20 photos that show how maternity fashion has changed over the years

Harold M. Lambert/Getty ImagesPregnant women often wore two-piece outfits in the 1960s.
  • Maternityfashion has changed drastically over the years.
  • In the early 1900s, some maternity clothing options became available to women in middle and upper classes who could afford them.
  • At first, maternity clothing was largely designed to conceal women’s pregnancies, but, over time, pregnant women began to experiment with new styles like polyester baby-doll dresses.
  • During the ’80s and ’90s, maternity clothing mirrored the popular styles of each decade, including athletic wear and low-rise jeans.
  • Today, maternity fashion is heavily influenced by celebrities, from the elegant looks of Meghan Markle to the daring styles of Kim Kardashian West.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In the early 1900s, maternity clothing options became available to women in the middle and upper classes of society who could afford them. Since then, maternity fashion has come to play a part in many women’s pregnancies.

From the ’20s to the ’40s, maternity clothing was largely designed to conceal women’s baby bumps and maintain a feminine silhouette. But, by the ’50s and ’60s, pregnant women began to embrace their changing bodies with the help of new styles.

Today, maternity clothing differs from person to person, and is much more reflective of personal style. From the baby-doll dresses of the ’60s to sheer ensembles worn by modern celebrities, here’s how maternity fashion has changed over the years.

Some forms of maternity clothing likely existed as early as the 1800s.

Chicago History Museum/Getty ImagesA pregnant woman rests in Chicago, Illinois, in 1904.

Many assume that maternity clothing didn’t exist in the 19th century, as there’s almost no physical proof left in existence, according to a 1995 dissertation written by Cassandra Curry Moon and published by the Digital Repository at Iowa State University.

However, pregnant women living in the 1800s rarely passed down their maternity clothes to relatives – instead, they would discard them after giving birth. Fashion journals were also hesitant to mention anything related to pregnancy, as it was considered indecent at the time.

Those who could afford maternity garments in the 19th century were said to have purchased their clothes through mail-order catalogues. And, according to the dissertation, pregnancy undergarments were available by 1811, while maternity sewing patterns were sold by the 1890s.

Lane Bryant changed the game in the early 1900s.

Kirn Vintage Stock/Getty ImagesA mother-to-be attends her baby shower in 1924.

In the years leading up to the 20th century, fabric was costly. Many women weren’t able to buy new clothes throughout their pregnancies, and would instead alter garments they already owned.

This continued into the early 1900s, especially amongst pregnant women living in lower social classes. But for those in middle and upper classes, the early 1900s brought a wider range of options to the market, including maternity corsets and tightly-laced dresses.

Lane Bryant was specifically responsible for this change. According to the American Textile History Museum, the company utilised mail-order catalogues and newspapers, which previously hadn’t run maternity advertisements, to build its business.

The company, which still exists today, is said to have created the first maternity gown in 1904, as well as the first ready-to-wear maternity clothes in 1911.

Between 1910 and 1920, women were encouraged to conceal their pregnancies by wearing loose-fitting maternity styles.

Library of Congress/Getty ImagesIn the 1920s, pregnant women commonly wore loose-fitting clothing.

According to America’s Health Rankings, a prenatal pamphlet from 1913 advised pregnant women to dress in a way that was “both comfortable and pleasing without being conspicuous, so that the prospective mother need not deny herself the pleasure of going out among her friends.”

The trend was still going strong by the 1920s. Women continued to wear loose garments, and favoured dresses with adjustable belts, according to Vintage Dancer, a style website and online store created by author Debbie Sessions, who researches the history of fashion.

In the 1930s, pregnant women continued to wear feminine clothing that accentuated their waists.

Nina Leen/Getty ImagesPrinted dresses and adjustable waistbands were popular in the ’30s.

Any outfit that created a feminine silhouette was favoured by pregnant women in the ’30s – including adjustable waistbands and wrap dresses.

Pregnant women also wore small prints in attempts to camouflage their stomachs.

Maternity fashion hadn’t changed much by the 1940s.

Buyenlarge/Getty ImagesFashion plates from 1940 show popular maternity styles from the decade.

World War II restricted fashion production in the 1940s, and limited the amount of new maternity designs available to pregnant women. As a result, wraparound dresses continued to be the dominant style.

And even when new designs did emerge, it was difficult to tell which styles were intended for pregnant women – many catalogues and fashion platesdid not depict pregnant women between the ’20s and ’40s, and generally showcased designs through slim illustrations.

But some pregnant women began to reject outdated designs in the ’40s.

Leonard McCombe/Getty ImagesTwo pregnant women stand on a footpath in 1946.

Despite the popularity of wraparound dresses, some pregnant women took issue with the fact that the style could leave their abdomens exposed.

This led three sisters in Dallas to create Page Boy, a maternity-fashion label that “dominated the maternity market for five decades,” according to Slate. The brand was most widely known for its patented skirt design, which “fit snugly around the hips without hiking up in front.”

The skirt also featured a “scooped-out window in the front” covered by a “long jacket,” which accommodated growing stomachs.

In the 1950s, pregnant women began to experiment with two-piece ensembles.

