Week 28: Fashion While Pregnant

You don’t see just how fly my style is? I don’t see why I need a stylist when I shop so much I can speak Italian.
— Kanye West

I, like Kanye, do not need someone else to tell me what a pregnant woman should wear.

A potential consequence of being in a long-term relationship is the fact that I have spent the back-end of my twenties caring very little about what others think when it comes to my appearance. I obsessed so long during my pre-teens, teens, and early twenties with this concern that I am enjoying this moment, which has spilled into my thirties. Sometimes, I worry that this means I’m “letting myself go” but after a few days in a row of proving that theory wrong, I get tired of playing the game once again and retreat to my sweats.

Wearing clothes and your general appearance really does take a 180 degree turn in a lot of ways once pregnancy takes over. For the past month, I’ve pushed back the topic of fashion for a time when it felt most appropriate in my current situation.

I spent most of my second trimester under the radar when it comes to being noticeably pregnant. I chalk this up to this being my first pregnancy and the fact that a lot of my wardrobe pre-pregnancy was stretchy and flowy and baggy. You can hide a lot with stretchy and flowy and baggy. Even after a noticeable bump emerged, I haven’t felt a need yet to shop in the dreaded maternity section.

Instead, I am taking some creative liberties with what I would normally wear, and mix-and-match. Comfort, as is expected, is a high priority, but pushing the boundaries seems to come in second lately.

130509-robin-williams-kardashian-cheat_souaib.jpg

Crazy, busy patterns, stripes, bright colors, boho dresses, XL clothing, men’s shirts, Lularoe leggings. Instead of checking out the Maternity aisle, this is where I am gravitating these days. Does this all sound like the “What Not to Wear List?” Have I scared you away? Are you, like me, picturing this right now?

That’s what we’re afraid of right? Ridicule. [side note, but I totally get the amazingness of this dress now. I would totally wear it, and don’t understand why she got so much sh*t afterall]

I can’t help but feel like maternity clothes are just another way of transitioning women into mom clothes. Hence the strong counter-movement against the standard maternity clothes. I’m all for hip clothing for pregnant women, for all women, but these usually come with a hefty price tag for, again, clothes you will probably only wear for a month or two tops! Why?!

Maybe the reason I’m so intrigued by patterns, bright colors, and making the clothes fit my body versus the other way around, is that my personality is feeling extra defiant against what I am expected to do lately -- and that spills into what I am supposed to wear.

What we wear, clothing, accessories, the way we alter, revise and enhance our appearance as women is often more political, more representative of who we are as women, than maybe we realize. The lack of realization is probably why some celebrity women on the Red Carpet over the years react so tersely when asked, “Who are you wearing?”

At face value, it makes sense. Female celebrities get asked more than men about their outfits, about their looks While the male celebrities get asked about their craft or their current projects more, women have to answer more questions regarding their bodies and their appearance. To combat this, the natural inclination would be to reject these questions.

Maybe.

But, these celebrities are just the product of the work of many people, most often women, who have worked hard to create bold, quirky, beautiful, fashionable looks, that end up on these high-profile women to display, to share, to comment on, to bring to the stage. Shouting out a designer or a make up artist, or stylist, often means acknowledging, thanking, and promoting another woman. Choosing one fashion designer over another can also be a strategic power play. Protesting a designer who won’t dress women that do not have runway model proportions, and going with another designer as a result who does fit an assortment of female bodies is worth talking about. Getting rid of the question, “Who are you wearing?” as a result is not the solution, and could actually be damaging to the movement.  

All this is to say that our style, what we wear, and how we display our bodies, ourselves, is very personal and is reflective of more than just a look. It tells a story. It is a conscious decision and one that we should own, embrace, and celebrate.   

Ultimately what I’ve been arguing in my rambley defiant way is this…if we allow ourselves some grace. If we are not worrying so much about looking the same as we often do. If we accept and even appreciate that we don’t have very much control over what is happening to our bodies while pregnant, maybe we can have some fun with fashion. Maybe we can find ourselves in something new instead of forcing our bodies to literally fit into something that it doesn’t accept at the moment?

 This sweatshirt and these sweatpants (and this dog) bring me joy. 

This sweatshirt and these sweatpants (and this dog) bring me joy. 

Even though my style, or my concern for approval, has waned, doesn’t mean I don’t have a style. It doesn’t mean I am not proud of my style. The opposite really. Back then, when I cared more about what I looked like in an outfit or what outfit I wore out with friends or to the grocery store, I tried so hard to be many things and nothing stuck. Nothing felt like it was mine. The clothes wore me. I am very familiar with the feeling of constantly adjusting an article of clothing or covering up with a cardigan because it just wasn’t right for me and I did not feel comfortable.

I wouldn’t say I spend too much energy on what I consider my style now, but I rarely wear what I don’t feel myself in. And I rarely wear what I don’t feel comfortable in. And even on the occasions that I play dress up and I actually put on makeup and style my hair, I have a confidence in my closet because what’s in there is for me and reflects me. To take a page from the organizational guru, Marie Kondo, everything in there “brings me joy” or has brought me joy at some point in recent time. If it doesn’t, it will soon go away.

You know what else will soon go away, this body? It will likely look different after baby than it did before and during pregnancy too. If we keep giving into purchasing clothes to fit a certain time or fashion piece, we are only solving problems in the short term. We risk letting clothes wear us. We risk getting sucked into a rabbit hole of letting others decide what we should wear and what looks good on us.

All I ask is that you play dress up with your own closet. You might be surprised what you can find.