When you find out you’re pregnant, you have so many worries. Will your baby be okay after that insane tequila binge you went on before ya took the e.p.t? How will you afford it? Will you be a good mom? Fashion seems like a frivolous concern. But soon enough, your belly starts to protrude, and, if you’re the funky-fashionista type, letting yourself go is just not an option, even if nothing in your closet fits. Despite the onslaught of celebs currently procreating, thereby forcing designers to make cuter maternity-clothing options (especially in looks-obsessed L.A.), we nonmillionaires just don’t want to drop a wad on frocks we’ll (hopefully) only need for a handful of months.
At seven months’ preggo, I’m still expanding, and it is possible that I will end up throwing in the towel, forgoing makeup and cute shoes (heels are already a pain) and opting for a muumuu and flip-flops like Jenny McCarthy swears she did near the end, in her book Belly Laughs. But for now, the nonmaternity stores and styles below are doing the trick as the tummy gets thick, and most of it really can be worn afterward too. Read on, hot mamas!
T Is for Trimester
Good cotton basics are an essential for expecting moms, and no one has more options or locations than American Apparel. Yeah, it’s a little depressing shopping in a store filled with photos of prepubescently thin models when you feel like a house, and their stuff does run small, so you might have to buy (gasp!) extra-large sizes, but there are just too many colorful cotton options here to pass up.
Their longer cotton skirts are perfect basics (one style even has lycra in the waistband), as are the multicolored unitards. Leggings may be back, and they offer good coverage for bloated legs, but try to wear them with a protruding belly and you either have to pull ’em up to your chest or wear ’em below the stomach (where, unfortunately, they don’t stay for long). The unitard solves this problem and creates a smooth silhouette under other clothes too, its only drawback being you have to slip off the top half every time you go pee . . . which is often.
For tops, I recommend another company, Alternative Apparel, which has an extensive line of supersoft, paper-thin tees in tunic lengths (long enough to cover the bump). Comfort is so important during this time, and Alternative has cornered the market on worn-in, vintage-style T-shirts. Snatch up their new “gauze” line, which stretches to any shape and snaps right back to size after washings . . . you’ll wear these when baby comes too. See www.americanapparel.com for store locations; see www.alternativeapparel.com to order tees.
The Empire Strikes Back
High-waisted baby-doll tops and dresses are everywhere right now, but many gals avoid them for the very reason I am recommending them. The extra material under the bust can make ya look like you’re hiding something in the tummy area. But if you’re pregnant, stock up on this style ’cause nothing shows off your good parts (boobs, shoulders) and loosely veils the not-so-hot parts (a big middle) like an Empire-waist frock. You can get plenty of cheap tops and dresses in stretchy cotton-lycra blends at that emporium of throwaway mall fashion Forever 21; just don’t put ’em in the dryer after washing or you’ll have items small enough to fit your kid!See www.forever21.com for store locations.
The Juicy Couture velour/terry tracksuit may be officially “out” when it comes to wearing the whole ensemble, well, out, but plenty of us are still wearing the pants or just the jacket solo, especially at home. Though the classic track pants have a drawstring, they also have a thick elastic waistband that is not unlike that of many maternity-pant offerings these days. You can wear ’em below your belly, but I still find them a bit constricting. Far more forgiving is Juicy’s line of lounging pants with the loose-shirred waistline. Juicy also uses the same smocking technique for the top of its ubiquitous tube dresses. You know the ones — in their signature terry or velour, strapless and gathered around the bust — that were everywhere last summer? These are actually pretty good for pregnant ladies as well, unless your mammaries have gotten so humongous, elastic alone won’t hold ’em up any longer. Wear a matching bra for extra support and you’re good to go. For a good selection of Juicy Couture in L.A., go to Fred Segal, 8100 Melrose Ave., L.A., (866) 654-4577. Also at Neiman Marcus, 9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 550-5900.
It’s a Wrap
The Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress just may be the perfect frock. Not only does it have a classy yet sexy retro feel, but it’s also universally flattering on bodies of all shapes and sizes. Pregnancy brings on a whole new practical reason to wear them . . . they still fit. Yup, wrap dresses do just what the name says they do, which means unless you started off a size 0 and suddenly became morbidly obese while pregnant, the ones in your closet will still fit you. Mine all do and, in fact, still have a somewhat slimming effect. I guess babies aren’t the only ones who feel secure when they’re all wrapped up. Wrap dresses are available at The DVF Store, 8407 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd., (323) 951-1947.
Sometimes you just have to give in. After doing the rubber-band-through-the-buttonhole trick on my jeans to extend the waistline, wearing dresses as tops and donning my old sports bras for extra support, I will concede: You do need a few real maternity items to survive the last three months, namely a good pair of jeans and some undies. Super-low-rise denim styles like Frankie B. (which ride under the belly) might getcha through the first two trimesters, but camel toe and/or pube peekage are still an inevitability. Better to actually buy jeans made for your bulge and body, the most affordable of which are available at Target. The stuff in maternity designer Liz Lange’s namesake boutiques may be pricey, but her Target line is reasonable and there are plenty of different cuts too, except for maybe the current skinny-jean trend, which will only make you look like a big ball on two sticks anyway. As for bras and panties, Motherhood (in most malls) has decent ones in black these days (it used to be all about boring white and beige), and if you have the dough, you can splurge on Agent Provocateur, which actually has a maternity line of bras ($108) and panties ($81) in its hot pink and famous leopard print, made to be worn during nursing too. Heck, with stuff this cute, you can go from mother-to-be to MILF straight outta the hospital. See www.target.com and www.motherhood.com for local store locations. To order their maternity line, go to www.agent?provocateur.com/maternity.php.?