Bump it up

michelle

By Michelle LeGault

There once was a time when pregnant women hid their baby bumps under tents masquerading as shirts. This was an era when men and women were never shown in the same bed on TV and instead they slept in identical twin beds separated by a nightstand. Think “I Love Lucy.”

Were we supposed to think that sex never happened? Or that babies really DID come delivered by storks? Maybe Lucy wasn’t really pregnant under that giant shirt. After all, she did eat a lot of chocolate when she briefly worked for a candy factory. Maybe she just gained a few pounds…. all in her abdomen.

Gone now are the days of Lucy. This is a new time. Couples today are shown sharing a bed on TV and baby bumps are hip. As a twenty-something who has just given birth to her first baby (yeah buddy!) I can tell you that it is now the cool thing to show off your baby belly. The tricky part is finding stores that sell clothes that a) fit the bump and b) look good stretched over the bump and c) feel comfortable. Here is what I found in my 9ish months of pregnancy:

1. Maternity pants are a good investment and Gap maternity pants are the best. I like Gap pants because they come in actual pant sizes. A lot of maternity pants (apart from being ugly) come in ambiguous sizes like small, medium or large, so unhelpful. The only problem I found with Gap maternity clothes was that most of them are only available online. However, if you like to thrift you can easily find this brand at consignment shops.

2. When it comes to shoes the flatter the better, I say. My baby was just over 7 pounds when she was born, but my total weight gain was 25 pounds (which is normal). That is a lot of extra weight to carry all in your abs and your feet will notice. This is like carrying around two 12.5 pound bowling balls all day. Do yourself a favor and invest in comfy shoes.

3. It doesn’t have to be a maternity shirt for you to wear it while pregnant. Stores like H&M and Express are good places for finding long, fitted tops that look cute over a baby bump. I tried to pick things in solid colors so I could coordinate with other pieces in my wardrobe.

4. Ruching: it looks better on you than on the hanger. You know how some things look really ugly on a hanger, and then when you put them on they look amazing? That’s how it goes for maternity tops with ruching. They are made to fit perfectly over your bump and stay in place so that you don’t accidentally bare your midriff when you don’t want to. Old Navy and Target both carry tops in this style that are very business casual.

5. In a pinch, you can use a cinch – a belt that is. Another way to draw attention to your bump is to wear a cute chunky belt around your shirt at empire-waist-height.

Kate Middleton’s Style Secrets

Whenever I see photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, I can’t help but wonder what goes on behind the scenes. She’s always perfectly coiffed in a neatly tailored ensemble with just a hint of trendiness. And she tops it off with that megawatt smile– no matter the location, event or time of day. Such perfection must be exhausting. How does she do it?

She sticks to a color palette
To flatter her complexion, the princess favors navy, neutrals and sometimes red. If she wears a pattern, it’s often black-and-white. On the rare occasion that she dons a bold color, she still wears her favorite neutral pumps.

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Flapper fabulous in 2011

Clara Bow starred as a flapper in dozens of movies in the 1920s.

Fabulous flapper-esqe accessories are popping up in stores this fall. Combine these suddenly popular items – along with some strategic finds – for a flapper girl look that is totally 2011.

A cloche hat

A cloche hat allowed women to show off their hairdos – the hat's close brim hid the super-short length. Target, $16.99.

Shapeless shirt

The flapper silhouette was boyish and straight as a yardstick. Mimic the silhouette with the waist-less blousy shirts that are in style today. Elizabeth and James, on sale for $171.99 at piperlime.com (PS: the site has many other cheaper alternatives!)

A longer skirt

Flappers dared to bare their knees in boxy dresses; try this flowy skirt that sits low on the hips for a look that's more flattering and 2011. Express, $39.90.

Mary Janes

Mary Janes and T-strap shoes were all the rage with flappers. The heel height at 2 inches was considered oh-so-daring. Naturalizer shoes $79 on zappos.com

Red, red lips

Red lips are super-in right now, thanks to the influx of early 90s styles sweeping the stores. But red lips were also favored by flappers – as was a smoky eye. Conspicuous makeup was a bold change from flappers' barefaced Victorian grandmothers. Women even proudly powdered their noses in public with pretty silver compacts. We recommend Rimmel lipstick in Temptation for the quintessential flapper pout.

Looooong strands of pearls

Long necklaces have been a style staple for while, and flappers adored their long strands of opulent pearls. These pearl strands from etsy come at a fabulous price: $15 for 120 inches.

Bonus points for….

A glam faux-fur jacket

Big fur is making a comeback this fall. While the trend is more 70s bohemian than 20s (flappers wore their coats knee-length), a coat like this screams silent film star when paired with a cloche hat and red lips. H&M, $69.95

–TC