When I took to Twitter, to ask our readers how they thought party maternity-wear stacked up on the high street, the response (overwhelmingly) was one of frustration. Despite what some retailers would have you believe, mums-to-be don’t want to stay inside, wrapped in a poncho and watching other women’s labour videos. Nor do they want to look like they’ve been trussed up like a Quality Street in spangly Bacofoil. “I just started looking at maternity-wear recently and it’s dire!” said one follower on Twitter. “Stores seem to think we turn into frumps when pregnant from what I can see?” “The high street isn’t great, honestly!” said another. The biggest gripe (pointed out repeatedly) is that nowhere seems to stock maternity clothes to try on in store, “which is madness because it’s the one time in your life when you aren’t quite sure what will fit/suit etc”.
It’s clear that brands need to do more to cater to their pregnant customers (“The Debenhams near me seem to have removed all maternity range and replaced with Christmas partywear,” one shopper noted), but alongside tales of naff ruffles and too many breton stripes came a story of triumph. Anything fitted and stretchy scored highly, particularly tube dresses. “I’m currently rocking a black tube dress with extra jewellery,” said one follower. Sizing up also proved a hit: “Currently pregnant with twins and have taken to buying Zara dresses in larger sizes.” Ditto, empire lines: “I bought mine from normal shops – chose empire line and went up a few sizes.” A fancy-top-and-maternity-jeans combo was recommended heartily, too. “Am seven months pregnant & will be rocking ‘jeans and (one of three) nice tops’ for everything this Christmas!” one mum-to-be confided, while our own Stacey Duguid noted that, when she was pregnant, she wore “black leggings, a tight, long-sleeved black top and a sequined cardigan thing”.
As for where to go, New Look, H&M and Zara were all name-checked as the best place to stock up on basics (which can be accessorised to high heaven), while ASOS is the best place for spangle. All of which means you need never leave the house looking like a Milk Choc Block again.
Five ways to do partywear
The leopard skirt
Nothing says party like a bit of leopard, and this wrap style means you can adjust it to your bump.
The wrap top
This wrap top is flecked with a pretty gold foil to bring the party vibes, plus the wrap style makes it perfect for maternity or for nursing.
The floaty dress
Floaty and comfortable, but with an empire line to emphasise your waist.
The jazzy jacket
The tube dress
Dress up a simple tube dress with lots of jewellery, party make-up and a jazzy jacket (like the one above).
The glitzy top
A fancy top that does all the work. Pair with maternity jeans and boots.