Pregnant? Bump up the volume

No need to sacrifice style when you are expecting — the high street has much to offer

By Jan Shure, January 21, 2010

It really is possible to look fabulous when you are an expectant mum, even though you may feel elephantine and uncomfortable. And it isn’t necessary to spend the earth either, which is good news because if you are about to give up work or have already given up, you won’t want to splash vast amounts of cash on clothes which are strictly for maternity.

And do not delude yourself that you will wear pre-baby clothes post-baby. With the possible exception of maternity jeans — which will be invaluable for the first three post-baby months — you really, really won’t want to. All you will want to do after six solid months of wear is shove them into a bin bag ready for recycling at an All Aboard shop.

Happily, where the high street was once a wasteland for maternity clothing, expectant mums can now trawl Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, New Look, Gap, River Island and Marks & Spencer, which all offer maternity ranges. A specialist like Mamas & Papas has a huge collection, although prices are higher than on the high street.

The internet has probably been the biggest blessing for mums-to-be. All the things we hate about shopping in the real world — cramped fitting rooms, AWOL assistants, overheated shops, exhaustion — all of which are magnified when you are pregnant, can be avoided by shopping online. And while it is a real benefit for first-time mums, for baby-bound second-time-around mums, internet shopping is utter bliss, allowing them to buy at home without having to shlep an easily-bored toddler on an excursion that will doubtless end in tears — mummy’s if not infant’s.

In addition to the high street names, which all have websites that provide a virtual alternative to a trip to Brent Cross or the Trafford Centre, the online shopping site ASOS now has a brilliant maternity range that now features the hip Mama-licious collection.

For those with cash to splash or a special occasion that demands a bigger spend, the maternity collection by Isabella Oliver offers beautiful pieces in lovely fabrics that are so on-trend that the label was forced to add Isabella Oliver 365 for devoted fans who wanted to continue wearing the clothes when they weren’t pregnant.

The way to look brilliant with the least angst and the maximum cost-effectiveness is a carefully thought-out capsule wardrobe comprising a small group of key pieces which all work together for work, weekends and any dress-up events which may dot your calendar while you await your big arrival.

To optimise your capsule wardrobe, choose a basic neutral colour that looks fabulous on you and then add the same or toning shades for T-shirts or vests, and add a jolt of colour with fabulous scarves and great jewellery which do not, of course, have to come from the maternity department and can be worn afterwards. If you don’t know which colours work best on you by now, this may be the moment — pre-baby — to do something about it. Consult the International Federation of Image Consultants ( to find an accredited image consultant and let a professional show you the colours that make you look shiny-eyed and gorgeous.

The capsule wardrobe on the opposite page costs under £300, while the one on this page featuring two Isabella Oliver pieces comes out at around £450. Those on a budget could substitute the Isabella Oliver dress for ASOS’s blue embellished empire-line dress at £55, and replace the trench coat with M&S’s short mac in hot pink at £49.50, bringing the total to under £300. All clothing is from maternity ranges.

Last updated: 4:17pm, January 21 2010