A pregnancy doesn’t have to be nine months of frump, according to Amy Tara Koch (’89). “You don’t have to forfeit your fashion identity, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money on maternity clothes,” she says. “All you need is creativity, confidence, and a whole lot of accessories.”
The author of Bump it Up: Transform Your Pregnancy into the Ultimate Style Statement, Koch offers five tips on how to make the most of a wardrobe when planning around an ever-expanding baby bump.
1. Camouflage Clothing
“Before the 13-week mark, you don’t have a bump, just bloat,” she says. In the first trimester, Koch recommends trading in tight, structured, and tailored tops and dresses for loose-fitting pieces that drape and flow over the belly and hips. This same tip can be applied during the first few months after the baby arrives.
“Buy a few breezy ‘now and later’ garments to wear now and after the baby is born,” she wrote in Bump it Up. “Though your brain wants to toss on form-fitting clothing, your belly and butt are vehemently opposed. Listen to your body and go flowy.”
2. Basic Black Essentials
By the second trimester, build a small wardrobe of basic maternity essentials, mostly in black. “Look for versatile, multi-tasking basics,” she says, explaining that they fade in the background and can be used to mix, match, and layer. Among the items Koch recommends include a super-long lycra tank top, black leggings, dark denim pregnancy jeans, a couple simple black dresses that can be dressed up or down, as well as long, soft, jewel-neck tees.
“When I was first pregnant I felt so overwhelmed,” she says. “I thought I’d have to replace my whole wardrobe, but you don’t.” For her first pregnancy in 2002, “I challenged myself to buy the fewest amount of maternity-specific clothing that I could.” That ended up being five basic pieces to which Koch added layers and accessories.
3. Eye-Catching Add-Ons
While “black is the cornerstone of your pregnancy uniform, it can get blah and funereal,” Koch says. To transform black into a look, Koch says to bump it up with eye-catching add-ons like a colorful jacket, shawl, or classic trench coat.
“Liken maternity dressing to a canvas,” she says. The black basics are the canvas, and “add-ons are the texture, color, and personality that elevate wardrobe staples to a look.”
4. The Wow Factor
Add bold, beautiful baubles. “Long necklaces help you create a long, vertical line,” Koch says, while statement-making earrings draw attention to your face. They “emphasize still slim shoulders, one of the only areas pregnancy weight does not manifest.”
Along with big jewelry, this can be the time to have fun with scarves, bags, belts, and shoes.
“The use of all of these accessories help to create a flattering shape,” she says.
5. Create a Faux Glow
“I’m convinced the coveted pregnancy glow is an urban myth,” Koch says, explaining that hormone-induced problems—breakouts, dry skin, and puffy eyes—are more common. She says to create a glow through exfoliation, hydration, mineral foundation, bronzer, lip gloss, and mascara.
“Pregnancy is a challenging time and many women get depressed and feel dumpy and frumpy,” she says. “You may be exhausted and tired, but that coveted glow is just a few products away. Pull out your bronzer and shimmer powder and create a J.Lo glow.”
Amy Tara Koch (’89) is a Chicago-based freelance journalist and trend aficionado. She and husband, Peter Gottlieb (U-M ’89), have two daughters, Isabella and Brette. More of her tips and tricks can be found on http://bumpitupstyle.com/.