Becoming a mama is one of life’s greatest gifts and to celebrate we’re featuring one of our Sassiest Mamas and her beautiful bump! This week, Louise Nichol – fashionista, photogenic goddess and the Editor of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia – is chatting about how she survived dressing up her bump and what she did clothes-wise once her beautiful baby boy Fox was born.
When Sassy Mama asked me to write a piece about pregnancy and post-pregnancy style, I felt distinctly unqualified. I am absolutely not from the Blake Lively school of dressing the bump, although as a fashion magazine editor I have always had the nagging suspicion that I probably should be. Sorry to disappoint. Throughout both of my pregnancies I gained a not-insignificant 20kgs, and while dressing the firm (and eminently excusable) bump was never much of a problem, finding clothes to accommodate the vastly expanded bits of me that weren’t baby equaled nine months of wardrobe fails. But that’s nothing compared to the trials of the months after delivery when there is no baby inside and yet – as I write this at three-months post-partum – still a pesky 10kgs clinging on. I blame the breastfeeding hormones as much as my insatiable desire for chocolate, which rules out any of my pre-pregnancy clothes.
The trick, I think, is to find a silhouette that best suits your shape and stick to it. Sadly for me, empire line – the holy grail of gorgeous pregnancy looks – simply does not work when your boobs become pneumatic at the merest hint of a blue line on a Clearblue test. I found that sticking to a base layer of skinny jeans and vest tops, riffing on variations of capes and flowy tops over the top, works best for every day. Here are my top five pregnancy and post-pregnancy essentials:
K-Lynn in Dubai has been my saviour during these times of ever-increasing décolletage. I have its Wacoal Minimiser in every cup size from D to F. The support is second-to-none and it is unobtrusive under most outfits.
Pregnancy lasts nine months, but I breastfed my daughter for a year, including pumping regularly in the office, so decent nursing bras are essential. At home, where I have scant regard for uplift (sorry husband) but comfort is a priority, I wear Marks & Spencer’s soft cotton styles.
Leaving the house requires a bit more support and after extensive research, I have found the Smooth Flexi Wire nursing bra by Anita to offer the best combination of support and a seamless finish.
I’ve tried all sorts of maternity jeans, but the ones I lived in throughout both pregnancies are a skinny, lightweight dark denim pair by Citizens of Humanity.
I emerged from the fug of the fourth trimester after my first pregnancy, only to realise that I was still wearing the afore-mentioned over-the-bump jeans. It was a fairly galling wake-up call that breastfeeding wasn’t going to be the answer to all my weight loss woes. Second time around, I couldn’t face the psychologically draining prospect of pulling on maternity jeans every day after giving birth, so at two-months post-partum I invested in bigger-than-usual sizes of Topshop’s super-stretchy high-waisted Jamie jeans and Gap’s 1969 Resolution True Skinny jeans.
Stretch denim is essential for making everything feel pulled together, while high-waisted styles contain the muumy tummy. The confidence boost from wearing ‘normal’ jeans – even if they are three sizes bigger – is priceless
The one area that didn’t expand during my pregnancies was my feet (hurrah for small blessings), so wearing heels became a crucial way to feel sleeker and generally less like a beached whale. I worked right up until giving birth with both babies and probably wore heels to the office more frequently than when not pregnant. A safe bet are Gianvito Rossi’s simple pumps with a manageable 85mm heel.
During maternity leave I get to do the nursery run, which requires leaving shoes at the front door. All this taking footwear on and off rules out laces for both my daughter and me (bye bye beloved Nike Flyknits). At first I was throwing on old Havaianas, but when you’ve barely brushed your teeth, let alone your hair, plastic flip-flops don’t help the pervading sense that every other mother is holding it together far more efficiently. So I decided that even if the rest of me looks neglected, at least my shoes would still have game, and invested in a pair of lace espadrilles by Valentino from Net-a-Porter. At Dhs 1, 750 they aren’t cheap, but I have worn them every day since buying them and even when I’m wearing an old tee and jeans, they make me feel like a fashion player.
I would never normally touch a body-con dress, but when pregnant and things in the stomach area are rock hard (unlike my non-pregnant abs), suddenly Lycra becomes a very real option. I had a couple of trips to Paris Fashion Week during my most recent pregnancy – for the couture and ready-to-wear shows – and loved wearing short non-maternity dresses, even busting out some over-the-knee stretch boots at the 32-week stage. Topshop’s maternity range has some great options if you don’t want to stretch your normal stuff.
My son was born two weeks before Christmas Day and I was determined to feel glamorous for at least one day, so I splashed out on Erdem’s Breeson dress, which, with its loose cut, cotton piqué skirt and button down lace top (making feeding a breeze), ticked as many of my practical-slash-pretty boxes as possible. Yes, it was an insanely extravagant purchase, but worth it to feel gorgeous on our first Christmas together as a family of four.
5. Secret weapon
Pregnancy and post-pregnancy
If, like me, your pregnancy weight gain isn’t confined to the bump (I used to think my daughter was gestating in my underarms, such was the rapid accumulation of flesh there), then I have one word: capes. While many pregnant women can stay stylish in blazers, the expansion in my arms and upper back made constricting sleeves hugely uncomfortable. When in doubt, a lace cape by Ayesha Depala or an embroidered style by Talitha (at Net-a-Porter and Matchesfashion), worn with a cami top, pair of skinny jeans and heels, is flattering, breastfeeding-compatible and will make you feel quite literally like a super-mummy.