Our picks for the best maternity outfits

Francesca Hornak

There's quite enough to deal with when you're pregnant, without clothes being an issue, too. Fortunately, maternity-wear has really improved in recent years, and it needn't be expensive - Gap, Topshop and M&S all do good ranges.

[Related feature: The best maternity fitness clothing]

Marie Palmer, a consultant from maternity-wear store Keungzai has this style advice for mums to be: 'Resist the temptation to buy clothes in larger sizes,' she says. 'If you are a size 8 normally, then this is the size you should choose for maternity clothing. Likewise, if you're feeling self-conscious about looking larger, don't completely cover up — it will make you look bigger. Draw attention to your new curves, and choose clothing that shows off your best areas, such as a V neck, or a low back dress. Scoop necks are particularly effective at elongating your whole silhouette.'

Here are some more tips for bump dressing:

Pregnant partywear

How come pregnant celebrities look so smug? Because they know about designer Tiffany London, whose maternity dresses are a favourite with Holly Willoughby, Emma Bunton and Myleene Klass. Tiffany's dresses are great if you have a special occasion to attend while pregnant, and she even does brilliant wedding dresses for expectant brides.

Baby on board

Looking professional while pregnant can feel tricky. Your best bet is to invest in a structured jacket, to sharpen everything up. It needn't be maternity because you can wear it open over a dress, or, if you work somewhere casual, with maternity jeans and top. If you find blazers too stiff and uncomfy, a wrap dress, tied under the bust, looks streamlined and pulled together. Have a browse on blossommotherandchild.com

Jersey sure

Good quality jersey is perfect for pregnancy, as it's one of the few fabrics that stretches and drapes elegantly. The Ultra Soft Drape Front Maternity Dress and The Perfect Tee at www.keungzai.com are both versatile enough to be accessorised for different occasions. Double up on maternity leggings, too - they're a lifesaver under dresses.

Coats and capes

Capes, trapeze coats and 60's swing jacket shapes are great for pregnancy, being neat and fitted at the shoulders and comfortably skimming the bump. They're less flattering if you have broad shoulders or a big bust, though, in which case you may want to invest in the 308 maternity coat by Clark and Gray clarkandgray.com. It's a cult item, thanks to the cunning removable panels for different stages of pregnancy.

Breastfeeding and beyond
Once you're breastfeeding, Peaks of London peaksoflondon.com specialises in ingenious tops and dresses, cut and draped to allow you to breastfeed without flashing lots of flesh, or juggling awkward scarves. They aren't cheap, but they're beautifully made and easy to integrate with the rest of a new mother's wardrobe.