It's a great time to be expecting. You don't have to be supermodel Gisele Bundchen or actress Amy Adams to look sexy during your pregnancy — long gone is the notion that pregnancy is a time when style must suffer. Pregnant women want what most women want: to look and feel their best. Now that current fashion trends lend themselves easily to maternity wear, and clothing designed as maternity wear is answering the call from active, working women with more stylish silhouettes, they can show off their beautiful bellies while looking sleek and feminine.
It has become fashionable to be fashionable during pregnancy. Keeping up with what pregnant celebrities are wearing (not to mention the obsession with their offspring's fashions — Suri Cruise in high heels!), is now a national pastime. Heidi Klum just announced two new maternity lines for A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity, joining celebrities like Nicole Richie who are designing for comfort and style. "With Hollywood celebs becoming more mommy motivated, designers are turning to maternity fashion," says Robbie Allen, owner of designer maternity boutique Baby Bump. The store's mantra: "Give up wine, coffee and sushi, but not fashion."
If not directly influenced by pregnant silhouettes, current trends lend themselves easily to pregnant figures — so much so that sometimes it's hard to distinguish maternity from non-maternity wear. The trend toward simple, stylish, comfortable clothing paired with big accessories and high heels or flats can be worn by all women: length and draping in tanks and blouses, very low or very high waistlines in dresses, denim and faux leather leggings, chunky sweaters tied with satiny bows, flowing printed tops, oversized tanks and T-shirts, empire waists, jersey and mini dresses, and anything with sequins.
"Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to
Designer denim jeans by J Brand, Citizens of Humanity and James Jeans are Baby Bump's hottest item. "A great pair of maternity jeans is a must because you can get so much use out of them," Allen says. Fortunately, women needn't retire their designer maternity threads post-labor. "The clothes are cut and designed so that you can wear them after (giving birth), because most women aren't able to jump right back into their pre-pregnancy size," he says.
Baby Bump also offers a few nursing fashion lines such as Mothers En Vogue, Gownies, and Dote, which feature hidden zippers that hide the look of a nursing shirt creatively.
Michelle Reinhardt, mother of three and owner of designer consignment shops Swap and Swap for Kids on Maple Street, offers more reasonably priced designer clothing with maternity options. Reinhardt gives expecting moms (whose active lifestyles "command a look that is stylish, comfortable, and appropriate") the credit for creating more fashion-forward clothing.
"Women began wearing fashionable, modern, non-maternity dresses and shirts that expanded with their bellies," Reinhardt says. "The tighter fit created an appearance of a thinner figure with a cute pregnant belly. The maternity industry caught on, adding new cuts, colors, fabrics and shapes into the once lackluster maternity selection. Talented fashion designers began seeing the need and revenue potential for fashion-forward maternity, and they incorporated fashion trends in maternity wear. With the new fashion trends, (pregnant women) are able to feel beautiful and relevant."
For women who want to buy as few maternity pieces as possible, Reinhardt points out that many non-maternity trends translate to maternity wear, such as tunics and tights, skinny jeans, layered tops, sequined shirts, vibrant colors, rich textures and bold accessories.
"The runways are showing clothes that share the same fashion trends as non-maternity wear," she says.
Her best advice for saving money while looking great is to mix maternity with non-maternity items (for example, designer jeans with a stylish top or inexpensive leggings with a designer top) and use bags and accessories to tie outfits together. Reinhardt says that while Swap sells more non-maternity clothing to pregnant women, at some point maternity wear often becomes the only option. Thankfully, options abound. Women, pregnant or not, are truly owning their style.
Baby Bump Maternity (2917 Magazine St., Suite 102, 304-2737; www.nolababybump.com)
Swap (7716 Maple St., 304-6025; www.swapboutique.com)
Swap for Kids (7722 Maple St., 218.5996)