*Photo above by Frances Hart, featuring their easy-to-wear smocked cotton dress and my favorite Vibi Venezia canvas flats. My earrings are old Nicola Bathie, but you can get a similar vibe with this pair from Neely Phelan. I am wearing my zodiac necklace, generously gifted by the founder of the brand (and a Magpie reader!) Lizzie Scheck and my inexpensive Mama heart necklace.
A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Natalie Wadsworth, the lovely founder of Frances Hart, a clothing line that originally focused on maternity wear but has now branched out to include pieces for all phases of motherhood. She invited me to visit her in New York and took a few photos of me wearing one of her dresses in Madison Square Park, not far from where my daughter attended pre-school and therefore full of memories of living in New York. I love the slightly exaggerated sleeves and square neck line, which elevate the look a bit, but the dress is all about comfort (and function — her pieces are breast-feeding-friendly, machine-washable, and the perfect length such that you are not tripping over a maxi-length hem but have enough length to remain demure while chasing a toddler at a playground). I must wax poetic about Natalie herself, a sharp entrepreneur who makes running a business look easy, and an absolute joy to be around. While her talented photographer (who used to work for The Rolling Stone!) took photos of me, Natalie read me salty jokes from her phone and talked about the care with which she approached the concepting, pricing, and design of her pieces. These are items you can invest in and wear before, during, and after pregnancy, and are easy to care for (i.e., not handwash or dry-clean-only). I am a huge fan of hers and the dresses she makes, and was so honored she chose to interview me on her blog — you can read some of my musings on writing and motherhood here.
Below, I am sharing 23 additional great dresses that will work before, during, and after pregnancy…
1 // Staud’s Vincent Dress. This comes in many colors and seasonal patterns, and occasionally, you can find them on sale (as here and here). Button-front so works while nursing, with a nice loose fit.
3 // Buru Tie Top Midi Dress. So fun and unexpected with the pattern mixing! It reminds me of a Casey Marks dress (next on the list!) but less expensive. Buru makes a point of designing dresses that are nursing-friendly, and this one is not only chic but has pockets and is machine washable (!) I also love this striped everyday dress, which would work for at least the first and part of the second trimester, and then be great for breast-feeding and beyond.
4 // Casey Marks Jaime Dress. Similar to above — so fun and dramatic, easy to wear, and would work for any stage of pregnancy / breast-feeding / not!
6 // Everyday Ritual Gauze Button-Front Caftan. This looks insanely comfortable, practical, washable, etc. Wear as a day dress, a cover-up, a nightgown! Comes in tons of colors. I also like this similar Xirena style — on sale! Gauze is trending this year for some reason.
8 // Julia Amory Shirtdresses. The softest brushed cotton — I absolutely live in these. (I now own three!). My only gripe is that the buttons do not always stay closed! I’ve talked with several friends about this and they agree — it’s annoying. But I love these pieces just as much layered over a swimsuit (<<this one works during pregnancy) at the beach/pool as I do dressed up with statement earrings.
10 // Thierry Colson Venetia Dress. I have wanted to invest in one of these for ages. Love the stand collar and the fabulous tailored sleeves.
12 // Everlane Caftan Dress. I love this in the sage color, and I *think* the button plaquet goes down far enough to accommodate breast-feeding. It was a tad difficult but I was also able to make the famous “Amazon Nightgown Dress” work while nursing, too.
13 // R Vivimos Smocked Dress. Comes in tons of colors and only $30.
14 // The Great Lagoon Dress. Would be sweet any time, but would be really cute as a coming-home dress or newborn photo dress if you’re having a girl.
15 // HHH’s Ellie Nap Dress. I know we’ve talked ad nauseum about this style but they really are great for pregnancy, nursing, and no bump. Love the seasonal patterns/prints.
16 // Mille Victoria Dress. Just so chic — I love mine.
17 // Christy Dawn Emilia Dress. This is absolutely gorgeous. The self-tie waist means it can be worn loose and free or cinched in above a bump / at waist, and the buttons accommodate nursing.
18 // Boden Jane Dress. Perfect if you are a boy mom for a coming-home-from-hospital moment (wear sans belt, or loop under bust instead of at waist), newborn photos, or a baby shower! I think this would work well into second trimester. I love everything about it. Currently in my cart!
20 // Daphne Wilde Giovanna Dress. Wear belted or not, dressed up or down — this dress is a workhorse. One of my girlfriends loved her first one so much, she bought three more!
21 // Maxwell and Geraldine Sarah Dress. I love my Kate dress from this brand but think that the longer smocked bodice on that style would be more difficult with a bump. The Sarah is probably just right, and I love the sleeves and versatile white seersucker.
22 // Brock x Minnow Disco Dress. Probably better before the second trimester, but the loose fit would be a good disguise for early pregnancy and this is certainly breastfeeding friendly. I love the tailoring and pattern — so chic.
I have to give honorable mention to Parterre’s Day Gown — I own and love this dress, and would have happily worn while pregnant. A very soft and easy cotton, a self-tie waist — but not breast-feeding-friendly! It’s possible the brand’s Surrey dress could work for nursing, though. I like the sophisticated and unusual color/pattern of that dress — would be great for fall paired with some velvet furlanes.
P.S. Adventures (word used euphemistically) in breastfeeding, parts one and two. I am still shocked by how difficult and emotional that journey was for me — I still feel ten ways about it and think back on that experience often.
P.P.P.S. It’s their day, too. A new motherhood reminder I carry with me.