Chaloner Woods/Stringer/Getty ImagesA woman models maternity clothing in 1954.

In doing so, women were able to dress without enhancing their waistlines. Shirts were designed in loose styles, and pants quickly became more common.

Inverted pleats became a staple of maternity fashion in the ’60s.

Harold M. Lambert/Getty ImagesA pregnant couple leaves a grocery story in 1965.

The style allowed room for growing baby bumps, and was included on shirts, skirts, and dresses.

Smock tops also became popular, and skirts were commonly designed to be shorter, thanks in part to the influence of the model Twiggy.

Women didn’t want to conceal their pregnancies in the ’70s.

Evening Standard/Stringer/Getty ImagesA pregnant woman walks down the street in 1971.

Throughout the decade, pregnant women began to reject to loose-fitting gowns and pleated tops. Instead, many women replaced them with minidresses, jumpsuits, and shorts.

And after a brand called Lady Madonna began to create maternity clothing, other high-end designers began to follow suit.

Read more:

The fashion trends that were all the rage the year you were born

Maternity clothing was extremely bright throughout the 1980s.

Chikako Yatabe/APMothers-to-be attend a ‘maternitybics’ class in 1987.

’80s fashion was all about being bold and colourful, so it makes sense that the trend was popular among expectant mothers too.

Pregnant women in the ’80s also took a liking to athletic wear, which was commonly mixed into everyday styles at the time.

That same decade, Princess Diana became one of the first British royals to influence maternity fashion across the world.

Tim Graham/Getty ImagesPrincess Diana wears a maternity dress at a polo match in 1982.

Princess Diana was pregnant with Prince William in 1982, and then Prince Harry in 1984.

Over the course of those two years, she wore a variety of classic looks, including polka-dot maternity dresses, knit sweaters, and even ball gowns.

All eyes were on pregnant celebrities in the 1990s.

Ron Galella, Ltd./Getty ImagesJada Pinkett Smith and her husband, Will Smith, attend a movie premiere in 1998.

The trend gained momentum in 1991, when actress Demi Moore posed nude on the cover of Vanity Fair, crossing one arm over her chest and the other over her baby bump. Speaking to Interview in 2017, Moore said society was “afraid to imagine a pregnant woman as sexy” prior to her cover shoot.

“While you’re pregnant, you’re made to feel not beautiful or sexually viable,” Moore told Interview. “You’re either sexy, or you’re a mother. I didn’t want to have to choose, so I challenged that. I’m not the only one.”

From then on, interest in pregnant celebrities skyrocketed, and the media began to cover soon-to-be mothers like Jada Pinkett Smith and Madonna.

Throughout the decade, maternity fashion was all over red carpets.

Laura Luongo/Getty ImagesDenzel and Paulette Washington attend a red-carpet event in 1991.

Pregnant celebrities such as Paulette Washington, Demi Moore and Cindy Crawford all rocked the red carpet while wearing sparkling runway looks.

By the early 2000s, designers were even creating maternity looks for pop stars to wear while performing.

Kevin Mazur/Getty ImagesJennifer Lopez performs while pregnant in 2007.

Jennifer Lopez was one of many musicians who wore maternity ensembles while performing in the early 2000s. Other pregnant performers at the time included M.I.A., Gwen Stefani, and Alicia Keys.

Women weren’t afraid to show off their stomachs during this decade.

Evan Agostini/Getty ImagesModel Ines Rivero attends a fashion show while pregnant in 2001.

Low-rise jeans were all the rage in the early 2000s, and pregnant women also embraced the trend. The fad was even shown on TV, when “Friends” character Rachel Green wore cropped shirts while pregnant.

Today, red-carpet maternity looks can be much more risqué.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/APKim Kardashian attends a gala while pregnant in 2015.

In 2019, just about any style can be transformed into a maternity look – including the “naked trend,” which Kim Kardashian has been rocking since her second pregnancy in 2015.

Modern royals also play a large part in influencing current maternity trends.

Splash NewsMeghan Markle wears an H&M dress in January 2019.

Meghan Markle has worn a number of glamorous styles while pregnant, including a denim dress, simple pantsuits, and designer ball gowns.

In 2019, maternity fashion continues to be loud and proud.

Splash NewsAnne Hathaway attends a red-carpet event in New York City in August 2019.

In August, Anne Hathaway attended a red-carpet event in New York City wearing a magenta dress with bold cutouts around her chest.

The bright maternity gown was designed by Brandon Maxwell, who also included a tag that read “Anne + 1” inside the dress.

Latex isn’t out of the question for modern mums-to-be.

Nancy Rivera/Bauer-Griffin/Getty ImagesAshley Graham in New York City on September 5.

Ashley Graham, for example, has worn the fabric multiple times during her current pregnancy.

She donned a maternity dress made from red latex during New York Fashion Week on September 5, and then wore a latex Jessica Rabbit costume to celebrate Halloween in October.

Neither are form-fitting gowns.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty ImagesAshley Graham attends the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards in New York City.

While attending the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Awards in November, Graham turned heads in a purple-and-green sleeveless gown. The form-fitting look was custom-made for the model by designer Christopher John Rogers.

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