6 Types of Formal Maternity Dresses

From chiffon and lace to tulle and velvet, there are formal maternity dresses designed for all stages of pregnancy. If you have a special event coming up, you may be on the lookout for something to wear.

There are several things you’ll want to consider when shopping for the perfect maternity gown. Do you want a form-fitting dress that hugs your bump or a more fluid gown that skims against it? Is the dress appropriate for the season and the dress code? Does the dress offer breathability and a bit of stretch?

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of incredible maternity dress options on the market. Here’s a look at some of the favorite types of formal maternity gowns and what special occasions you should wear them.

Types of Formal Maternity Dresses

Today, formal maternity dresses can be found in a wide range of styles, colors, and materials. Maternity gowns are specifically designed to flatter an expecting woman’s changing body and offer support in all the right places. When shopping for a formal maternity dress, consider the following options:

1. Chiffon Maternity Dress


Chiffon has long been one of the most popular dressmaking fabrics due to its quality, beauty, and drape. This lightweight material is often associated with luxury and elegance as it creates a soft floating appearance. The sheer and shimmering nature of chiffon makes it an alluring choice for a maternity dress, especially for formal occasions.

Silky chiffon was once worn as a sign of status. Today, it can be found at an affordable price in various lengths, styles, and colors. Some dresses offer chiffon skirts that flare out with a train for a dramatic look, such as Chara. This chiffon maternity dress is the perfect choice for an outdoor photoshoot.

Others are princess-like, providing the ideal balance of sophistication and whimsy. Constellation is a great example of a charming evening dress. This formal maternity dress photographs well and can be worn long after you’ve delivered your bundle.

2. Lace Maternity Dress


Lace is a feminine fabric that suggests sweetness and sophistication. It is versatile enough to dress up or down, depending on the occasion, and is a decorative option suitable for nearly any formal event.

This delicate, web-like fabric can be made using a wide range of techniques. Some types of lace are used as trim or accents to simply embellish an existing piece, while other dresses are constructed almost entirely of lace for a visually stunning finish. Today, lace is commonly worn at weddings, photoshoots, and other formal events.

When it comes to lace, you can’t go wrong with vintage lace. Options like the Arwen dress cascade effortlessly over every bump. The swish of the gorgeous lace floats before pooling around the feet.

Some gowns combine several attractive materials. For example, the lace maternity dress Aspen features a sheer embroidered lace bodice with a slight stretch. A chiffon skirt flares out into a full circle and has a gathered front.

3. Satin Maternity Dress

Jolanta 2

Satin is considered one of the three major textile weaves, along with twill and plain weave. A satin maternity dress has a satin weave that creates a soft, shiny, and elastic fabric with a stunning drape.

As the weaves are more flexible than plain weave fabrics, satin has a lustrous finish that is truly unique. The concentration of fibers makes it highly pliable, perfect for flowy formal gowns. It is also fairly wrinkle-resistant and highly durable as the fibers are woven in a taut fashion.

The smooth and glossy look of a maternity satin dress makes it a perfect choice for formal gatherings. The Basilia gown is one such option that will surely make you stand out from the crowd. The floor-length satin dress is suitable for both maternity and non-maternity use.

When it comes to photoshoots, you’ll likely want a maternity photoshoot dress that makes a dramatic impact. This is exactly what you can expect with the Jolanta gown, a floor-length satin dress with a long train that goes airborne when it catches the wind.

4. Knit Maternity Dress


Knit fabrics are typically lightweight, require minimal care, and are comfortable to wear for extended periods. They are also wrinkle resistant and available in a variety of fabric types, such as jersey knit, purl knit, double knit, and raschel knit.

If you’re looking for a maternity dress that offers plenty of stretch, a maternity knitted dress is an excellent choice. Knitwear can stretch in all directions, meaning you can wear a form-fitted formal maternity dress that does not constrict movement. Knit maternity dresses also offer great breathability, a must-have in the warmer months of the year.

