A few days ago, my partner and I were getting changed in the morning in preparation for the day ahead. As I slipped into a suede skirt I'd recently purchased and some fishnet tights, I noticed him looking particularly contemplative. "So, I've noticed that you haven't had to change your style for pregnancy," he started to tell me. "Like, you've been able to avoid the sacks that so many brands try to sell pregnant women."
If it were up to many of the brands he spoke of, frumpy sacks would definitely be on my horizon. I'd wager that maternity-wear can feel like a very bleak facet of the fashion industry regardless of your dress size. But add to that being fat, and you'll probably find yourself in a sea of garments that desexualize and hide your body completely.
Like most, if not all, style categories, the options out there for plus-size maternity wear are minimal in comparison to the straight-size market. And the ones that do exist, well, they certainly won't be winning any awards for "bold" or "revolutionary" wears. So if, like me, you find your style to be a direct means to empowerment — a way to channel whatever aspect of your personality you're resonating with most on any given day — you might be feeling like the world of plus-size maternity wear is set upon the destruction of your sartorial creativity. For moments such as these, when you cannot help but feel grim as you gaze upon yet another poorly bedazzled tunic tee, I have but one suggestion.
The truth is, you don't need to limit yourself to plus-size maternity wear when pregnant. In fact, you needn't opt for plus-size maternity wear at all if you don't want to. The beauty of most plus-size clothing specifically designed for larger bodies is that it is already crafted to accommodate fuller figures. Plus-size bodies tend to have bellies. We often have love handles and thicker thighs and wide arms. When clothing is made for our figures — rather than simply scaled up from straight-size measurements — chances are that much of it is already designed to fit large tummies, and thus, it'll fit your growing baby bump more than adequately.
This means that, when it comes to plenty of styles, all you have to do is size up. In terms of my own body, the process of forming new life has left me two sizes larger at 33 weeks pregnant. Although my arms, hips, and thighs have grown, the bulk of the weight currently lies in my tummy. By simply buying plus-specific clothing a few sizes larger than what I'd normally wear, I've been able to maintain my sense of dress while comfortably nestling my expanding core.
Stevie Dress, $118, ChubbyCartwheels.com
Take, for example, the Curves Reign II Collection at Chubby Cartwheels. If you need a fancy dress for an evening out or a special occasion, something like the Stevie Dress is specifically made with fat bodies in mind. At times, the dress tapers in. At others, it flows outwards. Sizing up should mean that you have enough room for your belly, without the rest of the outfit drowning you out.
It's arguably evident when looking through this brand's offerings that the designs are made by a fat woman for fat women. Such attention to detail and acclamation to the intricacies of fat bodies is arguably what you need when it comes not only to your usual plus-size outfits, but your pregnancy ones as well.
It's also worth considering a brand like Fashion To Figure: A retailer known for creating plus-size wears that are stretchy (and comfortable) but totally chic. The elasticized nature of so many of its designs will mean that the clothes (already made for plus-size figures) will simply stretch to fulfill whatever needs your pregnant bod might have. All the while, you'll look exceptionally cool.
Alice Lace Fluted Skirt, $27.68, FashionToFigure.com
If you want your pregnancy style to be bold and unapologetically visible, then you might also want to consider a brand like Ashley Stewart. Along the same vein of Fashion To Figure, many of Ashley Stewart's garments involve stretch. If you size up by one or two sizes, you should find that your belly has plenty of room to grow, while still being on display and slaying.
One of the first things my mom wanted to do when we got the news of my pregnancy was shop. There was only one store within a 50-mile radius of my house that carried plus-size maternity wear, and upon our arrival, I had to resist the urge to set the place on fire. Where were the cute options? Where were the styles designed for women who weren't feeling ashamed of their bodies, and actually wanted to show them off?
Studded Keyhole Catsuit, $34.65, AshleyStewart.com
The trickiest aspect of maternity wear shopping for a lot of people is probably jeans. But you shouldn't fear when it comes to your plus-size denim while pregnant. Forever21+ has actually been a godsend for me, someone adamant about eschewing those stretch-waist maternity pants that far too many brands try to sell pregnant ladies.
F21's denim is wonderfully stretchy and the brand sells many styles in a high-waist fit. Sizing up in high-waist denim will honestly provide plenty of room for your baby belly, without making you feel like you've had to glue some rubbery fabric onto your favorite pair of jeans. Because the retailer is also very affordable, you won't have to feel guilty about buying a bunch of 'em to take you through the rest of your pregnancy.
Seek out the plus retailers that make you feel something. The ones that remind you that your entitlement to rad fashion doesn't end when you're pregnant.
Plus-Size High-Rise Jeans, $19.90, Forever21.com
Like, I'm sure, any mother who's incredibly excited about their own daughter having a baby, one of the first things my mom wanted to do when we got the news of my pregnancy was shop. There was only one store within a 50-mile radius of my house that carried plus-size maternity wear, and upon our arrival, I had to resist the urge to set the place on fire. Where were the cute options? Where were the styles designed for women who weren't feeling ashamed of their bodies, and actually wanted to show them off?
I know it's easy to get discouraged about what "pregnancy style" has to mean when you come across aesthetics that seem to suggest that an already-fat pregnant woman is unworthy of anything with flair or vibrancy or statement-making potential, but there's no reason to allow those mentalities to crowd your look. So try sizing up a few digits in plus-specific clothing. I wouldn't personally bother with brands that scale up their straight-size designs, because those likely won't account for the curvature of fuller figures. Instead, seek out the plus retailers that make you feel something. The ones that remind you that your entitlement to rad fashion doesn't end when you're pregnant. The ones that remind you that your body is excellent, and worthy of whatever jumpsuit or sparkly jeans or princess dress your soul desires.