Bump It Up; Transform Your Pregnancy into the Ultimate Style Statement
By Amy Tara Koch
It's no secret that pregnancy doth not bring out one's inner glamour girl. Hormones flow, stomachs protrude, and once-clear complexions zigzag with "nonspecific dermatitis." Workouts are traded in for TiVo. A nondescript sack filled with Cheetos replaces the once-chic hobo. And fashion obsessions are usurped by fantasies of tucking into a vat of buttery mac and cheese. Yes, denying one's fashion instincts and reaching for your fat pants - those baggy sweats in your bottom drawer reserved for sitting about the house on Sundays - is a natural response to pregnancy. As a career fashionista (I have served as Chicago Tribune style columnist, a trend reporter for NBC, and a style expert for USA Today and Vogue), I envisioned my pregnancy following in the chic, minimally swollen footsteps of Gwen, Heidi, and Gwyneth. But as the first twelve pounds wrapped themselves around my midsection, I began to cave. The urge to hide in jumbo-sized clothing was overwhelming. I garbed myself in my husband's button-downs. Over sweats. Yoga pants became to-the-office pants. One morning, in my tenth week, I glanced at my dumpy reflection in the mirror as I left for work. In my expansive, dog-walking pantaloons-and-sweatshirt combo, I bore an uncanny resemblance to my potato-picking Russian ancestors. There was no question The Baggy Belarus look had to go.
I hit my local chain maternity store. Nausea washed over me. Where were the sportif strapless dresses and va-va-voom bejeweled shifts worn by the current spate of knocked-up celebs? The pricey drawstring pants (paired with ONE HOT MAMA tees), drab button-downs, and decidedly non-Tory Burch tunics were simply not the look that I had in mind. I waddled to Starbucks and pondered my fashion future. I had built a career on style. How could I allow my self-esteem and professional credibility to be eradicated by polyester-blend leisure wear?
Then I had an epiphany: Forget investing my unborn child's college tuition on a full-blown maternity wardrobe. Bump-savvy celebs were not miracles of nature. They had simply mastered the high art of mix-and-match fertility fashion, a combination of must-have maternity with easy civilian silhouettes that embraced and enhanced their bump I might lack Gwyneth's gene code, but a decade of covering fashion shows and interviewing beauty gurus gave me confidence that I, a scrappy five-foot-four editrix, could eschew pregnancy's frump factor and step up to the fashion plate.
I knocked back some Turns and got down to the business of reworking my existing wardrobe. Skinny jeans, skimpy tops, and anything that made me look and feel like five pounds of bologna in a one-pound bag were packed away; empire-waist dresses, tunics, and other bump-friendly silhouettes were positioned front and center. Lycra (from my mom's Jane Fonda days) became my second skin. Big baubles were my new best friends. And eye-catching accents - vintage jackets, exotic reptilian bags, capes and shawls, colorful thigh-length sweaters, hardware-laden oversized totes - were my joie de vivre. I cast Pucci-esque innerwear as outerwear, skirts as dresses, and chain belts as necklaces. I revisited seasons-old wrap dresses and off-the-wall knits from storage. I raided Grandma's closet for Jackie O scarves and quirky accents like Peruvian coin belts and carved jade pendants.
Later, when my bump materialized for the whole world to see, l purchased only core maternity items that could be accessorized for every occasion - a pair of designer pregnancy jeans, a super-long, stretchy black tank top. maternity tights, a chic maternity pencil skirt, and one pair of multitasking black trousers. I bought non-maternity pieces - black bias-cut and empire-waist jersey dresses (cleverly cut to accommodate a bump), a groovy, unstructured sweater/shawl, an early DKNY leather tunic - that would work during my pregnancy and beyond. I borrowed maternity and non-maternity items from friends. I took the fashion credo "God is in the details" to heart and had a blast "super-accessorizing." The key to preggo chic? Creativity. Effort. And the commitment to pushing the sartorial envelope even as you feel your breakfast rising in your throat.
Bump It Up is a cheat sheet to chic, a pregnancy primer that shows moms-to-be how a handful of wardrobe basics can yield dozens of jaw-dropping maternity ensembles. The book's breezy, tip-filled format and fashion cartoons are designed to help you, my pregnant friend, glean, trimester by trimester, style information before "PADD" (pregnancy attention deficit disorder; see Preggo Glossary) kicks in. A checklist system based on three crucial points - the Uniform, Add-ons, and Wow Factor- fine-tunes for pregnancy the editorial concept of garment rotation.
Armed with the basics and a flair for the dramatic, pregnant women can create maximum style with a minimum investment in maternity-specific clothing. To visually emphasize this point, I called upon fashion designers such as Nicole Miller, Donna Karan, Milly, Diane von Furstenberg, and Isaac Mizrahi to create original sketches that showcase pregnancy silhouettes that are at once fashionable and functional. We're all obsessed with fashion mags and celebrity tabloids. To get you, dear reader, the most in-the-know tips on the planet. I stepped behind the scenes of the glossies and canvassed the real style mavens - designers, editors, publicists, and socialites - responsible for launching trends among celebrities and the stylists who assemble them. In "Advice from the A-list," high-profile beauty and fashion folks share the experiences that enabled them to finesse the incredible bulk of pregnancy. And for those who are served up hormonally induced lumps and bumps instead of the coveted pregnancy glow, celeb skin gurus weigh in on how you too can tap into that (faux) radiance.
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