Working out wardrobe dilemmas is how I earn my daily bread, nothing sartorial fazes me: not a client with weekly weight shifts, a 14 page shoot to prep, style and turnaround in 24 hours, or even the edit of a half-made collection for a show that week. Not one for wardrobe malfunctions, I long ago worked out what suits my silhouette and style and loved nothing more than dressing up box playtime, either for a shoot, or my own personal catwalk of life. However, when Dr Mistry the ayurvedic doctor miracle worker, whose amazingly simple diet and health plan helped me to conceive, relayed to me in his own uniquely direct terms that a) I would be putting on weight, so out would have to go my ritualised routine of salad, salad, salad, b) no more heels through the pregnancy, c) no stress, certainly no more Tracy Anderson cardio work outs and d) nothing tight on belly; this was a styling challenge, even I was scared of. After years of training myself thin, the mental adaptation to embracing the curves and loving the bump has been a journey: both sartorial and emotional. Now 7 1/2 months into my pregnancy, my much loved and anticipated baby boy is due in April, meanwhile my body and body-image have had to shift a few gears: no longer am I able to rely on the small waist/D cup cleavage/long legs I took for granted, yet never thought good enough. D has grown to F cup and counting, my legs are not as sylph-like as they were when Tracyed to the max, weight seems to be being stored haunch-like, to see me through the next stage, nice. Translation: there is no waist, the bump is out and proud, a force to be reckoned with, a love overwhelming.
Onto my dilemma: how to dress through London Fashion Week? I’ve decided against a Eurostar trip to Paris for the shows there, as though they are the climax of and inspiration for the season ahead, and while Paris might be labelled the city of romance and the historical locale of the troubadour, in terms of chivalry, London’s fashion show security and prs win the good manners battle hands down. Sometimes at the Paris shows, security seem to mistake a bunch of high heeled fashion editors for kettled student protestors: I have seen pushing, screaming, elbows and worse flying, hilariously stressful and ridiculously anti-chevalier. Better this season then, to glean my showtime inspiration from style.com and enjoy the shows here, where I was treated like a queen.
Having bitten the pregnancy bullet and acquiesed to Dr Mistry’s no heels ruling, I months ago packed away my gorgeous collection of heels: this is a woman whose runabout shoe had a 4 inch heel, that was tough, there was a tear. As someone who loathes change, it was as much for the joy of surrendering to this overwhelming new love, as realising I am currently a protector, a vehicle for my baby’s wellbeing, combined with the dread of becoming a drudge… Deciding to embrace the dictate, I bought several pairs of practical flat boots and shoes and averted my eyes anytime I saw something gorgeously delectable in the sales. Solutions to how to dress the bump and burgeoning bustline? ’60’s style Empire line dresses seemed to work for me, as they swing away from the body, grazing the curves. I bought three dresses from the lovely Lizzie at Mishka, my favourite vintage shop in North London, had two shortened, so they were less burqa-like and showed a bit of leg – to off-set the higher necklines – which somehow feels more appropriate now with my lack of cinched waist-action. Etsy and Ebay also sourced some lovely gems: one folkloric in red ’70s patterned cotton, one more like the traditional Turkish school-uniform with its crisp white collar and ribbon tie on a simple black woollen dress, which as a child I had always admired when my cousins wore theirs’ to school in the old country.
Below are some images taken through London Fashion Week and a dress down Sunday, which I hope will show how I propose to combine style with substance, comfort with joy.
Dress: Etsy, Jacket: Philip Lim, Hat: Hat Shop in Beyoglu, Istanbul
Head Dress: Piers Atkinson, Jacket: Aquascutum, Shawl, Margiela, Belt: Dries van Noten, Dress: vintage Roland Klein
Stylist's little tip: bring the 'waist' higher to Empire Line proportions, add a suit-style jacket to tailor the silhouette, shirt dresses hide and glide over bumps forgivingly, gold for glory, why try to hide it?!? - aka the bump is out and proud!
Dress: Ebay, Owl Pendant: Portobello Market, Head Dress: Ashley Isham Archive
Boots: vintage Charles Jourdan, Tights: Jonathan Aston, Shawl: Tallulah and Hope. Shawls: long since a staple of my wardrobe, currently invaluable for a dash of on-trend swish!
Cloche Hat: Lock and Co, Dress: Margiela, Jacket: Aquascutum, Belt: Dries Van Noten, Boots: Black Truffle. This dress has been a much-loved, expensive Paris purchase bought many seasons ago, the day I learnt that buying well meant buying to last. I love the way it hugs, without groping, my (ever-changing) shape: part nun-like, eternally chic.
