When I discovered back in July that I was pregnant, I was thrilled. A third baby, a good age gap between the new addition and our two girls – and a very excited husband…
I’m the Sunday Telegraph’s style columnist and a former Vogue editor with a new personal-styling business. However, my general outlook has shifted from ‘buy something new with every pay cheque’ to ‘buy MomSoon – Maternity And Nursing Clothing, MomSoon Mothercare Maternity Wear ‘buy fewer, buy better’– even when pregnant.
But while other style conundrums, with time and practice, should get easier, maternity dressing, due to size and comfort, only gets harder as it goes on.
What’s more, our pregnancy news coincided with the Duke of Sussex’s statement that he and Meghan would only have two children at most, in order to limit their impact on the climate. My reaction was one of mild rebellion. Our baby will indeed be another footprint on the planet but I am determined to carve out a more eco-friendly approach to both pregnancy and parenting. I told myself I was not to splurge on any fashion items for the next 40 weeks that I would not then continue to wear post-birth. Fast fashion fixes – cheap ‘tent’ dresses that I won’t want to wear later – were entirely off limits. Borrowing from friends was in. With only a few weeks to go now, I can honestly say I think I’ve accomplished it.
It is here that I would like to point out that I have nothing against any woman who wholeheartedly embraces the idea of a maternity wardrobe. For many this is a much-yearned-for moment, arrived at after possible heartache and waiting. And the list of great brands creating stylish maternity wear – from Isabella Oliver to Séraphine, to a new discovery from the States called Hatch – is only to be applauded. If anything, the desirability of these labels only made my task that much harder.
Although at first this style challenge seemed easy. I did the ‘elastic-band trick’ with my usual jeans, I embraced the floaty dress trend for as long as the weather would allow. Then autumn arrived and the dungarees started to appear.
I did, however, needed more work-appropriate clothing for public speaking or client meetings. I sent an email around to friends still holding on to maternity wear, asking if anyone would lend. My friend who works at Jimmy Choo understands the need to ‘up one’s game’ for a London-based meeting, and presented me with some favourites that she had relied on – from a Stella McCartney shift dress to a wonderfully soft denim shirt by MiH. So far, no great outgoings and plenty of recycling.
But for a hint of newness and to lift my wardrobe, I also turned to brands such as Asceno for its lengthy silk dresses that have room for the bump but which I could envisage wearing in future summers, perfectly cinched with a belt and paired with sandals. I fell for a great oversized sweat shirt by Mother of Pearl with trademark pearl details at the shoulder, turning it from simple sweatshirt to, I hope, a sound investment.
On the subject of shoes, high heels were off limits, unless in the form of a knee-high boot. Trainers have been my most enjoyable thing to wear when most other looks feel wrong. And of course they have a lifespan well beyond 40 weeks. For a bit of indulgence, I also finally committed to a studded brogue by Church’s – a shoe I’ve probably admired from afar for years, which proves to me it’s a style that has staying power in my often-changeable fashion preferences.
Of course, I am lucky enough, in cases such as this shoot, to occasionally borrow some clothes to wear. While the price of this striped Loewe dress (on previous page) makes me baulk, I can see it working for years to come, on the school run but also for a spring meeting in London, or a beach walk in Cornwall. A big purchase like this wouldn’t come easily, whether I was pregnant or not. Even I still text friends – in this case a former Vogue colleague – with the words, ‘Am I pregnant and hormonal or is this a winner of a dress?’ Will I buy it? We’ll see. If not, there are plenty of new rental services, from My Wardrobe HQ to Hurr Collective, which could get a pregnant woman out of a hole if she needed a special-occasion dress.
What has been my most prized possession during this pregnancy? Without doubt my bamboo maternity leggings by Séraphine. They are as far as you can get from high fashion but they support my bump and help me feel pulled in. They are also the one item I will be going cold turkey on post birth, and I will no doubt have some bizarre burning-of-the-leggings ceremony, or more likely just donate them to a charity shop, as soon as my favourite jeans fit again.
The only other item of ‘maternity wear’ that I’ve bought is some Bridget Jones pants. Show me a pregnant woman who hasn’t. I am, by the way, extremely grateful to social media for having introduced me to the brand Six – for anyone wanting to feel more Bardot than Jones in the big-pants stakes.
But ultimately, the blinkers have been on. I’ve taken in the new season’s trends in a different way. I’ve shopped with a more discerning eye and I’ve saved so much time that would have been spent scrolling through endless sale items I know won’t fit.
As for the money I’ve saved? That’s now being channelled into a nursery wallpaper my husband doesn’t think we need, and eco-friendly, reusable nappies that will definitely cause arguments in the wee small hours. Then there’s the new rug for the baby’s room, a plentiful supply of Charlie Bigham’s curries, some extra hours of childcare to help keep me sane, and the odd reflexology appointment while I wait for this baby to arrive. May the nesting, rather than the Net-a-Porter scrolling, begin.