Dressing the bump: part 3

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The last instalment of my bump dressing series is just a basic rundown of some of the things I’ve bought and loved so far during my pregnancy.

When I was about 16 weeks pregnant, I ordered a bunch of maternity clothes from ASOS (upon the helpful advice of blogs around me) only to be disappointed with each and every single item when it finally arrived in the mail. Everything was so ill-fitting – t-shirts didn’t sit properly, dresses swamped me, the fabric was so cheap and nasty, and everything was so unflattering (granted, buying things sight unseen without trying them on first didn’t help). That pretty much signalled the first and last time I’d be shopping for maternity wear, and I’ve since had much more luck finding non-maternity clothes to fit this growing bump of mine. Go figure, right?

Overall, I’ve found shopping for new clothes when pregnant to be a time-consuming and frustrating exercise. I used to buy over three-quarters of my clothes online but with my body changing every day, it has since thwarted any attempt to conveniently shop for clothes from the comfort of my bed. My options are a lot more narrower these days too (i.e. no jumpsuits – oh how I miss jumpsuits! No zippered-anything and no more seams at the waist, which accounts for 90% of clothes in shops right now). I also shop with post-partum/nursing in mind; buying clothes that I’d happily wear (and fit back into) after the baby comes. For the most part, it’s been a massive exercise in trial and error; I’ve been shopping anywhere and everywhere – which has allowed me to discover brands and styles I never really thought to consider pre-pregnancy.

So I thought this little list of loves that I’ve personally bought and wear will help some of you in a similar predicament, especially if you’re still intent on shopping online. I still am – but I have to be particularly choosy with certain fabrics and styles.

Cut to the basics first though and this is where ‘maternity wear’ has proved immensely useful:

Berlei Barely There Cotton Rich Maternity Bra – 100%  soft cotton, gives a nice natural shape and most importantly, it’s non-underwire. It also doubles as a nursing bra so you’re killing two birds with one stone here – and yes, for the mums out there, the nursing clip can definitely undo with one hand. I had to start buying new bras at around 2 months along because that’s when my boobs started growing uncontrollably and I was wearing exclusively underwire at the time which I heard isn’t the best when pregnant. These particular Berlei bras are the best – they’re SO comfortable that I can even sleep in them (I actually hate wearing bras with a passion, normally). Myer tends to have good sales on Berlei from time to time so I would pick them up then.

SRC Pregnancy Leggings – I deliberated over these for the longest time because they’re so expensive and I knew I was going to buy the Recovery shorts for after birth too (so for both it ends up being back breakingly expensive). Because SRC items are all medically approved, you can actually claim a rebate back if you have private health and your policy (usually it’s top hospital) covers items like these. I have mid-hospital only so I can’t claim anything back on these leggings.

At about 22-23 weeks along though, I started to grow out of my old Nike leggings (I had been wearing these over the bump too, which was getting increasingly uncomfy as the belly was growing). But because my body has allowed me to keep pretty active throughout this pregnancy (I do boxing, pilates and walking each week), I thought it’d be worthwhile getting the SRC ones.

I managed to snag a pair in good condition off ebay for around $80 though, which leaves me with some pennies left over for the Recovery shorts which I plan to buy brand new (just a personal preference here). I’ve been wearing the Pregnancy leggings for a couple of weeks now and love them. They’re as comfortable and practical as everyone says – they’re literally made for pregbots. From about 25 weeks onwards, I have also gotten the odd pain in the pubic region so I’ve been wearing these around the house when I’m feeling achey – the anatomical panels really help to alleviate the pain. The quality is excellent (I’ve been through my fair share of compression/workout leggings over the years) and the best part is that the waist is adjustable to fit a growing belly. Sizing can be tricky (based off measurements I was in between an XS and S) so I opted for the S and I’m currently wearing the leggings on the smallest waist adjustment. Another reason I wish I was pregnant in winter – these leggings are definitely good enough to wear out and about and not just for working out! If I had my time over, I would have purchased these leggings earlier on in my pregnancy and not bothered with jeans or any other maternity tights.

Topshop Maternity Jeans – some people swear by J Brand, but I swear by Topshop. I couldn’t justify shelling out $300+ on a pair of mat jeans I couldn’t try on in store before buying, so spending $70 at Topshop where I could try it on was perfect enough for me. I love love love them. My favourite styles are the Jamie and the Leigh, with the latter more “jegging” like and the Jamie being more thicker and more denim-like. I’ve got 3 pairs – I bought the Leigh black ones instore and once I knew my size, I hopped online to buy these Jamie ones and a mid-blue Leigh pair (Perth Topshop doesn’t have a huge range of mat jeans). Sizing-wise, I’m an 8 in these. It’s best to get these realllyyy snug as they do stretch with wear. I love that they have the usual five pocket styling and look like jeans until you see the elastic waist. Plus, I personally find under-bump jeans a lot more comfortable.

A lovely reader of mine also emailed me recently and after we got chatting about finding stylish clothes to wear during pregnancy, she introduced me to a brand called Storq from the U.S. I LOVE their style and branding and philosophy and they seem to do really good basics for us pregnant ladies. I haven’t placed an order or anything (yet!) but I thought I’d mention it here just in case any of you are in the market for chic maternity essentials. The bundles also make such a thoughtful gift idea for friends who have a little bun in the oven!

NON-MATERNITY CLOTHES

Casual dresses

I’ve been living in T by Alexander Wang and Bassike.

I love love love the t-shirt dresses from T by AW, they’ve been perfect for my bump.The Classic Jersey Mini Dress is my fave (I ordered an M), but the Jersey Maxi Dress would be perfect too if you’re into the more maxi lengths. I find The Outnet has the best prices so it pays to check back weekly for stock updates. Shopbop also has the Classic dress in black and charcoal (I tend to get more wear out of these colours) for reasonable prices.

As for Bassike, my favourite styles so far have been the Stripe Boxy T-Shirt Dress and the Tank Dress II to get me through the long hot Perth summer. The long sleeved styles are also great for cooler weather. Bassike is cut big by the way – I’m a XS or S at most right now in Bassike (and I’m taking a size 12-14 normally!).

Basics from Sportsgirl and Cotton On have also been high on my radar when I can’t afford to be spending $100 on a dress each week. I especially love these tank dresses from Sportsgirl – I have this grey and black one in like 3 or 4 different sizes (XS and S for more dressy occasions and M to L for more casual days). They have a really nice, worn-in cotton feel and are so so comfy – a nice departure from all the fitted bodycon stuff. I’ve been wearing them underneath leather jackets and lightweight trench coats. The black looks especially dressy if you wear them with heels at night!

Other basics

Probably more suited to hot weather, but I’ve been living in Bassike organic cotton tank tops and shorts lately. My faves are the Stripe Jersey Beach Short (they run large, I’m an XS) in black and stripe. I’ve been trying to scour the David Jones sales racks for Bassike and managed to pick up things at 50% off, so I’d head there first.

Viktoria + Woods are also great for good quality basics. I love the Dux skirt as well as the rest of their range. Again, David Jones sales are your best friend.

Evening/dressy dresses

Honestly, the trick here is to look anywhere and everywhere. Stick to stretchy fabrics if possible and if there’s lining underneath the dress, make sure it’ll fit your growing bump too. My favourite styles are shift dresses (they fit a bump perfectly). I also recently purchased the Belize dress by Totême and it’s the most amazing, incredible, comfortable dress for summer (that also looks great if you’re not pregnant!). It’s very resort-style but I’m going to try and make it work for evening events. I purchased an emerald one from The Outnet but I love that navy version from NAP (it’s probably a more wearable colour anyway).

I’ve also been browsing designer consignment stores in Perth and although it’s hit and miss, I’ve managed to come away with a few gorgeous bump-friendly drapey silk dresses by Willow and One Fell Swoop (perfect for pregnant bridesmaids too!). I’ve had some success at Ellery too with this gorgeous dress (but in black) which I nabbed on sale a while back at DJs. Scanlan & Theodore, Zimmermann and Sass and Bide are also great too, but if you’re like me – not so much for the bank account.

A few other random things

I’ve been wanting try this off-shoulder poplin top from Hello Parry because I’m me and don’t want to spend $400 on the Tibi version.

I’ve found Seed incredibly accommodating and perfect for us pregbots – so much elastic waist everything! Hallelujah.

My Cecilie Copenhagen two-piece set is one of my favourite things to wear right now. Elastic waist shorts and a trapeze top – couldn’t ask for much more than that. This dress and this dress are the perfect bump-friendly pieces too – they got me through the first and most of second trimester. Parlour X has a great range and if you’re in Perth, you can buy/try them on at Adam Heath in Claremont.

In terms of swimwear, I stumbled across this one at Topshop recently even though it’s been the furtherest thing from my mind. I’ve never been one to wear a bikini and I definitely wouldn’t be confident enough to be seen out in public in one now that I’ve gained a gazillion kilos so this one-piece with scalloped edging is the way to go for me this summer. I had to size up to a 14 in this though just so it stretches over my torso!

In a random spurt of DIY, I bought this Country Road sleeveless wool/cashmere longline jacket a couple of months ago and turned it into a double breasted tuxedo dress (like the one Eva Chen wore recently). As always it turned out to be a little more involved than I thought (having to buy extra buttons and guess how much I should accommodate for my bump) but the end result was good enough. I don’t know for how much longer it’ll fit me (sad face…) so I’ll try and snapchat it when I get a chance (my username is agirlnamedmish) if you’d like to have a squiz.

For everything else, I’ve been making do with whatever is left in my wardrobe that still fits. From about 14 weeks onwards (when I felt less anxious about my pregnancy going to full term) I separated all my clothes and pulled out all the items that I could still wear to make a ‘pregnancy capsule wardrobe’ of sorts. I dedicated a rack to these clothes so it was easy for me to see at a glance what options I had left and what gaps I needed filling to get me through the next nine months. I loved doing this actually as it also uncovered things I haven’t worn in a while but I could still wear when pregnant. It was also getting way too depressing trying stuff on and not being able to fit into them any more, so out of sight (and out of mind) they went.

See Part 1 and Part 2 of my bump dressing series for a little more gasbagging on my pregnancy wardrobe!

Dressing the bump: part 2

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I’ve always wished for a winter or autumn pregnancy – cosying up in turtleneck sweaters and hiding all those lumps and bumps under stretchy leggings with a warm milo in hand has always seemed much more appealing and comfortable than sweating it out in shorts and flip flops in 40C temps with your feet swollen to the size of a cantaloupe. I mean, throw a coat over anything and you look instantly chic. And a coat will fit you throughout all trimesters, so you don’t have to worry about growing out of it by 32 weeks. Not to mention you’re out the door in 0.0005 seconds. Kim K learnt this lesson the second time around, she’s been throwing a coat over literally every single outfit of hers in 98F temps throughout the LA summer.

Anyway, before I fell pregnant, I had this radiant image of Charlotte Gainsbourg pinned to my Pinterest board, hoping to emulate at least a tenth of her je ne sais quoi when it was my turn to be with child. Because I loved this outfit so so much (and because it was probably far more achievable than Mira Duma’s bump style – though I have to say, I adore this) I promptly went out and bought a pair of maternity jeans (and subsequently two more) until I realised that I had about three weeks’ worth of wear out of them before summer turned up early to the party in Perth. With two more weeks until summer officially starts, I’m still holding out for that freak storm to hit the city so that my maternity jeans aren’t relegated to the back of my wardrobe just yet.

I was fortunate enough to spend my first trimester in winter (July/August) when I was feeling the most crappy and bloated and generally just blergh, so it gave me a little taste of a few firm (non-maternity wear) favourites that would see me through the rest of an autumn/winter pregnancy.

First things first, a black slimline midi skirt.

Possibly even more versatile (and comfortable) than the humble pair of jeans, this is my numero uno bump essential. Preferably in a stretchy fabric with an elasticised waist and a slim/pencil silhouette. I’d have a casual one (like the one I’m wearing above) on rotation as well as one with a front split a la Elin Kling for more dressy occasions to wear with heels. I really love this Topshop one as it’s so lightweight (perfect for summer too) as well as stretchy and comfortable to wear under the bump.

So why not mini, knee-length or maxi lengths? I personally find midi-lengths (both in skirts and dresses) the most practical and flattering but it could just depend on one’s height and body shape. It’s so much more slimming on me as it conceals the thighs and slims the hips – two areas that I’ve put weight on during this pregnancy. Plus, if you’re working in an office, the midi length is the most corporate-friendly on any figure – it looks best with a silk shirt tucked or untucked (like I’ve done above) or with a sweater over the top – she’s obviously not pregnant here but I’ve always thought this outfit on Anja Rubik would be perfect to wear during pregnancy.

A relaxed, button-down shirt

I love pairing these shirts (preferably in silk or cotton) with everything – they look especially chic over a pair of leggings, jeans, cigarette trousers or aforementioned midi skirt. Tucking in button-down shirts is always a bit awkward as your bump gets bigger (I prefer tucking in t-shirts and tank tops) so I like to leave them untucked to flow over the belly.

However, I’m getting to that point in my pregnancy now where my usual size shirts are no longer buttoning up, so I’ve been making do with shirts I’ve bought in bigger sizes (see, I knew it was never a bad idea to cave into the size 12s just because they were cheap at all those designer sample sales!).

I have to say, the cross-over blouse I’m wearing above has also proved to be super practical (just because I don’t have to worry about popping any buttons!) and because there’s excess fabric at the front to accommodate a growing bump. I’d wear this to the office as an alternative to the button-down, it’s so comfortable but still looks really polished if you pair it with slim trousers or a skirt.

An essential jacket or coat

I’ve always loved how a jacket or coat streamlines just about every outfit, adding a more polished element to whatever you’re wearing. Which is perfect when you’re pregnant and feeling really frumpy.

Perth has been seeing some cooler and rainy days during spring so I’ve been rotating through denim jackets, lightweight trench coats, blazers and leather jackets and wearing them with my jeans, midi dresses and skirts.

This season – well, for as long as I can, anyway – I’ve been trying my hand at the humble denim jacket; opting for one that hits between the waist and the hip so that it sits a bit more flattering with the bump (I find when it comes to denim jackets, if it’s too short – it cuts your body in half in not a very good way and too long – it’ll just look like a painfully unflattering tent over your body).

I’ve been wearing my leather jacket to death (such a winter essential!) so the welcome change in colour and style with this denim jacket has been great for variety’s sake as well as still coordinating with all the black, grey and black I’ve been wearing. It’s also perfect on Casual Fridays where blue denim is a bit more accepted in the office!

Flats when you’re feeling frumpy

As someone who isn’t genetically blessed in the height department but who has an embarrassingly low tolerance for heels, pointed toe flats have become my go-to flat shoe for days I want to look put-together without hobbling to the photocopier by the end of the day. Ballet flats also work quite well but I save them mostly for the weekend as I find they’re a lot more casual plus they’re not as lengthening as a pointed toe. These flats I’m wearing above are comfy enough to wear the whole day; they instantly dress up the most casual of outfits; and anything with a gigantic grosgrain bow on them… well, I’m sold.

By the way, I’ve decided to make this a 3-part series in bump dressing, so for those of you interested, look out for my next post which will feature a few more things and brands I’ve loved wearing during my pregnancy.

In collaboration with Topshop | Wearing Topshop Denim Jacket, Striped Drape Front BlousePlisse Tube Skirtpointed suede bow flatsDaniel Wellington Lady Sheffield watch.

Dressing the bump: part 1

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I don’t think anyone (me included) can say they’ve ‘mastered’ bump dressing until they’ve navigated the tricky waters that is the third trimester. Having said that, trying to stay comfortable and true to your personal style when pregnant is challenging enough throughout all trimesters, as you try to get used to your body’s shape and size that changes and increases literally every single day.

I honestly can’t believe how fast time is flying for me at the moment. Some weeks have definitely dragged whilst the rest has flown during my pregnancy (especially once I got past the 20 week mark). I’m about 6 months pregnant now (24 weeks to precise) with only a few more weeks to go until I enter the third trimester. Crazy!

To be honest, I have been consciously flying much of my pregnancy journey under the radar as I feel it’s something I haven’t yet felt comfortable enough to share online – bump watch, ultrasound pics and all. I’m loving being pregnant so far – more than anything else in this world – and it’s been so special sharing these precious moments with just my closest friends and family.

Having received a few emails about dressing my bump from some of you lately though, I thought I’d put together a few things I’ve learnt about pregnancy dressing – mainly what’s worked (and what hasn’t) for me throughout the first and second trimesters.

I’ll be spending my entire third trimester in a Perth summer which means an average of 36-42C degrees – I’m dreading it so so much! It was 37C degrees when I took these photos a couple of days ago (plus I had just scoffed down a burger and large fries for lunch – no regrets!) so I thought I was somewhat qualified to speak about how to be comfortable, confident and pregnant in summer. I have to say though, it’s definitely no walk in the park.

So far, I’ve put on about 5-6kgs from my pre-preg weight (I’m averaging a weight gain of about 1-2kgs per month so far, which is normal I think) with pretty much all my weight going to my hips, thighs, belly and boobs. Oh and baby/placenta too, of course. I’ve been so far successful in getting away with wearing no maternity clothes except for essentials like bras, a pair of SRC leggings for working out, and maternity jeans. I’ve just been going up a size (or three!) in non-maternity clothes and mostly in stretchy, breathable fabrics. To most of you I probably don’t look 6 months pregnant but I certainly feel it – I’m taking a size 12 and 14 in ‘normal’ clothes these days and even then, I can’t do up the zip (longer tops are a godsend!) or a size 14 doesn’t fit me around the belly at all.

Whilst I’ve found casual dressing a lot easier and simpler, it’s the dressing for parties and weddings that I’ve found SO hard, especially as you want (and need) to feel comfortable too. Pregnancy is no time to be cutting off blood circulation to your limbs for the sake of looking good. Thankfully for me – though after much trial and error – overcoming these challenges have come with practice and knowing what works/what doesn’t.

Here are a few things that have worked well for me in terms of special occasion dressing so far, especially as the temperature rises:

Off-the-shoulder tops and blouses

One of the best things about pregnancy dressing for me is embracing and discovering different styles of clothing to accommodate my changing shape. I’ve never been a huge fan of off-the-shoulder anything, but as my bump and waistline gets bigger and bigger, I’ve learnt off-the-shoulder tops are seriously flattering and also really chic (which is not a word you throw around often when you’re the size of a whale with raging hormones). For evening/special occasions during summer, the best thing to wear is an off-the-shoulder blouse or dress in a fancy or structured kind of fabric. It cleverly hides those expanding arms (I wish I was going into a winter pregnancy as I hate having my arms out!) as well as those awkward first-second trimester mini beer guts until you properly pop. If you want to conceal your bump, choose something with a hemline that falls to your belly button and then pair it with high-waisted trousers, tailored shorts or a skirt like I’ve done here.

When it comes to an off-the-shoulder dress though, I find the fitted silhouettes way more flattering than those grecian-inspired, flowy tent dresses. As comfortable as they are, they look god-awful-potato-dumpling-like on me so I personally avoid them, preferring something more fitted.

