Maternity fashion rules to make you feel like royalty

The royal baby's birth has the world abuzz this week, but Tamara Leigh has advice for mothers still expecting, so they too can look their best.

By - Jul 24th, 2013 08:59 am

Photo credit Sean McGrathThe royal baby’s birth is the buzziest thing happening this week, and I thought I’d use the occasion to demonstrate just how huge an impact the Duchess of Cambridge’s maternity style has had on the fashion world. Not since Jackie Kennedy has a popular personality like Kate Middleton been the definitive standard by which all other fashion is measured. Intense interest in what Kate Middleton wore grew as much as her baby bump.

In the U.S., even celebrities — like the expectant Angelina Jolie and Fergie — are subject to what could be called the “Kate Middleton effect.” While Kim Kardashian could not be more unlike the Duchess, their simultaneous pregnancies made for obvious comparisons. Additionally, the late Princess Diana’s style was also compared to that of the regal, yet youthful, Kate.

So, to royally wrap-up the takeaways for fashion followers in the family way from the past nine months of monarchy maternity rule, here’s three rules to take Kate’s noble style mainstream:

1. Carry your personal branding into your pregnancy wardrobe

You’re still you, plus one (or two, or more). Kate Middleton clearly showed that being pregnant is a continuation of who you are as a person and, whatever your style is, it doesn’t diminish you just because you’re adding “mother” to your title. The Duchess of Cambridge may have the benefit of personal designers like Alexander McQueen, Emilia Wickstead, and Armani, but even as her slender frame showed signs of an expanding waistline, her sophisticated style didn’t suddenly disappear in exchange for flowery frocks. Kate carried her classic looks, from coats to wrap dresses, with feminine detailing throughout, and the paparazzi captured many variations of her signature style in bright jewel tones, pastels, and fun prints, from polka dot to plaid.

Kim Kardashian proved this point as well by stepping out in form-fitting knits, minis, tops paired with leggings, and plenty of burgeoning cleavage. Was anyone surprised? No, because this was Kim’s style before the pregnancy, and she remained consistent throughout her trimesters.

Most likely, you have also developed a pre-pregnancy look that fits you. Your body will change, your hormones may rage, but the essence of you will remain consistent, and you’ll feel more comfortable in your skin if you continue to wear what you’re accustomed to.

2. Maternity wear is not mandatory.  

photo (92)

Alter non-maternity pieces for comfort and fashion. Author in L.A. 1989

Living in L.A. in 1989 and pregnant with twins, I had a black-tie gala to attend, and all of the options in the stores seemed to be tent-like dresses with big, ugly bows. A friend of mine in the fashion industry sat down with me and we designed an off-the-shoulder A-line top, with a paneled pencil skirt. My friend created the pattern and sewed the two-piece outfit for me. The then-stunning ensemble did wonders for my self-esteem when I walked into the event feeling every bit as elegant as all the other non-pregnant women.

The lack of options in the maternity market is what lead Juicy Couture founders Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy to create their elastic panel maternity Levi jeans. These designers – and their prolific sales – caused the market to shrink, with expectant mothers opting out of maternity clothes in favor of staying in off the rack styles made of stretchy fabrics. Once thought to be a condition to hide, historic maternity fashion intended to camouflage a pregnant belly. These days, as evidenced in abundant celeb pics of all stages of baby bumps, proud mamas show off their rising buns in the oven.

While Kate Middleton chose not to wear overly clingy sweaters or knits, she was able to adapt her existing wardrobe with minor alterations to accommodate her changing shape. Modern spandex in leggings and lycra-based fabrics make wearing what’s already in your closet possible and practical.

3. Accentuate & accessorize your best attributes.

kate middleton in lk-bennett-pumps

Use accessories that accentuate your best features, like Kate Middleton’s signature L.K. Bennett nude patent ‘Sledge’ pumps

Even Kate bared a bit of skin where appropriate—shoulders, back, arms—to emphasize her still-petite upper torso. Likewise, a snug mini can draw attention to toned legs. After accentuating the positives, add accessories. Kate Middleton kept her signature clutch purses and designer heels, especially her favored L.K. Bennett nude patent ‘Sledge’ pumps. Kim sported strappy sandals. As feet tend to swell along with bellies, ballet slippers can be a cute and comfortable alternative. Boots are always a great go-to for fashionable footwear.

As a fashion-loving mother of five, there’s no greater joy than that moment you meet your new little person after nine months of growing anticipation. Pregnancy is filled with a bundle of emotions, but feeling frumpy about what to wear doesn’t need to be one of them.

What’s your way of creating personal baby bump buzz when it comes to your own maternity style?

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