The first time I found out I was pregnant, a mix of emotions came rushing in: shock, excitement, anxiety, joy, fear of the unknown.
I had so many questions. How will my body change? Will I feel sick all the time? How painful is labor and childbirth? And, last but certainly not the least, the alarmed fashionista in me asked: “What will I wear in the next nine months?”
Visions of myself 30 pounds heavier in a dowdy floral baby doll dress brought me into a state of fashion panic!
Seeing a number of my close friends become pregnant made me nostalgic about my own pregnancy adventures.
Having gone through three pregnancies in a span of five years, I have had my fair share of pregnancy fashion hits and misses. With each style choice I made, one goal was atop my priority list: how to look young, stylish and hip as my body transformed into alien proportions.
Sticking to this goal was not always easy. I don’t think anyone can claim to have had an effortless pregnancy. Feelings of fatigue, discomfort, skin changes, body aches and pains matched with a surge of raging hormones pounced on me at once.
There were days all I wanted was to stay home, in my husband’s big old T-shirt, to indulge my cravings for a bowl of coffee crumble ice cream—and not have to put on a fresh face for the world.
So, yes, I will not lie. It is tricky and it does take effort to build a wardrobe and establish a “fool-proof” pregnancy look. There are so many factors a pregnant woman must consider, such as fabrication, silhouette, color, elasticity and comfort. All these we keep in mind while longing to look young and sexy. Nobody wants to look matronly, especially when pregnant.
My first rule of thumb became: flaunt the bump. Instead of trying to hide your belly under big, shapeless clothing, show that you are a confident, sexy and proud mama-to-be in body-skimming dresses.
I found it more practical to shop in local retail brands because the prices were more pocket-friendly. However, buy items in slightly larger size.
At the end of your pregnancy, carefully store all your clothes to save for the next one, or pass on to a pregnant friend or sister.
Accessorize strategically. Because clothing options will be limited, play with jewelry, handbags and shoes to inject a much-needed amount of excitement into your pregnancy uniform. They are the best ways to transform your look. Plus, you will still get to wear them even after pregnancy.
Expose the slimmest parts of your body. This general rule applies all the more when you are pregnant. If your arms have always been an asset, highlight them by wearing sleeveless and shoulder-baring tops and dresses. If your legs are your pride and glory, continue to show them off in shorts and skirts.
It also helps to find some pregnant style icons to look up to. When stuck in a pregnant fashion rut, turn to celebrities on the family way and check out their style choices. That should give you a range of ideas!
I turned to then-pregnant celebrity Heidi Klum for inspiration. Seeing her all stylishly decked out for each “Project Runway” episode or red-carpet event showed me that you don’t need to hide out in a cave while pregnant.
Five not-so basic pregnancy pieces
Here are nontypical pieces that can help you feel hip and young and avoid looking matronly when pregnant:
1. Figure-skimming dresses. Remember, loose clothing can make you appear bigger than you really are. Long or short fluid dresses are life-savers throughout the long nine months. They seamlessly work from day to night and from first to third trimester. Make sure they skim your body just enough, as you will still need the extra room for expansion. Solid jersey fabrics work best. Look out for styles that highlight your new silhouette—tulip skirts, dresses that cinch on a high waist, swing dresses and updated empire styles.
2. Statement but delicate accessories. A pair of eye-catching dangling earrings draw attention to your face. A sparkling necklace becomes a conversation piece. A stack of bangles and cocktail rings makes you look current. A long vertical necklace can elongate your silhouette. I find, however, that too big and bold accessories can be overpowering, given your growing belly. Stick to intricate but delicate accessories.
3. Fitted T-shirts, cover-ups and jackets. Comfy but well-fitting T-shirts teamed up with cover-ups allow ease in layering. Avoid oversized silhouettes so you don’t look frumpy. Sleek and close-fitting is more flattering. Hip jackets still make you look polished and fresh.
4. Wedges or heels. I know I will see eyebrows raising with this one. But, admit it, every pregnant woman still wants to feel sexy. On those days, turn to your favorite pair of heels. It will elongate your silhouette and give you an instant touch of glam. Just be sure you’re not having a delicate pregnancy, and bring a pair of flats for backup.
5. Stylish sandals or flats. While I recommend heels for a jolt of sexiness, one still needs a selection of fashionable and comfortable flats. Build a flat shoe collection to last you the nine months. Choose an embellished pair, a chic ballet shoe, one in gladiator style. You will be surprised at how many looks you are able to conjure with the same clothes by merely a switch in shoes.