When I discovered I was pregnant with our second child, I pulled out the storage bin containing the maternity clothes from my first pregnancy and was instantly depressed. After nine months of wearing a Diane von Furstenberg maternity wrap dress and Lilly Pulitzer maternity shift in heavy rotation — and I mean heavy in every sense — I couldn't face another pregnancy in these same few outfits.
But at $300 for designer maternity dresses I would wear another half a year at most, I wasn't prepared to splurge on an entirely new pregnancy wardrobe. Fortunately, the sartorial landscape for pregnant women continues to change — for the better. A mother-to-be can pick up a couple of fashionable dresses and supplement with items from chains such as H&M or Zara. And staying stylish doesn't always mean shopping in the maternity section.
"The most important thing to remember when dressing while pregnant is to not limit yourself," says stylist and Bravo TV star Brad Goreski, who dressed a pregnant Jessica Alba last summer. Goreski encourages his clients to shop nonmaternity collections, looking for stretchy or flowing fabrics. "Play with shape and proportion," he says. "If you are going to wear a flowy top, try putting a more fitted piece over it like a blazer or a leather jacket. If you are going to wear a maxi dress, try edging it up with a leather vest or a great statement necklace."
Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to look like you're wearing a sack. "Give yourself a defined waist [wherever that may be] to give definition to the body," Goreski adds. "Now is the time to invest in some belts — try a metallic, braided or elastic. They don't have to be expensive."
In the spirit of Goreski, I stocked up on a few A-line dresses and tunics from Muji, Makié and H&M (prices ranged from $25 to $200) as well as several belts from J. Crew — none of which were maternity and all of which I could wear after the baby arrived. Looking around town at some of Los Angeles' most stylish moms-to-be offered further inspiration.
For Wendy Hunter Magdlen, a TV writer and producer who recently had her third daughter, it's all about staying comfortable. "My go-to is an oversized nonmaternity T-shirt by Joe's Jeans with A Pea in the Pod skinny maternity leggings and Ugg boots," she says.
Samantha Stone, the membership manager at the exclusive Soho House in West Hollywood, is nine months pregnant and every stitch is as fashionable as her clientele. "When I get dressed up, I tend to go to my Phillip Lim classic dresses. Sometimes it's fun to dress down by throwing on a Shai Shai tank with an AllSaints or Tory Burch leather jacket and a pair of fitted maternity jeans," Stone says. "There are definitely days when a maxi dress is your best friend.... Zara has some great long dresses that have an empire waist and a pop of color."
The super-chic Hatch collection is also a favorite with Stone and celebrities such as Jennifer Garner, Jessica Simpson and Lily Aldridge. The collection is something of a maternity hybrid, offering cleverly designed pieces that cater to pregnant women but without the nine-month expiration date. Founded by Ariane Goldman, the collection features 14 flattering pieces such as swing coats and Japanese cotton wraps that transition from pregnancy to postpartum. Hatch's chic Errands dress or silk Slouch pants each run $178 and are available at Hatchcollection.com.
Some obstacles, however, like finding jeans that fit, require a visit to the traditional maternity section. The good news — if you have the money to spend — is that brands including Paige Premium Denim and True Religion are in on the maternity denim game. A pair of J. Brand maternity twill cargo skinny jeans will set you back $250, but there are more affordable options that are every bit as stylish.
GapMaternity 1969 Premium Jeans run in the $70 range, and, at $76, Topshop's Moto maternity jeans are a relative — and I stress the word relative — bargain. Topshop's fashion-forward maternity collection also features pieces such as vintage boy shorts, floral dresses and sleek trenches with prices that range from $12 to $140, and is a favorite with celebrities such as Beyoncé, Natalie Portman and Selma Blair.
Of course certain situations, like a traditional corporate environment or a black-tie event, require specific sartorial needs. For dressing the part at the office, A Pea in the Pod offers a career collection with versatile key pieces.
"What we want to suggest with our emphasis on stylish work wear is that it doesn't have to be such a difficult task to dress from 9 to 5," says Olivia Myers, head designer for A Pea in the Pod. "The tailored suit, classic white shirt and sheath dress are the foundation of the group that the expectant mom can dress her way. These looks can even take you from day to night."
A Pea in the Pod fitted blazers run $130 to $195, and tailored pants are around $90.
And for those faced with a wedding or red carpet dilemma during pregnancy, RentMaternityWear.com offers formal wear that can be rented for $35 to $69 a dress per week.
Perhaps the greatest gift to the pregnant woman's wardrobe is the body shaper. These stretchy undergarments are miracle workers that offer back support and a belly lift while smoothing the hips, back and sides under dresses and jeans. Stone recommends the BellaBand. I'm a convert of the Blanqi line, which enabled me to wear my pre-pregnancy clothes longer while offering the illusion of taking off an entire dress size.