Here’s what women think stylish maternity fashion should look like

Since announcing her first pregnancy in late January of this year, Rihanna has seemingly proved time and time again that remaining true to your own personal style as a mum-to-be is possible.

Rihanna Dior show, Departures, Autumn Winter 2022, Paris Fashion Week,
Photographer: Photo Image Press/Shutterstock

Unrivalled when it comes to putting together effortlessly cool outfits, she has been seen sporting a transparent Dior cocktail dress with black stiletto boots, as well as many a bump-revealing crop top.

In a recent interview with Vogue magazine, Rihanna said: "My body is doing incredible things right now, and I’m not going to be ashamed of that. This time should feel celebratory. Because why should you be hiding your pregnancy."

Her immediately iconic looks are a tribute to the pregnant female form – a celebration that has historically been rare. For so long, women have been taught to disguise their bumps or dress in a 'pregnancy appropriate' way, but Rihanna seems to be ushering in a new era. Are the days of oversized t-shirts and maternity jeans behind us?

Yazmine Martin - an influencer, student and mum-of-two, living in Cornwall - resonates with the statement that Rihanna is making through her style choices.

"I love seeing how confident Rihanna is with her bump," she says. "Since having my first child in 2019, I think there has been a rise in influencers and celebrities who are moving away from a more conservative maternity style."

She explains that this has made it "more appropriate to wear clothes that reveal your bump and to continue to dress how you would have done before pregnancy".

These are views shared by Gillian McNeill, a 35-year-old designer who set up LAW Design Studio while she was pregnant with her second daughter. She says: "I think women are taking back ownership with a 'f*ck it – I feel good' attitude - and they should! It isn't that long ago that women were covering their bumps up so that they wouldn't offend!"

Despite this, McNeill explains that for her, maternity shopping was disappointing and resulted in her wearing clothes that, given the option, she would never usually wear. It would seem that if you aren’t Rihanna, dressing in a way that remains true to your own personal style whilst also catering to your changing body is far easier said than done. This is simply because the UK high street isn’t providing pregnant women enough options when it comes to maternity fashion.

For mums-to-be, this runs far deeper than just having to wear slightly see-through leggings. "Pregnancy is a time where our bodies are constantly changing," says McNeill. "Sometimes we lose confidence in our bodies because we are going through such drastic mental and physical changes."

It is because of this that she says, "it is important to keep that feeling of 'self' and still be able to wear the clothes that make you feel like 'you'."

Martin, however, explains that maintaining this sense of self isn’t always possible. "For me personally, I found it hard to feel like myself or confident in my body when I was pregnant, and the maternity clothes available didn’t help that.

"I found a lot of maternity wear is designed for mums typically around the age of 30, a lot of maternity brand imagery is older mums, and a lot of the design is very conservative and not that stylish."

In a recent University survey Martin conducted, she found that 94% of the 95 respondents struggled to find maternity clothes that they actually liked.

This is an experience echoed by Morgan Curtis, a 22-year-old mum from Cornwall. "It was impossible to try and find maternity clothes that still made me feel like me," she says. "I was a young mum out of my comfort zone already, so I desperately wanted to find things that made me still feel young and not have that stereotypical 'mum' look."

For Martin, the reason pregnant women struggle to find clothes that feel right for them is clear.

"There is definitely a gap in the market for more stylish maternity clothes that are on-trend and of high quality," she says.

She has however noticed that some brands have observed this gap and are working to correct it. "Misguided are halfway there," she says. "I’ve also found through a lot of my university research that the Australian maternity market is ahead of us, especially when it comes to aesthetics and sustainability."

In terms of the British maternity market, Gillian McNeill’s brand LAW Design Studio is, therefore, a front-runner. McNeill explains that her garments "are designed to be comfortable and fit with changing bodies, whether because it is the time of the month, pregnancy, or just general fluctuations in weight".

Her clothes, which are made from natural and sustainable materials and are available in sizes 2-24, are therefore created with women in mind.

Regarding the fashion industry, she says that "there still needs to be more awareness with including pregnant women in marketing campaigns". For example, she thinks, "it would be beneficial for a company like Zara to have a better maternity section or at least show what styles in their standard range can be worn and styled for pregnant women".

McNeill also feels that there should be more transparency for pregnant women to buy into the main line of clothes that will last them post-partum. She believes that pregnancy is "a time where women are conscious about putting money away for more important things, so if they didn't need to fork out on new clothes for a couple of months, that would be ideal".

In order to combat this, she suggests buying clothes that will see women through past a pregnancy. "Most maternity wear is made from polyester and elastane mix fabrics that obviously are designed to be comfortable and stretch with your growing bump," she says. "But the problem is, usually they only fit us towards the end of our pregnancy and not long after."

She, therefore, asks, "Why should women have to fork out for a new wardrobe for just a couple of months’ wear?"

This is particularly the case if said wardrobe doesn’t make them feel like themselves or celebrate the changes that their bodies are going through.

To see Gillian McNeill’s work, visit: