Red carpet styles are always the object of scrutiny and the inspiration for new trends, as well as the most exciting part of any and every awards show. That’s especially true when the world’s most-watched celebs are pregnant and swap their usual tight hourglass dresses for maternity wear. Maternity dresses on the red carpet can be some of the most exciting and avant-garde moments; nothing feels more modern than a dress that shows off a baby bump (instead of hiding it, as was encouraged in the past) or more liberating than a sparkly ball-gown showing just how glamorous pregnant can be.
That being said, in any field that is so experimental and artistic, there are some that have to be a total miss up against some of the hits. While many famous women wear outfits that are graceful, elegant, and unique, there are others who sometimes miss the mark completely. From frumpy to downright inappropriate, when maternity looks flop on the red carpet, boy, do they flop. No one can blame these mothers-to-be for trying something new, but all the same, every pregnant woman might as well learn from the celebs' mistakes.
Here are some of the best and worst red carpet maternity looks that pregnant celebrities have donned throughout the years.
20 Best: Chrissy Teigen Always Looks Flawless
Entire articles could be devoted to Chrissy Teigen’s maternity outfits when she was pregnant with her daughter, Luna Simone Stephens, and her son, Miles Theodore Stephens, who was born this past May. From strolling around town to A-list events, this woman has mastered a maternity style that is stunning and sophisticated - the word Queen even comes to mind. If I was forced to pick a favorite, this Marchesa dress she wore to the 2016 Oscars would probably win.
The same dress was created for the runway but is even more stunning as a maternity gown, because of how it highlights the beauty of the pregnant form.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, the dress was custom made for Teigen to her pregnancy measurements, after she saw the design from the 2016 Marchesa collection. Co-designer Karen Craig told Bazaar, "this look was inspired by the undeniable femininity of John Singer Sargent's portraits and the serenity of London's Highgrove Gardens [...] We couldn't think of anyone more perfect to bring this regal yet daring style to life.”
While attractive and form-fitting, the pattern created by the garnet crystal and bronze flowers has an overall slimming effect, flattering her pregnant belly without trying to mask it. With the natural array of leaves and perfectly accentuated curves, Teigen looks like an Edenic Eve, an iconic mother completely in tune with nature. Paired with her loose-yet-chic braid, she’s made a hugely elaborate dress look natural, effortless, and lived-in as if she stepped out of a garden decorated with flowers.
19 Best: Blake Lively Is The Queen Of Fashion
Another icon of maternal style is Blake Lively, who has had two children with husband Ryan Reynolds. This is the actress at the 2016 Festival de Cannes at the premiere of The BFG, wearing a gown that is modern but has an Old Hollywood flair. While all of Lively’s outfits at Cannes that year were a topic of conversation (one Vanity Fair article ranked them all according to how visible her baby bump was), this Atelier Versace dress is certainly the most memorable of them all.
Blake picks all her own outfits and doesn’t use a stylist.
That could explain why, with everything she wears, she looks so confident - nothing makes you feel good like an outfit you’ve put together yourself. This off-the-shoulder sequined dress shows off her toned shoulders, with the long slit revealing her equally long legs. The Greek-reminiscent heels with metallic shine and ankle straps match the blue cape gathered at the back. Her look is distinctly Hollywood, almost referencing the Columbia Pictures woman (who, incidentally, is herself a symbol for America).
The combination gives Lively an appearance that is strong and healthy, defeating the idea that pregnant women are incapacitated or incapable. She is a perfectly presented image of strong motherhood, here and wherever she goes.
18 Best: Ciara Looks Like The Black Swan
Here, pregnant with her second child, singer and generally multi-talented Ciara wears an asymmetrical Stephane Rolland dress at the 2016 American Music Awards. Rolland, here, uses his trademark black and white contrast. The designer told Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop in a 2015 interview with Couture Notebook, that he’s inspired by black-and-white photographs where “everything was about volume and contrast. My eyes were trained early on with these concepts and everything I do is about contrast, volume, and movement. It’s in my DNA.”
