Since Mother’s Day is approaching, this 1907 article about maternity fashions from the Ladies’ Home Journal seems appropriate. I accessed this article through ProQuest. The images were very faint and the text hard to read, so I have enhanced them.
A surprise on the same page was this 1907 advertisement for a “book” of maternity skirts, from Beyer and Williams Co., which could be purchased “made to order.” Lane Bryant is usually thought of as creating this niche market.
Back to the maternity patterns and advice available from Ladies’ Home Journal:
The bodice was “designed by R.C. Pond,” the skirt by E. L. Phelps, and the drawings were by Anna W. Speakman. [Sometimes the ProQuest search terms are yellow-highlighted so thoroughly that the word is obscured.]
Maternity clothing should be “inconspicuous in color, dark blue and black being preferable.” “Albatross” fabric could be worsted or cotton.
The bodice was adjustable:The inner lining or foundation was tightly fitted, but laced up on each side of the front, so it could expand as needed. The fashion fabric was pleated and it also expanded. How it was possible to maintain the fashionable S-curve silhouette is not discussed.
Although the pattern was sold in waist sizes from 24 to 30 inches, the skirt could expand as much as fourteen inches at the waist and more at the hip.
Undergarments were also important; there is an emphasis on light-weight fabrics, since the usual layers of ruffled petticoats of 1907 could be heavy enough to cause a backache, even if the wearer was not pregnant.
As an expanding abdomen lifted the skirt in front, the entire flounce could be lowered. From what I have seen, this problem was completely ignored by maternity dresses in the 1930’s.
There is the expectation that, after the baby is born, its mother will want to continue wearing these garments — they can be returned to her pre-baby size. Of course, most women probably did resort to wearing a “wrapper” housedress during the later months.