When Rihanna revealed her pregnancy to the world, fans erupted in unbridled joy. The singer and Barbadian hero, who is notoriously quiet about her private life, announced in January that she and boyfriend A$AP Rocky are expecting their first child.
In a joint photoshoot with A$AP, RiRi debuted what would later become her signature maternity look: a bare baby bump. In this instance it was framed by a bright pink puffer coat from Karl Lagerfeld’s 1996 fall collection for Chanel, pale jeans and layers of bejeweled chains.
In the weeks since, Rihanna has continued to proudly display her growing bump. She has eschewed previous maternity style trends set by the Kardashians (think: bodycon dresses) or flowy, bump-skimming dresses worn by other celebrities. In true RiRi fashion, the 34-year-old has thrown the rules right out the window.
Rihanna’s first appearance since she announced her pregnancy saw her in a laced-front top, complete with a sleek balaclava, bomber jacket and stilettos. Accessories included Jacquie Aiche gold chains that dangled in front of her stomach and ultra-futuristic sunglasses even though she was photographed in a parking lot. Because, why not? If anyone could pull it off, it’s Rihanna.
Since the announcement, the Diamonds singer has rarely been seen with her belly covered up, winning praise from fans and stylists who have hailed her rejection of regular maternity wear and have called the fact that she’s embracing her growing bump as an accessory instead of a hindrance to her personal style as “inspiring”.
It’s rubbing off on other celebrities too. Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell, who is expecting her second child with partner Matte Babel, recently put her baby bump on display as she headed to Drake’s Super Bowl LVI party earlier this month. She appeared to take a leaf out of Rihanna’s book by styling her bump with a twisted white crop top, low-rise blue jeans, and sparkly body jewellery that draped down her neck and over her growing belly.
Celebrity personal stylist Marian Kwei, who is also the editor-in-chief of Story Magazine, says Mitchell was quick on Rihanna’s “bump-step” to get in on the trend and expects many other pregnant women to be “dressing up and around their baby bumps from now on”.
Kwei also notes that by foregoing the traditional celebrity maternity shoot, which usually involves highly-stylised editorial pictures with body paint, balloons, butterflies and flowers, Rihanna has shown that “maternal style need not be stereotypically ‘maternal’.”
“Rihanna’s maternity style can be best described as ‘dressing up the bump’,” she tells The Independent. “She is not dressing around the bump, which is what we mere mortals do when we become pregnant. She is making a moment out of her bump.”
Kwei predicts that in the coming months, as Rihanna’s bump grows, her maternity looks will “continue to boldly scream, ‘Yes I’m pregnant and I’m having a ball’”.
LA-based stylist Cassandra Dittmer, who has styled the likes of Laura Dern and Bebe Rexha, added that Rihanna’s maternity style is true to her pre-pregnancy style, which she described as a “modern and chic approach to street style, with a bonus of glam sprinkled on top”.
Rihanna’s look when she stepped out in Los Angeles on 9 February encapsulates this. She sported a brown tie-front crop top and baggy low-rise blue jeans with Tom Ford heels strapped over the hem. The look was topped off with a denim and leopard print coat, a camouflage baseball cap, a Dior tie-dyed saddle bag and gold body jewellery.
But not even Rihanna is immune to insecurity about her changing body. In a rare red carpet interview during the Fenty Beauty Universe Event in Los Angeles last week, the singer said: “Usually when I’m on the red carpet, my tummy’s a little big. It’s a problem.”
Interviewer Terri Seymour said now that Rihanna was pregnant, she doesn’t “have to hide it”, to which the Grammy winner responded: “Crop top season, let it all out.”
Rihanna’s wholehearted embrace of her changing body is a reminder that “there are no rules in fashion”, Dittmer says.
“Wear what excites you and what feels expressive to your individual authenticity,” she advises pregnant mums-to-be. “Something interesting I’ve noticed and have been seeing is mums opting out of maternity wear and sizing up in the brands and pieces they normally wear.
“I think Rihanna’s maternity style will encourage mums to embrace and love their changing bodies and make them curious and excited about playing around with new styles or trends to dress up their bumps.”
Kwei agrees and adds that the exposed baby bump trend showed that maternity has come a long way from “the dreaded land of dreary maternity fashion of yesteryear”.
“Rihanna shows that pregnant women need not wilt into wallflowers just because they are expecting but that they can continue to kill it as it were with their personal style as they were doing just before they were pregnant,” she says.
So how can pregnant mums channel their inner Rihanna and style their bumps? The key lies in doing away with the notion that the bump has to be “dressed around”, Kwei says.
“We spend hours searching for the perfect cut of jean or trousers that suits a bump and the like. Rihanna shows we need not care,” she advises.
“If anything let all your looks [exaggerate] the fact that you are pregnant. Is that crop top showing your bump in all her glory? Yes indeed! Wear it! Does that dress have cut outs at the sides of your midriff? Wonderful! Throw it in your shopping basket!
“Pregnant mums shouldn’t shy away from their everyday style just because they are pregnant. Use accessories like chains and necklaces like Rihanna to dress up baby bump. Have fun with it.”