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First Trimester

For me, one of the telltale signs that I was pregnant yet again was the inability to button those top few buttons on my blouse. Only a few weeks into my pregnancies, my button-downs became quick wardrobe casualties because I truly dread being one of those unaware women wearing a button-down blouse that gapes and consequently, shows her bra and sometimes even her breast to just about everyone she meets that day. I have been a corporate lawyer for a good number of years and I have sat within viewing range of far too many of those women. Old, young, heavy, thin, pregnant, not pregnant–it doesn’t seem to matter. Far too many women seem completely ignorant of the fact that their blouse doesn’t fit properly or, in many cases, it does, but it is gaping anyway.

For all of you newly endowed pregnant women who I hope are aware of this problem (and for all of you non-pregnant women who I hope are going to become aware of this problem after reading this), meet Rochelle Behrens and behold, “The Shirt.” Rochelle is a gorgeous, young professional woman who I happened to meet at a Christmas party here in Washington, DC. Having realized that she simply could not wear a button-down shirt without simultaneously revealing her bra, Rochelle incorporated “Dual-Button Technology” into a basic, cotton button-down. Right at that point between the top two buttons of your blouse, Rochelle added an extra interior button to prevent the unsightly gaping with which most of us are familiar. Voila! Problem solved without safety pins, snaps, tape, or any of the other home remedies we’ve all tried to fix this problem.

Pick one of these blouses up to wear during those first trimester weeks when you have no baby bump, but are having problems managing those new assets above your waist. Click here to shop “The Shirt,” which comes in numerous cuts and colors, all of which are priced under USD $100. You may have already noticed that Oprah is also recommending “The Shirt” as a fashion must-have for 2011. I always defer to Oprah’s divine advice, but I will point out that I met Rochelle before she was “Oprah-fied” and she is truly an incredibly smart, entrepreneurial woman with a really great idea that she has managed to turn into a business. She hadn’t even considered marketing the shirt to pregnant women, but seemed thrilled that it might help expecting moms out too. Maybe I can even talk her into designing a maternity version.

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I have fielded numerous emails this fall from pregnant women looking for the perfect maternity trench coat. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to exist this season, which I do find strange. I am actually in possession of one myself, but I purchased it in 2005 at the Liz Lange store on Madison Avenue and as we know, Liz isn’t doing high-end maternity fashion anymore. Every woman, including every pregnant woman, needs a great trench coat. And the trench is very maternity-friendly, as long as you recognize the fact that those buttons are for show only and you’ll need a sturdy sash to actually keep the thing closed.

I’ve been forced to come up with an alternative, but I do think this is a good idea for all of you out there desperate for a trench this winter.  Look at this gorgeous red velvet trench, it’s ideal for the holidays. You can wear this coat on its own with your skinnies and just about nothing else and you’ll be the most festive, stylish person at the holiday party. And both this Calvin Klein knee-length trench and this Michael Kors short trench are instant classics. Obviously, these are non-maternity pieces, but both of these trenches happen to be available in “Women’s Apparel” sizes, i.e. plus sizes larger than size 14. The cut of Women’s sizing is conveniently wider from top to bottom, and even without extra length in the front for your bump, your shoulders, arms, and bustline will have extra breathing room. Use the sash across the top of your bump for a maternity-friendly coat at least into the start of the third trimester. And, of course, both of these coats will also be extraordinarily useful during those postpartum weeks. Hey, if maternity designers aren’t going to respond to all of our needs for a chic trench coat, then go ahead and create your own.

All of these coats are sold exclusively in online department stores, so you can’t go wrong with trying this red velvet number on for size (i.e., you can easily return it). The red velvet trench is available here at Neiman Marcus for USD $525, the Michael Kors trench is on sale at Saks for a very reasonable $146.99 here, and the Calvin Klein trench is on sale for USD $119.25 at Bloomingdales here.

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The details of my disappointing maternity shopping experience at Forever 21 are going to have to wait a day because Diane von Furstenberg just announced that her Friends & Family sale starts today and all of you newly pregnant fashionistas need to head right over here and buy yourself the Julian wrap jersey dress in black or chocolate brown or ideally, both colors before it sells out. Use promotional code “FRIENDS20″ when you check out and you’ll pay only USD $238.40 for this crucial early pregnancy wardrobe essential (it retails for USD $298). This is not a maternity dress, but buy one size larger than your pre-pregnancy size and use this dress to get you through those awkward weeks when you know you’re pregnant, but no one else does. One week your breasts will be bigger, the next week your stomach will be bigger, and the next week your posterior will be bigger, but this dress will still fit. I recently found my chocolate brown Julian in one of our moving boxes and had a moment of nostalgia for those first trimester mornings when that wrap dress was truly the only thing I was able to squeeze myself into. It’s also a good option for postpartum wear…and even works moderately well as a nursing dress.

