Maybe the most fun (and I do use that word in air quotes) part of pregnancy dressing is that it is a perpetually moving target. Your waistline is always growing, so you want to invest in pieces that grow with you. For example, in the first few months, you might be able to just size up in your favorite fitted wool sheath dress, but three weeks later, that’s not going to fly anymore. You’ll be left with a dress that’s too big for your pre-pregnancy body, and without any stretch, won’t fit you farther into the second and third trimesters. Save your money for the items (detailed below) that you can wear throughout your pregnancy.
A second overall tip to keep in mind is a trick for styling your ever-changing curves: As your body grows and you become increasingly curvy, I find that accessories with clean lines and angles make maternity looks feel more balanced. This includes everything from a chic belt with a square buckle, to blazers with angular shoulders and a structured cut. These items offer a nice aesthetic contrast to your figure which is becoming more and more round—as it should be!
Without further ado, let’s get into the nine workwear essentials that will allow you to look polished and professional at the office while still being comfortable throughout your pregnancy…
THE TOP 9 MATERNITY WORKWEAR ESSENTIALS
I actually recommend flowy blouses to everyone. Especially though for those who are pregnant or are considering pregnancy in the near future. You want to reserve the right to tell people (especially coworkers) that you are pregnant however and whenever you are ready. So if you wait until you’re several weeks pregnant to start wearing flowy pieces, you might arouse suspicion. When you start wearing drastically different clothes out of nowhere, you can inadvertently send the signal to your colleagues that you’re expecting. Before you’re ready to reveal that information. Even early in the first trimester when you’re not really “showing” but your midsection is a bit beyond what your normal fitted pieces can handle.
The smart move: start incorporating flowy pieces into your wardrobe as soon as trying for a baby is on the horizon. That way nothing seems out of the ordinary when you actually need to wear them. Whether you’re concerned about miscarriage risks or simply aware of the harsh realities some women face when pregnant in the workplace. You deserve to tell people exactly when and how you want. Flowy blouses are perfect for pairing with maternity workwear pants or jeans. They are a solid workwear investment before and after pregnancy as well.
Blazers are your workplace best friend always, but especially throughout pregnancy. They make concealing your mid-section in the first trimester so much easier, but they’re also a killer option throughout the later stages of pregnancy.
When it comes to maternity workwear in general, I typically like to think of it in layers. With blazers acting as the icing on top that holds everything together. This comes in especially handy for anyone working in a business formal environment or dressing for a high-impact meeting or event. When pregnant, your base layers need to be comfortable and forgiving. Think flowy blouses, knit tops, and stretchy dresses (discusses below!). On top, blazers balance and elevate these loose or stretchy base layers to make the overall look perfectly professional.
This won’t come as a surprise, but comfort is key during pregnancy. Minimizing discomfort by dressing in anticipation of it is a smart plan of action. Not only are long cardigans and dusters comfortable and cozy pending any overzealous office air conditioning this summer. But they often play a critical role in making your base layer office-appropriate. Similar to the discussion of blazers above. This is especially true of super stretchy form-fitting dresses and separates. While these figure-hugging base layers can be incredibly comfy during pregnancy, sometimes they result in a look that’s a little skin-tight for many professional settings. Especially in conservative environments. It might not be the best look to have every contour prominent in a thin jersey-knit sheath dress. Having a long flowy cardigan or duster to put over these form-fitting base layer elevates the look. Plus allows you to enjoy the underlying comfort without feeling overexposed.
I’m telling you, knit dresses are God’s gift to pregnancy. Whether they’re a form-fitting jersey knit sheath, or a loose-fitting knit dress that flows. The point is that they STRETCH. This means that they’re both comfortable and that they expand with your growing bump (and other areas!). If you’re opting for a super form-fitting knit dress, as discussed above, I strongly recommend topping it off with a blazer, cardigan or duster. Especially in the more conservative and formal work environments.
For work, I personally prefer to avoid dresses in super thin jersey knit material. Instead, I opt for thicker knit options like the dress I’m wearing in the photos today! They’re just as comfortable but offer a bit more structure and coverage.
Finding the perfect pair of classic maternity pants is absolutely essential. Whether you’re pregnant during winter and simply need them for warmth, or pregnant during the summer when the office A/C has a mind of its own. You want to make sure you have a solid pair in your closet at the ready. By pairing them with a flowy blouse and a structured blazer, you create a polished look perfect for the workplace.