That contrast works beautifully with Ciara’s figure, making her stand out against the white backdrop.
The white becomes almost invisible, creating the illusion that the dress goes higher than it does and that her legs are longer. Plus, the elegant Parisian turtleneck elongates her stately neck.
While this dress might, from head-on, seem a little understated and even cautious because of how the deep black nearly conceals her belly altogether, from the profile, it’s an entirely different story. The tight-fitted bodice that fully surrounds her stomach before the skirt starts, instead of a higher skirt hiding it, shows off every curve. The way she lovingly and protectively rests her hand on her belly also shows how proud she is. Ciara brings a whole new definition to the word “matronly.”
17 Best: Emily Blunt Is The Perfect Doll
Speaking of empire waists, here’s Emily Blunt at the 2016 Academy Awards looking slim and elegant (as well as, at a much earlier stage in her pregnancy than Ciara above). Wearing Prada while pregnant with her second child with husband, John Krasinski, Blunt looked as prim and proper as ever with her belly just starting to show.
The genius of this dress is the patterned decoupage arranged geometrically across the skirt of the dress, creating the appearance of a straight line from her bust to the floor.
The subtle blush pink also works with her naturally fair skin and hair to give her a gentle glow, instead of overpowering her with a more vibrant color.
Blunt is known for roles where she generally plays quietly determined women, extremely intelligent and set in their own ways. This Prada gown shows her soft side with its' pale color and vintage style, as well as her sharper edges with the hints of sparkle and flowing cape in the back. As a maternity dress, it doesn’t attempt to steal the show like some of the other dresses here but, instead, shows Blunt as the stoic and strong mother she is, without sacrificing any femininity.
16 Best: Beyonce Should Definitely Be Proud Of This Dress
It would be wrong to go without mentioning the U.S.'s biggest pop culture icon. Here's Beyonce at the 2017 Grammy Awards wearing a gown by the Norwegian designer, Peter Dundas. Pregnant with her twins with husband Jay-Z, Beyonce is pregnant and proud, showing every last curve.
The completely red sequined gown does the complete opposite of what many women try to do when they are pregnant by accentuating, instead of hiding her expanding belly.
The sequins reflect the light and show shadows clearly, which is why you can even almost see her legs through the long gown. The result is a look that is unabashedly full-bodied, showing a gorgeously feminine figure.
The rectangular cut out in the bodice also accentuates Beyonce’s top half without showing too much. Leaving just enough space for the long diamond chain, the bodice of the gown actually works in opposition to the skirt, slimming her and creating a contrast with her stomach. As a result, the dress draws even more attention to her belly - which is the complete opposite of trying to hide her pregnancy. This gown is as bold and fearless as Beyonce herself, daring women to show off their bodies without losing modesty or poise.
15 Best: Rosie Huntington-Whitely Stuns Only Like A VS Model Could
Rosie Huntington-Whitely is pictured at the NYC's Fate of the Furious premiere back in April 2017, wearing a black Brandon Maxwell gown that embraced her growing baby bump.
Actress and former Victoria’s Secret model, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, is pictured at an event for fashion house Metrocity in South Korea, in 2017. The supermodel has a lot to work with, but even so, the dress she picked for this event makes her look absolutely stunning while she was pregnant with her first child with actor-husband, Jason Statham.
The frilly folds of the simple dress, as well as the girlish pink and center-parted hair, made Huntington-Whitely look youthful and complemented her natural beauty. In some ways, the gown is like a maternity gown you could find at any superstore-flowing and comfortable, with a simple cut and color. However, to avoid looking generic and outdated, the dress’s playful surprising cuts, from the high-low skirt to the plunging neckline, made the dress much more exciting than your average maternity dress.
When coupled with the lines from the folded fabric overlays, the dress is mobile, fluid, and exciting.
