How Maternity Clothes Have Evolved Over the Last 100 Years
When you’re pregnant, almost every aspect of your life has to change in one way or another. Your diet becomes stricter, your bathroom breaks become more frequent, and your clothes become maternity!
Clothing for pregnant women (a.k.a. maternity clothes) might be an extremely specific corner of the fashion market, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t seen its fair share of evolution. As eras turned and style morphed, maternity clothing changed right along with it – which couldn’t be more apparent than it is in the video below.
Take a look at how clothing for expecting mothers transformed over the decades, from the form-fitting to concealing and everywhere in between.
If you think baggy tops and oversized dresses are the best ways to hide a pregnancy, you haven’t seen the maternity corsets of the Victorian Era. Yes, you read that right: maternity corset.
See, in this prudish period, pregnancy was considered something that needed to be completely kept out of sight. Even if it meant restricting a woman’s enlarged abdomen with a specialized corset…that your doctor was actively endorsing. Yikes.
Progressing into the 1920s, maternity style relaxed a tad. Softer silhouettes with draped and belted waistlines would eventually become the loose, boyish clothing that became iconic in the Roaring Twenties. But maternity clothing was slow to keep up.
“Be entirely free from the embarrassment of a noticeable appearance during a trying period,” said one 1923 maternity wear ad selling those old fashioned maternity corsets in Good Housekeeping.
Shirtdresses and wrap styles became popular during this time, which was perfect for fashionably pregnant women. A wraparound cut allowed the dress to grow with a woman’s changing body, while the button-down silhouettes provided an easier solution for breastfeeding mothers.
Lucille Ball changed the game in the 1950’s, being the first ever woman to flaunt her baby bump proudly on her television show, I Love Lucy. She popularized the most memorable maternity looks from this era, like demure smock tops and voluminous separates.
And when we say separates, we mean pants, too! It took a while to get there, but pregnant women were finally wearing pants, often paired with stylishly boxy tops.
The flowy style of the 1970’s again suited moms-to-be well. Between all the babydoll dresses, tiered dresses, flowing Bohemia dresses, and loose peasant tops, these comfortable styles were every pregnant woman’s dream. And if it WAS a form-fitted maternity outfit, you know it was nice and stretchy polyester.
Fast-forward to this decade and you’ll find that pregnant bodies have been getting more love than ever – and more fashionable, too. Very much the opposite of baggy frocks and concealing corsets, the celebrity women of the modern age are embracing every inch of their changing bodies in skin-tight outfits.
This look was famously made popular by Kim Kardashian-West, who started gravitating towards a lot of nude bodycon silhouettes, a trend which has definitely caught on (at least among moms-to-be who are strutting on the red carpet.)
To see each style from each era, make sure to watch the video below! Trust us, some of these styles you have to see to believe.