Hat: Stephen Jones, Cape: Wimbledon Car Boot Sale, Leggings: Oasis, Socks: Topshop, Boots: Native American Store,west Village, NYC.
Kimono Top: Topshop, Leather Waistcoat: Beyond Retro.
Swing Coat: Mishka, Tights: Wolford, Bag: Angel Jackson, Hat: Lock and Co, Boots: Black Truffle.
1930's Lace Dress: Mishka, Jacket: Charity Shop in Knightsbridge, Hat: Browns Focus, Bag: Angel Jackson.
Dress Down Sunday, at the Heath. Hat: Bora Aksu, Sunglasses: Yves St Laurent, Jacket: Isabel Marant, Army Shirt, Squadron, Jogger-style Top: Matthew Williamson, Shalwa Joggers and Top Just Seen Underneath: Topshop, and yes those are Uggs, blame it on the bump!..
Ok ladies, here my bump(s) are displayed out and proud. My self-taught top tips for trying to combine looking stylish with an ever-growing pregnancy girth?
1) We are pregnant, not invisible: learn to love the bump and be as adventurous, or discreet as you feel that day; personally I loved my glory in gold look.
2) Shirt dresses, which can be cinched in at a different point of the body than the waist (impossible to get a belt around now anyway!), can work in a multiple of ways: with leggings loose, or Empire Line as I wear mine.
3) Long Dresses: personally I prefer the Margiela/nun-like silhouette: less 70’s maxi, which I love, but with wedgie heels or flip-flops, not flats and as heels are banned, unless the sun shines brightly between now and April 28th , I think are best left for high summer. The more figure-gliding long length works wonderfully with flat boots and brogues for winter-spring fashionability.
4) Jackets: A smart suit-style jacket over the more figure-hugging looks, I feel works well as it adds a structured shape and means not everything is on show, bulging bumptastic. Shoulders and arms are the last to ‘splurge’, the added bonus of which is that jackets and coats worn undone still fit and make you feel less of a lump, still you!..
5) Swing Coats: A 1960’s classic, which as the description says, swings gloriously. Mine made me feel rather fabulously swishy, especially in such a lovely colour on a grey London day. I wore this to a wedding and a christening last summer, ie pre-pregnancy, and felt rather delicious; worn at LFW, it made me still feel part of the tribe.
6) Empire Line/1960’s silhouettes: I feel if your legs are up to it, raising the hem and necklines slightly means everything is less obvious/more refined. This shape is perfect for pregnancy, while also being less in your face and sexed out.
7) Mens’ trousers, worn with braces and brogues, perhaps with a t’shirt or a loose blouse, would look amazing on a pregnant woman: pushing the new androgyny, while clearly not(!), has something poetic in it’s visual charm.
8) Indulge in draping, especially if this is a hide the bulge day. Grecian-style drapes of fabric working their magic to accentuate the areas we feel most confident about, is bound to make us feel more beautiful. If your legs and arms look as slim as you ever did, dresses or tops which drape will draw attention to these and away from where you feel less confident.
9) As your girth grows wear mini jersey dresses as you once would a t’shirt. Sounds really simplistic, but who wants their kidneys and belly on display in the late winter chill? Today I’m wearing a Topshop mini dress under another (now) shorter top which currently otherwise would leave a belly-gap.
10) Shalwa trousers: I have always loved these: they remind me of visits to my father’s village in southern Turkey. I have several pairs, from pre-pregnancy, both high fashion and high street; these work wonderfully now, with the waist band worn under the belly, thereby adhering to Dr Mistry’s nothing tight on the belly dictate! Plus they are forgiving of ‘haunch legs’, as they come in at the knee, where all is still as it was!..
11) Kimonos: the drama of their big arm action and glamour, cuts a swathe over the body: worn either as an open jacket over layers, or tied Empire Line-style below the bust looks fabulously confident on a pregnant woman. I love my kimono-style Topshop top, for how the hugeness of its arms, and how it hits below my thighs, off-sets the burgeoning of my bump!
I love owls, I love hats, I love sparkles, I love lace. I have a penchant for grey and liking for pink. While of course I am and have changed through this pregnancy: no more and never again number one on my priority list, I don’t see why women have to be reduced to the hell that is the majority of maternity wear. With some acceptance and adaptations, isn’t it more fun to play a new game of dress-up and celebrate the glamour of the next stage?