I hadn’t really intended to write any posts about dressing my pregnancy bump for two reasons – first that the internet is awash with advice, tips and recommendations on maternity attire and second that from the get-go, I had wanted to adjust or change as little as possible with regards to my wardrobe.  There’s no nice way of putting it .  Mainstream maternity wear by and large, sucks.  It can generally be summed up with horizontal stripes, faux kimono wrap constructions and copious amounts of cotton jersey (scroll through #Bumpfie on Instagram and your eyes adjust to that linear striped pattern).  In other words, clothes that I wasn’t prepared to spend actual money on.

But as my due date has been and gone (yes, I’m STILL pregnant) and I’ve weirdly adjusted to this bulbous formation that has been with me, more or less since August last year, I realised I had gathered up a personal arsenal of tactics that has enabled me to largely avoid the dull horizontal stripy jersey maternity hole.  Therefore here’s one last set of outfits in my largest, most rotund state, that pretty much sums up my mat wear approach.  I can’t say there’s any legit wisdom that other pregnant person can take away seeing I can only speak for my own changing curvilinear bod, but anyhow, here goes… the most specific and therefore least useful bump-dressing advice that has been ever been administered…

Enjoy!  Or not as the case may be…

– Layering need not be abandoned.  In fact the bigger I got, I think the more layers I put on just because once it was evident I was pregnant, nobody was going to really mistake three layers of skirts with two jumpers for a food baby.  When I wore a voluminous skirt with an extra puffy Coach shearling coat over it, I did get a male nurse at UCLH asking me, “Are you pregnant or is that just fashion?”  Chortling, I replied with, “It’s both!”

– There are obvious designers that aided me through the months.  Molly Goddard’s gatherings of tulle, smocking and elastic that got me through dressier occasions.  Simone Rocha’s generous proportions of beautiful fabrics, which “swaddled” my body, as it did hers when she was pregnant with her own precious daughter Valentine.  Sturdy outerwear from Coach to keep the final trimester months warm and cuddly.  Then there were less obvious culprits.  Thanks to Selfridges’ support of Fashion East designer Richard Malone, I overwore his use of ribbed jersey, asymmetric cuts and apron-esque constructions.  Vetements’ floral dresses – either in oversized bonded cotton or stretchy viscose – were also hugely useful.  Yes, wearing all that hype may have added extra weight but it would be churlish to fault the design or the roomy sizing…

– Wrap skirts that had several button settings or kilts that had different buckle distances can be worn when fastened “incorrectly” and worn over trousers, almost like a pelmet.  I had to look longingly at my rack of zippered skirts but wrap skirts were fortunately game.

– All hail the knitted trouser.  Ribbed knit trousers sort of became my equivalent of the legging.  Yanking and peeling off huggy sports leggings has become virtually impossible in the last two months without my partner helping me out but not so with the knitted trew that flops to the floor once waistband has been eased down .  Topshop and ASOS both did some great ones that were either made more interesting with a flare shape or cropped proportion.

– Speaking of elastic waistbands, not all are created equal alas.  The prize for the bestest of elastic waistbands goes to a pair of Comme by Comme des Garcons red velvet trousers, which festively doubled up as Santa Pants.  Plenty of give in the waistband despite it being a size SMALL and no painful digging in to the belly.  Topshop’s Lucas maternity jeans were the one exception to the no-mat-wear rule as the soft ribbed waistband also proved too comfy to forgo.  And leather trousers miraculously worked for most of my pregnancy thanks to J Brand’s cropped matte leather trews that came with a very forgiving elasticated waistband.

– It goes without saying that roomy dropped waist flapper dresses and bias cut slip dresses were also my salvation.  Except I’ve stretched a few of them out at the belly.  Bias cut pieces in particular seemed to skim over the bump most pleasingly.  Therefore browsing on eBay/Etsy/Kerry Taylor and on Camden Passage and Alfie’s in London was still viable.

– My love of flatforms was sustained all the way through pregnancy, with ankle straps and buckles tied at their largest size to allow for any swelling.  The key is weight of the shoe, illustrated by these Coach resort ones where the creeper sole is surprisingly light, with the added benefit of being about to have a bit of bounce in the step when the time comes to get the baby head down.  Fortunately my feet didn’t swell up so most of my flat shoes and trainers were by and large still wearable.

– Jumpers and sweaters have not in fact been ruined by their stretching over a bump.  I’ve come to be quite fond of the way they ride up at the front revealing a slither of bump to the world in all its stretch marked glory.  But just in case of the odd uncomfortable stare from sniggering teenagers on the bus, like I said before, there’s the layering thing with long shirts and tunics that can go underneath the riding up knitwear.

– I’m thanking the statement jackets and outerwear that I could still fling on if I did end up defaulting to shambolic lasagne-stained t-shirts underneath.  The zanier the coat or jacket, the better it made me feel in fact.  Volume!  Colours!  Print!  Embellishment!  Looking like an overly decorated sausage roll was precisely what I was going for.

