting, presentations and social occasions. The rest of the pieces can be bought from the many excellent maternity ranges on the high street and will depend on your size, lifestyle and individual needs.

I would recommend buying 5 or 6 pieces and mixing and matching them to create a few different outfits:-

  1. Black, navy or neutral coloured trousers and or skirt - worth investing time and effort to get the right style and fit. Don't be tempted to buy a style that you would not wear in your regular wardrobe.
  2. Smart blouse or shirt - choose a style that you love and try to avoid playing it too safe. Colour and print can have a positive effect on our mood and confidence. You don't have to hide behind dark baggy clothes.
  3. Black, navy or dark colour formal dress - for those special occasions. If you have light skin and hair colour I would avoid black as it can be very draining and choose navy instead. Use accessories, a scarf or a necklace to break up the colour and add the finishing touches to an outfit.
  4. Draped jersey dress - I would suggest a colour or print as it is important to retain your personality and style even when pregnant.
  5. Jersey drape fabric top - stretch jersey will be your friend especially in the latter stages. You will need one at the very least.
  6. Dressy flats - even if you are a dedicated heel fan you have to take into account that your feet can and usually do grow, which can make anything with a heel uncomfortable.
  7. Don't forget accessories - if you like to shop, accessories are the one thing you can splurge some money on. You can wear a chunky woollen scarf with your regular coat negating the need to spend on a new coat. A beautiful printed scarf and necklace will see you though your pregnancy and beyond.

Some other useful tips

  • Consider borrowing from friends and family who have hand me downs after having had children themselves.
  • Try charity shops, EBay, the NCT have sales (http://www.nct.org.uk/) or offers on maternity wear websites.
  • You may feel like crawling back into bed some days but it's very important to maintain self care and grooming habits e.g. putting make up on, neat hair, clean shoes. This will help you to feel good about yourself, plus help you to maintain the habit after the baby is born.


Sally Smy is a personal stylist and founder of Queen Bee Styling. She had a successful 18 year career as a fashion buyer before setting up her business to provide styling services that are accessible to everyone. Having had what she refers to as her 'beige' period after the birth of her first child, she realised how easy it is to neglect our appearance with the demands of work and family life. She set up Queen Bee Styling to help people in a similar situation through a range of services which includes:-

  1. Wardrobe Refresh - a complete overhaul of your wardrobe and style
  2. Personal Shopping - a shopping trip to refresh, recharge and renew your wardrobe
  3. Back to Work Styling - designed to eliminate stress and ensure you look your best after maternity leave
  4. Group workshops - inspiration, advice and visual demonstrations on a variety of topics
  5. Executive Shopping Service - for those that do not have time to shop

For more information please visit our website www. queenbeestyling.com
Please feel free to call or email me for a 15 minute no-obligation consultation to discuss how our services can benefit you.

Telephone:  07956 293845
Email: sally@queenbeestyling
Twitter: @Queenbeestyling
Facebook: www.facebook.com/queenbeestyling

Copyright - Queen Bee Styling

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