The key to preggo chic? Creativity. Effort. And the commitment to pushing the sartorial envelope even as you feel your breakfast rising in your throat.
THE NUMBER ONE MISTAKE PREGNANT WOMEN MAKE? Nothing frumpifies more than oversized clothing and lack of proportion. With the arrival of your bodacious bump, volume control is the key to a balanced, chic look. Some guidelines? If it’s big on top, it should be narrow on bottom. If it is narrow on top, you can add some volume with a skirt or wide legged pant. Skirts and dresses should be above the knee or sweeping the ground to elongate the body. Legs are slimmed and lengthened with black tights and a boot or heels. Big blouses are countered with fitted skirts or tapered trousers. Tailoring is critical. The A, B, Cs of proportion and balance:
- BALANCING ACT: it’s big on top, it should be narrow on bottom.
- BLACK OUT: Slimming black should always be your anchor color.
- GET HIGH! Elongate your shape by adding a heel
- WAISTED: Give shape to baggy sweaters, tops dresses with above or below the belly belt.
- REIGN KING: Use bra length necklaces and sassy belts to reign in sack like knee length dresses. These accessories add shape to amorphous garments
- SLIM SHADY: Dark leggings are the perfect counterpoint to a blousy shirtdress
OUT OF THE BOX SHOPPING TIPS
- THE POOR (WO) MANS VERSACE A distant cousin of ready-to-wear, swimwear is home to explosively colored, blouson friendly apparel. Less flashy and far less expensive than ready to wear, these no- name bathing suit “cover ups” can do double duty as pregnancy apparel. Filene’s Basement is filled with tunics that feel like Matthew Williamson and bejeweled linen caftans that smack of Tory Burch. Marshall’s swirly, candy colored Muu-Muu was a dead ringer for Versace.
- GRANNY’S CLOSET/SWAP MEETS/FLEA MKTS For ardent lovers of drama and kitsch, vintage emporiums are the ultimate destination. The one off vintage pieces—a hot pink Courreges shift dress, a sugar spun Galanos chiffon frock, a June Cleaver type lizard handbag—are the Adds Ons and Wow Factor that will help you and your belly basics stand out in a skinny jean and platform heel wearing crowd. And, now that the “green” movement is in full swing, it should be noted that vintage clothing and accessories are environmentally friendly in that they are, more or less, recycled garments. The starting point is always paying a visit to grandmamma (weekend tote in hand) and raiding her closet for old school goodies. As you tell her what an iconic matriarch she has been to your family, swoop as many eye catching accents—brooches, belts, necklaces, reptilian bags, shawls-into your tote as possible. I am sure that she will be delighted to contribute to the birth of her grandchild’s sense of style. If you can’t get to Granny (or the wackadoodle Auntie Mame in your family) swap meets, flea markets, thrift stores and vintage emporiums are manna for the mama to be.
INSTEAD OF SHOPPING, THE PREGNANTISTA CAN CREATIVELY REWORK EXISTING WARDROBE STAPLES into something entirely new and groovy.
- BELTS AS NECKLACES When shimmering chain belts can no longer circle your girth, pop them over your head for flashy Versace looking necklaces. Tie belts can also be worn as lariat necklaces.
- INNERWEAR AS RTW: Underpinnings give major look for minor dough. A bias cut slip layered with a belted cardigan and funky jewelry offers Desperately Seeking Susan meets Mrs. Robinson cache. How to get the look? Make a pit stop at some of your chic septuagenarian relatives homes and mine their lingerie drawers. Nab gauzy nightgowns, caftans, “bed jackets” and slips. Flea markets and vintage shops are nightgown nirvana. Roomy black satin slips make comfy chic dresses. Bias cut long nighties, especially those with interesting swirls of color or prints, make glam cocktail frocks. Little Pucci-esque robes can be belted and worn with a heel. Also, combining lingerie with something more structured like a knit or jacket adds polish to the look.
- DRESSES AS TUNICS Don’t pack up the floaty, easy- to- wear shift dresses of trimester one when your stomach balloons. Go with the flow and sport your new dresses- as- tunics with pride. Just add leggings, a ballet flat, wedge or boot and you have an entirely new and most functional garment.
- SKIRTS AS DRESSES My bodacious bod gave me a sense of wild abandon. Case in point? I had been wearing my favorite heather grey DKNY maxi skirt below my belly with a men’s white “wife beater” tank top. The tank became too small (or, I became too big) but I was not ready to 86 the soft skirt from my fashion repertoire. I yanked it (it had a stretchy waistband) over my engorged boobs and found that I was now in possession of a swingy new trapeze dress. I layered on beads (it was summer) and wore that skirt as dress throughout my pregnancy and well into Merry Momdom. This hiked- over- engorged-boobs concept can be applied to any too- tight skirt with an elastic waistband. Examples? A to the knee vintage MISSONI skirt becomes a festive cocktail frock. A black, lycra mini skirt doubles as tube top. A maxi skirt becomes a mini dress.
- COATS AS DRESSES The popular designer Kate Spade built her fantabulous retro pregnancy look around cropped jackets and vintage (tweed, leopard, woven jacquard) coats that she wore as dresses. Her trick? Removing the buttons from the garments, crossing them over in the front and fastening the fabric with an oversized brooch or two. The kooky brooches were the statement piece. She pulled the look together with tights (often colored), boots and/or heels and a colorful bag. Note: Coats must be mid thigh.