– Oh, and lest there are any holier-than-thou zenned out mothers or mothers-to-be, thinking that I dedicated far too much thought to what I wore during what is supposed to be this beautiful and magical time, to ponder the miracle of life that is growing inside of me, time sloooooowed to a snail’s pace.  Every minute became more pronounced and elongated, even more so when I did eventually begin to wind down work-wise.   All the better to devote time towards sifting through dropped waist flapper dresses and experimentally yanking elasticated waistbands up and down my body…

Wearing Coach four pocket leather jacket, Coach cut out creepers and Coach patchwork Rogue with Richard Malone top from Selfridges, 2ndDay patent skirt and ASOS flared trousers

 

Wearing Coach Wild Beast cropped coat, Coach Car sweater, Coach haircalf cut out creepers and Coach Rocket Rogue with Prada sheer dress and Topshop knitted trousers

Wearing Coach Western Moto jacket, Coach car sweater, Coach patchwork Rogue and Coach cut out creepers with Vetements floral dress and Paskal sheer skirt

Wearing Coach car sweater and Coach haircalf cut out creepers with Ryan Lo blanket coat, Comme by Comme des Garcons velvet trousers and Low Classic shirt

>> Here’s one accessory that I’ve not had the opportunity to touch upon in all of Style Bubble’s ten year history.  The fan.  There are many an instance where it’s required but so often, forgotten as a handbag essential.  In the un-airconditioned environment of London, primarily on the tube for instance.  Or at fashion show venues in the hotter months of July and September where guests end up collectively fanning themselves furiously with folded up press releases.  Or lately in any crowded situation because of my pregnancy.   And yet, despite the practicalities of a fan, the very act of fanning oneself especially with a traditional fan shape can recall frothy characters in period dramas.  Therefore are they FANciful or functional?  It’s a bit of both according to fashion PR Daisy Hoppen, who has paired up with Danish textile designer Amanda Borberg to create Fern Fans.  “I have always loved fans and have bought them whenever I have been on holiday – you can get ones with the most amazing prints and also they are excellent if you are constantly fidgeting like me” explains Hoppen.  “I felt for sometime there was a real gap in the market – finding fans that didn’t feel gimmicky but elegant, well priced and chic. The historical history of them has also been really important- it’s a personal area of interest and there are few fashion items today that have existed for as long as the simple fan.”

And so Fern’s first collection doesn’t stray too far from tradition.  In that recognisable pleated concertina construction made out of traditional birch wood and textured cotton, Borberg and Hoppen found a classic framework that suited Fern’s subtly contemporary designs.  “As a designer I find it interesting to work with a very set frame – a fan is a fan, and even though they come in many shapes and sizes, they all have the same purpose,” says Borberg.  “It’s the color, print and material that can make a fan unique. So we chose to work with those factors and go with the classic fan construction, which I find to be both beautiful and genius as it folds.  I hope that everyone can find a fan from our collection that feels appealing to them. It should be a joyful, but elegant accessory – its not a costume, but an everyday friend.”

Whether it’s in a beautifully dyed gradient, solid coloured cotton or adorned with hand painted florals, Fern pays homage to both the perceived tradition and the enduring practicality of a fan.  Fern’s first look book is accompanied by a set “fan language” – to hold it opened, covering the mouth denotes one’s singleton status, to hold the fan with the right hand in front of the face is to invite onlookers to follow them.  And of course, to physically throw the fan is a petulant declaration of hate.  Whimsical historics aside, Hoppen also acknowledges simple pleasures of carrying a fan such as the sound it makes when they snap shut.  Or when you thrust it open in dramatic fashion.  Whatever your fanning etiquette, there’s no doubt that with Fern, Borberg and Hoppen are fulfilling a niche.  Their first collection will be in-stores from spring 2017 onwards in time for the summer months. 

>> How to alleviate the tiresome feeling of waddling around town with what feels like a 3 kilo bag of rice strapped to your belly?  By doing the conga with a human sized dinosaur mascot and Bryan Boy, which got the bump jiggling along too.  And as I hit my final days of being quite uncomfortably pregnant, I thought I’d look back to more jovial times when me, bump and Rexy were havin’ it large at the Coach House flagship store opening in London’s Regent Street back in November.

As this belatedly posted set of photographs attest, touring new stores – more often than not a solemn activity, peppered with facts about marble finishings and architecture waffle – can indeed be fun.  That is the key word of course that has underpinned Stuart Vevers’ turnaround of the brand, particularly in the runway Coach 1941 collections.  But even as T-rexes and stegosauruses waggle their leather puzzle piece tails about and kitschy Brit-themed badges that peppered a special capsule collection of accessories and varsity jackets (scoured from eBay by Vevers’ team apparently), there’s heft to back up the frivolity.  At the Craftsmanship Bar, there’s a wall of emojis to choose from to monogram Coach classics, in addition to the normal initial stamping.  Downstairs, there’s now a Made-to-Order service where a bespoke Rogue bag can be created in over one million possible colour combinations.  And throughout the store, Coach’s hometown of New York is evident in black steel fixtures, mahogany wood and a central mechanised conveyor belt that actually moves – a symbol of the chugging along of Coach’s upward trajectory.  Even Bryan and I play acting with a baseball glove and ball bears some significance, as they’re pertinent reminders of the glove-tanned leather that the founder of Coach was inspired to create because of the well-worn patina and buttery feel of a pitcher’s glove.

For Vevers, London is a chance to come home and officiate Regent Street with a proper retail incarnation of what he has achieved at Coach.  It’s a concept that has rolled out in New York and is likely to do so in the future in other cities.  The word “House” as opposed to “Maison” is fitting for a store that sits on what a street that straddles between contemporary, high street and designer.

A giant Rexy near the entrance is there to invite gawkers in for a gander and a feel of what are in essence, comparatively accessible products.  Incidentally, did you know Rexy’s a “she”?  According to Vevers, “she’s” not strictly speaking part of Coach’s 75 year history but has become an apt character and mascot, representing the sort of japes that now goes down in Coach design team.  Nope it’s not that dignified or necessarily “luxurious” to be hugging a lycra-clad female dressed up as a T-Rex.  But it is a laugh – and nestled in amongst all that leather and shearling – it’s providing a formula that’s working for Coach’s newfound customer base.

 

This post is part of an on-going social media partnership with Coach