The loose fabric creates a flowing effect around her long limbs, which instead of making her look bigger than she was, creates an ambiguity of form that instead made her look thinner (though still perfectly healthy). A simple loose-fitting dress is well-suited to someone of her stature, who risks looking a bit too larger-than-life in more form-fitting dresses.
14 Best: Scarlett Johansson Is Cute And Elegant
Scarlett Johansson did not make many red carpet appearances when she was pregnant with her first child (though she was filming The Avengers: Age of Ultron at the time). Here, she is at the 2014 premiere of The Winter Soldier, in the early stages of her pregnancy. The visible clues might be hard to spot, but that’s mostly because her outfit does so much to distract from her belly. If disguising an early-pregnancy stomach is your goal, look no further than the beloved Black Widow actress for inspiration.
The Giorgio Armani Prive top and skirt are an intricate tangle of contrasting laces that drew attention away from the star’s midsection. If that wasn’t enough, the bow tying the top actually covered her stomach, craftily in the same color as the skirt and so masking all lines and creases. Arguably the most exciting parts of the outfit - the scalloped sleeves, neckline, and skirt hem - also everything brought the gaze to Johansson’s chest and legs rather than her belly.
This is undeniably a beautiful outfit for any woman, and the intricacy of the lacework made it look like a work of art. While hiding a baby bump might not be the goal for every woman, if you’re looking to hold off on going full-on maternity wear, this sort of heavily detailed outfit is a smart way to go.
13 Best: Heidi Klum Is Always So Classy
On the other end of the spectrum, Heidi Klum has made some red carpet appearances while being very very pregnant. Here, she is at the 2006 Emmy Awards, where she was nominated for the Outstanding Reality-Competition Program award, for her work on Project Runway. At the time, Klum was pregnant with her third child with her former spouse, Seal.
Former fashion model and now designer and TV fashion reality show host, it’s no surprise when Klum makes a statement with her outfits. In this Michael Kors gown she wears a style similar to Blake Lively’s in 2016, but simpler, bolder, and with a more subtle shape. While similarly going for an Old Hollywood feel, with the cape draped down the back and long leg slit, the solid bright red and softer material make her look commanding and regal.
While the baby bump isn’t concealed, not every line is shown with the loose material, making for a style that is both more comfortable and leaves more to the imagination.
Klum is one to make a simple statement amazing, rather than going for too much at once, which is why this ancient world-inspired gown works so well, complementing rather than competing with the rest of her.
12 Best: Keira Knightley Always Looks So Innocent And Sweet
Even when she's pregnant, Keira Knightley embodies a style that has a youthfully twee, without being overly childish or considered cute. This is a photo of her at the 2015 Academy Awards, wearing a Valentino gown while pregnant with her first child with her musician husband, James Righton. The gown achieves the perfect combination of masking and showing off her baby bump. The delicate drape of the dress from the top hides it completely, but from the side does the complete opposite.
Knightley’s dress feels antique, remembering ages past, and contemplative, like a late spring day spent outside collecting flowers. In 2015, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as a supporting actress in The Imitation Game, which was her second nomination, after being nominated for best actress for the 2005 Pride & Prejudice.
The detailed embroidery of the flowers and the words create the impression of pressed flowers in a journal, which is only strengthened by the parchment color of the dress itself.
Knightley’s acting roles are often historical or old-fashioned, and she seems more at home in the fashion that calls back to previous periods than in anything too modern. Here she is both, proudly showing her maternity body while also hiding it discreetly in the ways of the past.
11 Not So Great: Kate Hudson's Showing Way Too Much Than She Should
There is nothing wrong with exposing a little belly in theory, but doing so gracefully can be hard. Here, Kate Hudson has not quite managed to maintain her usual elegance with this Chanel gown, at the Venice Film Festival, in 2003. Even without the gap between top and skirt that makes this essentially a crop top, the dress itself is a bit of a mess. The fringed hems of the top and skirt make them look like bed skirts, and the sheer overlays look like a poorly executed afterthought, thrown over a simple bandeau and pencil skirt. Even the color is boring and adds nothing to the dress. The best thing that can be said for this dress is that it’s dead metallic color brings added vitality to Kate Hudson’s skin, but that’s at the cost of a dress that looks drab.
