The Washington Post

Front Page

Maternity Wear Gone Modern
The Washington Post
Sunday, July 15, 2007; Page M05

Long ago, designers realized that there was a big business in chic maternity wear. Now you can get J Brand jeans and Velvet dresses at A Pea in the Pod. At the other end of the price spectrum, there are Liz Lange‘s sleek, stretchy styles for Target. But how do you decide what’s right for you?

Trend Spotting section“The most important thing is you want to be comfortable and maintain your style,” says Elleni Vorvis, co-owner of the local Apple Seed boutiques. “If you never wore wrap dresses in big prints before, you might not feel comfortable doing that now. We always ask people, ‘What was your style before pregnancy?’ ”

With that in mind, we consulted four local experts for tips on dressing the bump in style this summer.

The Experts


Kelli Richardson Lawson, 40 Owner of 9 Maternity (12246 Rockville Pike, Rockville , 301-468-2022 , www.9maternity.com).IF YOU BUY ONE THING

image001.jpg
PRO PICK: Ripe ruched top, $68 at 9 Maternity.

Perfect pants. Like our other maternity fashion experts, Lawson suggests a brand called Noppies; the slacks are made of a lightweight Lycra that comes up on the belly without an added strip of stretchy fabric.

They may look odd on the hanger — as if someone kept adding fabric and forgot to stop at the waistline — but they offer a smooth line over the stomach and grow with you from the first trimester on. No surprise, then, that they’re one of Lawson’s top sellers.

image002.jpg
PRO PICK: Chiarakruza skirt, $108 at 9 Maternity.

TIPS ON DRESSING FOR TWO

· Show off your shape without baring all. Lawson’s store is filled with bright print blouses by Japanese Weekend and ruched tops by Ripe that are form-fitting without revealing too much. (On a recent visit, some women who were not pregnant wanted to try them on.) She also sells maternity henleys and tanks by celeb favorite Michael Stars.

· For getting out of a wardrobe rut, Lawson recommends that women buy designer jeans or a few fun, frilly tops to boost their confidence in their appearance as their body makes dramatic changes. “Some people say, ‘I just feel so miserable. I just want to look great,’ ” she says. “Splurge on some fun tops to go out in with your partner.”

Julia Beck, 40

Founder of Forty Weeks, a Potomac- and New York City-based marketing company focused on expectant and new parents ( 8521 Hunter Creek Trail, Potomac, 877-635-4040 , www.fortyweeks.com).

IF YOU BUY ONE THING

Make it a high-quality basic, such as a top you can dress up or down, or slacks that go from work to weekend with ease. “Every piece you buy, it must multitask,” Beck says. It pays to spend more on these items rather than blow your budget on a new wardrobe full of cheap mistakes.

TIPS ON DRESSING FOR TWO

image003.jpg
PRO PICK: Isabella Oliver cap wrap dress, $135 at 866-614-9387 and www.isabellaoliver.com.

· “Normally, I’m not a big advocate of non-maternity clothing” if you’re pregnant, Beck says. “But this season is a little bit of an exception.” Flowy, empire-waist blouses that hit at mid-hip are everywhere, including non-maternity stores. Beck, who consults for many maternity- and baby-themed businesses, says some of those firms have even been worried that women would skip their wares in favor of fashions from other stores, just in larger sizes.

· During the summer, look for lightweight, all-natural fabrics that can be layered. “Don’t get involved in anything that doesn’t help you breathe,” Beck says. For example, try a cotton halter top paired with a cardigan for the office. It’s a cool look, and the halter cut flatters almost everyone, she says.

Elleni Vorvis, 28, and Dina Igoe, 29

Owners of Apple Seed (115 S. Columbus St., Alexandria, 703-535-5446; 414 Main St., Gaithersburg, 240-683-5446 ; www.appleseedboutique.com).

IF YOU BUY ONE THING

image004.jpg
PRO PICK: Designs by Hillary coral bracelet, $60 at Apple Seed

A showstopping accessory. Many pregnant women focus on buying basic pieces, such as pants and skirts in solid, plain colors for maximum versatility. That’s fine, Igoe says. Just add bright earrings or a chunky cuff bracelet to jazz up your look. “You can wear the same top and put a different necklace with it — it can really change an outfit,” she says.

At Apple Seed’s two stores, Igoe makes a point of featuring well-accessorized outfits on mannequins. “A lot of women come in and want to buy the whole outfit, including the accessories,” she says.

TIPS ON DRESSING FOR TWO

image005.jpg
PRO PICK: Olian tank, $74 at Apple Seed.(RenŽe Comet Photography)

· Mix it up. Just because your non-maternity wardrobe was all suits doesn’t mean you need to invest in five new ones now that you’re pregnant. Apple Seed carries more clothes for working moms than the average maternity store, Vorvis says, including a handful of suits, but they aren’t necessarily the store’s biggest sellers.

“Originally, we thought people wanted suiting, but that’s not really the case,” she says. A lot of women want separates to mix and match, so they’ll buy one or two collared shirts and a couple of pencil skirts, she says.

And though some women always like that suited-up look, if you don’t, don’t worry. Many women can get away with a slightly more casual style at the office when they’re pregnant, Vorvis says.