Embrace bodycon anything

Going back to my first point about pregnancy dressing forcing me out of my sartorial comfort zone; the only time I’ve ever felt comfortable wearing something skin-tight is when I look like I’ve swallowed a basketball (and don’t have to suck it in). I personally think baby bumps look SO much more beautiful and flattering in something form-fitting than baggy and loose. If you’re not into the head-to-toe bodycon look (let’s be real here – who is after they’ve just wolfed down a burger and fries) I recommend wearing something loose up top and fitted down below – as I’ve done here with this outfit.

Wear all one colour in simple shapes

Okay, I’ve stayed true to something that has always been a part of my personal style and it’s worked wonders during my pregnancy. No prints, no psychedelic colours and no crazy fancy cuts. I’ve always been a big fan of minimal dressing and zeroed in on this ballerina pink two-piece at Topshop as soon as I saw it. I love the simple lines, the gathered detailing at the shoulders, the midi length skirt with a subtle split, and the structured overall shape. Subtle details with maximum impact has been my pregnancy wardrobe mantra. Head to toe black is also your best friend when pregnant!

I’ve always thought I’d take inspiration from Miroslava Duma’s maternity looks when pregnant lol but I soon found out that simple and minimal dressing is the best way for me to look chic during pregnancy because, er, I kind of forgot that I don’t actually have Valentino on speed dial.

Two-pieces/separates are the best things ever invented. Ever.

I haven’t had much luck AT ALL trying to find a dress for a wedding that fits in all the right (and tight) spaces. These days, when I’m looking for a new outfit, I have to shop for it literally the day or two before the event because I’m growing out of clothes way too quickly now (if it’s not stretchy, I’ll only have 1-2 weeks at most to wear it before I can’t fit into it anymore). I’m also finding I take hours or days just to find something suitable, which I don’t really have time for.

Cue the fantastic invention that is the two-piece. I’m wearing a size 10 top here and a size 12 skirt (I would have preferred a size 14 to be able to fully zip the skirt up but there was none available for me at the time). There’s no way I’d be able to find a non-maternity dress that accommodates a smaller upper body and larger bottom half at the same time (unless it’s 100% lycra), so dressing in separates has become my saving grace for special events and occasions. If there’s a coordinating skirt, then go for it – you can kind of create the illusion of wearing a dress and still look super polished. It’s so much more comfortable and you obviously get more wear out of your separates as you can pair them with other things in your wardrobe. I have Elin Kling’s baby shower outfit on file for inspiration (hello, off-the-shoulder top and split pencil skirt!).

The ultimate slimming effect

I’m in flats and sneakers 99% of the time these days, but as I’ve been lucky so far to not experience a bad back, puffy ankles, pelvis dysfunction or any leg cramps during my pregnancy, I’ve been able to get away with wearing heels on occasion. As I start piling on the weight now that I’m nearing the third trimester (and my legs/ankles get sore easily from all the weight), I spend the majority of events and occasions sitting down and I always pack a pair of ballet flats in my bag when I’m out just in case I end up having to walk really far due to a lack of parking etc. I don’t wear heels any higher than 10cm (these Louboutins I’m wearing are 100mm) because I’m clumsy af and I almost took a tumble in my five inch Charlotte Olympias in front of the mirror the other day.

Having said all that, I’m starting to notice this week that my feet have seemed to increase half a size (not sure if it’s pregnancy hormones or the weather, or both) as some of my shoes (especially heels) have started to feel a little tight. Vanity aside, the key to dressing a bump is listening to your body – don’t stay on your feet all day and don’t wear anything too restrictive if that’s what your body is telling you!

I’m hoping I won’t have to switch up much more of my pregnancy style come the third trimester (simply because there are probably more urgent things to think about like picking a name and doing my kegels!) but who knows. I really do love and embrace my new shape and am in complete awe of the miracles my body is really capable of, but when you fall pregnant you quickly realise your body is no longer yours and that you just have to go with the flow!

In collaboration with Topshop | Wearing Topshop Structured Bardot Top and Split Pencil Skirt, Christian Louboutin nude patent Decollete pumps, Daniel Wellington Lady Sheffield watch.