As a maternity gown, it is even less suitable. As we saw with Scarlett Johansson, drawing the eye away from the belly can be down with adding details that point upwards and downwards. Hudson’s dress does the opposite here, with the ruffles framing her stomach like a painting. To be fair, her goal does not seem to be to mask anything at all, and more props to her for that, but the entire purpose of the dress appears to be to be revealing and nothing else. With skin-tight dresses like Beyonce’s and Chrissy Teigen’s, other elements of the dress worked against their revealing nature in order to avoid being overly provocative. Here, Hudson seems to have had no mind to anything but revealing her body, which is why this looks more like an outfit a teenager would buy at Forever 21, rather than a red carpet gown.
10 Not So Great: Kim Kardashian Looks The Part Of A Kardashian
Here’s Kim Kardashian-West with now-husband, Kanye West, at the 2012 New Year’s Eve Countdown, at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Kim has had three children now and spends a huge amount of time in front of cameras, so simple math tells us that she requires a ridiculous number of high fashion maternity gowns to keep her going. We can, therefore, hardly blame her for sometimes missing the mark.
Here she is wearing a design by Welsh designer, Julien MacDonald, who often uses intricate black patterns like this in his dresses. While the idea is undoubtedly interesting, the overall effect is not great.
Particularly in Kim’s midsection, the floral design just becomes a mess of confusing shapes and textures that are impossible to make sense of.
The strange fishnet underlay only further complicates matters, and you’re left wondering what goes where and how the dress makes sense at all.
All of that over-detailed nonsense completely masks any shape of Kim underneath it and from a distance, she looks like she’s wearing a shapeless suit of armor -- which is a shame for someone with such a famously beautiful figure. Kim has had many successful maternity dresses that do more to show off her body than this seemingly daring semi-translucent gown.
9 Not So Great: Padma Lakshmi Has Dirt-Filled Boots To Accessorize
Now, this dress (jumpsuit?) is just a huge no-no, maternity wear or not. Added to the fact that it was December, it’s difficult to see why Top Chef host, Padma Lakshmi, elected to wear a stark white summer outfit to the 2009 premiere of A Single Man. The author, actress, model, television host, and former wife of Salman Rushdie gave birth to her daughter, Krishna, with Adam R. Dell in 2010. Here, she’s showing few signs of the pregnancy, but it’s clear that all those layers of folded fabric are trying to cover something up.
The bright white does show off the healthy glow of Lakshmi’s skin, but in a New York winter, it’s sometimes better to follow the old rule of no white between Labour Day and Memorial Day. And while it’s sometimes acceptable to pair whites of different shades (in table linens, for example) the off-white boots look dirty and out of place in comparison (why didn’t she at least go all-out and wear sandals?) Added to the fact that all those disfiguring folds of fabric take away all semblance of her shape, even masking a bust she could have chosen to accent, Lakshmi chose an outfit that has been long remembered in infamy.
8 Not So Great: Salma Hayek's Dress Does Not Give That Maternity Glow
When Mexican actress, Salma Hayek, was pregnant in 2007, with her first child with Francois-Henri Pinault of Gucci, her weight became a topic of mass conversation. It seemed like every celebrity news source was publishing an article with photos of her pregnant body alongside photos of her in swimsuits pre-pregnancy (and often, many years younger), speculating about how much weight she had gained. It’s true, Hayek’s body changes were more drastic than some celebrities, but there is no rulebook for how women change when becoming mothers.
What this photo, from an art show in 2007 shows, however, is that Hayek looked as beautiful as ever during her pregnancy - albeit in a slightly different way. Hayek has since commented that she felt “completely disfigured” by her pregnancy, perhaps in response to the ceaseless tabloids. But, for better or worse, pregnancy can be disorienting with all the changes it brings and often necessitates learning to feel comfortable with different clothes and styles that you were used to before.
