Have a great new idea but you’re afraid the boss won’t take you seriously in your gunnysack? Fear no more. Being pregnant and dressing stylishly are no longer mutually exclusive. In fact, with apparel retailers jumping into the chic maternity wear game, it’s now possible to draw as much attention for your high-stepping fashion as your far-reaching belly.
As you plan your maternity wardrobe, keep this in mind: Just as with your non-pregnant counterparts — and despite any product labeling to the contrary — one size does not fit all. A protruding belly does not cancel out the body characteristics you’ve dealt with up until now: Small bones will not suddenly enlarge, nor will big thighs suddenly shrink.
So, keeping your own body type in mind, try these tips to maintain your high style for success.
The First Trimester: Status Quo. Your regular wardrobe should carry you through most of the first 12 weeks with ease. Around weeks 10-12, when your pants start to feel just a little bit tight, your best bet is to put away your belts, undo the top button and wear blouses or sweaters that cover your waistline.
The Second Trimester: Limbo. When it comes to finding clothes that fit, this is the worst stage. You’ve outgrown your regular clothes, but you don’t yet look pregnant and you’d be swimming in maternity clothes. To keep a professional look try going up one size in “regular” clothes and buy stretch! All apparel brands are putting stretch properties into just about everything, including fabrics and waistbands. Select one or two knit skirts or pants to get you through this stage.
The Third Trimester: Styling and Protruding. For professional swank that rivals any flat-tummy fashion, check out any of the national chains, such as Motherhood, Mimi Maternity or Pea in a Pod or maternity boutiques (pick up a copy of City Baby: The Ultimate Guide for New York City Parents from Pregnancy to Preschool for a list of New York City maternity boutiques). Even major specialty retailers have gotten in on the game, such as GapMaternity, www.gap.com) and Target (www.target.com), while department stores, from Bloomingdale’s to Barney’s, have maternity lines as well.
Finally, don’t forget to set a reasonable budget for your maternity wear. Then stick to it. Your nine-month stint will be over before you know it, and you’ll want that money for diapers and day care!
When I wear bowties to work I get sideways looks and strange comments from my colleagues. Is bowtie-wear limited to political pundits only? John — Bethesda
Bowties are one of those accessories that connote a lot more than they should, and unless you’re a 60-something-year-old archaeology professor or a quirky regional weatherman, they’re tough to pull off. But there’s nothing wrong with bowties and if you like them, that’s all that matters. Just don’t be surprised when you receive a tweed jacket with elbow patches for your next birthday.
My favorite pair of jeans just tore. Can I still wear them to work?
William — Frederick
I assume from your question that wearing jeans, period, to work must be acceptable, but there’s a big difference between respectable denim and a ratty pair of old jeans. It’s time to move those jeans over to “weekend wear” and do some shopping.
I love retro and because I am tall and very, very slender I can usually get away with it. Will I be promotion-challenged if I keep wearing the skinny ties of the ‘60s or suede elbow-patched sport jackets? If they are still on the racks then aren’t they still in style? Alex - Ballston
As far as appropriateness, take cues from your work environment - if your colleagues start humming ‘60s sitcom tunes it’s time to update your wardrobe. As for getting promoted, if you are an outstanding worker, your boss will let you know if your wardrobe needs to change with tactful suggestions.
I like to wear hard leather boots in all seasons but in meetings other people point at them as if I don’t know I have them on. What is the fashion on this?
Matt - Chantilly
If you are pairing those boots with jeans, go for it. If those square toes are poking out from beneath a three-piece suit, you should probably make the switch to the more classic, lace-up dress shoes, in black or brown leather. Cap toe, split toe and wing tip are all great options to pair with a suit.
Ms. Jordan Speer is the senior editor of an apparel business magazine and has been writing about the industry for more than nine years. Send workplace or corporate fashion questions to email@example.com.