When Colleen Pausley was pregnant three years ago, she had a terrible time finding maternity clothes that were stylish yet comfortable.
“I was working at the time, and I needed clothes,” said Pausley, whose daughter Anna is now 2. “I couldn’t find anything appropriate for work, and I certainly couldn’t find any good jeans. That was the most frustrating.”
So Pausley, who worked several years in retail, decided to open her own upscale maternity shop called Bella Maternity in Clifton Park Center mall four months ago.
Today, tentlike maternity dresses and cutesy patterns for pregnant women are a thing of the past. Just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean your stylish days are over.
Modern maternity fashions offer the perfect mix of comfort, fit, style and the look of runway fashions. The result is maternity clothes designed to complement pregnant women and their changing shapes.
Something to celebrate
“Today’s maternity clothing is designed to grow with a pregnant woman’s body,” said Pausley. “Women can be proud of being pregnant instead of trying to hide it. They should celebrate it. It’s such an amazing time in your life. You can still be you when you’re pregnant. You don’t have to be someone else. ”
Not only has maternity clothing and fashion been reinvented, maternity apparel has also been redesigned.
“Today’s maternity clothes are more fitted,” said Pausley. “A lot of them have lycra in the material so they are more stretchy than they used to be.”
Pointing to a sleek, strapless black dress, Pausley said the versatile dress could also be worn as a skirt.
“The top becomes your waistband,” she explained.
Maternity tops and T-shirts made in comfortable stretchy cotton/spandex come in crew necks, V-necks, scoopnecks and wraps. Many are accented with lace or beads. Some are bright, solid colors while others are bold prints.
“Some maternity shirts can also be worn after you have the baby to nurse in,” said Pausley.
Jeans come in a variety of styles with fold-over panels, full panels, under-belly and over-the-belly styles.
Pants adjust to fit throughout the pregnancy with stretch elastic waists or trendy maternity palazzo pants, gauchos and crop pants with hidden elastic panels.
Wrap sweaters are made to make room for a woman’s expanding belly.
Stylish, wrinkle-free crepe suits can be worn to the office.
Some women even wear thick leather belts over their skirts or slacks that are meant to be worn underneath the belly.
Funky and sexy
Maternity bathing suits come in a variety of styles that cover as much or as little as you want, such as the traditional two-piece suit that covers the belly, tankinis that expose a little of the belly and bikinis that show the entire belly.
“The clothes are so versatile and funky, I’ve sold a lot of pieces to women who are not pregnant because they don’t look like maternity clothes,” said Pausley.
Pointing out several beautiful cocktail dresses, Pausley said: “Today, you can still be sexy if you are a mom-to-be.”
Most women will begin wearing maternity clothes around four or five months, said Robin Elise Weiss, author of “Your Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth.”
“A woman carrying her second or third baby or a mother of multiples may need maternity clothes earlier than a first-time mom,” said Weiss.
Because maternity clothes can be expensive, Weiss said most women can get away with three or four pairs of pants, a pair of jeans, several tops and a nice dress or two.
Sarah Otto, owner of Haute Mama Maternity Shop in Saratoga Springs, said she thinks young Hollywood actresses who become pregnant and are not afraid to show their pregnancy off have influenced fashion designers to design maternity clothes that are more form-fitting.
“Before, the styles almost tried to hide the belly, when it’s really something that’s impossible to hide,” said Otto. “Trying to hide under these big, shapeless outfits actually makes you look bigger.”
Otto said that some of the clothes can be worn after the pregnancy.
“Jeans especially are designed with the elastic inside now, which is fantastic because few women jump back into their pre-pregnancy jeans right away,” she said.
Otto said about 15 percent of her sales are to women who aren’t pregnant because they are so comfortable.
“If I see a cute top, I will frequently buy it for myself,” said Otto.
Today’s maternity clothes are designed to make women feel good about themselves and their changing bodies.
“Sometimes, people are afraid to embrace these tighter looks because they are afraid it will make them look bigger,” said Otto, “when, in fact, it will actually do the opposite.”
Categories: Life and Arts