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Dress Like the Duchess: Maternity Wear

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I never did a fashion recap of all of Kate's pregnancy looks, but recently a reader emailed me asking that I put one together to provide some inspiration for pregnant bridesmaids. I am going to skip items Kate wore while pregnant but not yet showing, because how helpful is that for dressing your pregnant self? Not so much. I will also be skipping her casual looks--this post will feature only dresses. I felt that Kate really struggled finding her fashion feet during this pregnancy, which surprised me, but going over this list made me realize she did better than I remembered. This is not an exhaustive list of every Kate appearance while pregnant, but it does cover all her public engagements for which she wore a dress/coat.

February was Kate's first appearance really starting to show. She visited Action on Addiction's Hope House wearing a grey and white MaxMara jersey dress. This was fabulous for her body at the time--and I argue would be perfect throughout a pregnancy. Jersey dresses are naturally very, very figure flattering for any shape or size, and as long as she bought a dress designed with extra fabric to accommodate "the bump," this style would have carried her through July 22nd. 

March saw Kate and William in Arosa, Switzerland for the wedding of friends. Kate recycled another MaxMara that she first wore in Cambridge. For both events we only have pictures of the dress peeking out from under her coat. From the dress on a model, it seems that she probably could have adjusted the belt to make it a little more of an Empire waist, and the fabric and structure would have been very flattering on her still fairly unobtrusive stomach. Animal print is not everyone's cup of tea, but this style is entirely elegant and would have looked lovely on the Duchess.



On her visit to Grimsby, Kate recycled a Hobbs coat that she still fit into, and underneath wore Great Plains' Cezanne dress. A pleated crepe frock that, much like the MaxMara from Cambridge and Switzerland, would have been very low-maintanence and easily reshaped for her. We have no photos, but mental extrapolation provides a sense of the look.

By mid-March, on a visit to Cheltenham, Kate was starting to push the envelope just a little. I honestly think she did not want to spend money on a piece that was purely maternity wear, which was working up to this point. This coat worked, too, but it was looking just a little strained despite have obviously been altered for the pregnant Duchess. This recycle was a hit with me, and a good silhouette for Kate. The coat was stiff and straight enough that she was able to get away with the short length.

Kate altered her Emilia Wickstead from the year before for her annual appearance at the Aldershot St. Patrick's Day parade. It wasn't as beautiful as the first wear, mostly because that belt really added a lot, but it was still a great repurpose. I am not sure what she was wearing underneath. It could have been any number of pieces. I did determine it was not the turtleneck dress from Valentine's Day 2012, but that is about as far as I got. 

William and Kate visited a child bereavement center where Kate wore a white coat by Goat, which wasn't entirely to my taste. For her expanding waistline, it didn't have enough structure, it looked like a lampshade to me and didn't really do anything for her figure. Underneath, however, she wore a lovely black Zara dress with a sweet Peter Pan collar--very à la mode. This was a great pregnancy dress. Still short and youthful, but straight. The one thing that emerged throughout Kate's pregnancy was that flared and short does not mix well with pregnant figures. This will be expanded on as we continue...

To join the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Baker Street tube station, Kate debuted a new and very beautiful coat by Danish designer Malene Birger. There were elements of this coat that I might not have chosen myself, but it was a hit for me and was very flattering on Kate. The tailoring was perfect. No strained buttons, no stretch, just the right length for an a-line. This was certainly one of her big pregnancy successes.

To immediately contrast the bad with the good, Kate wore her Moloh coat in Glasgow Scotland in April and it was one of her worst pregnancy choices. I am just calling it like it is--this was terrible. First of all, it was too small. The buttons were straining and I chose flattering photos for my post because I love Kate. It was too short for an a-line. I am sorry, but this combo gives me that nervous feeling when I am walking a raised runway with a thigh skimming skirt. Am I putting on more of a show than people paid for? Usually not, (gosh, hopefully not) and Kate didn't reveal anything either, but it is the uncomfortable trip the mind takes that makes me call foul on the length here. If it had a more narrow circumference that would have helped. Although, I love plaid this might have been too much for her six-month figure. Remember, color and patterns can add or detract. Certain patterns are slimming, while others aren't. I just found this unflattering and drab. Anywoo. Some people loved this dress and Huffington Post named it one of her best looks. I hate it, and now you know why.

On her second day in Scotland, she recycled her Armani coat from William's passing out. It worked. It was not sartorial splendor, but, it worked. 

Kate's pastel green Mulberry coat worn to Windsor is one of my favorites of her pregnancy. This silhouette really works for her. She likes short, so structured and straight is the way to pull that off, and she did just that on this appearance. Although snug the way Kate likes most items of clothing, it was a piece she bought with pregnancy in mind, and the tailoring was immaculate. No straining to be seen. 

Kate followed up her Windsor win with another success in patterned Erdem. As often happens, this dress has grown on me. I didn't love the pattern when I first saw it, but it wasn't because it didn't suit her, just that it didn't speak to me.The colors aside, the pattern was very flattering, the length was very flattering, and the straight cute of the dress were all very, very flattering. This was right in line with earlier successes, such as the black Zara. It was a hit,.

