This time of the year is when fashion is at its most fun. Glitter, shimmer, bells and whistles – oh, what joy! After two years of low key celebrations, this season the style mood is high octane. Metallics, feather trims, sequins and velvet are all key looks. Even high heels have made a return after being sworn off for flats during the pandemic.
As a lover of all things razzle dazzle, my party m.o. is full throttle. Usually the next few weeks would see me pulling out my slinkiest slips and most sparkly frocks. However an ever-expanding middle section means my tried-and-tested evening outfits no longer fit. With a social calendar full of events including an office party, lunch with friends, a birthday dinner and a winter wedding, I’m in need of a new bump-friendly party capsule.
The issue is that event-ready maternity wear is more fizzle than fizz. After trawling the high street’s very limited selection I haven’t found anything more exciting than a few basic black dresses and stretchy tube skirts. Hardly the sort of attire that makes you feel a million dollars on the dance floor (which all good party wear should).
ASOS Maternity and H&M’s Mama range have the best seasonal selections – both offer a handful of stylish glitzy pieces. However the options aren’t a patch on the abundance of wow-factor non-maternity outfits currently filling shop floors.
What’s more, I’m conscious of not buying pieces I’ll only wear for the next few weeks and wont want to return to postpartum. Not only does this feel like a waste of money, it isn’t a sustainable way to shop. A recent survey by Samsung found the averag Brit has £800 worth of unworn clothes hanging in their wardrobe. As partywear already comes with limited wearability (unless you’re the sort who wears sequins to the supermarket) I’m keen to maximise the shelf life of anything I buy.
With this in mind, I’ve turned to some of my favourite brands which deliver on quality and style longevity, and sought out the versatile pieces that work while I’m pregnant, but can also be worn without a bump (and with several cocktails) for many party seasons to come.
The expandable dress
A great dress is party dressing 101 and when it comes to finding one that fits there are two ways to go. The first is roomy. Think smocks, wraps and A-line silhouettes. Empire lines are also spacious but feel too period drama for me. A wafty maxi or midi delivers on wearability and pairs well with both heels and flats depending on how swollen your feet are feeling. Try Albaray’s rose print midi which has a stretchy shirred bodice to fit over boobs and bumps. The romantic appeal is perfect for winter weddings.
If you’re looking for something more vampy, balance a voluminous shape with a shorter length hem. There are lots of chic minis around this season, but the best I’ve found is & Other Stories’ puffed sleeve red mini with bow detailing on the back. Add H&M Mama’s 20 denier maternity tights which have a high rise waistband with impressive stretch.
The slinky number
Your other option is slinky and stretchy. Bias cut silk and satin is a smart move. During the final weeks of my last pregnancy I wore a slip from Bias Editions to an anniversary dinner which, thanks to the clever cut of fabric, could stretch over my stomach. Ghost’s silky Palm midi has straps thick enough to cover a bra and would look festive with an embellished cardigan and boots.
I’ll be opting for a luxe knitted dress. Not only does knitwear easily expand, it has added cosy comfort too. French Connection’s Bardot maxi comes in festive red or classic black and can be dressed up with a low heel and statement earrings for dinner with friends, then pared-down with velvet slippers and a hair bow for Christmas Day.
The going out top
If, like me, you hit your teens in the noughties, you will be familiar with the failsafe evening combination of jeans and a nice top. There is no outfit more perfect for a festive pub trip (make mine a sparkling water), pre-Christmas brunch or any other occasion when a smart/casual dress code is called for.
I’ll be giving my maternity jeans wow-factor with Whistles’ green sequin shirt. The fabric has a good amount of stretch and the buttons stop half way down to let the shirt splay out over my bump. I also love the idea of dressing this look up by switching jeans for an over-bump slip skirt.
The party wide-leg
Trousers are the hardest category to navigate when pregnant as tight waistbands and bumps don’t mix. However this season a stylish evening solution comes by way of wide-legs with elastic waists.
Albaray’s harlequin trousers are the statement choice. They come with a ruffle-trim hem for extra pizzaz and a cropped leg which will work with all sorts of party shoes. Do the double and wear them with the matching pyjama top. The look is fluid and relaxed so size up to give yourself plenty of room. They’ll still look chic worn loose postpartum.
If you want to go classic M&S’s black velvet trousers would work for office cocktails worn with an oversized white shirt and chunky gold hoops. Or go full spangle with Boden’s gold lurex style, which I’d also wear with an oversized grey jumper on Christmas Eve.
The faux tuxedo
One of my favourite evening outfits is my black tux-inspired trouser suit which has a touch of Yves Saint Lauren’s Le Smoking look about it. The jacket still fits if I wear it open, but the trousers most certainly don’t. For my birthday night out, I’m switching in these velvet leggings from Mint Velvet which have an extra-wide waistband to give bump-support.
For a more tailored look try H&M Mama’s ankle-length cigarette trousers, which would also double as good work trousers if you’re still going into the office. I’ve found this range comes up big so pick your regular size, if not, one smaller.
The cocktail co-ords
Matching separates are a versatile party choice whether you’re pregnant or not. They can be worn together or split up and mixed with other pieces in your wardrobe to suit every dress code, so cost per wear they’re guaranteed to stack up.
The metallic trousers and coordinating top from John Lewis’ Anyday range are supremely sparkly and stretchy, plus look far more premium than their price tag. For low-key occasions, wear the trousers with a slouchy black cashmere jumper and sweep of red lippy.
If you prefer skirts, look to Hush’s glittery ribbed midi which can be pulled up over a bump and worn with the matching loose-fit knit or a stretchy roll neck. Both sets can be styled with these crystal embellished flats for a party-ready look that doesn’t sacrifice on comfort.