As a pregnant woman (rounding the last corner by the time you read this), humble monthly columnist and owner of a fashion retailer, the request inevitably arises for me to consider writing a column on fashionable maternity clothing. While there are many companies that peddle goods to outfit the burgeoning bellies of childbearing women everywhere, I am of the opinion that maternity clothing is not fashionable.
Let’s be honest. When considered objectively, the pregnant body is not ideal. Your waist is substituted by love handles and an enormous front-jutting orb. Any sinew, definition or nuance is replaced by an alarming pillowy smoothness.
To be sure, the exquisite and sacred privilege of bearing children is one of life’s sweetest moments. Clearly, the burden and responsibility of childbearing is fleeting in comparison to the ineffable joy and infinite possibilities that await. But let’s not confuse the sentimental, symbolic beauty with what is objectively and literally in front of us.
A pregnant body is, in every way, hard to dress. Because of the abrupt change in proportions and new sensitivities, getting dressed every day is a challenge. And while I have invariably dipped my toe into the official world of maternity clothing for both of my pregnancies, I am consistently disappointed, overcome with the feeling that I have walked into a time machine that leads back to the most trite and exhausted wasteland of fashion trends.
The first and most basic complication is that you have to change everything you wear. Your favorite jeans, your prettiest tops, your go-tos, LBDs, WOWs, FOTYs, everything in your closet will have an expiration date.
Secondly, while you may have allied yourself with fashion over comfort for your entire life, pregnancy brings about a desire for ease and coziness which you may find unable to resist. Self-confidence can be shaken, motivation can wane, and patience can grow thin, so it’s important to try to be as true to yourself (style and otherwise) as much as possible.
Take advantage of trends that offer comfort. Take the athleisure trend, for example. Elastic waist joggers, breathable tops and performance jersey dresses are not just for people pretending to exercise — they are perfect for a growing belly. The boyfriend jean offers similar benefits, as it is low in the rise, roomy around the waist and offers the right amount of comfort and style for pregnancy.
Although pregnancy is a temporary stage, it is also a time where you can view your changing body as an opportunity to experiment with different styles and silhouettes. A very fashionable friend (who made her way through two pregnancies in Isabel Marant sneaker wedges, leather leggings and enormous, gorgeous designer prints) said that while she ordinarily wears draping, oversized clothes, during pregnancy she wore fitted things because she felt that all of the lumps and bumps had purpose, and she wanted to show them off.
This resonated with me because I also think that the whole point of pregnancy, childbirth and even family is to invite an opening of perspective. As women who have the designated biological role of childbearing, we have a chance to embrace this monumental change with both the gravitas it deserves and with whimsy, elegance and pleasure too. I guess at the end of the day this is the perfect picture of the modern woman, pregnant and beyond.