Of course, the same temperature-related incentives above apply here. If your workplace is casual, a sleek pair of maternity denim is a wise investment and a closet staple. Pair them with flowy blouses, sweaters, and/or blazers. You’ll never be sad you have these in your drawer—both in and out of the office!
You might find that heels while pregnant are too tough to handle all the time. Not only is your balance affected by your growing belly, but heels can also contribute to foot and ankle swelling (super fun). Now is the time to find a pair of polished, versatile flats. Something to wear to the office most days or have at the ready to switch into when you’re commuting and/or out of that important meeting. A good place to start is my ultimate list of the best flats ever!
The photos in this post were taken right before an important business meeting. So I switched into heels. Especially while pregnant, some days can feel so frumpy. Heels sometimes serve as a great confidence booster for certain big moments. However, you better believe that these heels popped off the second I was out of that meeting. The luckily I had a polished pair of flats ready and waiting in my Senreve tote (discussed below!).
Of course, there are more than enough gorgeous flat options so that you can wear them all the time, it just comes down to personal preference.
If you’re concerned that flats don’t look as dressy as heels—rest assured, there are plenty of pairs that look super polished and professional. The Ferragamo Varina (the style that you can see I switched into which comes in a ton of colors) is a great option. But I also find that pointed-toe flats tend to be both particularly versatile and very dressy looking for the office. In my opinion a pointed toe flat (like these) look fantastic with dresses, pants, and skirts alike. So you’ll get tons of mileage out of them. Not only does the point aesthetically harken to a classic pointed toe stiletto making the flat feel elevated, but the point is also leg-lengthening, making you look longer and leaner.
If you’re investing in a new pair while pregnant, keep in mind that your feet will likely swell a bit (sometimes a lot!). Especially in your second and third trimesters. If you’re purchasing a pair in your first trimester, I recommend buying at least a half size up so that you have a little wiggle room, so to speak.
You’ve heard me sing the praises of the Senreve Maestra time and time again. It’s the ultimate work and travel tote. But, it’s worth noting that this bag has been especially amazing during pregnancy for multiple reasons:
First, while ideally we’re wearing flats as often as possible there are still days where heels feel like the better call.
Whether that’s because you feel like your outfit appears frumpy without them, you’ve got an important meeting and want to look (and feel) your absolute best, or maybe you just don’t have flats that go with a particular outfit. You need a bag that can comfortably fit a pair of back up flats so you can rock your heels when you need to. Also, you want to fit a pair of heels when you swap them out for comfy flats when you’re no longer “on.” The Senreve Maestra can fit flats or heels (or even commuting sneakers/sandals!), along with all of your other daily essentials.
Second, his bag is particularly strong when it comes to interior pockets and compartments.
It can not only house your laptop, tablet and documents, but the interior organization also keeps all of your other maternity essentials orderly as well. Think prenatal vitamins, Tums, ginger chews, hand sanitizer (we have to be extra careful about germs while pregnant, since our immune systems are suppressed), and any other pregnancy essentials you like to keep at the ready. Something else fun to look forward to? I believe (and know from friends) that the Maestra makes for an amazing diaper bag once the little one arrives!
At a certain point, investing in additional maternity-specific workwear might feel like a waste because it can only be worn for a short period of time. Once you accumulate a good stock of basics, use accessories to make them feel fresh. You might wear the same stretchy black dress two (or more) days a week, but no one has to know if you switch up your outer later and play around with accessories.
You’ve seen me constantly throwing on various statement belts above the bump and under the bustline, which creates a nice shape and also gives the underlying dress a fresh look. I recommend finding belts on the skinny side—anything thick is super uncomfortable and too aesthetically crowding in an area that’s already got a lot going on!
Similarly, scarves, necklaces, hair accessories and statement earrings will breathe new life into your maternity basics so that you can get the most miles out of the workwear that’ll take you all the way through your pregnancy.
If you’re snagging new maternity pieces today, don’t miss Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale which is going on now! Tons of amazing finds—both maternity and non-maternity alike—are available for major discounts across the site. Happy Shopping!
Thanks to Nordstrom and ShopStyle for partnering on this post!