Welcome to Maternity Monday! Fear not: for the bump-free and the ‘no intention of being with bump any time soon’, normal service shall resume tomorrow. We’ve just come over a little bit pregnancy today. Call it the Kate Middleton effect. This is the first of three special posts: come back soon for an indispensable beauty guide from the brilliant Grace Timothy – beauty editor/guru and writer of the fabulous The Pregnant Beauty Guide. But, first up, because style is a subject so very dear to my heart (as my bank balance knows to its cost), I bring you the W&W guide to dressing your bump.
You’re pregnant? Congratulations! You are about to embark upon the best adventure ever. You are also about to embark upon Wardrobe Confusion.
Fancy looking like this?
Then avoid doing what I did when first pregnant, and temporarily forget how you actually dress. If you never wear pattern/dresses/a blazer over leather leggings/dunagrees, why on earth would you do so now?
I think of this when I see pictures of Kate Middleton (I cannot for the life of me remember to call her the Duchess of Cambridge. She looks exactly like a Kate Middleton to me) with her teeny weeny baby bump, attired in neat coats and wrap dresses. Now this is all very well and good for K-Middy – her default style setting is wrap dress (or variation thereof) with LK Bennett heels. But me? I had never worn a wrap dress before in my life.But at three months’ pregnant, without even looking pregnant, I bought a wrap-style dress. it was purple (I don’t wear purple); below the knee (I am too short to carry off below-the-knee frocks); it was perfectly nice. It just wasn’t me.
Lesson one: to thine own self be true. Adapt your style to fit your growing bump.
Further word to the wise: don’t rush into purchasing for your bump before you know what it’s going to look like. You can probably adapt a lot of what you already own (at least for the first trimester and possibly the second).
When I was about two months pregnant, I bought a fabulous maternity summer dress. (Never shop under the influence of horrid morning sickness, btw.) It was lovely. Except, come the summer, I was five months’ pregnant with a not-very-big bump which could be contained by my existing clothes. Basically, I just looked a bit fat. (Before you roll your eyes and log off, please note that I had morning sickness for seven out of nine months. Which was fun.) The lovely dress went unworn (until my gorgeous friend Fiona went to visit her parents during an Australian summer when the temperature hovered around 40 degrees – where said dress came in jolly handy).
Lesson two: do not advance purchase. I have friends who looked pregnant almost immediately, and others who looked like they’d had a large meal at seven months pregnant. You never know.
Lesson three: you don’t need much. Because you’ll probably want to burn everything come the end of your pregnancy (or at the very least put it away and not even think about it for a very long time. A bit like sex. (Possibly.)
Lesson four: you can wear (some of) what you’d usually wear – just size up. I refer to basics here: vest, t-shirts, leggings (you can buy maternity leggings, I just wore normal leggings below the bump). Buy long vests which you can layer under pretty, floaty/structured a-line (whatever works for you) tops when you first start showing.
Here’s the W&W, tried and tested guide to what we think you DO need. Budget and blow-out options included.
You need these. Find the right pair and you will worship them. Personally, being of a short persuasion, I say: think skinny all the way. It’ll balance out your bump nicely. (Note: when buying maternity clothes, buy your pre-pregnancy size. I KNOW this sounds obvious, but I had to ask, so I figure, let’s cover all bases.) Alex and I found Topshop offered by the far the best option on the high street (although do try Gap if you hanker after a less skinny fit). If you’re not averse to cash-splashing (or have the kind of job where you can, if you wish, wear jeans every day), a clever option is to head to Trilogy – where they will add stretchy panels to a normal pair of jeans, then remove them again when you’ve finished being preggers. Genius. Or just buy this gorgeous pair of J Brands from Donna Ida.
2. Black trousers which look good and work with pretty much everything
Mine were from good Toppers – they became my end-of-pregnancy essentials, as they are comfortable and chic (a to-be-treasured combo); so much so I wore them in the days after I had C (they’re excellent if you end up having a c-section, as the waistband is soft). On the website, I spy the Leigh jeans in black for a bargainous £38 – which are pretty much the same thing. I’d buy them in a heartbeat.
Alternatively, I give you this gem from Isabella Oliver – thick, hold-you-in, fab quality, heavy jersey treggings. (Bad word. Good trousers.) Will also save you buying maternity leggings – just wear these. (Also brilliant for the first weeks post-pregnancy, I would imagine.) For kicking around the house/kneeling on the floor playing with toddlers, check out H&M‘s maternity leggings for a mere £7.99).
Seraphine‘s perfectly simple, perfectly French black skinny jeans would also do the job nicely.
3. The Right Bra
This will not be the hottest underwear you will ever wear.
It will, however, be really, really supportive and yet gentle (you’re told to eschew underwires when pregnant). You may even want to sleep in one (even those who have never really been troubled by any kind of bosom can find themselves troubled in this area. One of my friends said the first inkling that she might be pregnant came when she woke up thinking how much it hurt to sleep on her front). The basic version is quite possibly the least sexy item of bed attire ever, but it will render sleeping more comfortable. And for that you will love it. Do try and get one you can use after the birth for nursing purposes. Jojo Maman Bebe and Seraphine are great go-to brands for this.
One of my top pregnancy dressing tips came from Alex, who told me to get myself to a good lingerie department (try Selfridges, John Lewis, Fenwicks, House of Fraser for a variety of brands – or Marks and Spencer), get measured and buy a really nice maternity bra (which will also work for nursing). Elle Macpherson has pretty much corned the market in gorgeous maternity underwear, in my humble opinion.
4. If you’re a dress type, a couple of great dresses will see you through.
You don’t have to buy a maternity dress per se. One of the girls I worked with at Easy Living, who has always rocked a great line in vintage chic, sourced a couple of 70’s dresses from etsy (and very chic she looked, too). I like the look of this Zara number…
If I was going to buy a maternity dress, then, obviously, it would involve stripes. If you can’t hide it, flaunt it. (Do also check out Isabella Oliver for ultra flattering (unless you are short, like me) maternity black pencil skirts, which would go with everything.) This one from Isabella Oliver is so great it almost makes me want to be pregnant again. (Almost.)
You may have a pregnancy-dressing SOS moment e.g. ‘OMG I have to get dressed up and I thought this pre-preggers dress would fit but it doesn’t and I have NO TIME to shop before the weekend. And I don’t want to spend zillions on a dress I will only wear twice, I want to buy CUTE BABY CLOTHES’. Cue meltdown. In which case, ASOS maternity is a one-stop saviour shop.
5. Do allow yourself a pretty top
It will cheer you up on frumpy bump days. Just layer over a long vest. Any of these would work a treat. I’m afraid none of these could be called budget options.
I must mention Tucker blouses. The prints are beautiful and the shape lends itself perfectly to bump-chic. The very stylish girl I jobshare with wore her Tucker blouses over a long vest when preggers – and very nice she looked, too.
6. Channel Miranda and think open jacket…
….coat, long-line cardigan, whatever. Head to Zara, Uniqlo, Cos and Hush – or try The White Company for long-line, fine knit cardigans if, like Alex, you have an addiction to such items. In fact, ‘channel Miranda’ might not be the worst bump-dressing mantra to adopt altogether.
Images: Topshop, Donna Ida, Trilogy, House of Fraser, Jojo Maman Bebe, Asos, net-a-porter, whistles, Isabella Oliver