THE HIGH ART OF SUPER-ACCESSORIZING: HOW TO USE ACCESSORIES AS TOOLS
- SHOES: A heel visually lengthens your silhouette and, in turn balances out your tummy enhanced proportion. Loafers, lace ups or any rubber soled shoes that could double as your octogenarian grandmother’s orthotics are verboten. And, sneakers are in the same category as sweat pants. Absolutely never, ever wear sneakers unless you are headed to the gym. You don’t need five inch Carrie Bradshaw stilettos. But, with the watermelon in your belly, height will balance out the bulge, elongate your body and add that soupcon of glamour that transforms dumpy to diva. You will have the most stability with mid range stacked heels, wedges and kitten heels. Even cowboy boots offer a great look and excellent support.
- BELTS Pregnancy is the optimal time to discover the joys of belting. If you have a yen for fashion, you will notice that, on the runway, designers use belts to express “directionality”, or, mood of their collection. Skinny belts feel demure. Chain belts feel sporty. Thicker belts reflect a harder edge. A macramé or leather tie belt screams Boho. Aside from being decorative, belts are a functional style element that can make or break a look. A flashy belt below the belly is a way to draw attention to your sumptuous bump and away from other areas that you may not be so fond of at the moment. A stretchy belt can be used below the bra line to create an empire waist. And, a thin leather belt can be added over a cardigan to add polish.
- JEWELRY: Baubles are the easiest way to make a basic outfit pop. Eclectic accents-think a bunch of Indian bangles, a chain belt, cool Tibetan pendants, adds a provocative element to your look. A vintage magnifying glass dangling from a belly button length gold chain electrify that simple black dress and cardigan A chocolate brown wrap dress becomes an IT GIRL ensemble with onyx beads, a knuckle duster of a cocktail ring, fish nets over opaque tights and black boots. Black and white M&M shaped beads and a fringed lime green shawl give the black sweater and pencil runway appeal. For a soupcon of le snob, don an armful of candy colored Hermes (or a flea market knockoff) bangles.
CHEAT SHEET: TIPS ON ELONGATING YOUR BODY
- Add verticality: longer, open cardigans, dangly long scarves, a flowy shawl make one look taller
- Shorter hemlines, especially for shorter women, accent the legs and add height.
- Darker colors are more slimming
- An open neckline-V necks, scoop necks and plunging necklines -slims explosive bust and gives the illusion of a longer neck
- To the knee boots (not calf length), slim and give the appearance of lengthening the leg
- Longer pants or trousers (that partially cover the shoe) impart a slimming, vertical line
- If you are wearing baggy clothing, reign in extra fabric with a belt and/or long. Layered necklaces
- Heels lengthen the legs and glamorize most looks.
- Pointy toes make you look taller
- Long necklaces lengthen the torso. Chokers make the neck look short and squat.
- Avoid Shiny fabrics. They attract light to all the wrong places which adds pounds
- Wear Tights that match a dress and boot
MUST HAVE: VINTAGE ACCESSORIES– Nothing says “wow!” like an unidentifiable (as in, “OMG! That brooch is amazing! Is it early Saint Laurent?”) retro accent. Accessories are an easy, inexpensive entry point to vintage. They supply that glam little touch that elevates mere clothing to “a look”. A quirky woven leather and gold belt gives shape to drapey silhouettes. A huge tribal medallion adds panache to a dark caftan. Chain belts deliver polish to a shirt dress and can be adjusted by changing the link closure. Sleek old school logo belts,-think Dior and Gucci from the 70s-are a whimsical under the bump flourish. Forget dainty pendants and prissy stud earrings. Jewelry should mirror the bravado of your bump. Bold baubles—cuff bracelets, gold chains, chandelier earrings-amplify your style quotient. Ethnic touches like, say, Masai micro beaded bracelets, Indian bangles, wooden cuffs and massive beaded necklaces are unadulterated global glitz. Color and contrast is achieved by adding pops of print and color with scarves and shawls. Sport them traditionally around the neck or trailing artfully over one shoulder. Scarves also make perfect Obi belts (over pregnancy jean panel) or sexy back baring halter top. And, fur, faux or the real deal, is a most chicifying accent. A swingy Kate Mossifying leopard jacket for evening is pure Old Hollywood.
THE FAUX GLOW Great skin requires a quality skin care regime that encourages cellular turnover: frequent exfoliation, hydration and Spf application. But, what worked pre-pregnancy, may not work now. Step one? Evaluate your products and avoid the host of contraindicated ingredients for pregnancy. Avoid topical kojic acid, Vitamin A, retinoids, glycolic, alpha hydroxyl, beta hydroxyl, salicylic acid hydroquinone. These ingredients can enter your bloodstream and harm the fetus. Synthetic preservatives are a concern since the baby ingests everything that enters your bloodstream. For pregnant women, exfoliation is a preventative measure to ward off the dreaded “pregnancy mask”, Professional microdermabrasion is effective but you don’t need to spend the big bucks for results. There are dozens of mild exfoliants that can do the trick. Look for enzyme based (papaya, citrus, pineapple, pumpkin or lactic acid) scrubs with non invasive (stay away from products that contain nuts as the can cut the skin) granules.