Shopping for a formal maternity dress was the last thing I wanted to do as my body approached new never-before-seen limits. When I was eight months pregnant, my MIL hosted an evening garden party/baby shower, eeek let the panic begin, how would I find and fit into a formal maternity dress without spending a fortune on tailoring. I’m a fashion blogger, so I needed to make sure this dress was OP. Wait. “Eight months pregnant”, “on point”, “formal” and “maternity dress” do not go together in the same statement? I wasn’t sure how to accept the challenge that, admittedly, I’d created in my own head. I wasn’t even sure I could stay awake for an evening party, let alone “impress.” Most of the time I felt tired, sweaty and like I could pee myself at the drop of a sneeze; not exactly the perfect combo for entertaining and modeling a formal maternity dress.
There comes a point in every pregnancy when you just can’t hang. Swollen legs make even maternity pants too tight and a growing waistline combined with fluctuating bust size make it impossible to plan ahead. I had a few options.
How to Shop for a Formal Maternity Dress:
- Do a massive maternity haul from ASOS and keep whatever works best. See what I bought below.
- Use Rent the Runway and potentially find a formal-enough non-maternity dress that doesn’t read Shamu.
- Give in to “maternity” style and wear something skin-tight and ruched to the max or a moomoo so loose it resembles an actual tent.
I ended up following through with options one and two. Option three just isn’t me and at 5’1″ I could easily look as wide as I am tall, so super tight and super loose weren’t spectacular choices.
My first attempt at finding a formal dress was through ASOS. I absolutely love their maternity wear. In ASOS maternity clothes, I feel like myself, which is hard to do when you’re wearing “special” clothes. ASOS has some beautiful formal dresses, but the one I was banking on didn’t fit at all and I wasn’t willing to splurge on a dress that I would certainly only wear one time. So here’s my haul.
Formal Maternity Dress Haul:
Styled properly, several of the dresses were appropriate for fancy dinners or daytime showers, but what about something more formal, like an evening shower packed with fancily-clad guests or perhaps a formal wedding?
On to option number two! Rent the Runway has been my fashion savior time and again. This time it wasn’t just the seemingly endless dress selection that saved the day. First of all, they offer “bump friendly” as a body type to narrow your options and also sort dresses by trimester. This helped me through the first 6 months of pregnancy, but at 8 months I faced a different set of challenges. My baby is healthy size and I have a tendency toward fluid retention even without being pregnant, so by 8 months I had surpassed the point that I could easily tell if a dress would fit by sizing guides provided. Another challenge pregnancy presents is that you don’t know what size you will be if you plan ahead a month or even a few weeks, but if you wait until the last minute, you could end up dressless and naked really isn’t an option! After spending hours clicking through reviews with photos of one formal maternity dress after another, I stumbled upon gold.
The Secret to Finding a Formal Maternity Dress Guaranteed to Fit:
I’d heard of convertible bridesmaid dresses before, you know the ones with the straps that can be fastened a million different ways to suit your bridesmaid’s personality. What I didn’t realize is that there are dresses made to fit sizes 0-12 in both regular and long hem options. That meant that this dress claims to fit every body size between 0 and 12 and offers two different lengths. Was this too good to be true? The dress is also available in a size up that fits sizes 14-24 and comes in regular and long as well. How could this be? I immediately dove into customer reviews. Surely the photos of real women, representing such a wide range of sizes, all wearing the same size dress would shed light on the truth. The truth was, the Oyster Classic Convertible Gown looked spectacular on every single one of them and there were even a few preggos pictured. Being the disbelieving skeptic I am, I ordered the dress a month early to check out the hem length and construction. The dress passed my thorough examination and proved to be a beautiful formal maternity dress (without looking “maternity”). I scheduled it for delivery for the shower. Not only did I feel special in a wonderful way, my dress was on point and I managed to not sneeze and pee on myself. The evening was a complete success and I felt that same “princess” feeling every time I get all gussied up.
Why the Oyster Classic Convertible Gown is the perfect formal maternity dress:
The straps can be fastened any way you want. I chose to go with a traditional look instead of doing an asymmetric one shoulder or something else that would have been more trendy because I needed the bust support. The adjustable straps create the fit around the ribcage and bust, which is how the dress can be made to fit such a range of sizes.
The fabric is heavy enough to curve around the body and add shape and dimension, but it also moves beautifully.
The wind picked up a little during the shoot and I couldn’t help wanting to twirl.
The hem was slightly long for me, so I had to wear heels. Naturally, I had to go with the only heels that I can survive all night in. Every woman needs a pair of nude heels and a pair of black heels that she can wear for a few hours. More on finding that perfect pair in a future post, but what if that pair is not great for grass, cobblestone or uneven pavement? I have the perfect solution.
Notice the caps on my heels? They add surface area to skinny heels, so I don’t sink into the grass or get stuck in sidewalk cracks and sewer grates. I prefer the starletto brand best because they fit different sized heels. I wore them all night and never rolled an ankle or sunk into the grass. Read all about them in this post I did on heel caps.
The Oyster Classic Convertible Gown is available for rental in champagne and blush. Looking to purchase the gown instead of rent? I can understand why, because the dress will always fit. I found a similar gown from Anthropologie and there are more colors available.
Shop Convertible Gowns: