Things are heating up which means it’s officially time to ditch the jackets and jeans. But, while the shift in season is a cause of celebration for many, it can pose a conundrum for those with a baby belly added to the mix.
Summer is already hot and sticky but when you’re pregnant things can feel particularly tough with sweating and uncomfortableness at an all-time high, especially if you’re in the third trimester.
Don’t sweat it though, as while it’s true that pregnancy during the warmer months is no walk in the park, there’s plenty you can do to beat the heat, starting with a wardrobe update.
Wondering what to wear as you shed those layers? A bump-friendly dress is the way to go. Not only are dresses easy to wear – you can throw one on in seconds and miraculously emerge looking pretty darn pulled-together – but they’re incredibly versatile. Most styles are able to work for more than one occasion, whether that’s for work, weekends in the park or special occasions like weddings and your baby shower. Plus, they take all the hassle out of frequent trips to the toilet.
The choice for pregnant women is getting better, too, and there are some solid trend-led pieces to be found on the high street, covering everything from printed frocks in standout florals to bold colour blocking midi styles and floaty maxis that promise to help you get your sartorial groove back.
How we tested
The excitement of sunnier days has forced us to get out there and hunt down some gorgeous dresses that tick all the bump-shaped boxes. Tried and tested on a 31-week bump (that’s seven months, to the uninitiated), we were on the lookout for dresses that oozed style, flattered our changing body and, above all else, were comfortable to wear.
We have included a range of different styles and lengths, and awarded bonus points to those you can wear after welcoming your baby into the world.
The best maternity summer dresses for 2022 are:
- Best overall – Monki tie-waist midi dress: £35, Monki.com
- Best party dress – Never Fully Dressed orange and magenta satin dress: £89, Neverfullydressed.co.uk
- Best wedding guest dress – Nobody’s Child maternity tula midi dress: £55, Nobodyschild.com
- Best luxury dress – Sleeper Atlanta linen dress: £260, The-sleeper.com
- Best T-shirt dress – River Island green floral maternity midi dress: £35, Riverisland.com
- Best maxi dress – Free People Julianna maxi dress: £158, Freepeople.com
- Best day dress – Next floral print maternity 3/4 sleeve ruched front dress: £36, Next.co.uk
- Best shirt dress – Isabella Oliver Kelsy maternity dress with Tencel: £79, Isabellaoliver.com
- Best short-sleeved dress – Topshop maternity ruched jersey midi dress: £40, Asos.com
- Best for breastfeeding – Bump & Milk Sienna midi nursing dress in orange: £129, Bumpandmilk.com
- Best floral dress – New Look maternity black floral lace trim midi dress: £27.99, Newlook.com
- Best LBD – Club L London little star black maternity twist front midi dress: £55, Clubllondon.com
- Best mini dress – Seraphine green printed maternity dress: £59, Seraphine.com
Monki tie-waist midi dress
Sometimes (read: all the time) during pregnancy, all you want is an outfit that’s so comfortable it feels like you’re wearing pyjamas and, well, we think we might have found just the thing – albeit a whole lot chicer than your favourite nightie. Made from a modal mix, this dress feels unbelievably soft, breathable and silky smooth against your skin, which is ideal for anyone suffering from sensitive or itchy skin as their bump grows.
Cut in a simple T-shirt style, it has a classic crew neck and loose sleeves that sit just above the elbow, while the curved midi-length hem looks super chic when paired with a whole range of footwear, whether that’s a pair of Birkenstocks, dad sandals, chunky trainers or, come winter, ankle boots. The body of the dress has plenty of slack which, while comfy, isn’t the most flattering cut, but that’s where the attached belt comes in as it works to cinch you in at the waist and can be tied either at the front or back, depending on which you prefer.
It comes in a great range of sizes, from UK4 to UK24, and a choice of four colours, including charcoal grey, pistachio green, beige and purple. From the moment we tried it on, we absolutely fell in love and this is one we’ve been reaching for time and time again.
Never Fully Dressed orange and magenta satin dress
Best: Party dress
Just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you should miss out on the chance to get all dressed up and have a good time, and if you have a night out or special occasion coming up, we urge you to consider snapping up this showstopping dress. While Never Fully Dressed doesn’t have a specific maternity collection, it highlights which of its dresses are bump-friendly and, although we were dubious at first, we were pleasantly surprised at just how well this satin number fitted. The brand says it’s suitable for early pregnancy but, even at 31 weeks, it didn’t feel too snug.
Finishing at a calf-skimming length, the dress has a flattering V-neckline and delicate crossover ruching at the bust (which is also elasticated), as well as bishop-style sleeves that don’t feel too tight on your upper arms. Plus, can we please discuss the colour? How on point is the two-tone orange and magenta? Perfectly placed to add some personality to your maternity wardrobe, it’s ideal for summer and gives us real holiday vibes, making it ideal if you want to make statement. If you’re worried about wearing satin in the heat, don’t be, as the material is nice and thin, so it feels cool against your skin and the loose-fitting sleeves prevent sweaty pits. It’s safe to say we’re obsessed.
Nobody’s Child maternity tula midi dress
Best: Wedding guest dress
Wedding season is upon us and if your pregnancy has coincided with a loved one’s big day we urge you to consider snapping up this eye-catching dress for the occasion. A brand beloved by stylish celebs like Sienna Miller and Holly Willoughby, Nobody’s Child is one of the best places to shop for fun prints and feminine silhouettes. Many of its styles are bump-friendly and the brand also has a dedicated range of maternity dresses that have been cut to accommodate and flatter your pregnant body.
Our top pick is the tula dress, largely because of its swoon-worthy Seventies-inspired bell sleeves that, unlike some, don’t feel restrictive on your arms. We also love that the dress has an elasticated seam under the bust that’s amazingly stretchy, meaning it can be worn at pretty much any stage of pregnancy and still fit perfectly. It has a midi length, which is ideal for more formal events, or simply if you don’t like flashing too much flesh, while the subtle leg slit at the front providing plenty of movement for swishing on the dance floor. The print is also delightfully joyful, with a pink background and red squiggles that prevent it from looking too girly and, while it looks great with heels, it can easily be dressed down with sandals or trainers.
Available in sizes UK6 to UK18, we found it actually came up quite big and ended up wearing two sizes smaller than usual, so consider sizing down if you prefer a snugger fit.
Sleeper Atlanta linen dress
Best: Best: Luxury dress
Although this is not officially a maternity dress, Sleeper’s Atlanta style is a firm favourite among style conscious mums-to-be thanks to its ability to fit and flatter before, during and after pregnancy. Designed with versatility and comfort in mind, the dress is made from airy linen, making summer dressing with a bump a total breeze.
We loved the stretchy smocked neckline, which is great for accommodating growing boobs and nursing once baby is here, plus the body is nice and loose, meaning it flatters at any stage, including the fourth trimester. The big puffy sleeves are also a major selling point for fashion lovers who are tired of living in tracksuits and craving something with a bit more flair. Plus, it comes in a multitude of feel-good colours and prints, including mint green, hot pink, blue gingham and daisy florals. The only downside? It’s not cheap, but if your budget allows, this is a dress that promises to become a hero piece in your summer wardrobe for many years to come.
River Island green floral maternity midi dress
Best: T-shirt dress
A simple T-shirt dress, this number from River Island is the perfect cure-all for your summer style problems as not only is it a whole lot of fun to wear, it’s seriously comfortable too. Designed with a crew neck, short sleeves and a midi length, the dress feels lovely and soft against your skin, and we appreciated that it features an elasticated underbust and tie-fastening, which helps to give your figure some shape.
