Maternity style reborn
By Simone S. Oliver • NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
Kerry Washington in a Prada crop top at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
Remember a pregnant Kerry Washington wearing a crop top to the Screen Actors Guild Awards this year? Prada or not, it was a gutsy choice. The look was indicative of how far maternity wear has evolved since its initial deliverance in the late 1990s and how, more recently, pregnant women have tossed aside any remaining rules.
Some women are boycotting traditional maternity clothes, wearing non-maternity brands. Some are buying newer lines with the intention of wearing the clothes post-baby. Others wear what they already own.
Neither a tricked-out closet nor a stylist’s masterly hand is required to turn your closet into a baby-bump boutique.
During my pregnancy, I began by pulling out tent, shift and A-line dresses; peplum tops; tunics; and anything that resembled an empire waist. By the time I was big enough for someone to give up a seat on the bus, shirtdresses and drawstring pants paired with a structured blazer were my staples.
Julee Wilson, the style and beauty editor at the Huffington Post, who chronicled her pregnancy for the site, appreciated Washington’s ensemble at the awards show. “While I haven’t worn a crop top during my pregnancy, it was empowering to see her do it,” Wilson said. “I also really loved Gwen Stefani’s maternity style. She was the embodiment of not losing herself or her fashion sense to her bump.”
A jumpsuit by Hatch, which makes clothes to wear during and after pregnancy
Women lose many things to growing bellies — sleep, muscle tone, the ability to see their feet — but are less inclined to forfeit fashion. “It’s not about buying a completely separate wardrobe for 10 months and dismissing it soon after the baby arrives,” Wilson said. “Economically, that isn’t smart, but I’m also not staying true to who I am if I’m simply buying any and everything that’s made for a pregnant woman but doesn’t align with my style.” Wilson, who had her baby in July, bought only a handful of maternity outfits — including a jumpsuit from a Destination Maternity outlet. Finding attractive maternity clothes is difficult, said Rachel Blumenthal, chief executive of Crickets Circle, a website that reviews products for expecting and new mothers.
“What I saw was matronly and down-market,” she said. “What I did find appealing, retailers were marking up just because it was maternity.” Blumenthal instead relied on a uniform of long cardigans and fitted tops with leggings during her pregnancy three years ago.
But more options also exist for women who prefer to stick to proper maternity clothes. J. Crew, Gap, H&M, ASOS and Topshop all offer fresh and affordable maternity options, said Sheila Aimette, vice president of North American content for WGSN, a trend-forecasting company.
Trendy mothers-to-be can also look to the larger shapes seen on runways. “Sweaters and T-shirts, I bought a large or medium, and I loved men’s and oversize stuff,” said Janel Molton Hertz, a brand-marketing consultant in New York. J. Brand, Paige Denim and Citizens of Humanity maternity jeans seem to be bump-friendly, with elastic panels and designs that are a universe away from mom jeans. The elastic band isn’t visible — unless you’re in a crop top — so the jeans are wearable post-pregnancy.