What to Wear Maternity

So at the request of a friend who has a maternity session coming up soon, We are going to post a What to Wear for Maternity shoots.  This is by FAR my most often asked question.  Families will rarely ask, or will ask when I get to their house about outfits, but a mama-to-be always wants to know what to wear for maternity sessions.


First, and having nothing to do with clothes, if you have a maternity session, you want to take time and pamper yourself!  Make sure your hair, makeup and nails are done.  Especially the nails as your hands are going to be in a LOT of shots.  Raggedy hands can really ruin a shot.  Now that doesn’t mean you need a manicure with polish, just neat, clean and trim.  Go to a makeup counter at the mall and have them do a makeup application.  Or take the time to do it yourself.  Take extra time to actually style your hair.  At a maternity session, YOU are the star so make sure your look matches that!    

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Now for the Clothes

There is a reason we tell you to wait until 30-36 weeks.  It is when your belly has really popped out.  We want your belly as big as possible but before the water gain of the last few weeks.   You don’t just look chubby, know what I mean?  It’s really obvious at that point and the belly can really become a focal point.  One major key with maternity sessions is to provide a visible separation between bust and belly.  Otherwise, as any pregnant woman can tell you, you become one slope from neck to belly button.  Not horrible but not great for photos.  You want that visual break.  This can be achieved with your hand placements during the shoot,  but it can also easily be gotten with your clothing choices.  In terms of fit, I always advise tighter fitting clothes.  I personally feel that a pregnant woman is one of the most beautiful things in this world.  You are full of curves and life – show them off!!  Although the current trend in clothes leans towards trapeze dresses, swing dresses, etc, I would shy away from that unless you are built like a pregnant Heidi Klum – tall, all belly, etc etc.  When photographed, the extra fabric just hangs and can bunch oddly.  One major trend right now is sweater dresses, leggings, tunics etc.  GO FOR IT!!  Great when you have a belly.  And the best part is with maternity, fashion that can be worn by a size 4 can also be worn by a size 18!


General “don’ts” – large prints are a no no.  Avoid super voluminous dresses and tops.  Try and avoid super slinky materials that will show every bulge.


Favorite stores for shopping:  Gap Maternity, Ann Taylor Loft Maternity, Old Navy Maternity, Pea in a Pod Maternity.


Tops:  First let me say, please wear a good bra, something that holds you up.     It will help a lot.  In general you want something that covers arms, unless you have fabulous arms.  Something that is tighter fitting over the belly and then looser over the arms is generally what we are looking for.  Gap’s maternity line usually has lots of this. Two great options are something with a gathered waist or seam just below the bust or a tighter fitting tee with gathers on the side to frame the belly.  If you are going to do something that doesn’t have a defined waist, slim fitting is key.  Also don’t be afraid to wear a tight tank top under an unbuttoned cardigan or dress shirt!  I always tell clients that they are welcome to wear as much or little clothing as possible.  Some of these photos may just be for you and not for friends and family.  Cardigans and large dress shirts are a great way to stay covered but offer the option of showing belly.


Bottoms: Big key for pants is not to create slope from belly to crotch.  Have some definition in there where your belly ends.  Again, this can be done with hands and posing, or with the construction of the pants themselves.  As far as the panels go, either go for pants that sit under the belly or go all the way up, like the secret belly fit that Motherhood etc are currently offering.  The tops of the belly panels can be really obvious under clothing so your photographer might have you roll the panel down and under.  Jeans are great for a maternity.  A nice trouser wider leg jean can balance your figure out (but don’t go HUGELY wide), and skinny jeans and leggings can look SUPER cute with a longer top.  Don’t be afraid of cords either, especially in the fall.  Cords look so rich and warm.  You can also (if you still fit into them) wear jeans that were pre-pregnancy and leave them unzipped and open for some bare belly shots.


Dresses: Don’t be afraid to pull out a dress!!  In the summer I love Maxi dresses on maternities.  Again though, you want that definition in there.  You want your curves to show.  So don’t go for the voluminous massive loose dress.  As I mentioned earlier, sweater dresses are big.  Use it!  A  sweater dress with opaque tights or leggings and boots.  You are SEXY when you’re pregnant    (Don’t laugh, I know at least one person out there laughed – you ARE.)  Go for dresses that are either tight fitting throughout the body, or have a tie, or waist below the bust.  Wrap dresses work great.  Something that shows off your shape and defines the different parts of your figure is the look we are searching for.


Lingerie:  Remember that these pictures can be just for you and your special somebody.  A beautiful bra and panty set, baby doll nightie, the gown you wore on your wedding night.  All these things can make for a beautiful image.  Try a few things on before your session and bring them along.  You may be surprised at how beautiful you may photograph in something intimate especially with strategically placed hands and wraps.


So in general remember – show off your shape.  You are beautiful!  Don’t cover it up in lots of loose clothes.