How to Dress for a Maternity Sesh
By Michelle Rose Sulcov
I love sifting through old photos of my mom, especially from when she was pregnant with me— her bump bursting out of her cute little maternity outfits. There weren’t many options for maternity pieces in the 80s, and my mom wasn’t one for a mumu, so she wound up rotating
between four outfits, each with a different theme: nautical, pretty-in-pink, cowgirl overalls and an airy Princess Diana bow blouse dress. Today, there are so many more options for maternity clothing, and it’s becoming increasingly easier to find pieces that match your own personal style.
As a maternity photographer, I’ve recommended Ingrid & Isabel to my clients so often that I&I asked me to write about dressing for maternity shoots for their blog! When I book a maternity shoot (I suggest shooting when you are about 6-8 months pregnant, depending on your comfort level) the first thing I do is discuss clothing options with my clients, giving mamas-to-be plenty of time to prepare; there are two major things I take into consideration during these initial conversations: first, my client’s comfort level with her body and bump, and then her own personal fashion style. I typically suggest picking 2-3 great outfits and then plan shoot locations based on those outfits (or vice versa)—but more about that below!
I’m obsessed with the Ingrid & Isabel Mama Jacket because you can wear it before and after the baby comes! I photographed a mama (@erindoulight) wearing this jacket paired with a casual dress, but she could have easily swapped that out for slouchy pants and a basic top. Choosing a dress for a maternity shoot can be hard because fit varies depending on how big, high, low your bump is. I love a tight fitting dress in either stretchy soft material or lace for a maternity session, like @heidikristoffer is wearing, just as much as I love a flowy dress, but it all depends on how you feel.
If you are feeling a little uneasy about your changing size, go with a flowy number. A longer flowy dress will move nicely in the wind for an outdoor shot. Pro tip: If you opt for a flowy dress, place one hand above and one hand below your bump to help define it. Same rule applies if you want to take a few shots with your partner's hands on your bump. During maternity shoots, bigger bumps always look better!
If you aren’t feeling the boho vibe of a flowy dress, but don’t want to wear anything tight, then I recommend opting for a non-fitted, shorter dress that will show off your legs. Pro tip: Bring heels to your session, and wait to put them on until the photographer is actually taking the photos! A pant + top combo is another great option for those who are shooting during colder months. A fitted jean and flowy top will also photograph beautifully during a session.
Another suggestion I make to clients is that they color-coordinate their outfit either with the gender of the baby or with the shoot location. My mama in pink (@christinacarusostyle) was having a baby boy, but the brightly-colored dress she ultimately chose for the shoot popped against the white porch and beach town backdrop.
If you choose to include your partner in your photos, it looks best when you color coordinate in some way, even if it’s slight; for instance, your dress color could match an accent on your partner’s outfit, or you both could dress in complementary tones. My favorite colors for fall shoots are soft grays, caramels and neutral tones (which I personally love to pair with denim), for spring, I love soft pastels, and for summer, brights. If you choose to include children in your photos, same rules apply! You can do small matching accent colors or even find matching outfits. Another fun shot that always looks beautiful is when my clients wear a lovely silky robe (that you can also wear at the hospital!) to truly document your bump in all its glory. Robe shots are also easy to snap in your bathroom mirror if you'd rather keep the moment private.
In the end, it’s all about having fun when planning outfits for your maternity session.