Ideal for everyday wear, this has become our go-to for neighbourhood strolls, trips to the shops and lounging at home as it feels so airy and light with all the ease of a throw-on smock dress, but with a more flattering silhouette. Available in sizes UK6 to UK18, it comes in three designs including plain black, monochrome animal print and, our favourite, green floral.
Free People Julianna maxi dress
Best: Maxi dress
Whether you’re heading off on a sun-soaked babymoon or simply like your wardrobe on the more boho side, Free People should be at the top of your shopping list when it comes to summer dresses. While it doesn’t have a dedicated maternity range, many of the brand’s relaxed styles are ideal for growing bumps, including this wistful Julianna maxi dress.
Incredibly lightweight, the material floats upon every step and is ideal for those days when it feels too hot to be wearing very much at all. Designed in a smock style, the dress has three tiers that are separated by delicate ruffles which means it skims over your bump nicely. We also liked that the straps are adjustable, so you can customise the fit, and that, despite the deep V neckline, you can still wear a regular bra underneath without it showing.
One thing worth noting though is that we did find the sizing felt generous, so we’d recommend sizing down to prevent feeling swamped by fabric. Available in sizes UK4 to UK20, it comes in a choice of four colours but our favourite is the sand combo thanks to its blend of soft neutrals and rich earthy tones that are perfectly offset with gold jewellery and tan sandals.
Next floral print maternity 3/4 sleeve ruched front dress
Best: Day dress
Whether it’s to wear for a family barbecue or a lunch date with friends, this dress is a great all-rounder that makes for an easy sartorial win on days you want to look like you’ve made an effort. Equal parts fun and feminine, it features a multi-coloured ditsy floral print, while the hem sits below the knee and the sleeves are slightly puffed and finish at the elbow with a playful elasticated ruffle. There is plenty of room for growth in the body of the dress and it skims effortlessly over your bump for maximum comfort.
One detail we particularly loved was the neckline, which has a ruched lace-up tie that you can use to adjust how low the V-neck sits and means that if your bust continues to grow throughout pregnancy, the dress will still fit just as nicely. An effortless throw-on-and-go style, it’s body-skimming in all the right places and can be layered up to transition into autumn, making it even better value.
Isabella Oliver Kelsy maternity dress with Tencel
Best: Shirt dress
If you’re looking for something to wear to work during the summer months, a shirt dress like this one will ensure you feel polished for important Zoom meetings and can stay cool on the commute to the office. Hard to beat in the versatility stakes, it’s smart enough to wear for the 9-5 but can be easily worn as a casual dress option for the weekends too, depending on what you choose to style it with.
Made from eco-friendly Tencel, the dress is incredibly soft to the touch and comes with long sleeves that can be rolled up and fastened at the elbow on particularly warm days. The buttons fasten from neckline to hem, which makes it easy to get on and off, and also makes it a great option for new mums who are breastfeeding. We particularly liked the attached tie belt, which sits above the bump and can be used to create a flattering silhouette. The epitome of easy to wear chic, this is a dress that’s sure to become a wardrobe staple as it allows you to feel put together with minimal effort and ease your hot-weather woes at the same time. It comes in sizes UK4 to UK18 and a choice of three colours: black, navy and khaki green.
Topshop maternity ruched jersey midi dress
Best: Short-sleeved dress
Florals aren’t for everyone but this bold, abstract print is one that even the coolest of mums will want to be seen in. Designed in a brilliant two-tone blue, the dress is double layered, with a sleeveless lining across the entire body that’s topped with a layer of ultra-fine mesh that feels nice and breathable, and helps you stay cool.
While it has a high, round neck, the cut of the dress is balanced out with short mesh sleeves and a slim fit throughout the body that stretches over your bump and then goes out into a slightly more generous skirt that feels comfortable without looking flouncy. In terms of styling, the options are almost endless, as it can be just as easily worn with a pair of chunky white trainers as it can with slip-on sandals or boots. A real high street gem.
