Vintage ’80s maternity clothes: Pregnancy fashion the way it used to be
Excerpted from the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi) August 8, 1984
It isn’t necessary for the fashion-conscious woman to put herself on hold for nine months just because she’s pregnant.
No longer is she relegated to pastels, lace and ready-to-wear styles that look as if they were designed for an 8-year-old with freckles and pigtails.
“For the most part, we’re beginning to see maternity fashions grow up,” says Martha Carr, owner of Maternity Fashions in Highland Village. “Everything is much more career-oriented, more tailored.”
“Maternity fashions are trying to catch up with everything else,” adds Senetra Brent, manager of Motherhood Maternity at Metrocenter. “More women are working now. They have to look good. It’s required. So the demand for fashionable clothes is there.”
Carr and Brent agree that one of the hottest features in cool-weather maternity looks this year is the dropped waist. The style appears as either a dress or jumper with soft shearing, or as a two-piece ensemble, with the blouson top camouflaging the stretch panel in the skirt.
The skirt and blouson top, which hugs the woman at her hips with either elastic or a fabric tie, is a comfortable and versatile suggestion for the expectant mother. The top works equally well with slacks. The look, Carr says, “is very flattering in the early stage of pregnancy, and just as flattering if you’re nine months.”
Other good looks in maternity fashion this fall and winter include the shirt dress, featuring a double-breasted bodice that falls into soft pleats down the front.
When buttons appear, they often are big and bold. And when they don’t appear, they’re likely hidden under flies, or flaps of material similar to the fly on a man’s trousers.
Accents include soft, silky bow ties encircling contrast-ing collars, dolman sleeves, shoulder buttons on cowl necks, and the all-important shoulder pads popular in all ready-to-wear markets this year.
Mandarin collars, turtleneck shirts, bibs, puffed sleeves and delicate ruffles around high necklines continue to be maternity wear staples.
Jumpsuits also are maternity fashion headliners. Cut full around the middle, the jumpsuit appears in either one-piece or styled as an overall, with a loose apron covering the built-in stretch panel.
Carr says maternity pants are playing second fiddle to dresses and skirts this season.
ALSO SEE: See vintage Fisher Price baby toys from the ’70s & ’80s
“Now we sell twice as many dresses as pants,” Carr says. “Women are going to split skirts, like the culotte, instead.”
Nevertheless, most local maternity shops still offer an abundance of slacks styles.
While most feature the ever-popular stretch panel, others give women a variety of new options with buttons, snaps, expandable tracts along the side, and stretch panels tucked inside pockets.
Activewear for the pregnant woman includes sweatsuits that are banded around the wrists, the ankles and the hem of the blouson top. Appearing in soft jersey knits and velours, these sweats aren’t just meant to be worn on a slouchy day around the house, either, Carr says.
Instead, they’re becoming acceptable casual attire for the expectant mother. Colors in all areas of maternity wear are bright and cheerful. Plaids and houndstooth patterns are given add-ed interest with the use of natural fibers such as silk.
Finally, the mother-to-be no longer has to shiver through cold weather months, wrapped in her husband’s sweaters, in order to avoid investing in a maternity coat that’s useless after the baby arrives. This year she can swaddle herself in a cape made from a cozy blend of wool and polyester.
Simple in design (and one size fits all), the cape is meant to be tossed around the shoulders and neck for warmth. Styles come with a contrasting band or fringe around the edges, and some appear with a self-fastening kilt pin.
’80s maternity clothes: Polished, professional… and pregnant (1987)
From the time you begin to show, you want to look your professional best. These tailored — and sophisticated — maternity clothes are so flattering you may want to wear them after baby’s born.
A long sweater and pleated skirt in navy and while give you a lean line. Cotton sweater, $80, and rayon skirt, $80, by Amy Ruth.
At Saks Fifth Avenue, all stores; Now Showing, all stores; Recreations, Columbus, Ohio, and Saint Louis. Jewelry from Fortunoff. Bag by Rebecca Daniels. Scarf by Oscar de la Renta. Hosiery by Hanes. Shoes by Ferragamo.
The soft pink suit is professional and feminine. The vertical cut of the blouse and skirt add height. Cotton-and-linen jacket, $130; blouse, $.62; rayon-and-cotton skirt, $70.
