When it comes to translating your style into maternity wear, it might feel like you need to learn a whole new language. We wholeheartedly believe that dressing for the bump can be exciting, fun, and yes, chic, but you also want to make sure it's comfortable, flattering, and still feels you.
Therefore, just as you turn to the experts these nine months (your physicians, your friends, your mom), we picked the brain of Target maternity design partner, Liz Lange, who broke down a few simple guidelines for dressing for two (or maybe three, or four...), especially during the most event-packed time of the year. With our trust in Lange — after all our own West Coast senior editor Katie Hintz-Zambrano happens to be dressing her own baby bump these days — we took notes as she broke down some of the simplest ways to keep your look sharp and festive without succumbing to pregnancy-clothing stereotypes or one-size-flatters-none mentality.
Watch for the Target designer's holiday picks in the video, find out more about the collection on A Bulls Eye View, and be sure to take notes on the rest of Lange's genius advice in our one-on-one.
What do you think are some of the biggest mistakes when it comes to pregnancy style?
"I think the number one biggest mistake that women make is thinking that they want to hide their body. They'll wear oversized clothing that they think somehow is making them look thinner, which is really just the opposite. If you wear something fitted, it really shows off your growing silhouette and shows off where you may have some new curves, and also where you don't. And it looks slimmer."
What kind of silhouettes do you think you should pick trimester to trimester? How do they change?
"Well, I think in the first trimester, you're still pretty small. Most women barely look pregnant during the first trimester. I think it's really about not buying maternity clothing, because that's going to be oversized on you. It's about just wearing stretchy, simple tops that maybe have a little more length that you already have in your wardrobe and your favorite little dresses that maybe have a little stretch in them, and trying to get away with that. When you move into your second trimester, that's really when you're in your full-fledged maternity clothing and that's all about keeping it fitted. So, you're looking for dresses and tops that have ruching in the sides that grow with you, and stretchy fabrications, and great-fitting jeans. In today's marketplace, there's no reason to change your sense of style just because you're pregnant. (That would be another mistake, actually.) You really just want to replace your regular clothing with maternity versions of those very pieces that you turn to again and again when you're not pregnant — whether that's jeans or dresses or pencil skirts or T-shirts. And third trimester, that's your toughest. You're really at your biggest, and I think that's a lot about leggings and cute tunic tops."
Would you suggest women buy maternity clothes right off the bat, or should they wait until they really have to?
"I was always notorious for kicking pregnant women out off my stores when they tried to shop when they were too early — not because I didn't want their business, but because I really always believe that, [in] the earliest stage, you can't buy maternity clothing. They pee on that stick, they know that they're pregnant, and they just want to start shopping. I get that, because it's so exciting. The truth is, for the first three months, your body isn't changing all that much. If you do buy maternity clothing then, number one, it's going to be too big on you, and that's going to be unflattering and make you look bigger. Number two, maternity clothing does have a lot of stretch in it...but it's not magic. If you buy something that fits you at week two, it's unlikely that it's going to fit you the week before you go into the hospital to give birth. You really want your clothing to have longevity and to look its best on you. I really suggest that you wait until the beginning of your second trimester."
Do you think there are any celebrities out there who have nailed perfect pregnancy style?
"I really was a fan of the way Claire Danes looked on the red carpet for the Emmys in that yellow Lanvin dress — first of all, the fact that she wore yellow, and so many pregnant women make the mistake of thinking it's just all black all the time. That's not true. Black is a slimming color, but any color can look beautiful on a pregnant woman. I loved the ease of it; I loved the drapey-ness of it. I just thought she just pulled it off so beautiful and so elegantly."
Speaking of red carpet, what tricks can you share for pregnant women who have a formal occasion to attend this holiday season?
"I always start by saying — because nothing seems to strike more fear in a pregnant woman's heart than an invitation to something dressy — that no one expects you to be the dressiest woman in the room. You're pregnant. I really do think there are so many ways you can attack it. You could even be wearing a regular outfit, like what you might wear during the day — whether it's your favorite jeans with a cute top or a dress or skirt you might wear to the office — and just by adding some big, statement costume jewelry — a pair of earrings, a statement necklace, a great cuff, a cocktail ring, a bit more makeup — you're immediately dressy enough. If you do buy a top that has a little bit of sparkle in it, remember, you can dress that up for an evening out. But you can also dress it down with your favorite pair of jeans or a blazer or a sweater, because things like sparkle, as we now know, are not just for nighttime."
What did you find yourself wearing when you were pregnant?
"I lived in dresses. I was pregnant, both times, mostly over the summer. I gave birth in the fall with both my children. Even when I'm not pregnant, I live in dresses because I think they're one-stop shopping. Like so many women, I am very busy in the morning. I've got children at home, I've got a career, I've got about three minutes to get myself dressed. If I just throw on a dress, even if I don't remember what's going on that day, I know that dress is going to take me from sun up to sun down and anything in between without having to worry. I highly recommend dresses for pregnant women. I just think it's easy and you always look pulled together. When I'm in a dress, a little secret is I'm as comfortable as I would be in my nightgown. People think, 'Oh, wow. You made such an effort.'"
What kind of garments can be worn before and after pregnancy?
"I always think that after pregnancy, you should turn back to the very things that you wore in your first trimester. There's this old adage that I definitely ascribe to: 'nine months on, at least nine months off.' People always think that you're going to gain all this weight, give birth to this seven to nine pound baby, and then all of the sudden, you're just gonna look the same. But that's not the case. It's a process. It's an evolution. Longer T-shirts, things that belt (like trench coats and jackets that will give you that little definition in your tummy and also cover a bit of your thighs), longer tunics — the very items that got you through that awkward first trimester is gonna get you through that awkward fourth trimester."
What pieces of clothing do women already have in their closet that might work when they're pregnant?
"Anything you have that's a knit will work, whether it's a knit dress or a knit top. These things are inherently stretchy. Any tunics that you own (tunics have become a big trend for not pregnant women) automatically give you a bit of length. Accessories have no size. So, really, really, really use your accessories. It's your scarves, it's your jewelry, it's your makeup, it's your shoes. It's just gonna change up your outfit. I even love to take fun-colored sweaters, even if they don't fit me anymore, and throw them up and around my shoulders for a pop of color with my maternity outfits."