One Hot Mama
It’s been years since Demi Moore appeared naked and gloriously pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair. Looking back, the photo is still beautiful—but no longer shocking. While the average pregnant woman isn’t walking around in the buff, the ruffles and draping once common in maternity wear are long gone.
Today’s moms-to-be have nothing to hide. Modern maternity doesn’t conceal the belly, it highlights it with streamlined styles and stretchy, clinging fabrics. “It’s not about showing it all off,” says fashion designer Liz Lange, president and founder of Liz Lange Maternity. “It’s about sophistication and style.”
Even if you’ve never felt comfortable flaunting your figure, pregnancy may change things. “When I got pregnant, I had to do something to feel pretty, and the old clothes just weren’t doing it for me,” says Brooke Kelley, a Los Angeles mom of two. “I felt most sexy while wearing revealing clothing. I loved to prance around by the pool in my bikini.”
Of course, not everyone is going to suddenly love wearing a bathing suit and exposing most of a growing tummy, but whatever your personal style, you’ll probably look and feel your best wearing a tank—as opposed to a tent.
There are probably several pieces in your closet already that can double as maternity wear, especially at the beginning of your pregnancy. “Just wearing my regular T-shirts made me feel good, since they all fit more tightly,” says Kelley. Anything made of stretchy fabric will do, as will sweaters or blazers that can be left partially unbuttoned.
When you finally go shopping, enjoy yourself! Pregnancy is a great time to indulge in trends—after all, these are clothes you’ll likely only wear for a few months. Lange notes that empire waistlines, which hits just below the bust, have been hot in both ready-to-wear and maternity for several seasons, and the trend continues. “It’s a great silhouette for showing off sleek shoulders and a great neckline.” Love the bohemian look? According to Lange, “boho” styles work well for maternity. Think pretty tunics and tiered skirts.
For the holidays and special occasions, Lange suggests trying a chic tunic dress with lace trim, or a simple satin pencil skirt. Up the glam factor by choosing rich colors such as black and deep red.
The basics can be plenty of fun, too. Jeans, for example. Only a few years ago, maternity jeans would never be confused with “real” jeans—they were more like denim-toned polyester leggings. Thanks to the advent of stretch fabrics and low rise styles, jeans can be as much of a sexy staple during pregnancy as they were before. “There are so many great denim lines out there these days,” says Lange. “I think women really want a great shape, a cool wash or color, and a comfortable panel up top.” She notes that sexy jeans can be found in all price ranges—and even the premium denim brands are making maternity clothing.
Underneath it all, there’s lingerie. Do you need to buy maternity? Not necessarily, says Lange. “Sometimes it’s worth buying and sometimes it’s not. A [maternity] bra with good support is an investment worth making.” As for panties, Lange suggests simply sticking with your favorite non-maternity styles—even thongs—as long as they fit under the belly.
You’ll be shoe shopping, as your feet may expand up to a full size during pregnancy. Some of this is due to water retention and some is due to a pregnancy hormone called relaxin, which makes all your joints looser, even the ones in your feet. Pregnant women often suffer from lower back pain, and also tend to lose their balance more easily than the non-pregnant.
All these things make stilettos a difficult—and risky—proposition. That’s why the new flats, kitten heels, and chunky-heeled boots are so wonderful. They’re stylish, pretty, and safe. After all, when you haven’t had a glass of champagne in months, why risk falling on your behind?
Rules to Live By
Most of the old rules of maternity wear have been broken, but there are still a few don’ts. Here are three important pointers on what to avoid:
- DON’T take adapting to extremes. It’s not necessary and it will make you miserable. “Maternity bottoms are a must-have,” says Kelley. “I had to get new jeans. I tried adapting, but there’s something frumpy and gross about walking around with your pants undone all the time.”
- DON’T sacrifice comfort for appearances. When you’re pregnant, it’s important that you love your clothes—and that the clothes love your body back. It’s easy to find maternity in soft, rich fabrics with lots of stretch. Clothes that dig into your body or restrict you in any way are to be avoided.
- DO realize you can take these seductive looks too far. “Too tight or too short is just too much!” says Lange, who recommends maternity clothes be worn fitted, but never tight. Lange also suggests steering away from showing your bare belly—unless you’re by the pool or at the beach.
Finally, if you’re still feeling a little self-conscious about showing off your new assets, “Don’t!” says Kelley. “Bellies are beautiful. Show it off, and feel proud that you’re creating a wonderful new life!”