If you are pregnant and not as tiny as Tizer, these pictures might make you cross. But they prove a point. The fashions of this summer; the spaghetti-strapped long dress with a T-shirt underneath, the floppy sloppy T-dress, the shorty dress and (not shown) pyjama-easy drawstring trousers, are all perfect for pregnancy. Which is good news for mothers-to-be who don't want to set foot into a maternity store until the last possible minute.
The observation that in fashion terms this summer is a good one in which to be pregnant came from a colleague who is seven months' pregnant and hit size 14 many weeks ago, yet who has found she can look smart and feel comfortable in clothes from high street stores, such as Warehouse. 'Could we show that, for this season at least, you can get away without wearing dungarees?' she asked.
Enter Tizer. She has not had the wardrobe traumas of most mothers-to-be, although her wardrobe staples have been a white Victorian nightdress, a Seventies smock dress and (we were surprised to hear) 'a pair of dungarees that really make me look like an elephant. When you're pregnant you live in the same clothes all the time,' she moaned.
None of the outfits she is wearing is designed specifically for pregnant women. The two long slip dresses are by Ghost, a label well known for making easy, flowing and comfortable clothes. The Empire line dress has an elasticated, ruched top and the skirt is cut on the bias.
The sugar-sweet baby doll is by Laetitia Allen and is actually an underslip, good for mooching about at home or for wearing in bed on hot, humid nights. The mail-order company also sells some nightdresses with both pregnant and breast-feeding women in mind. Prices start at pounds 32.99.
The punky tartan skirt with zips is her own - she has been wearing it throughout her pregnancy and it is a favourite of her partner, Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69.
Barbara Downs, who is due to give birth to her second child this week, has a rather different 'favourite' outfit. She made a special summer dress out of a pair of old Fifties curtains and it has proved an essential. 'But I didn't wear it until I felt really pregnant. Before the bump was properly formed as a baby bump rather than a spare tyre, I felt it just made me look fat.' She would never have resorted to specialist maternity dresses, especially during the early stages.
Some women opt for shopping in stores that specialise in large sizes rather than maternity stores (which everyone thinks will be frilly or frumpy, even if they aren't). The best large-size specialist shops do, however, tend to be more fashion forward and to use better fabrics. For leggings with added length between waist and crotch Long Tall Sally is a good bet, while Dawn French's 1647 is deservedly renowned not just for its famous figurehead but for relaxed, sophisticated, roomy clothes.
The wealthy and sophisticated go to Issey Miyake. The Japanese designer has never decreed a 'perfect' body size and many of his clothes will expand to fit whoever is inside them. Miyake has rarely caught the imagination of the high street but happily he has done this summer. Shop around the sales for good knock-offs of his crease and pleat clothes.
If you feel like wearing a tent for the whole nine months, there are some roomy dresses around that don't look as if you could set up camp in them. Sonnentag Mulligan, John Rocha and Flyte Ostell all have long, flowing dresses that skim over the bump and feel light and comfortable. Their autumn designer stock is beginning to come into the shops now.
Other good options are autumn's luxury drawstring pants and loose tunics in satin that would solve evening-wear dilemmas during and after pregnancy. Again, John Rocha and Flyte Ostell fit the bill.
If this summer has been a fortunate one to
be pregnant clothes-wise, autumn and winter promise to be good too; A-lines and soft, comfortable fabrics such as georgette will be everywhere. But if you are planning a baby next summer, stock up now - stiff, structured clothes are on their way back.
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