Celebrate Your Bump in Style!

Oatmeal linen tank with chiffon ruffles ($69), oatmeal linen cascade cardigan ($79), rolled cuff camo short ($59) from A Pea in the Pod.

Have you noticed how maternity clothes look so cute when you are not pregnant? This spring it just might be because the fashions really do look good. Gone are tent-like dresses and tops that “disguise” a growing pregnant belly. Today’s pregnant woman celebrates her ever-expanding shape in fashionable clothes that mirror trends straight from the runway.

Motherhood Makes a Fashion Statement

Philadelphia’s own Destination Maternity Corp. is the largest retailer of maternity clothes in the U.S. Their retail outlets of A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity offer mothers-to-be the opportunity to dress according to their own style.

“Our philosophy is that moms to-be should not have to alter their fashion identity when they become pregnant. We take all of the important trends and designs from runway shows around the world, and re-interpret them to fit and flatter the pregnant body,” says chief merchandising officer Lisa Hendrickson. For its spring 2011 line, A Pea in the Pod is all about romantic, ethereal designs in cosmetic pink, dusty lilac and heathered neutrals. This season, their designs highlight details such as delicate ruffles, corsage necklines, rosettes and embroidery.

The Motherhood Maternity line recognizes that “women today are proud of their bump and want to show it off. Side ruching on t-shirts, sweaters and swimsuits contour the garments to hug the belly and show off her curves,” says Hendrickson. Showing your bump in a patriotic manner this summer is all the rage. Red, white and blue as well as stripes of different sizes are popular. The “boyfriend” look continues this season in casual khakis and comfortable jeans.

Camo print sequin tunic tank ($29.98) with army green skinny cargo pant ($39.98) from Motherhood Maternity.Sleek and Simple

For expectant mothers looking for a more effortless look, Bella Figura in Haddonfield, NJ offers simple and sleek designs that are wash and wear — which is so important for all women, but especially for those who already have young children at home.

“I advocate a look that is effortless, not layered or bulky,” says Carmel Mariani, owner of Bella Figura, where timeless black and vibrant colors fill the racks. The store carries designer labels such as Michael Stars, Japanese Weekend, Olian and See You in Miami.

Many of these fashionable options will stretch with a woman’s growing tummy but can be worn after pregnancy without looking like maternity wear.

Start your pregnancy wardrobe with a few good maternity pieces, Mariani advises. “If you buy mainstream clothes in larger sizes, you wind up looking bigger and schlumpier. All you need is a great pair of jeans, a couple pairs of versatile pants, a cute black dress and a few tops in different necklines and colors. You can change your look by adding different accessories,” she says.

Many of these fashionable options can be worn after pregnancy without looking like maternity wear.

Mainstream Maternity

Several “mom and pop” maternity shops have gone out of business during the recession. In their place, some mainstream retailers have added maternity wear lines. The Gap, Old Navy and Target carry modestly priced items for moms-to-be.

This season, The Gap and Old Navy are carrying casual styles of capris and jeans as well as T-shirts and easy dresses in florals and stripes. Cute, lightweight jackets or cozy cardigans can be layered on.

Target’s spring line features ruffles and ruching along the neck and bust lines to accentuate the positives of pregnancy.

High-End Design

The maternity clothing industry has become so hot that many high-end fashion designers have added mommy-to-be lines. A Pea in the Pod carries designers such as Lily Pulitzer and Lucky Brand jeans, as well as celebrity designer lines from Heidi Klum and Elle Macpherson.

Today’s mothers do not have to sacrifice style to have a baby. For these very special nine months, today’s designers offer women the chance to look fabulous.

Katie Verkamp is a local freelance writer.

Categories: In Style, Maternity