How do you find the right dress for that special occasion when you are heavily pregnant? Read our latest blog by Guest, Nat!

So summer season is in full swing, there’s a wedding every other weekend, and soon it will be Autumn, full of work events and award ceremonies, and before you know its the Christmas party invites landing in your inbox. Only one problem – you’re pregnant, and NOTHING fits anymore!

Suddenly your go-to LBD is at the bottom of the drawer, you’ve gone up two cup-sizes and anything high-waisted has turned into a torture device, and to add insult to injury, it feels like all high-end maternity dresses are twice as expensive as normal, fit for about a month of your pregnancy (and even then only in the mornings) and are modelled online by size eight women with a pillow strapped to their waist!

As my pregnancy has progressed I’ve struggled more and more to find occasion clothes that fit me. I’m 5’5” so maxi-dresses are often a trip hazard, and I have a VERY large bump on an otherwise seemingly unchanged body, so maternity cut frocks just don’t seem to sit right. Fortunately, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for finding dresses that look beautiful, fit comfortably and don’t break the bank – and the first rule is to stay out of the maternity section completely!

So whether you’re looking to buy something that can stay with you from mini-bump to massive-lump, or hiring a piece for a really special occasion, here are my secrets for rocking those new curves!

Do: Think carefully about style and sizing.

There’s no getting away from it, you’re bigger than usual. In a loose-fitting shift, maxi or sun dress with adjustable straps, you’ll likely be able to stick with your regular size for at least the first trimester or two, but a shirt-dress or anything with a more fitted bust may well need sizing up. Bodycon dresses are a no-no from almost the moment you start showing, and if you’re going to brave a strapless dress, make sure you’re really confident in your new-found bust size (and a fantastic bra) – if you’re anything like me, the new boobs can change almost daily!

Don’t: Be shy!

This really is the time for you to show off that glow and stand-out even more than normal. If you’re one of the lucky ones, your skin will be better than ever and your hair thick and flowing, so don’t let your outfit let you down! Pregnant bodies look fabulous in prints, block colours and clever vertical stripes, and accessories are a must – diamonds, sequins and bows that could sometimes look overwhelming will only enhance your already fabulous silhouette!

Do: Embrace the Empire!

The queen of all maternity cuts, particularly for a bridesmaid dress or a ball gown, is the classic empire line dress. Accentuating both bust and bump, this has been my absolute go-to for almost every event I’ve attended since I started changing shape. Because you’ll still feel the material is secure around the body this cut works beautifully with halter-necks, thin straps or capped sleeves – the options are endless!

Don’t: Skimp on the right accessories.

A good belt or sash can turn a lot of dresses, shirts and coats into a beautifully fitted ensemble, so if you see an outfit you love but doesn’t quite sit right, see how you can customise it to make it work for you. Comfortable shoes are your best friends so ditch the stilettos for the sake of your ankles and make sure your dress can work with flats, boots or a low, wider heel. Layer jewellery over jewellery, and experiment with chunkier items such as bangles, cuffs and chokers that your new figure and confidence can carry. Finally, there’s no better excuse than pregnancy to wear a massive, outrageous hat to any outdoor occasion – in the name of protecting your sensitive skin, of course!

Do: Wear a lightweight material.

Pregnancy can get warm and sticky, even in the middle of winter – it’s just another treat our bodies like to give us. Go with light, natural materials to avoid a surprise hot flush halfway through the speeches. Synthetic materials can really irritate the skin (as well as cause sweating and show up patches) so cottons, linens and bamboo are winners all year round. If you can, avoid dresses that require a slip or multiple layers – keep it cool!

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful and wonderful times for any mama-to-be, and you’ll likely kind of miss your bigger body when it’s gone, so embrace the special occasions and make sure you have a photo-ready, bump-boosting, spectacular ensemble to look back on for years to come!

Nat Walker is a presentation and public speaking consultant currently navigating the world of business and events whilst pregnant! Check her out at www.instagram.com/leveluplive and https://www.facebook.com/leveluplive!

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