Bump & Milk Sienna midi nursing dress in orange
Best: For breastfeeding
Trying to find a stylish dress that’s also breastfeeding friendly can feel like an impossible task but, thanks to our expert detective skills, we’ve managed to hunt down a seriously stellar option. Courtesy of maternity and postnatal wear brand Bump & Milk, the Sienna dress is designed specifically with nursing in mind – not that you’d know just by looking at it.
Charmingly feminine, it’s made from linen and comes in a flattering midi length with a tiered skirt and an elasticated panel at the back, which allows enough room for growth, meaning you’ll get plenty of wear out of it throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Aside from its good looks though, this dress has some really clever design features that make it ideal for breastfeeding mums including thick shoulder straps that can be tied for a personalised fit and, wait for it, concealed zippers under the bust that can be undone to feed your baby with ease no matter where you are. Genius.
Available in sizes XS to XL, there is a handy size guide online with measurements to help you find the right fit. Because it’s made from linen you’ll need to treat this dress with a bit of extra care, washing in the machine on a cold cycle and laying it flat to dry.
New Look maternity black floral lace trim midi dress
Best: Floral dress
Florals can be a tricky print to get right when it comes to maternity clothing, with many brands opting for the usual mumsy fare, but this option from New Look is brimming with retro-inspired style.
Featuring a mix of pink, peach and green tones, the motif is bright and bold with an almost Seventies feel and we loved the flattering cut, which has a fit-and-flare skirt with delicately puffed sleeves and a deep V neckline that’s trimmed with soft black lace. It’s also incredibly comfortable as, although it looks like a formal frock, it’s actually made from a super-stretchy, jersey-like material. Because of this, it’s amazingly versatile and can be styled with sandals during the summer, biker boots and a leather jacket for colder days or dressed up for an event, like a wedding or party, with a pair of heels.
Club L London little star black maternity twist front midi dress
Want to add a touch of sophistication to your maternity wardrobe? Look no further than this simple yet feminine LBD. Particularly great for more formal occasions, be it a birthday party or dinner date, this gown is guaranteed to make you feel good, especially if you’re a minimalist at heart.
A far cry from being frumpy, it strikes the perfect balance between trend-led and classic with a midi style that’s cut just below the knee, a body-skimming design that sculpts your silhouette and a seriously flattering Bardot neckline with twist-front detailing. We also really loved the fabric, which is a slinky jersey, meaning that although it has a closer fit, it’s comfortable against your skin and feels breathable, particularly on warmer days.
Seraphine green printed maternity dress
Best: Mini dress
Midi and maxi styles seem to become a bit of a prerequisite when you’re pregnant but, after months spent in leggings and joggers, we say it’s high time we gave our legs a chance to be seen with a shortened hemline.
A welcome alternative that’s appropriate for so many occasions, this floral number drapes beautifully with a slightly longer cut at the front to accommodate your growing bump and a flounce hem that kicks out, making it great for swishing about in. It has plenty of design features that make it super flattering, including a V-neckline and a tie at the waist, which helps draw attention to your slimmest point. Plus, it has plenty of longevity, as it has a breastfeeding-friendly button-down front.
One of the most versatile pieces of the season, you can just as easily wear this to a family barbecue as you could a wedding, so long as you have the right accessories.
The verdict: Summer maternity dresses
As you can tell from the consistently high ratings across the board, this was a particularly tricky choice to make but for a dress that oozes laidback style, has a flattering fit and feels supremely comfortable, Monki’s tie-waist midi wins the top spot. We’ve already placed an order for it in two more colourways.
However, if you’re on the hunt for a dress that’s guaranteed to impress at an upcoming event, we recommend snapping up Never Fully Dressed’s two-tone satin number.
For the latest discounts and offers on dresses and other fashion buys, try the links below:
If you want to stay active as well as comfy during pregnancy, check out our round-up of the best maternity sportswear pieces and sets
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