Babies change everything. Becoming a parent changes everything. I saw an ad that said ‘when a child is born, a parent is born’. It’s true. Everything is new and it’s hard to prepare for the untold change ahead, especially first time around. But when I discovered I was pregnant with our second child (after a six-year career-filled gap), I felt a lot more prepared. I was excited and ready for change (Mother Nature’s rose-tinted glasses are powerful, aren’t they!!).
After all, I was now a House of Colour Image Consultant. I was ready for the sleepless nights having taught hundreds of women how to ‘look good knackered’ just by wearing their best colours. I’d nailed my capsule wardrobe. I’d discovered my best shops. I’d learnt how to dress for my shape and personality. This time I felt prepared to start dressing my new bump and able to put what we teach to the test.
Fast forward a year or so on, new baby Emma was born and what a gift. In fact I’m typing now with her bolted to my front fast asleep. Since her arrival, I’ve wondered how I could marry my House of Colour knowledge with what I’ve learnt since we discovered I was pregnant.
So, having thought about my journey through pregnancy style, I have identified four key ‘steps of change’ that I wish I’d known when I was pregnant with our first child (before my House of Colour days). They may help you too:
Step 1: My 0-3 months (1st Trimester)…TOP SECRET!
First time around, the 0-3 month window caught me out pretty quickly! There I was, trying to keep ‘things on the low’ for a while. But if you’re anything like me and hold your weight around the bust and waist, it didn’t take long to outgrow my neat ‘corporate uniform’ of tucked-in top and tailored trousers. Since then (as I’d learnt how dress for my body shape) trousers that cut me through the middle were out and tunics with colourful long-line scarves/necklaces were in. So, second time around, I sailed through my first 3 months in comfort and undetected (not that it mattered so much this time, being self-employed!). And even better, by wearing my best colours and 90 second make-up, I still looked remarkably well even through the morning sickness!
Step 2: My 3-5 months (2nd Trimester)…NO MAN’S LAND
Congratulations are in order. You’re through to the next round! I call this stage ‘no man’s land’. First time around, my trousers and skirts were too tight but I found maternity clothes were way too big. Some mornings I felt that wearing my dressing gown to work would be the only option! I admit resorting to concealing a pair of narrow men’s braces under my tops to keep my maternity trousers up! This time around I’d abandoned trousers all together and stuck to my looser fitting ‘non-maternity’ A-line tunics and dresses, just with larger tights and/or maternity leggings. I found some great coloured leggings from an eBay maternity retailer – they are almost impossible to find anywhere else. I paired this look with my comfy flat shoes and - happy days - I still felt like me and I hadn’t had to fork out too much on maternity wear just yet.
Step 3: My 6-9 months (3rd Trimester)….THE HOME STRETCH
Stretch being the word. As a Gamine (that’s my core Clothing Personality – if you don’t know yours, it is something you can discover in our Personal Style Class) the neat, structured, simple silhouettes that suited me before were now well out of reach. Instead I learnt to love and adopt wrap dresses. In particular, what I’d call a ‘real’ wrap dress. One that opens right out and adjusts to widen as you do – keeping your ‘cost per wear’ down. They also provide easy access for post birth breastfeeding. I discovered some in my best colours on a French maternity website called Envie De Fraise. I would pair them with colourful camisoles to prevent revealing too much cleavage. I went for long-line ruched maternity/nursing camisoles so they didn’t ride-up over my bump and the nursing clips served me well for breastfeeding later. I bought plain white cotton camis then used Dylon to get them to the right colour. It was very difficult to find my warm and bright Spring colours in maternity wear in the UK – even during the summer. I look my best with a splash and a dash of colour in every outfit, so dying clothes really helped me, as did adding colourful accessories up near my face. Another top tip for something that grows with you are ponchos. Kettlewell have some fab merino wool ponchos in all sorts of colours – they aren’t too bulky and the wool doesn’t let you to get too hot or cold. They’ll also serve you well post-birth!
Step 4: POST BIRTH
Now, you’d be doing well to get out of your dressing gown in the early months. I made sure mine was the right colour. Yes, I dyed a new 100% cotton gown and brightened up the hospital ward with plenty of confidence building compliments! When you do decide to get dressed, by now you will be sick to death of your maternity clothes. Mine started to look a bit worse for wear – something I didn’t need any extra help with. So I started searching the internet for new refreshing nursing clothes. However, get ready to discover that a lot are also designed to be ‘maternity’ clothes. As a Gamine, I hate things that are too baggy, and even though I still had a bump, I didn’t want to invest in new clothes that carried yards and yards of spare fabric up front. Instead I bought some new regular wrap dresses in my best colours and some waterfall cardigans to go over the top. I also made good use of my colourful scarves and pashminas to add colour and create some cover whilst breastfeeding.
It took me a long time to get back into my ‘pre-birth’ clothes (if at all). My advice is to not feel pressured to get back into them. Like I said, a lot of change has gone on. You are now used to change. Some things change for the good, including your body shape. So, if you need help learning how to dress the new you, then give House of Colour a shout. We’re always here to help and are ready when you are (whether its months, years, sometimes decades later!)
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