How to dress fabulously while pregnant – some top tips with a little help from The Image Consulting Company at Bristol Fashion Week.
Bristol Fashion Week is one of my favourite jobs of the year and, as PR and Social Media Manager for the event, it keeps me busy. This year, there’s even more reason to celebrate as I am expecting my first child this September. This does, however, present some fashion dilemmas for me since I’d like to be on trend for work but at the same time I need to dress for a completely different shape now. Finding something that’s stylish but comfortable and accommodates my bump was proving quite tricky, until I met Emmeline Stevens from The Image Consulting Company.
Emmeline and her team are on hand every Bristol Fashion Week to offer personal styling advice at The Mall. You can book in for a free 10-minute session, or get a special discounted rate on a 30-minute styling consultation. Then, if you need further support going forward, the ladies are available for private bookings. I popped in for a quick chat and picked up some great tips to help me shop a bit smarter now that I’m pregnant.
- Throw out your usual style rules and take a fresh look
I wear belts with everything. They cinch in my waist and finish off every outfit I have perfectly. I even had a belt on my wedding dress. But nowadays belts don’t fit around my bump. This is a huge problem for me, because 99% of my wardrobe needs a belt to work, in my opinion. Without one, I feel a bit naked.Emmeline’s advice was to stop thinking about my outfits as I used to. I’ve got a new shape now and I need to dress for that. That doesn’t necessarily mean buying loads of new stuff, but it does mean reappraising the things I have and looking at how they can be worn differently. Instead of belting in those shift dresses as I used to, for example, I can now wear them loose – but I might need to add a jacket on top to streamline the look. She gave me a licence to look at everything with fresh eyes. “It doesn’t mean you have to be frumpy – it just means you need to think about your clothes differently and create some new style rules for yourself,” says Emmeline.
- Invest in waterfall shaped cover-ups
If there’s one thing I took from the session, it’s that I need more waterfall jackets in my life. The great thing about these is that you don’t have to do them up, so you can buy them in the size you usually are and wear them over the top of maternity blouses etc. This means that from the back, your waistline is still visible, but from the front you’ve got room for your bump to grow. It also creates a vertical line over your outfit, which means you look slim, despite the bump at the front.“When you have a bump, many tops or dresses might skim over that and make you look bigger overall. Adding a waterfall jacket means you still have that slim fitting shape on the sides – it streamlines your whole look,” says Emmeline.
- Accessorize it
One great way to draw the eye upwards and add interest to what might be a plain maternity top is to add eye-catching accessories. From experience so far, I’ve found the range of maternity tops to be quite limited – you don’t get many prints or patterns generally and the lines are very simple. Emmeline advised me to invest in a couple of key accessories that will jazz up these plainer tops and add some sparkle to my look.
- Be flexible with sizing
While I have managed to pick up some great petite maternity jeans from ASOS in my usual size, finding fashionable maternity wear on the high street has been slightly trickier. Emmeline pointed me to H&M, which has a great ‘Mama’ range with some lovely simple shirts and palazzo pants – all of which I was able to buy in my usual size 8 and fitted perfectly. But not all stores have a maternity range and actually, you don’t need to invest purely in maternity wear just because you’re pregnant. Emmeline’s advice was to try standard ranges in other stores, perhaps in a size 10 or 12 to give myself room to grow. “For you at this stage it’s not about the size, it’s about the fit – so forget the label and try on shapes that flatter your body,” she said.
- Natural fibres are your friends
If, like me, you’re going to pregnant over the summer months, it pays to spend a little bit extra and buy garments made with natural fibres, according to Emmeline. “You will feel hotter than usual when you’re carrying that extra weight and your skin might be sensitive at this time, so if you can try to invest in natural fibres like cotton – your skin with thank you for it!” After she said that, I became a lot more conscious of what things were made from – looking in a lot of the high street labels I noticed that lots of things that look nice on the hanger are actually polyester or viscose. I’ve got my eye on a few pieces from People Tree, and Emmeline also pointed me in the direction of Isabella Oliver, an online maternity retailer which has some gorgeous dresses – but the price tags are quite hefty so it might be worth waiting for the sale!
Finally, Emmeline’s advice was that while this is a great time to discover a new side of myself and dress for my changing shape, it doesn’t mean I need to forget who I am. “I know you love to wear bright colours and you’re all about blocking contrasting colours – don’t lose that spark! You can still do it now that you’re pregnant, but it’s just about finding new and exciting ways to wear it!”
P.S. I did actually buy a lot of that outfit above so you may see me around Bristol wearing this look soon!
Bristol Fashion Week is now finished for this season but if you’d like to book a styling session with Emmeline and her team you can find details and prices for her sessions at theimageconsultingcompany.co.uk.