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This post is part of a series on maternity wardrobe essentials and approaches to dressing for pregnancy. See the complete series.
If you’re reading this on Monday morning, and it’s not preceded by a note welcoming our new arrival, my due date came and went and I’m . . . still pregnant. Which is, of course, fine, but I am looking forward to the day when I can stop writing about dressing for pregnancy in the present tense!
I’ve been looking wistfully at September issues and fall catalogues for the last few weeks, trying to piece together a vision of how I’ll incorporate fall’s trends into my post-partum style (which involves some seriously magical thinking, since I have no idea what my post-partum body will look like, what my needs will be—other than sleep!—or how quickly I’ll feel up for getting dressed). It feels like a whole new experience, after months of maternity dressing, which, while it can be stylish (and I’ve certainly tried!), is mostly not trendy—at least as to silhouette, since the range of bump-able silhouettes is, well, small. That said, some trends—particularly those involving color, texture and accessories—can work really successfully on the pregnant body (sometimes with a few adjustments).
For example: I loved this spring and summer’s brights, but dressing a newly-proportioned and (let’s face it) outsized body in bright colors takes some care and some thought. As usual, these aren’t iron-clad rules, but here are a few things I thought about and some particularly (and sometimes surprisingly!) successful strategies for making this trend work on a pregnant body. Like my list of suit alternatives, these go from least to most adventurous.
Let’s face it: pregnant bodies are, well . . . often bigger than their non-pregnant counterparts. Larger bodies lead to larger expanses of, in this case, bright, fabric, which can sometimes feel like overkill . . . or simply like a more dramatic look than you were going for. Starting with simpler shapes may be a good way to baby-step your way in to making these looks work, and giving you a chance to experiment with drawing attention to different parts of your body.
Likewise, pairing brights with neutrals can tone them down in a way that really unifies a look. I wore this taupe-ish cardigan with many a brights-based look, taking advantage of both its snuggly nature and the way it made bright colors seem a little less overwhelming, particularly on darker, more inside-oriented days.
Brights at the Office: One Thing at a Time
As we’ve discussed at length, it depends on where you work and what you do, but not all offices are universally brights-friendly. For example, at the firm I worked at this summer, the expected number of bright wardrobe elements per woman on any given day was probably less than .5. Keeping the rest of the outfit more neutral and relying on one (or maybe two) colored elements may make these kinds of pieces more office-appropriate, and make you feel less like you’re ringing alarm bells walking through the hallway.
Pairing with Pattern
For whatever reason, I love the look of brights with patterns. Depending on the overall look, either the bright element or the patterned element can function as the anchor piece, with the other functioning as an accent. On the pregnant body, this is one of those relatively unusual examples of where more is more: even though it can be both a lot of pattern and a lot of bright on an unusually proportioned form, it feels celebratory and intentional and really, really fun.
Out There, Live: Color Blocking, Analogous Brights and Dramatic Shapes
Broadly and generally, these are bolder bright looks, and your mileage may vary on appropriateness for your work environment, your state of pregnancy, and your temperament. I’ve found that I’ve come to really love analogous brights, which seem really soothing to me, oddly enough, but they’re definitely not for everyone. Likewise, I wasn’t a huge fan of color-blocking while pregnant (though this was in part a proportion issue, brought on by my inability to wear high-waisted anything). But I loved, LOVED, the look of a bold, unexpected silhouette in a bright color, even though it was something I don’t think I ever would have worn not pregnant. I never would have bought this crazy coral/watermelon colored, puff-sleeved blouse under ordinary circumstances, but again, the playful, experimental mood that pregnancy dressing put me in made me more open to these possibilities—and thrilled to try to make them work. It definitely wasn’t subtle, but it was kind of a blast.
How do you feel about trends and the pregnant body? In particular, do you think things like brights or pattern mixing have a place in the pregnant gal’s wardrobe, or are they better reserved for the not-currently-reproducing set?
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