Kate Middleton influences maternity wear style in Norwich

Get the look: Kate Middleton. Black print maternity shift dress £39, JoJo Maman Bebe.

Get the look: Kate Middleton. Black print maternity shift dress £39, JoJo Maman Bebe. - Credit: Archant

Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian have divided opinion on what constitutes a stylish maternity look so much so that it is not always wise to trust the fashion rules that dictate your style, says EMMA HARROWING.

When it comes to dressing your baby bump there are two fashion-led looks for 2013.

After the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton announced she was pregnant there was even more interest in what she would wear (if this is possible) as her bump got bigger and she gets into the throes of that blooming stage.

Kate has stuck to her signature style. Neat, tailored dresses and coats that have a bit more room in them (thanks to clever tailoring) for her baby to grow. She has also stuck to her shopping regime of mixing and matching couture and designer with high street, as she has been reported as wearing maternity wear from Topshop.

Many fashion experts insist that sticking to your usual style is the best way to look your best throughout your pregnancy. In practice this can go spectacularly wrong. Kim Kardashian's continuing trend-led approach to maternity wear that has included a short, body con leather dress and a pair of snakeskin peplum trousers that have not flattered her curvy figure in the slightest.

Yet experimenting with different looks is what most mums-to-be try as they struggle to fit into their usual clothes.

When my friend Lucy was pregnant with her second child, Bertie now three weeks old, fashion became second fiddle to practicality.

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'I lived in leggings the entire time,' says Lucy. 'For at least half of both my pregnancies I felt so sick so I didn't want to wear anything tight around my tummy. I invested in a proper maternity coat with Bertie's pregnancy as was going to be biggest during the colder months, but last time I tried to avoid buying one.'

Although she admits that it would've been easy to wear a huge tent and cover up until her baby was born, Lucy did keep her astounding sense of being able to look uber stylish through accessorising. Even though she wore leggings and a oversized top she still managed to coordinate her necklace and bracelet with her shoes and bag.

Keeping a sense of yourself throughout your pregnancy is just as important as feeling comfortable. Gone are the days when the smock would cover up your shapely pregnancy body and gone is the time when you would just wear your partner's shirt or clothes a few sizes up. These days maternity wear mimics current trends, but with slightly more room around the tummy and bust.

With maternity wear sections in shops and dedicated maternity and baby wear stores such as stalwart Mothercare and new shop on the Norwich block JoJo Maman Bebe in the Back of the Inns, there is an increasing amount of choice on the high street as well as online.

Lucy looks slightly perplexed when I tell her about this new wave of maternity wear. Practically, she tells me, it's difficult to shop for maternity wear as you never know how big your bump, or your bust is going to grow, making maternity wear a bit pricey for something that you will only wear for a few weeks or months. This thought is echoed by my pregnant colleague who is getting a 'hand-me-down' maternity wardrobe from one of her friends who was pregnant a few years ago.

Both, however, agree that you should wear what you want - within reason. A changing body shape could mean that your usual style does not suit you anymore, well for a while at least. Use this as an excuse to reinvent your look and grab a few new pieces to boot.

And as for Kim Kardashian, who has the money to splash out on a whole new wardrobe to dress her ever-expanding bump and curvy body shape, maybe she should wear what she feels comfortable in whether that is leather, snakeskin or a short hem length. However, I couldn't help breathing a sigh of relief when she was pictured wearing a more demure knee length dress with bat wing sleeves to the MTV awards this week. The dress balanced out her curves and flattered her baby bump while still looking fashionably stylish. Maybe she has finally found her maternity wear chic.