Kate proved the third time is the charm by adding another success with a bespoke Emilia Wickstead when she visited the NPG. By this time, Kate had to buy for a pregnant body, she wasn't stretching and making a recycle work, or trying to fit her pregnant, albeit petite, frame into a dress that wasn't designed for it. I truly believe that made a big difference. This dress acknowledged her pregnancy without making it the complete center of attention.  The light material, longer length, and fitted bust allow the skirt to be a-line without erasing all hint of the feminine form. 

On a visit to the Warner Brothers Studio, Kate wore a polka dotted TopShop dress and an unidentified, but oft worn, black jacket. There is disagreement on whether it was a regular sized dress in tall, or if it came from TopShop's pregnancy line. Given how much Kate was showing, I personally believe it was from the maternity line. This was borderline, proved by the fact that I liked it on this wear and hated it shortly after when she wore it to a wedding. It is combining a lot of no-nos, but frankly I still think she pulled it off at the studio. Despite the breezy nature of the skirt and the relatively short length, it fell straight instead of a-line, and that was its saving grace.

Kate went apricot in Tara Jarmon for a visit to Naomi House on her wedding anniversary. It isn't contending for best pregnancy look, but I liked it. The coat was long enough to make the ensemble work. 

In May, Kate once again pulled of an a-line with a yellow Emilia Wickstead for a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The careful length and sturdy structure of the coat gave it the grounding it needed.

Kate's crowning glory moment of her joinery through pregnancy style came as she returned to Westminster Abbey for the service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation. In a custom Jenny Packham ensemble, Kate really peaked. Hard to match this performance. Every box is meticulously ticked. Just the right length, empire waist to give her definition, straight lines, tailored perfectly for her. It isn't too tight, it isn't too loose. Then of course, the stylistic aspects like fabric and color were also in perfect taste, but the essential building elements of the structure were in place and were perfect. 

Although many didn't like leopard print, the Hobbs coat that Kate wore to christen the Royal Princess was a flattering piece. Straight and snug, just the way I think it should be, and in keeping with her past successes. The pattern of the leopard print was also the flattering kind, à la the Erdem (primary school) rather than say...the dreaded Moloh. Vertical patterns that lift and lengthen, rather than horizontal or just random patterns that take the eye in every wide-which direction.

The last time we saw Kate before she introduced us to her tiny son was at the Trooping, where we could only see half of what appeared to be a very flattering pink coat. It seems to be in keeping with all my requirements, and my sense is it looked as lovely full-length as it did showing only partially on the balcony. 

In addition to her many designer label pieces, Kate bought a fair number of pieces from Séraphine Maternity. On their website, they list the pieces she wore. Notice they all adhere to the general style of the grey MaxMara she first wore, and are great on almost any frame. Kate wore one leaving Kensington Palace and heading to Berkshire with William and George, she wore another in the first pictures released that were taken at her parents' home by her dad, and we can only hypothesize about the rest, but I wrote about them here. Another accessible brand that Kate wore was ASOS Maternity. She was spotted shopping in a very flattering blue ASOS with purple sweater.

Dress Like the Duchess: Maternity Side by Side

I have compiled some of my favorite Dress Like The Duchess: Maternity options from two providers that Kate has been spotted wearing. While the dresses almost universally take inspiration from Kate's pieces when not pregnant, all items are from maternity wear lines, whether noted or not. Starting with ASOS:

Séraphine also has great repliKates. They seem to stock a lot of pieces that are very reminiscent of Issa, an erstwhile favorite of the Duchess. I have only listed some, but they have many variations and multiple colors, so certainly browse their website.

I want to thank my bride-to-be reader for providing the impetus to get this post written and up! I hope it proves helpful to your bridesmaids and to all women in the midst of a pregnancy looking for chic options. One thing I learned from writing this post, there are a lot of great options!  Good luck!


  1. Great post Jane how fun to look through her pregnancy outfits. I personally loved the malene birger coat she wore on the London underground and I also loved the mint mulberry at the scouts parade. Although I didn't love everything she wore while pregnant I thought she looked beautiful and pregnancy really suited her.
    Thanks Jane its lovely to look back.

    1. Thank you, Simmy! I think I thought the pleating on the back was a little unusual, but I agree, it was beautiful! The hat she wore with it is one of my favorites!

  2. I love this post but I noticed that Kate's suede pumps and boots look a little worse for wear at times. I have the same issues with my shoes, she needs to get them brushed down and there is a special spray she can use for them to make them look as good as new!


    1. Yes, I agree, they could use some attention. But, don't hold out on us! Do you have a spray recommendation? My suede boots/booties could use some TLC after this winter, too... :)

  3. Princess Mary of Denmark has the same coat Kate wore to the Baker Street tube station. It truly is a wonderful coat.

    1. Yes, she does. They both pulled it off very well. That blue is very flattering on brunettes.

  4. EEE Thank you! This is wonderful. I've sent it to my mom and bridesmaids for inspiration. May have to buy a few things myself so I am super organized for when my time comes ;) Thanks again for doing this!

    1. My pleasure. Haha, that is how I felt, too. I was looking at all these beautiful maternity outfits thinking... I am not going to, don't worry. You are closer than I am. :)

    2. She always looks beautiful no matter what she wears. No doubt the maternity clothing are as beautiful as she is.


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