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I am sorry I have been such a terrible blogger this past week, but my husband was back in Jerusalem last week and he took his laptop with him and left me only with the iPad. Wow, I hate that damned thing. I fought with it for the better part of the week before I just gave up and put it away and used my blackberry for everything. I readily admit I am not at all tech-savvy, but I am not a complete idiot and that iPad just drove me absolutely nuts. There–that is the first and last time I will offer my opinion regarding anything pertaining to technology.

Anyway, Angelina Jolie popularized the maternity maxi dress back during her first pregnancy and since then, just about every maternity designer has released its own version. In fact, many non-maternity designers advertise their empire-waisted maxi dresses as maternity-friendly and as long as you are all willing to go and have the dresses properly hemmed so they don’t ride up in the front (I absolutely hate that look), I fully support donning a Splendid or Ella Moss or Rachel Pally maxi dress during your pregnancies.

One of my favorite maternity maxi dresses is currently on sale at More of Me maternity, discounted 30% when you use the promotional code “HOT” at checkout. Every woman to whom I have suggested this dress subsequently informs me that she loves it. At USD $180, the price is a bit hard to swallow compared to other maternity maxi dresses out there, but this dress is a keeper and will be a perpetual part of your maternity wardrobe from pregnancy to pregnancy. Click here to buy the dress in navy–it is still available in all sizes, but does run slightly big.

Pregnant British women are raving about Oscar London, a new UK-based designer that specializes in flowing maxi dresses. They are not specifically designed for maternity, but are being carried in all the the top maternity boutiques over the pond. My pregnant friend just purchased the “Venus,” a V-necked maxi dress with an empire waist that is available in black, purple and this unusual floral print. The Venus is currently available here directly from the Oscar London site for GBP 89 (USD $135). After she bought her dress, they offered her 25% off her next purchase–a clear incentive to buy the Sophia dress as well. The Sophia is also pregnancy-friendly, i.e., you can wear a bra with it, which is always a bonus. I love this mauve color.

And I also really love this long-sleeved maternity maxi dress from NOM. It’s clearly not for this insanely humid weather we have on the East Coast right now, but it is perfect for fall. Bellydance still has it available in a size Small on sale here for USD $94. You’ll need a camisole underneath this dress…

And a quick congrats to my friend Reena, who just announced she is expecting her first baby. Reena is gorgeous, stylish and is most definitely muse-worthy material for Pregnant Fashionista, despite currently living in fashion-starved Jerusalem. Best of luck, Reena!

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I’ve been waiting for Maternal America’s new maxi dress to show up for sale online and it popped up last week at Due Maternity. Why is this maxi dress different than all of the other maternity maxi dresses out there? Because it has built-in cups. I don’t know if any of you have yet tried to wear a strapless bra while pregnant, but it is not easy. Besides the usual problems with keeping strapless bras up, wearing one while pregnant presents an additional problem–keeping it down. The strapless bra simply is not designed to have a large, protruding belly jostling around underneath it. On the rare occasions when I did attempt to wear a strapless bra during my pregnancies, I frequently had to check and make sure the entire thing hadn’t popped up out the top of my dress.

I saw this particular dress as a sample and I concluded that more maternity designers should design pieces with built-in cups. It’s obviously not for every pregnant woman, but on a hot summer night, if you are only mildly pregnant, it’s nice to still be able to throw on a lightweight summer dress and not worry about all of the machinery you have to rig up underneath…and, of course, whether that machinery is showing. That being said, this dress is not lined in any way and is made from a rayon/spandex blend, so it really is the ultimate lightweight summer dress. While you may not need to wear a bra, you might be well advised to consider pulling on those Mama Spanx before leaving the house.

The dress is currently only available in navy here at Due for USD $148, but Maternal America has released the dress in black and teal as well. It is already sold out in size M, but I am very optimistic we will see it pop up in other boutiques in coming days (such is the blessing and curse of Maternal America–you can find it absolutely everywhere).

