Patricia O’Dwyer’s Pregnancy Style Rules

Digital creator Patricia O’Dwyer has seamlessly transitioned her chic sense of style into the perfect maternity wardrobe. As she approaches the end of her first pregnancy, she’s sharing her fashion journey through the trimesters. From her can’t-live-withouts, to the cool, comfortable staples she relies on – plus, what she’s most looking forward to wearing later on – here’s how she’s navigating pregnancy dressing.

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My style is normally best described as simple, chic and feminine. Throughout this pregnancy I’ve tried to be more considerate about my purchases and only buy things I know will last – as well as pieces I can style in different ways. 
 
Throw the rule book out the window. A lot of women, myself included, spend a long time curating their personal style and what works for them, so a pregnancy can really throw you off. You’re faced with a body that’s changing month by month and even week by week. The old formulas don't work as well – at least, they haven’t for me – so it may not be the best time to try to hold yourself to a certain standard. Instead use it as an opportunity to experiment and show yourself some love.

Expect changes in your mental, as well as your physical, state. As someone who uses style to show off their identity, it’s been really important to feel like myself during the last eight months. Of course, certain things will be beyond your control, but when I look back through my pregnancy journey on Instagram, I don't think there’s been a huge shift in my style. 
 
Don’t feel the need to buy anything ‘maternity’. The only exception I’ve made is maternity leggings, which I swear by. I bought two pairs from Spanx (normal black ones and leather look ones) and would recommend them to anyone. I also love Arket for oversized shirts and & Other Stories for knitwear – the perfect way to stay comfortable but look chic. One thing that hasn’t worked for me at all is maternity denim. I’m normally so fussy about jeans I just knew it wasn't for me. I normally prefer a high-waist – something that’s become less realistic as my bump has grown.

As someone who uses style to show off their identity, it’s been really important to feel like myself during the last eight months.

Work with your existing wardrobe. I love oversized shirts and jumpers, a boxy blazer and a loose fitting co-ord, so I've been so lucky that a good portion of my wardrobe has continued to work for me, even if I now wear leggings a lot! I’ve always felt quite strongly about not investing in a whole new maternity wardrobe for less than a year. 

Try planning your outfit around one piece. Whether that's a skirt or a shirt, or even a pair of shoes, I often plan my outfit in my mind the night before. I also like to look at pieces I've had for a while and work out new ways to wear them. Don’t fret if it doesn't quite turn out as you envision – after all, you’re navigating a body that’s constantly changing. There are days when I change my mind multiple times. When I’m feeling like this, I put my make-up and maybe some jewellery on first. It definitely helps give you a better steer on what you might like to wear. Right now, my current go-to is my knee-high heeled boots from Zara – they really do level up any outfit. 
 
Go for oversized shirts and flowy dresses. For the most part, I haven’t let my bump take centre stage – although there have been a couple of exceptions. One was a gorgeous De La Vali Bougainvilla maxi dress which I rented from By Rotation for a wedding in September. I wore it just as I started to pop and the dress was a perfect fit – snug around the bump but balanced out with a fishtail skirt and statement sleeves. I felt very special that day.

Give renting a go. It’s definitely harder to shop when pregnant – especially if you’re someone who likes more of a capsule wardrobe – and I've tried to make sure I’m only buying pieces that will work with my post-pregnancy style rather than things I know I won't wear again. I love dressing up but have refused to buy anything expensive for weddings, birthdays and baby showers that are specifically designed to accommodate a bump. Renting is something I’ll continue to do once the baby is here. 

Make jewellery the main focus. I’ve always loved accessories but there have been days when all I could muster was an all-black look consisting of leggings, a jumper and a blazer. Throw on lots of gold jewelry and it instantly takes things up a gear. For Christmas, this is going to be a fall-back approach, as I’m getting to the slightly uncomfortable stage of my pregnancy. A good pair of sparkly earrings always makes me feel better. 

At a time when things may feel a little overwhelming – albeit incredibly exciting – use your style to make you feel good.

Understand it’s all about constant reinvention. One minute you’ll  feel like you’ve nailed the perfect look, the next your belly and boobs double in size. In my first trimester, I felt quite poorly, so I wore only a few tried and trusted outfits. In the second trimester, my energy returned and I got to grips with my new body a bit. In my third trimester, I’ve definitely been more uncomfortable, so I’ve been gravitating towards specific fabrics.
 
Take lots of inspiration from other content creators. I have – even those who aren't pregnant – and just adapted it to work with my changing body. I love Naomi Ross and our due dates are only about a week apart. She’s proof that you don't need to completely change your style during pregnancy. I'll admit I’m a little gutted I didn't discover Hannah Crosskey earlier in my pregnancy. For anyone just getting started, follow them both.

Finally, wear what works for you. I've seen women dress their bump so well, but I know that particular look won’t work for me and that’s okay. The important takeaway is to understand that clothes can change the way you feel. At a time when things may feel a little overwhelming – albeit incredibly exciting – use your style to make you feel good.
 

Follow @PatriciaODwyer on Instagram.

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