All by J.G. Hook. At all Bloomingdale’s, Recreations and Macy’s. Jewelry from Fortunoff. Bag by Rebecca Daniels.
Easy, soft cotton-knit chemise (above, right) balances the width at your hips with broad shoulders and square collar. Nautical-striped dress, $74, by Mob!:
At New Conceptions, Washington, D.C.; Expecting You, Fort Worth; and Fifth Avenue Maternity. Jewelry from Fortunoff. Bag by Rebecca Daniels.
ALSO SEE: Retro baby car seats from the ’60s, ’70s & ’80s: Forward- & rear-facing vintage auto safety seats for kids
Expecting at work: ’80s maternity clothes
Beautiful detailing (including a tucked back panel) and a lustrous fabric make this seafoam pantsuit extra versatile. Wear it to work with this checked shell or out in the evening with a white silk charmeuse blouse.
Poly-and-rayon jacket, $78; pants, $54; shell, $60; all by Pink & Blue. At Pink & Blue, Los Angeles; Expectations, Chicago; and Bloomingdale’s, New York City. Jewelry from Fortunoff. Bag by Rebecca Daniels.
You’ll look cool and competent in this peach blouson dress. What’s slenderizing here is the continuous color and line, the V-neck collar and the slim skirt. Shoes and stockings in shades that match the dress help carry the line.
Rayon dress, $106: Sweet Mama by Judy Loeb. At Saks Fifth Avenue, selected stores; Macy’s, all New York, New Jersey and California stores; and Motherhood selected stores. Jewelry, from Fortunoff. Hosiery by Hanes. Shoes by Calvin Klein Classifications.
ALSO SEE: Do you remember these 30 shampoos & conditioners from the ’80s?
A long cardigan sweater, like this pretty mint knit (below), may be the most comfortable piece in your maternity wardrobe. Here, with matching slacks, it is dressed up enough for many of situations.
ALSO SEE: Vintage baby nursery monitors from Fisher-Price (1980s)
Ramie-and-cotton cardigan, $74; pants, $52; poly-and-rayon blouse, $48: Sweet Mama by Judy Loeb. At Saks Fifth Avenue, New York City; Mary’s, all New York, New Jersey and California stores; Dayton Hudson. Jewelry from Fortunoff.
Who says maternity fashions can’t be fun? If your job calls for casual clothes — and you can wear bold prints — by this khaki and white snap front jacket and pants (above) in the softest cotton knit.
Jacket, $124, and pants, $48, by Amy Ruth. At Maternity Modes, Chicago; New Conceptions, Washington, D.C.; and Today’s Maternity, San Francisco. Shoes by Esprit.
MORE: Vintage ’50s maternity fashion: High-end fashions for pregnant women
Bonus fashion: While you wait
MORE: See back when they debuted the easy-to-read pregnancy test sticks (1987)
Mom style: Super awesome maternity fashions from 1987
Workdays: For moms on the go
Let’s play: For mom and baby
ALSO SEE: 45 most popular vintage perfumes from the ’80s
We’re ready: Mothercare is dressed up
Vintage ’80s maternity dresses (1983)
Striped dress with stand-up collar with button-and-loop / Dress with asymmetrical design, of woven polyester and cotton corduroy / Basic gray jumper of polyester and wool flannel. Pullover with buttoned areas and tucked front.
Lots of big bows on this retro maternity fashion
Retro ’80s pregnancy loungewear & grey sweatsuits
’80s maternity lingerie – Vintage nightgowns
Includes a Garfield nightie that says “This is only temporary”
MORE: How to get awesome & authentic on-trend ’80s eye makeup, like multicolored eyeshadow
Overall-style 1980s maternity dresses & colorful retro tops
Vintage 80s Levi’s denim maternity styles
ALSO SEE: The unlikely history of Levi’s jeans – or, how clothing styles from 150 years ago are somehow still fashionable today
Bad ’80s maternity fashion: The frumpy look
The ’80s prairie-style shirts get a maternity makeover
ALSO SEE: These vintage home pregnancy test kits used test tubes & had a two-hour wait (1978-1987)