Wearing an empire waist gown, always flattering pregnant and pear-shaped women alike, Hayek looks like she’s stepped out of a period drama. The flowing satin in emerald green paired with pinned curls creates a look that is as timeless as it is romantic.
7 Not So Great: Anne Hathaway Looks Like The Acadamy Awards
You really have to give her props for trying, and there is something striking about this gown she wore to the 2016 Academy Awards. Designed by Indian-American fashion designer Naeem Khan, who’s known for this kind of intricate pattern work, it is stunning as a garment, even if it’s not incredibly flattering to the award-winning actress.
The dress draws on Art Deco style with its combination of black and sparkling gold and geometric pattern. However, instead of making Anne Hathaway look like a lady of the roaring twenties, she resembles more than anything a New York skyscraper like the Chrysler building, as everything in the dress makes her look larger than she actually is. The vertical beadwork, like vertical stripes, appear stretched around her midsection. Unlike with Emily Blunt’s geometric beadwork above, the dress does not seem to have been rethought according to her larger size; where the designer could have created the illusion of straight lines with carefully-placed beads. Instead, they’re left in an actual straight line that appears gaping on Hathaway. And then there’s the drape of the dress. Some of the best dresses we’ve seen so far give some drape over the body while tightening over or leaving bare arms and legs, showing slimness where possible. This dress is as loose over the arms and legs as can be, making Hathaway look like she’s wearing a (very intricately designed) bed sheet.
6 Not So Great: Meryl Streep Looks Like A Tall Golden Award
It’s hard to criticize the most famous actress alive, but Meryl Streep’s dress choice for the 1983 Oscars was definitely not her most shining moment. Here is Streep accepting the award for Best Actress for her role in Sophie’s Choice, while six months pregnant with her second child. Her gorgeous curls and cheekbones are simply glowing with the pride in her achievement and upcoming newborn, but the mass of gold material and sparkles she chose to wore did little to add to her natural beauty.
This is the oldest photo in this list, and it’s important to recognize how much more revealing maternity outfits have become in the time since 1983. It probably would have been considered inappropriate for Streep to wear something more form-fitting. That being said, the overly flowy material on her arms and legs falls into the same issues as Anne Hathaway’s dress above. Instead of focusing on her assets, Streep just gives into being lost in this dress. Like Hathaway’s dress as well, the straight lines of beads become warped over Streep’s pregnant body, creating rounded lines that would look better straight. In her midsection, the dress manages to make horizontal lines unflattering, and Streep looks much older than she was as the result.
5 Not So Great: Jennifer Garner Looks Like A Salty Bridesmaid
Here is Jennifer Garner at the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, in 2005, while pregnant with her first daughter with husband, Ben Affleck. It’s easy to see what the actress was going for with this tight fitted strapless dress in sophisticated black, Garner is attempting a look that shows off the beauty of her baby bump by hugging every curve.
However, the result is awkward and uncomfortable-looking because of the material and color of the dress. The combination of gathered fabric that wrinkles easily in a very light shade of black that reflects a lot of light, gives the dress the appearance of an old trash bag. Garner looks like she’s attending a sorority party instead of an elite award show.
Not all of the dress is a miss, however. The low-cut strapless bodice is very flattering to Garner’s small and shapely upper body, making her shoulders and neck look very elegant. However, this creates an even greater contrast to her sloppily covered belly, which looks like it’s going to pop out of the badly stretched material. It’s hard not to feel uncomfortable just looking at Garner here, her legs so constrained it’s a wonder she could move at all.
4 Not So Great: But She Missed The Mark On This One
You win some, you lose some. Blake Lively tends to win more than she loses, but this dress, also from her 2016 pregnancy, is a definite loss. The entire style is a bit schizophrenic, from the 90's bathing suit straps around her upper chest, the flapper-esque white pleats reaching her lower calves. The dress is by Emanuel Ungaro, a French designer whose label often makes use of similar floral appliques.
