Wednesday, January 16, 2008

asked and answered: dressing the baby bump

so, a dear friend and super faithful reader recently posed a very good question:

Hi SMC, I'm currently in a bit of a fashion blunder. I'm pregnant, 4 months along and I'm too big for my pre-pregnancy clothing and still a little too small for maternity goods. I've essentially got a mini baby bump (looks like a beer gut) and I'm looking for some transitional goods that might be good for wearing after the baby's born, too. I'm used to wearing fitted clothing, and that's just not possible, or I haven't figured out how to do it yet. Any help would be greatly appreciated, Thanks!
now granted, i've never had to dress a baby bump (thank goodness), but i've been thinking a lot about this, and here are my pointers. first, i think it's a mistake to dress "for" the bump. in other words, i don't think you should be dressing either to showcase it or to hide it. after all, despite your description, it's not actually a beer gut. i'd liken it to your decollette: sometimes you dress to show it, sometimes you don't, but you're never really trying to hide the girls, if you know what i mean. it's not like it's a secret that they're there.

second, i think a lot of women veer toward matronly, baggy, boring clothes as soon as they start to see the bump appear. now, i know you can't exactly run out and drop thousands on a wardrobe that you're only going to wear for six months, but i do think it's important that the pieces you do wear actually fit you properly. that means no rooting around in your husband's closet just because your jeans don't fit any more.

frankly, if i were in your slightly bloated position right now, i'd be thanking my lucky stars that there's never been a better time in fashion to be pregnant (except maybe last summer). i suggest stocking your wardrobe with a few pairs of very comfy tights, (not footless, thank you) and heavily relying on dresses and minidresses to flaunt your new figure. i would love to see you pick up this gorgeous shift dress, for example. it will be comfy as can be, but it's still stylish and could even be office-appropriate, depending on how formal your office is. this ella moss version is also darling, and super discounted down to $50 at at that price, i'd suggest picking one up in each color. the trick with these dresses is to make sure they're flowy enough that your belly won't make the front of the dress dramatically shorter than the back. a little is okay, certainly - it just can't be a huge difference.

i'm a big believer in basics - if you have a few classic foundation pieces, you'll give yourself a world of options. so, i'm going to strongly lobby for this four-piece set by belly basics. it will give you a basic black pant, knee-length skirt, wrap dress, and a 3/4 sleeve shirred polo shirt, all in one slick package. for $150, that's a pretty sweet deal. just remember: this isn't a funeral, so don't stick to all black, all the time. mix this set up with lots of color, and use accessories to make it fit your personal style.

also, try to go through your closet and find the things that will still work. most cardigans, blazers, or empire-waist tops, for example, should work just fine for most of your pregnancy. don't worry about the fact that they won't button - just wear them open. this darling short-sleeve sweater, for example, certainly isn't designed for maternity wear, but it would work perfectly for you - the empire waist and split down the center mean you could easily layer this with a contrasting tank and some jeans for a very cute spring look.

i'd also be majorly taking advantage of the fact that those empire waist dresses that are absolutely everywhere right now will emphasize your new mega-cleavage and minimize that bump for a while longer. plus, by buying things that are on-trend and just naturally styled to accommodate your belly, you'll have a much bigger pile of clothes to go back to post-baby than you will if you jump straight to maternity wear.

i love this grecian style tank dress, which would be a great layering piece. and this kimono dress has an elastic "waist" under the bust, which should be perfect for you right about now. plus, it's under $20 - how can you not love that?

and, just a few random suggestions: i'm pretty confident this top by zoa ltd. is drapey enough that it can see you through almost the entire pregnancy, and it will be a perfect layer under a blazer or sweater for work, or solo with jeans for the weekend. and i love this belted minidress by bailey 44. it's the perfect way to show off your new figure when you're completely sick of wearing loose, flowy clothes (and it also happens to be on sale!).

last but not least, don't be afraid to invest in a few pieces that will really make your pregnancy wardrobe something to be excited about. not everything has to be practical. attitude is everything, and if you hate what you're wearing, it'll show. so, treat yourself to a few fabulous things that you'll really love.