Ready to wear: born to party

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Indy Lifestyle Online
WHEN YOU'RE pregnant one of the hardest things is finding clothes to wear for an evening out. Not only is party wear generally more expensive but splashing out for a special maternity party outfit - when you may only wear it a few times - seems particularly wasteful. So none of these clothes is from specialist labels, and they are modelled by a "real" person, not a model - Isabella Dalby, aged 28, who is Bella Freud's knitwear designer. Isabella is seven months' pregnant with her first baby. "I made a conscious decision not to buy maternity wear; we're very short of money and what little we have goes into our new house. It seemed silly to spend money on something I might only wear a few times. I bought a stretch velvet dress from Oxfam in a size 16, I'm normally a 10, and it cost me pounds 5.99. So far, it's served me well. Bella's clothes, which I'd normally wear on a night out, just don't fit me, they are tight-fitting and I can only stare longingly at them."

Spending money on an evening outfit that you can wear after you have the baby doesn't seem so bad. Labels such as Issey Miyake's Pleats Please and English Eccentrics are perfect for this. Anything pleated will retain its shape after the bump has subsided and you go back to your normal size. A-line tunics can easily accommodate a bigger belly - and, if necessary, can be taken in slightly after the baby is born. It's also worth considering buying the sort of dress you would buy anyway, but a few sizes bigger.

Normal tights are not recommended when you're pregnant, but Hue and Mothercare do maternity hosiery. Dorothy Perkins and Hennes also have maternity labels that are worth looking at, ranging from office wear to party dresses. When you're pregnant your body temperature rises, so you probably won't feel the need to cover up quite as much. Isabella altered the fake fur coat she wore for evenings by moving the buttons over (it was double breasted). Otherwise, invest in a beautiful shawl, which can be put to good use after the baby is born.

Red pleated full-length dress pounds 200 and matching short jacket, pounds 165, both Issey Miyake Pleats Please at Issey Miyake, 270 Brompton Road, SW3; Liberty, Regent Street, W1; The Changing Room, 10a Gees Court, W1; Pollyanna, Barnsley; The Gallery, Glasgow. Silver ring, pounds 44, Dower & Hall, 60 Beauchamp Place, SW3 and branches of Liberty nationwide, tel: 0171 589 8474.

Black velour full-length dress, pounds 49.99, Next branches nationwide, tel: 0116 2842859. Blue / gold velvet stole, pounds 169, Georgina von Etzdorf, 50 Burlington Arcade, W1, tel: 01722 326625. Silver / garnet / pearl drop earrings, pounds 71 and heart motif silver ring, pounds 44, both by Dower & Hall, 60 Beauchamp Place, SW3 and branches of Liberty nationwide, tel: 0171 589 8474.

Burgundy pleated chiffon tunic, pounds 139, Lezley George at The Changing Room, 10a Gees Court, W1; Thomas Neals, Shorts Gardens, WC2; Jenners, Edinburgh. Tel: 0171 729 9905. Worn over burgundy rose print satin camisole, pounds 140, English Eccentrics, for stockists tel: 0171 729 6233. Black satin pyjama-style trousers, pounds 27.50, from selected branches of BHS, tel: 0171 262 3288. Pewter / crystal drop earrings, pounds 68, Erickson Beamon at Van Peterson, 117/119 Walton Street, SW3, mail order tel: 0171 584 1101

Chocolate devore full-length shift, pounds 415 and blue devore shawl, pounds 95, both John Rocha at Liberty, Regent Street, W1, tel: 0171 734 0123. Gilt / pearl starfish earrings, pounds 75, Van Peterson Designs at Van Peterson, 194/196 Walton Street, SW3, mail order tel: 0171 584 1101.

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