RiRi is rewriting the rules of maternity dressing yet again after showing off her new baby bump during the Super Bowl Halftime Show and the 2023 Oscars.
This article was originally published in February 2022 and has been updated.
Rihanna announced she is pregnant with her second child during her Super Bowl Halftime Show on February 12, 2023, in Loewe and custom Alaïa. And just like her first pregnancy with her now nine-month-old (whose name she and husband A$AP Rocky have kept private) she is not here to play by any prescribed set of rules. And are we surprised? After all, this is the woman who announced her first pregnancy with a street style photoshoot in which she rocked vintage Chanel and a bejewelled baby bump. The viral pictures of Rihanna and A$AP Rocky were a foreshadowing of the jaw-dropping pregnancy style to come.
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And come it did! All of RiRi’s looks throughout 2022 accentuated her baby bump as an accessory that complements her self-expression. It seems that for the fashion killa herself, pregnancy is a welcome style challenge.
If Rihanna is any indication, we’ve officially entered a new era where dressing for pregnancy doesn’t mean you can’t dress for yourself. Here’s a rundown of the mogul’s best maternity-wear ensembles, including outfits from both pregnancies, (plus, how Rihanna’s pregnancy wardrobe plays into the evolution of maternity fashion).
Cropped and casual
Even when RiRi keeps her maternity looks chill, she adds some of her signature styling cues. Case in point: the pregnancy crop top. Just a couple of days after sporting an epic series of outfits at the 2023 Oscars, Rihanna stepped out with ASAP Rocky in a preppy polo and baggy jeans.
Sheer and sparkly
For a performance at the 2023 Oscars, the soon-to-be mom of two selected a custom Margiela ensemble consisting of of a sheer baby doll top that was completely dripping with rhinestones. Rihanna paired the top with embroidered pants and accessorized with black leather opera gloves. She switched out of this non-maternity ’fit and into a mint green Bottega Veneta ensemble, complete with crop top, for the Oscars after-party.
The singer was spotted out and about in Los Angeles on February 6, 2022, looking fly as ever in an all-black hooded outfit. Sporting sunglasses, a zip-up jacket by Carhartt x Wardrobe.NYC and ribbed leggings by The Attico, the look was under the radar but made a statement nonetheless. The main attraction, of course, was the Jean Paul Gaultier lace-up cardigan baring her baby belly (expect to see more of this pregnancy style from Rihanna).
Can we get some commotion for the coat? On February 9, 2022, the beauty mogul stepped out in a fabulously over-the-top vintage Roberto Cavalli patchwork coat with denim, leopard print and fur. She paired it with a fur-trimmed front-tie crop top (of course) and low-rise baggy jeans. The Y2K-reminiscent look was completed with a Dior tie-dye saddle bag, a camo trucker hat from Awake NY and plenty of gold body jewelry. Not to mention, snakeskin Tom Ford heels strapped over her jeans. It’s a look for the fashion history books, right alongside the iconic heart-shaped Saint Laurent fur coat she wore in 2016.
A slinky set
Businesswoman that she is, Rihanna attended a Fenty Beauty x Fenty Skin event on February 12, 2022. Wearing a custom top and pant set by The Attico, the ensemble’s green drape square sequins sit perfectly over her budding baby bump. As for accessories, we’re talking diamonds (and lots of them) — including Chopard drop earrings and a gold and body chain by Jacquie Aiche. A$AP Rocky was also there, admiring her pregnant glow just like the rest of us.
A metallic monochromatic moment
On March 12, 2022 — almost a year before Rihanna announced she was pregnant again at the Super Bowl — Riri celebrated the launch of Fenty Beauty at ULTA Beauty in another monochromatic moment. The “Diamonds” singer wore a custom Coperni crop top and sparkly maxi skirt with equally iridescent eyeliner.
Sheer and sporty
On Super Bowl Sunday 2022, Rihanna showed support for the Los Angeles Rams in a navy blue bomber jacket with yellow faux-fur trim by Balenciaga. She paired the look with a blue headscarf, a sheer tulle button-up by Jetpack hom(m)e and baggy straight-cut jeans. Along with her belly-grazing body chains, she accessorized with several medallions and rings by Briony Raymond.
The star’s viral form-fitting, skin-baring ensembles feel like a fresh take on pregnancy style, and we’d expect nothing less from Rihanna. But while she is a fashion risk-taker in her own right, the evolution of maternity wear has been underway for centuries. From styles that were intended to hide baby bumps to flowy garments to eschewing maternity designs altogether, there’s a long fashion history when it comes to those who are expecting. So how did we get here?
@fashionmagazine What’s your favourite #Rihanna maternity look? #rihannapregnant #rihannastyle #pregnancystyle #fashionhistory ♬ original sound – FASHION Magazine
In an interview, fashion historian Kass McGann told historical fashion YouTuber V. Birchwood that before the modern era, all women’s clothes were maternity clothes. Because clothing took so long to make (we’re talking four years for a shirt), it wasn’t efficient to have pieces made specifically for pregnancy.
According to Elle, it wasn’t until the early 14th century that specific designs were introduced to make clothing more pregnancy-friendly. In the following centuries, adjustable garments like aprons and lace-up panels were added to women’s clothing to accommodate a growing baby bump.
But then, styles became more restrictive. In the 1700s, corsets came into style, and it was common for women to wear them while pregnant. In fact, maternity corsets were a mainstay well into the 1900s.
In the following decades, women’s clothing designs were flowy and doubled as maternity wear that covered and concealed baby bumps. It wasn’t until the 1950s that fashion began to lean into maternity wear, and in the decades that followed, maternity designs included tent dresses and empire waistlines.
In the 1990s, baby bumps were (finally) more normalized, thanks in part to celebrity influence. When a pregnant Demi Moore was featured on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, the controversial release arguably revolutionized how pregnant people were regarded in North American society.
From the ‘90s into the early aughts, designers began to celebrate pregnancy, and more celebrities stepped out in form-fitting maternity wear, like Jada Pinkett Smith at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards in 1998. At this time, expecting celebs wore crop tops, body con silhouettes and babydoll dresses.
Over the past two decades, we’ve seen plenty of statement-making maternity looks — Kim Kardashian’s 2013 Met Gala floral Givenchy number and Emily Ratajkowski’s unbuttoned street-style outing in 2020 come to mind.
Of course, no celebrity’s fashion-forward pregnancy look comes without a little scrutiny from the public. But as we look back at history, there’s no doubt we’ve come a long way. Clearly we have entered the age of personalized pregnancy style. And Rihanna continues to lead the way.