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woolsweaterSo London was cold and icy and Leighton developed a nasty ear infection within several hours of our arrival…but it was still fabulous and injected me with a good bit of holiday spirit.  On Sunday night, there were even Christmas carolers at our door!  Due to the ear infection, we did not get to see Santa Claus at Harrod’s or Selfridge’s.  We did, however, see Santa Claus in duty-free shopping at Heathrow airport and Leighton was so utterly terrified by him, I realized that waiting in line at Harrod’s or Selfridge’s would have been a complete waste of time.

Despite the inclement weather conditions, I was not deterred from doing a good bit of shopping and my very first stop was Blossom Mother and Child’s new location on the Marylebone High Street.  It’s a small boutique, but it has a great selection of maternity jeans and there was a shocking 40% off pre-Christmas sale going on downstairs.  I tried on numerous items from their Winter 2009/10 collection and could not help but purchase Clements Ribeiro’s merino wool knitted “coatigan.”  (Nope, I’m not pregnant, but yes, still buying maternity clothing).  My friend, Debbie, loved it so much, she bought one too.  It’s cut very long and narrow, so it really is a sweater coat, not a cardigan.  I’ve been wearing it all over Jerusalem the past two days.  The knit buttons are just gorgeous and it has long, thick cuffed sleeves.  The sweater is definitely roomy enough in the bottom half to button over a small baby bump.  But because there is no defined waistline or sash, I don’t think you will be buttoning this sweater in the third trimester.  Still, it is a postpartum must-have and worth the investment.  It comes in three beautiful colors here for GBP 235 (USD $376)–grey, black and a gorgeous winter white that I would have immediately purchased if I was not going home to four little boys who love ketchup.

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jbrandcordsJust a quick note to let you know that J Brand has expanded its maternity collection to include a maternity version of its popular straight-leg corduroys.  The waistband it already uses for its maternity denim collection is the same–the elastic is built into the waistband on the sides, providing a very discreet, under-the bump fit.  Because of the very subtle way that the elastic is incorporated into the waistband, J Brand’s maternity collection is a must-have for the postpartum weeks.  J Brand’s straight leg corduroys are currently my favorite pants and I bought them in several colors and wear them just about every day.  I know, how boring.  But they are so comfortable and work well with boots or with flats.  J Brand’s decision to make a maternity version of their stretch corduroys is great news.

One warning–J Brand’s corduroy really stretches.  I have to wash and then dry them every time I wear them just to keep them from looking droopy.  Even if you are very pregnant, I would stick with your pre-pregnancy size.  I cannot envision this fabric not stretching to accommodate a few extra inches here and there.  And you don’t want to buy them too big and be that eight-and-half-months pregnant woman hiking up her pants all the time. J Brand’s straight-leg maternity corduroys are available in black and grey in Pickles & Ice Cream’s online boutique here.  They cost USD $189.  I know–but if you are already a J Brand fan, then you know these are impossible to resist.

I am on my way to London for the weekend and will be devoting a good amount of time to combing the city’s fabulous maternity boutiques.  I also can’t wait to take Leighton to see Father Christmas.  There are obviously no Santa Clauses to go see here in Jerusalem and the Consulate even had a hard time finding someone this year who was willing to wear the Santa costume.  I find that very amusing, because this city is literally chocked full of elderly men who already bear striking resemblances to Santa Claus.  Anyway, I look forward to reporting back on some great new maternity pieces next week.

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nukaolivenukaolive#2I am happy to say that you all may finally put away/give away/burn your Juicy Couture maternity hoodies because I have discovered an equally priced, yet infinitely nicer substitute at Nuka Maternity.  If there is justice in the world, pregnant women will no longer feel compelled to buy those brightly colored, slightly aggravating velour Juicy hoodies because they have no other options. Instead, they will all head straight to Nuka Maternity here and opt for the tasteful, supremely soft hoodies and T-shirts designed by mom Julia Noik, an LA-based graphic designer who set out to make pregnancy more comfortable with Nuka and has most definitely succeeded.

The absolute must-have in Julia’s Fall 2009 Collection?  The V-Neck Hoodie, a supremely soft, cotton, short-sleeved hoodie with an empire waist and subtle ombre shading.  The empire waist has cute button detailing through the front, but is reinforced with two pieces of elastic through the back, allowing for some serious stretching. This hoodie is so cozy and comfortable that I’ve been wearing it daily since it arrived this past weekend.  I am not actually pregnant.  But I think it is the ultimate compliment to a maternity designer when a non-pregnant women chooses to wear her clothing.  I still haven’t decided if I am going to part with the V-Neck Hoodie and send it to my pregnant sister (sorry, Jane, I really like it).  And Leighton’s diaper exploded while I was wearing it so I can also promise that the Nuka V-Neck Hoodie washes quite nicely and does not shrink.

