There are many great things about the summer months, however figuring out what to wear when it’s hot and sticky outside can be far from joyful. When you’re pregnant the challenge is even greater; how do you stay cool and stylish when you have ever-expanding body parts and constantly feel a zillion degrees?
The summer I was pregnant happened to be glorious; wall-to-wall sunshine, clear blue skies and not a hint of rain. It was hell. I couldn’t waddle to the end of the road without spectacularly overheating and spent endless hours lying in cold baths to recover.
With the next few weeks set to be scorching, many will be in the same boat – or bathtub – as me. As well as buying a hand-fan to carry with you for on-the-go breeze, I would suggest sorting out your underwear asap. When you’re hot and irritable, the last thing you need are pants that rub, so invest in a few sets of soft, stretchy underwear that fit properly and sit well underneath summer pieces.
I wore Six Studio’s Rosa maternity and nursing bra throughout my second and third trimester, and for several months after giving birth. The wide band gives comfortable support without wires and the lace-trim looks pretty peeking out of button-down shirts. I’d also recommend the Sophie nursing bra from Panache, which comes in black and white and is made from flat lace that sits seamlessly under T-shirts. Full cotton briefs will see you through pregnancy and the newborn months; you can’t beat Marks & Spencer’s multi-packs.
When it comes to putting clothes over the top of said underwear, consider fabrics. The likelihood is you’ll be feeling warmer and more uncomfortable than usual, so avoid anything sweaty. Eschew synthetics for natural, breathable cotton and linen. Dodge fussy detailing and embellishments, too; the aim is maximum ease and airyness so simple lines and shapes work best.
This summer, high-street maternity wear has never looked better with the likes of H&M Mama, Asos Design, GAP and Mango offering style-conscious staples that don’t break the bank. For special pieces, luxe maternity brands Isabella Oliver, Beyond Nine and Clary and Peg come fashion-editor approved.
However, you don’t need to only shop maternity collections to dress a bump. A lot of my pregnancy wardrobe was outsized or sized-up pieces from my favourite brands, such as the Kitri dress I bought two sizes bigger to drape over my bump for a friend’s engagement party. Not only does this style trick mean you can continue wearing the labels you love, it also stacks up cost-per-wear; I now wear that dress with a belt.
While I can’t guarantee there won’t be a few pregnant-and-fed-up heatwave moments, I can say from experience that smart style solutions will help make the summer a little easier.
Here are the six I swore by…
Try cycling shorts
A stretchy waistband is your very best friend when you’re pregnant, whether worn over your bump or below. While leggings are good for the cooler months, a soft pair of cycling shorts are perfect for seeing you through the heat.
Classic black will go with everything; a fashion friend of mine lived in the Skims Maternity shorts, which come in sizes UK 2-30 and expand as your bump does. Wear them with luxe boxy T-shirts from Colorful Standard and oversized cotton shirts from Arket. The latter is a convenient style if you choose to breastfeed, too.
Embrace the ’90s
Thanks to its love of high-stretch fabrics and simple shapes, the nineties is the perfect style decade to reference when sweaty and pregnant. Think jersey tank dresses styled with slides and a cap, or long cotton tube skirts worn with cropped T-shirts and gold hoops.
Monki has a stylish range of soft, stretchy basics in a selection of colourways. Ninety Percent is a go-to for all things nineties-inspired. It’s also well worth considering a slip dress; as the name implies they’re so easy to slip on and go, plus they make a chic summer evening outfit for last hurrah restaurant dinners. I wore a silk style from Bias Editions right up to the week before I gave birth. The bias cut has enough give for a bump to be wiggled underneath.
Reach for a smock
If cling is not your thing, go wafty with A-line smock and tunic dresses. Not only have they got enough volume to comfortably accommodate a bump, they also have a chic, seventies aesthetic which can be amped up with oversized shades and a straw bucket hat.
Midis are endlessly versatile, while shorter-length styles tap into this summer’s mood for minis and offer additional leg-breeze. For minimal, block-colour styles look at COS, or go full boho with swirly printed cotton dresses from Dilli Grey and Nahata Fashion Shop on Etsy.
Slip into swimwear
Whether you’re going on holiday or just cooling off in a back-garden paddling pool, a good swimsuit is a must-have. Maternity one-pieces are often lacking in the style department, however the H&M Mama range has some chic options this summer.
Alternatively, regular swimsuits with a low-cut back allow space for a growing bump. Depending on the elasticity of the swimsuit, you might want to size up. Tie-side bikini tops and briefs can easily be adjusted as you expand; Koraru’s Rifu set was my go-to. For those who’d rather cover up, Marks and Spencer’s over-bump bikini briefs can be mixed and matched with your top of choice.
If you’re looking for a swimsuit that will go beyond the nine months, try Hunza G’s one-size crinkle styles which stretch to fit. I also wore mine as a bodysuit under wrap-over midi skirts.
Wear chic slides
Hot weather plus pregnancy water retention equals swollen summer feet. Avoid anything strappy that could cut in, reaching for slip-on sandals and slides that allow plenty of breathing space. The lower leg can also carry extra water, so skip over ankle ties and buckles, and head straight for simple mule and thong styles.
I wedged my hot and bothered feet into sleek flats from Ancient Greek Sandals and padded-soled styles from Hush. Of course, Birkenstocks are a fashion-forward failsafe. Invest in a closed-toe clog style and you can also wear them with socks into autumn. When your bump gets too big to see over, you’ll be thankful for the slip-on-and-go ease.
Rent occasion looks
With weddings and events back on the cards this summer, how to get glammed up when pregnant and hot is a very real style dilemma. Rather than spending money on maternity occasionwear that will only be worn for a short period of time, I rented dresses instead. Fashion rental services HURR, By Rotation and Hirestreet all have bump-friendly edits full of chic styles from brands such as Rixo, Ganni and The Attico. I borrowed a beautiful Les Rêveries wrap dress for a friend’s wedding for the cost of a Deliveroo. As fancy heels are probably out of the question, up the wow-factor with a designer party bag rented from Cocoon. Grab a non-alcoholic cocktail and you’re ready for the dance floor.