What to wear for Maternity photos
The question I get asked the most by moms for maternity sessions, is “what should I wear for my maternity photos?” Moms express concerns about what they should wear, if they have to buy anything, if outfits are provided, and if they are size-inclusive. What is important to note, is that you can choose to show as much, or as little as you want.
Here is a guide to help you figure out what outfits would best interest or be most suitable for you! There is something for everyone! If you want to purchase your own, I’ve provided a list of maternity dress vendors I like to use at the end of the post!
Types of outfits you can wear for your maternity photos
A maternity session should reflect your personal preferences and tastes. This may be as simple as you want, or as glamorous as you want. You may want to try something out of the box and different, or you may want to stay classic. Either way, there are MANY options from you to choose from when styling your session.
I work with all of my clients to figure out key looks and styling for their sessions. Client can look through a wardrobe gallery to choose from, or a my portfolio, social media, or blog posts for inspiration. Most photographers who provide a wardrobe will either show the client their offerings or have them choose from existing photos.
Some additional tips and considerations:
If you want to show off your bump, you may want to opt for:
- Open front gowns or robes
- Sheer dresses and fabrics
- Lingerie or Bodysuits
- Implied nudity/nude
- Corset or crop tops and body jewelry
If you want to be more modest & cover your bump or are concerned about body shape imperfections, you may consider the following:
- Voluminous dresses flatter everyone
- Dresses with long sleeves
- Solid fabrics that aren’t sheer
Follow along below for options on what you can wear for your maternity session.
1. Gowns & Dresses
Maternity gowns and dresses are designed to be worn by a wide range of sizes and body types. This is especially great for ever-changing bodies during pregnancy. On flowy or ruffled gowns, there is usually an elastic waist. For gowns with a structured bodice/corset, there is generally a lace up back. Knit gowns that are more form fitting will normally have a lot of stretch to accommodate different sizes. For petite moms, we can clamp the back of dresses to make them smaller. Sheer dresses with backlighting also look so ethereal and highlight every curve on mom’s body!
2. Robes for Maternity Photos
A great option for your session can also be a robe. Robes are flexible and accommodate a range of sizes, and are easily worn open or closed. I really love this look over a striking bodysuit, or body jewelry.
Many times, moms send me an image of what they think is a dress, but is actually fabric! The pink floral “dress” below was actually four pieces of fabric I cut and draped to create the dress. Fabrics are an easy way to add variety to your session. We can do a dramatic fabric toss, drape it as a dress, or wrap it around your body to highlight your bump.With just a simple piece, fabric offers an enormous variety of looks meant to highlight your bump.
4. Bodysuits for Maternity Photos
Bodysuits are amazing to bring the focus to your bump in a different way. Rhinestones, velvet, sheer pieces- all look amazing, and give a more contemporary or glam look to your portraits.
5. Body Jewelry & Accessories for Maternity Photos
Body jewelry, chains, draped pearls are all unique pieces that can be added to dresses, fabric, or worn on their own. It’s the perfect touch to add a little sparkle, or highlight the nude form.
6. Angel Wings for Maternity Photos
This is a popular choice for moms to add a little bit of Victoria’s Secret glam to their look. Angel wings can be paired with certain gowns, body jewelry, or fabrics to create a gorgeous statement portrait. Moms also love to wear the wings for an angelic pose with their baby which you can see here:
7. Nothing / Implied Nudity
Well, this one is self explanatory. Nude maternity is not for everyone, but is worth exploring. You can be photographed in a way that highlights your bump, and keeps all of the important bits covered. Everything is done tastefully.
What Colors should I wear for maternity photos?
Color will always be a personal choice for your maternity photos and depends on a few things. I always tell clients to consider the following:
- Personal color preference – are you a bold color person, are you a neutral girl?
- What is your interior decor like? Do you have specific colors in your home, nursery, or a specific room you will be displaying your images?
- Season – If taking your maternity photos in the winter, you may opt for different color like soft pastels or neutrals. In the summer, you may want to go more bold to match your surroundings. For indoor sessions, this doesn’t matter as much.
- Location – You should choose colors that make sense for the location you are taking photos in.
Are maternity outfits size inclusive?
The majority of my maternity session outfit wardrobe is very flexible in sizing. The maternity designers I source pieces from make sure the gowns and robes are made in a way that make them adjustable to a majority of moms. They are made with generous fits, and either elastic waists, open front, or lace-up styling in the back to allow for moms of many sizes.
The exception to this rule are some of the bodysuits and bustiers, that because of their nature (to be snug to the body) may not work for everyone.
You can check out my client wardrobe here:
- Related: Client Wardrobe for Maternity & Moms
How many outfits can I wear for my maternity session?
How many outfits you wear during your maternity session really depends on the type of session you want.