You can buy a Nuka V-neck Hoodie for yourself here at Nuka’s website for USD $110-it comes in olive, chocolate and caviar black.  I should warn you that Julia is not exaggerating when she called this the V-Neck Hoodie.  This is a plunging V-neck, so on the days you don’t feel like you need to flaunt it, you should plan to wear a camisole or tank underneath (the zipper stops at the bottom of the V-neck, you can’t pull it up any higher if you suddenly have an attack of modesty).

nukapeasantAlso, be sure to peruse Nuka’s entire collection while you are on the site.  I also like the Nuka Peasant Top, which is made from a cotton/jersey blend and is a comfortable option for the first or early second trimester when you aren’t yet at the stage where you really need an empire waist.  The lantern sleeves are a great touch and this looks really nice with jeans or even your most casual maternity sweatpants.  It is available here in orchid for USD $70.

You must order at least one of Nuka’s pieces just to try it out for yourself.  The cotton and jersey used to make Nuka’s maternity clothing is amazingly soft and is of the highest quality.  You’re pregnant, after all, you deserve a few beautiful and comfortable articles of maternity clothing.  Whether you are going out on the weekends or just hanging out at home, Nuka’s T-shirts and tops will be the maternity pieces you reach for every day…and probably at night too, they are just that comfortable.

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one-shoulder-ZOOMtnb_120x90_asseenSummer is just about over and new Fall 2009 maternity items are popping up online every day. Click on the icon at right and check out my most recent posting on TheBump.com for a write-up on FEM by T-Bags’ newest maternity maxi dress.  I just love the one-shoulder sash and the smoky grey color…

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rp trench #2rptrecnhThe late summer sales continue and if you are going to splurge and add an “investment” piece to your maternity wardrobe, now is the time to do it.  I can’t think of a better investment piece for a pregnant woman than a beautiful maternity trench coat.  You can wear it buttoned and tied  while you are still trying to camouflage your pregnancy or when you have only a cute little bump.  Once you are quite obviously pregnant and the buttons are in mild danger of popping off, you can simply tie it above your bump.  And you can wear it throughout those postpartum weeks when covering your physique with additional layers seems a very, very appealing idea.

Rosie Pope’s silk maternity trenches are the ultimate decadent investment piece for the stylish woman’s maternity wardrobe.  I have not yet blogged about them because they were retailing for a very steep USD $650.  Rosie Pope, an independent New York City-based maternity designer, has a very high-end maternity collection that she sells exclusively in her downtown Manhattan boutique.  I visited her store this summer and not only is her store elegant, but her selection is lovely.  After visiting her store, I am a bit disappointed in her website and the scarcity of her online offerings, but the silk maternity trenches are now on sale here in her online boutique, slashed 50% to USD$325.  They are still available in a wide range of sizes in all three colors–navy, grey, and desert clay.  This is a beautifully tailored coat that you can easily use to dress up your basic maternity jeans and T-shirt or throw on over your maternity cocktail dress for an evening out.  I found that her line does run slightly small in the upper body, so I would order one size up from your pre-pregnancy size to make sure you can wear the trench throughout all trimesters and while you are nursing.  I also found the coat to be cut slightly long, so I had to have mine hemmed to knee-length.

rp#3rp#4Just one little footnote…the Rosie Pope sale also includes her luxurious White Silk/Cotton Maternity Trench, which is reduced from USD$675 to USD$350 here.  I have been lusting after this coat for months and when buying my own Rosie Pope trench, it was all I could do not to splurge for this one.  But I do try and exercise a very small semblance of practicality when shopping, and purchasing a white trench coat to wear in a sand-ridden Middle Eastern city is simply not practical.  If you don’t happen to live somewhere where you find yourself covered in a layer of dust at the end of the day, this is a very sensible investment (OK, buying a white silk coat is never sensible, especially when you are about to give birth to a very small person who is guaranteed to spit up, vomit, and have explosive bowel movements on a daily basis…but wow, it really is a gorgeous coat).  If you decide to buy it, please send me a photo…I will post it and we can all envy how fabulous you look…

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