Even for a fashion designer maternity style can be riddled with anxiety and frustration! I’m currently expecting my first child and although I’m bursting with excitement, I’ve also literally burst out of my wardrobe. Dressing in the morning, which was once an expression of my style aesthetic, has become a stress inducing chore. As I navigate my own pregnancy style challenges, presented with an ever-changing body and growing baby bump, I wanted to draft a guide with the basic do's and don'ts which worked from personal experience and took the anxiety out of maternity dressing with style.
WHEN IT’S TOO SOON TO EMBRACE THE BUMP
Each trimester brings unique fashion challenges. The first is usually keeping your (super exciting!) pregnancy under wraps. Many women don't want to divulge their growing secret until at least the second trimester. In my experience, most maternity clothes have too much fabric for your barely there bump. During this transitional stage, I stretched my regular wardrobe by using a hair tie looped over the pant button and through the buttonhole. I wore my regular jeans (with stretch) till about 4 months!
I also recommend a Belly Band that you can place over the waistband of your pants that will no longer button or zip. The band will keep your pants up, no one will know they're unbuttoned, and it has a smoothing effect.
I will sing prints’ praises (Oprah style) at the top of my lungs any day! Printed tops and dresses help distract from parts of your body you may be self-conscious about. Horizontal stripes can even be slimming! For example, I chose a neutral color camo print for our Maia Top and Gaia Dress because it’s a classic everyday print that goes with anything you already own.
DON’T EXPERIMENT WITH A NEW STYLE AESTHETIC DURING PREGNANCY
Choose the styles and colors that best fit your personality and make you feel great! If you love (or have) to wear two-piece suits to work, there are many fabulous and affordable options. If you were not comfortable wearing hosiery pre-pregnancy, you don’t have to start wearing them now. It’s challenging enough to dress to your (daily) evolving shape – no need to add more complications! (This segways rather nicely into the next pointer …)
MATERNITY FASHION BASICS
Start slowly and work your way up, selecting clothes that will work well together. For your first pieces, try to stick with basics that will go with everything. Black leggings, denim jeans, and a short cotton interlock skirt are a few ideas for basic bottoms that allow creative combinations with any color or print top. Or, if you prefer to wear your tops as your basics, try a white or classic French blue button-down oxford, a denim shirt, or a solid color cotton/stretch tunic top. Layering button-down shirts over t-shirts is a classic look, pregnant or not!
STAY AWAY FROM NON-STRETCH BOTTOMS
Style is great, but comfort is key when pregnant! Some of my favorite maternity denim is from Madewell, their wash and cut variations are comparable to non-maternity. You won’t feel like you’re missing the style beat one bit. Motherhood Maternity has some great budget-friendly options as well.
A good pointer on maternity clothes: select your pre-pregnancy size. Actually, all maternity clothes are designed this way. After all, your arms and legs don’t get longer, and your basic body structure will remain the same. Well-made maternity clothes give you the extra room only where you need it - belly, bust, hips, and arm holes - while maintaining the pre-pregnancy proportions of each size range.
No fashion trickery flatters the body more than layering. It works on so many levels - cutting a slim silhouette by narrowing your proportions and adding comfort since the extra layers make you feel less exposed. Alicia does it well by draping a dark jacket over a light blouse.
I had layering in mind when designing the Maia Top. The modesty flap helps break up the long shape of a growing baby bump especially in the last trimester. Paired with a sharp jacket or cardigan it becomes a top you can’t live without, chic and practical!
THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKIN’
Insider maternity style hack: over-the-knee boots. This sounds unusual, however, if you are showing during fall and winter as I did, thigh-high suede boots saved my fashion designer street cred! I have been wearing all my maternity staples such as dresses with black tights, skirts, leggings, and jeans with the black suede thigh-highs. They extenuated my slim thighs (compared to my rotund belly) and added the element of “fashion”. I purchased a couple of pairs ranging from higher-end Stuart Weitzman's, to every day casuals from Zara. Prime example below, chic and effortless mama-to-be style:
Think of it as permanent style investments and not just a pregnancy splurge, since over-the-knee boots are here to stay.
INSPIRATION IS EVERYTHING
As a fashion designer, I look for inspiration everywhere when designing a new collection. This has also helped evolve my personal style. The more you are exposed to, the more creativity flows, especially when it comes to putting together stylish and flattering looks. Some of my favorite websites like Nine In The Mirror, Net-A-Porter, and The Hatch are a great inspirational resources for pairing clothes you already own in new creative ways. I also love falling down a deep Pinterest hole while searching for “pregnancy style.” Inspiration for days!
...on quality! Most women do not purchase more pieces than they need for the term of their pregnancy. They wear the same pants and tops over and over. This usually means repeated washing or cleaning. You don’t want to see your favorite pair of leggings unravel before your eyes, which is the downside to poorly manufactured clothes. The key is to look for the best quality in what you need as you go, and to make all the pieces work together.
Looking your best will make you feel great, and feeling great is what it’s all about. Best wishes for a healthy and happy pregnancy!
MAIA MODA Co-Founder