Sweet and simple, Charlotte is an excellent example of a solid knit maternity dress made well. This charming mermaid maternity gown features off-the-shoulder sleeves and an eye-catching long tail.

5. Tulle Maternity Dress

Moxie 2

While tulle fabric is commonly associated with ballerina tutus and wedding veils, this versatile fabric can be seen in a wide range of attire. Tulle is a fine mesh material that is soft, lightweight, and delicate. It offers some elasticity for optimal comfort, and depending on its strength, allows for delicate embroidery.

If you’re searching for a tulle maternity dress, you’ll likely find gowns with multiple layers of tulle to create soft, flowy skirts. However, tulle can also be added to collars, sleeves, and even the bodice of dresses. Tulle is commonly used as a lining for lace and other loosely woven fabrics to provide support while remaining invisible. It can also be used under sequin or beaded mesh fabrics to provide stability.

The Moxie dress incorporates tulle in a luxurious and sophisticated way. With layers of soft and fluffy tulle that swishes and sways with every movement, this gown gives texture and dimension to any look. As the dress can be used for both maternity and non-maternity photoshoots, you can continue to enjoy it long after your pregnancy.

6. Velvet Maternity Dress

Amelie Red

Velvet has long been associated with luxury. This soft, smooth, and shiny fabric has a high-end feel and appearance that makes it the perfect textile for any elevated maternity dress design.

Velvet is particularly popular for evening wear and gowns for special occasions. Depending on the preferred style, a velvet maternity dress may consist of a variety of velvet types, such as crushed velvet, embossed velvet, penne velvet, stretch velvet, or pile-on-pile velvet.

With its high breathability, velvet is warm, comfortable, and airy all at the same time. It also has strong moisture-wicking properties, making it suitable for all types of weather. The Amelie dress is a best-seller and the ultimate maternity photoshoot dress. This long, velvet gown features a full-circle skirt, stylish V-neck, and off-the-shoulder bishop sleeves.

Where to Wear a Formal Maternity Dresses

Pregnancy can be an amazing journey but finding the right maternity wear can pose certain difficulties. Different types of events call for different attire but regardless of the occasion, it’s important to dress comfortably in a gown that reflects your personal style.

Here’s a look at the most common uses of maternity dresses:

Special Occasion

Throughout your pregnancy, you may be invited to a variety of formal events that require you to dress up. With a growing baby bump, you may find it challenging to find a dress that comfortably hugs your new curves and provides enough stretch to prevent restricted movement.

Some special occasions you may be attending during pregnancy include:

  • Baby Shower – Whether it’s your own or someone else’s, you’ll want to look your absolute best while attending a baby shower. A stretch lace boho style gown like the Ashley dress provides ample room for your bump and accentuates your curves.
  • Wedding – If you plan on hosting your wedding during your pregnancy, you may be on the lookout for a maternity wedding gown. The Aster dress features a sheer embroidered lace bodice with an ivory and champagne chiffon skirt, a lovely gown for any expecting bride.
  • Formal Events – You may find yourself on the guest list of other formal events during your pregnancy, such as a business gathering, gala, art show, ball, or ceremony. Look beautiful and feel confident at any formal event in a gown like the Serene dress, a vintage lace gown with a mermaid flutter bottom.

Maternity Photoshoot


As you’ll be looking back on your maternity photos for many years, it’s understandable that you want to choose the perfect dress. The style and color of the gown can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of the photographs.

You may even want to bring several dresses along to try out different outfits in different locations. If your partner and/or children will be joining the photoshoot, you’ll also want to consider how you can best coordinate your outfits.

A neutral option like the Story dress can complement any backdrop. This full-length lace maternity gown features beautifully crafted lace, long chiffon open sleeves, and a gathered neckline.

Shop Maternity Dresses at J&L Designs Boutique

J&L Designs Boutique specializes in stunning maternity dresses and gowns for baby showers, maternity photoshoots, weddings, pregnancy reveals, and other formal occasions. Shop our selection of formal maternity dresses today and arrive at your event feeling and looking incredible.