A confession for you, dear reader: I hate dressing when pregnant. I wish I were one of those wonderful ’embrace the bump’ women, who style themselves well and look fabulous all the way through. You know. The women who glow, with the hair and the heels. When I’m pregnant, I’m hot and chafey and keep banging into stuff with the goldfish bowl I’ve got smuggled under my shirt. What I want to wear is pyjamas. Yes, the ones with the little dogs on. Only those, please.
Here’s the thing, though: it’s precisely because I find it difficult to style myself when pregnant that I absolutely have to. When I make the effort, I feel better. And so I present five maternity style truths I have (reluctantly) recognised as gospel this time around…and five I wish I’d never tried.
1. maxi skirts
Unpregnant, the skirt I like best is a swishy A-line. It makes me feel a bit spesh. But A-lines work when you have a waist: without one, a tall column silhouette is more flattering. Enter the maxi skirt. The bonus is that you don’t have to make the effort to shave your legs (THERE IS SOMETHING IN THE WAY). This one from Dorothy Perkins is my new best friend.
2. tailored jackets
For me, until the last few weeks my pregnancy weight sinks like lumpy custard to my bottom half. But regardless of how your body changes, looking as streamlined as possible improves any outfit. The tailored jacket is a recent discovery: you can’t button it (obviously) but it does wonders for your arms and skims nicely down your back. If it’s too hot for jackets, a fitted cardigan will do the same job. I have an old corduroy jacket in teal I’ve been wearing the heck out of, and have been ogling lovelies like this from ASOS.
3. belts and ties, ties and belts
For my first pregnancy I wore a lot of t-shirt tops in larger sizes. It was summer, and flowing styles were in. That’s all very well at the beginning, but once you’ve got a proper bump you end up looking like a capital D, side-on. I have embraced the empire line with fervour this time (the one that nips in under the bust). If a top or dress doesn’t have one, I make one with a little belt or ribbon tie. It just gives a bit of definition where you need some. The elasticated bodice on this tunic top from H&M is making me happy. And I’ve worn this dress from Next to death.
4. belly bands
More on why you need these in the fiery-burning-hatred section. Belly bands are elasticated tubes you wear over the top of your waistband, to bridge the gap between top and trousers. I’ve never found one that was tight enough to keep the trousers up on their own, but ah, the security of knowing you can wear a pre-pregnancy top without flashing an outie at a startled bus driver. Worth its weight in gold. You can get them at any maternity shop, or very easily online.
I’ve been putting this one off. I HATE leggings. Hate it when people wear them with short tops and they’re sheer enough to see underwear. Hate how I feel like I’ve forgotten to put on trousers. I finally made the leap this weekend, on two conditions: they had to be thicker than winter stockings, otherwise you might’s well just wear stockings; and the top had to reach at least halfway down my leg. Oh, my dears, I’m afraid I will never go back. I’m so carried away with all the ease of movement that I keep executing lunges in inappropriate places (ahem, doctor’s office). I’m wearing these, but you know leggings. They’re everywhere.
1. ‘maternity trousers are much more comfortable’.
You know what? They’re not. I would happily consign maternity trousers to the inner circle of hell where they belong. Here’s the thing: trousers fall down, when you’re pregnant. It’s inevitable. Replacing the waistband with a scary-looking giant elastic gusset that stretches over your bump means that your only option for keeping them up is a pair of suspenders (I have seriously considered this). When I wear maternity trousers I spend every second minute clawing up the crotch from around my knees. This is especially undignified in the supermarket. BURN THEM.
I much prefer wearing my old jeans for as long as humanly possible (unbuttoned and covered with a belly band), and then looking for slim-legged trousers in the next size up (which may also need to be worn unbuttoned). Anything to escape the gusset. Anything.
2. ‘everyone needs a crisp white button-up’.
I believed this so wholeheartedly, I bought one. But shirts don’t usually cling, and they aren’t soft. They don’t fall naturally around any of your new curves. So you end up looking like a box-shaped waiter with straining buttons. Lots of websites also recommend just wearing one of your husband’s, but see the Capital D problem, above.
3. ‘show off the bits that are still skinny! Mini skirt/sleeveless dress/short shorts, anyone?’
Ladies in the Next catalogue: I am SO pleased that your pregnancy involved growing a bump and nothing else. Myself, well, we’ve covered the lumpy custard thing. I also have dimply elbows making an earlier-than-scheduled appearance. Can we just stick to knee-length stuff, for now? And maybe ditch the cap sleeves?
4. ‘cottons and linens: so cool in the summer!’
No. Anything that requires steam-ironing in the morning will look like a crinkled bin bag five minutes later. You spend a lot of time readjusting clothes, when pregnant. Stiff cotton or linen clothes (whether shirts, trousers or dresses; I’ve tried them all) will make your bump look like a canvas for interesting creases.
5. ‘you can wear your old tops the whole way through, if you layer a camisole underneath’.
Be careful. I’m not a huge fan of the skintight t-shirt look, especially when it starts riding up over the bump (with or without a camisole underneath). And I ruined a lot of my favourite clothes the last time, because I wore them longer than they could take. Bursting out of my favourite grey silk skirt was a really special way to celebrate Timothy’s graduation.
Do you hate any of my loves or love any of my hates? Found a style you can’t live without? Most importantly, do you own any maternity trousers that don’t make you want to tear off your legs and get around on a skateboard instead? Tell me! And go forth and conquer, baby-carriers. Me and my goldfish bowl are going for lunch.