- Studio Session
- Outdoor Session
- Family maternity
1. Outfits for Studio Maternity Sessions
A studio or indoor session will offer the most flexibility for wardrobe in terms of privacy, and the amount of clothing you DON’T want to wear. Since we are indoors, you may feel more comfortable in wearing less, or more revealing looks. An indoor session is a more controlled, comfortable environment and moms will usually get away with a few more looks during their session. We can also play with more out of the box concepts and styling. Studio looks really depend on the combination of dresses, fabric, and bodysuits/nude looks mom wants to achieve. I’d say on average, we can do around 5 looks indoors before mom gets tired.
2. Outfits for Outdoor Maternity Sessions
For an outdoor maternity session, the wardrobe will be more limited to what can be taken to the location. Often this means we do fewer looks. It can be a challenge to change wardrobe outdoors (even with a changing tent). Temperature outdoors might also make moms more uncomfortable more quickly (such as during the heat in the summer, and in the cold of winter). Session time outdoors will be impacted by multiple outfit changes since we are highly dependent on light conditions.
Location will also be a factor. Whether we will be in sand or water will also impact the choice or availability of certain garments. For instance, we can’t take the larger tulle gowns into water, and pieces with delicate beading or details wouldn’t be taken out into the woods or areas that will tear and grab at the material. Typically for outdoor sessions we can do around 3 looks.
3. Outfits for Family Maternity Sessions
If your session includes other children, you may not want to be more conservative in your wardrobe choices. This can be highly dependent on ages and genders of older children. Planning your other family members’ outfits may also impact your choice of dress for your maternity session.
If your session is only with a partner, you may want to take a more personal, intimate approach to your wardrobe as well.
What should my partner wear for maternity sessions?
Once you decide on what you are wearing, we can shift focus to your partner (and or children) taking part in your session. Depending on the what you choose, we will choose complimentary styling and tones for dad or partner. For instance:
- If you’re wearing a denim and lingerie look, we will match the denim tones and top colors
- If you are wearing a very formal or glam gown, partner should match. They should not be wearing a very casual look with shorts for example.
- For a more relaxed look, such as for certain images in the water or at the beach, their look can be more casual and have rolled up hems, shorts, and a short sleeve.
- Typically the partner’s look will be in either cool or warm tone soft neutrals or muted colors to complement your look.
Related: Including Dad in Maternity Photos
Other maternity session preparation tips
1. Hair & Makeup
Hair and makeup should match the environment, and it is advisable to get these professionally done.
- A Note on Makeup: For photos it is generally a good idea to go bolder in your look. Photographs and especially in-studio strobes will wash out makeup more than what it looks like in real life. So while you may feel like you have more makeup on than usual, it will look beautiful in photos and flawless.
- Support: The proper support for under your maternity outfits is important. For most looks we will use either nude or black undergarments based on the color of whatever you are wearing. A pre-pregnancy strapless is the best choice, this will hold you up, and the grippy silicone in these bras help hold fabric styling in place for those flowy shot. Bottoms should be seamless, or a thong type.
- Texture & Color: If you are styling your session in lingerie looks, these will naturally be different than the above, and can have beautiful interesting colors, or lace textures. Otherwise, nude or black.
- For indoor sessions, shoes aren’t a necessity. we like to see long legs with pointed toes. For outdoors, I always recommend a slim flip flop so you’re not walking on anything sharp, these are easily hidden under dresses. For poses with a leg exposed, we just slip the shoe off. For water images, I always tell moms to bring water shoes, sneakers, or something that is SNUG on the foot to prevent slipping or tripping.
For my preparation guide for moms, you can consult this article here: How to Prepare for Your Maternity Session
Where to buy Maternity outfits for your photo session
With today’s styles, you can wear so many different things for your maternity photos. From lingerie, to jeans, to any of the fancier options above, your options are really endless.
However, there are a handful of vendors I faithfully buy from that provide gorgeous wardrobe options for mom-to-be. Some of these vendors also provide matching girls looks for children.
- Katharina Hakaj Couture – provides gorgeous tulle robes and gowns
- Before & Ever – embellished gowns, caftans, and printed/solid tossing fabrics.
- Mii-Estilo – beautiful, shimmery flowy fabrics for tossing. This is where I get my fabrics with shine.
- AR Backdrops – jeweled bodysuits, slim-cut gowns, accessories & jewelry
- Chicaboo – for close to the body, mermaid gowns
- Sew-Trendy Maternity & Accessories – All styles of gowns & bodysuits
- Silk Fairies Maternity – sheer, fluid gowns
- Amazon! – See here for a list of maternity buys. I’ve gotten plenty of accessories, body jewelry, bustiers, and other gowns from Amazon.
You can also consult this post below if you want more detailed information on each vendor!
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Sofia Ribeiro is a NJ Newborn photographer, NJ Maternity photographer, NJ Family Photographer, and NJ Child Photographer serving Morris County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Bergen County, Monmouth County, and Middlesex County in the North and Central New Jersey areas. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Facebook!