The geometric pattern around her belly looks a lot like Kim Kardashian’s fishnet underlay above and shares a similar problem of making her stomach look trapped and constrained, about to burst out of the dress. The cutouts around her waist also contribute to this effect, making Lively look painfully tied into a dress that’s too small for her. While the rest of her outfit is much more successful - it’s hard not to notice the stunning Louboutins and the immaculate soft curls - but, her midsection is such a frenzy of activity that it, unfortunately, steals the show.
This dress has admittedly divided audiences with as many writers loving it as hating it, but it’s necessary to here separate admiration for the intricate dress itself from how it actually looks on the actress.
3 Not So Great: Britney Spears Took "Casual" Too Literal
This might look like one of those tabloid photos taken when celebrities are out doing their grocery shopping or getting their dry cleaning, but sadly, it is not. This was Britney Spears’ actual outfit choice to the 2005 premiere of the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As it was a children’s movie premiere, the fashion standards were lower than at many Hollywood events where most adults wore suits without tie or sundresses, and even some were jeans-wearers - but Spears looks like she’s taking a trip to Disneyland with this bad joke shirt and awful color combination.
Not many words need to be given to detail why this outfit doesn’t work. Apart from the awful joke (I sort of see how calling your baby a golden ticket implies you've won the Willy Wonka factory tour, but maybe she should get a fashion sense from Veronica Salt, the bronze skirt paired with sky-blue tank top make this look like an outfit pulled together from the dregs of a closet on laundry day. Did she put any effort into this at all? Or is this outfit a symptom of her rapidly declining marriage to Kevin Federline? We may never know, but we can be certain Spears wasn’t setting any trends with this maternity look.
2 Not So Great: Rachel Griffiths Should've Been Kept On The Mantle
It’s not easy to find this photo online of Rachel Griffiths while pregnant, at the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards. Perhaps that’s because it’s such an eyesore. With that unique material and incomprehensible pattern on the hemline, plus the terribly old-fashioned shade of blue, Griffiths looks like she’s ripped apart her grandmother’s couch and turned it into a red carpet gown. Or maybe resurrected a prom dress from the fifties that should have been left gathering dust in the attic. Either way, what was Griffiths thinking wearing this horribly outdated and unflattering gown.
Griffiths is an Australian actress, perhaps best known for her role in the HBO show, Six Feet Under. She has had three children with her husband, Andrew Taylor, an Australian artist. In this photo, Griffiths is undeniably in the later stages of her pregnancy, but nothing necessitates wearing an ankle-length dress in that material trimmed with granny lace. If her goal was to look old she undoubtedly achieved that, but it’s hard to imagine a mother in any era excited to put on this drab garb. Words of wisdom? Avoid crinkly material and excessive lace - both can be aging if not used well, as can be seen here.
1 Not So Great: Charlotte Gainsbourg Is Revealing Her Awkward Shaped Bump
As we have seen so far, sometimes when celebs show off their baby bumps, they’re praised for empowering women and breaking through social norms, whereas other times they’re criticized at large for committing a faux pas. This is not just the two-faced nature of the media. As we can see here, there are some maternity styles that break boundaries without breaking decorum, and some that go just a step too far. As with non-pregnant celebrities, certain standards of propriety are expected to be met at important international events, and sometimes celebrities can be too revealing and risque to look appropriate.
French actress, Charlotte Gainsbourg, is mostly showing off her birthday suit in this photo, taken at the Festival de Cannes, while she was pregnant with her third child. We can see every detail of her bra, arms, belly, and more. The loose tie around the waist and revealing robelike-cut of the dress make it look like Gainsbourg is in a dressing gown rather than an haute couture gown. It all looks like it’s going to unwind in a second and expose everything, even more than it already is. Her outfit makes her look like she forgot several pieces, and paired with her messy bed head creates the impression that she just rolled out of bed and forgot to change out of her night robe.
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