7 Rules for Office Chic
Maternity fashion truth: it’s always going to be harder to find clothes you love wearing when your body is changing every day. On top of that, you may now be sweating more easily and more profusely, your water retention may be off the charts, and weird bulges are probably showing up everywhere (wasn't the baby supposed to be the only bulge?). Despite all these complications, it really is possible to like your maternity and breastfeeding workwear if you get just a few things right.
1. For Maternity Work Clothes, Quality is Even More Important Than Usual
Best: substantial, structured fabrics
Worst: thin, see-through material.
Quality, substantial fabrics smooth out bulges and make you feel less exposed as your pregnancy progresses. Think maternity work pants and pencil skirts made with (stretch) suiting materials, maternity & nursing dresses made with luxury quality knits, and maternity tops made with generally thicker fabric weights. The key is to look for cool-touch, breathable materials that will stay comfortable for overheating-prone expecting mamas.
Many maternity clothes are made with such poor quality material that they pill and tear within a wash or two. A "great" price isn't worth it if your adorable maternity dress or jeans look worn out in a couple of weeks. Since there are very few brick and mortar maternity & breastfeeding stores left, be sure to order from online retailers with transparent and generous return policies, such as MARION and Figure 8 Moms.
2. Maternity Work Styles Should Be Breathable
Best: breathable fabrics like TENCEL, cotton, viscose blends
Worst: 100% polyester
White Collar and Elizabeth Maternity & Nursing Tops in TENCEL.
TENCEL (sustainably manufactured lyocell) is the new hero of maternity clothes. It has a luxurious drape and is sustainable, cool touch, more wrinkle resistant than cotton, and can be washed at home. It's considered one of the most breathable fabrics on the market, and manages moisture like a champ. It's structured enough to work beautifully for dresses, shirts, and trousers. Sadly, the majority of maternity clothes on the market are still 100% polyester. While poly doesn't wrinkle easily, it's sweaty, stinky, and does no favors for our planet.
3. The Best Maternity Style Has Shape
Best: show off your best bits
Worst: try to hide everything
While it would be almost impossible for Emma Roberts not to look beautiful in any outfit, the two dresses above illustrate our point. The loose arms, baggy silhouette, and high-neck combination of the pink dress hide every bit of Emma's figure, making her look a bit shapeless. The yellow dress' slightly more fitted arm/shoulder line and tailoring in the middle make her first pregnancy outfit look so much more chic and flattering.
When your waistline is out the window for 9+ months, the key to feeling confident in your clothes is highlighting other favorite areas of your body. Have great legs? Invest in a knee-length maternity sweater dress, or leg-hugging maternity dress pants. Have amazing arms? Go sleeveless when you can. Emphasizing your other assets will make it clear that you are still you, just with a baby bump!
Avoid wide leg maternity pants, exaggerated sleeves, and ruffly cuts. The eye won't be able to differentiate between the size of these larger styles and your belly, making you look like you're growing everywhere at once.
4. Choose Your Maternity Waistline Carefully
Best: empire waist
Worst: drop waist or no waist
Go for empire waists whenever you can. They hit above the baby bump, at what is now the smallest part of your torso. This slims your silhouette overall. Empire waists are beautifully forgiving at the waistline, making it easy to feel confident on your most bloated days. They are also a favorite of mamas who have recently given birth.
Garments with zero waist shape will make you look like you're wearing a tent. It might feel like it's hiding something, but it's not. Repeat after me: it's not.
5. The Best Maternity Style is Timeless
Worst: super trendy
After your first baby comes, you may swear you'll never do it again! But, the numbers would suggest that most of us go back on that promise at least once. Trendy maternity clothes aren't a great investment because most people wait a few years between our bundles of joy. By the second pregnancy, you may find your formerly on-trend maternity pieces to be unwearable. If you go for classic, timeless styles, you'll be practicing sustainability and making great investments, while looking beautifully fashionable during every pregnancy.
6. Black Maternity Styles Are Office Favorites For a Reason
Best: the color black
Worst: the color white
The Boardroom and Madeline Black Maternity & Nursing Dresses
It may be cliche, but it's true - nothing can beat a flattering black maternity dress for style, versatility, and comfort. When you're feeling bloated and stretched, black is classic and slimming. It naturally looks more put-together than most colors, and it has the added benefit of hiding stains (spills, breastmilk, spit-up, oh my!). Plus, it goes with everything, allowing you to leverage a few great, quality maternity pieces into a complete wardrobe. The same goes for an effortlessly wearable pair of black maternity dress pants or maternity pencil skirt. They just work, and you can wear them. with. everything.
7. Choose Solid Colored Maternity Work Pieces
Best: solids that flatter and coordinate with almost anything you own (think black, navy, beige, or gray).
Worst: large, busy patterns
Large patterns confuse the eye and enlarge whatever they're covering. A tasteful floral or narrow striped pattern can look lovely, but should be chosen carefully. A good rule of thumb is to invest in solids for your core wardrobe pieces - they're incredibly versatile and let you make use of all your cute pre-baby accessories to style them.
We Want to Hear From You!
What are your maternity and nursing style secrets for the office? Share your tips with the MARION mama community below!
Author Bio: Joy O’Renick is mama to 3 amazing sons and wife to an "adorable Pixar dad". She gets to live on a mini farm in Oregon where she and her family grow food and host board game nights. Joy is a longtime teacher, principal, and education executive. In 2022, she launched MARION out of a desire to empower working moms and limit pregnancy discrimination in the professional world. Joy is a frequent contributing author at Motherly. Joy is a founding member of a Bailamos, a Latin Dance nonprofit, a member of the Emerge Oregon Board of Directors, and a former foster parent and mentor for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Education & Educational Leadership.