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Dressing my bump

There are many advantages of being pregnant in New Zealand, rather than in my ‘old’ life in England: I don’t have to commute for two hours a day, for starters, and I have friends and family members handy for on-going support and advice.  And I don’t have to work all day at a formal law firm, dressed smartly and being forced to keep my wits about me.

However, the big downside of a Kiwi pregnancy is the difficulty in finding decent maternity clothes.  In the UK, many of the high street fashion shops stock a maternity range, making it easy to find things to wear as your bump develops.  In New Zealand, the options seem to be restricted to a few junky-looking tops at The Warehouse, a small range at children’s clothing store Pumpkin Patch (the website offers far more maternity options than most of the Pumpkin Patch shops – I’ve visited two branches recently and found no more than a few garments), and a few online shops.  And I’m not hugely keen on buying clothes online, unless I know the brand well and can be confident that what I order will actually fit me.

However, my bump is growing at a rapid rate and I have started to struggle for things to wear, so I had to go shopping.  I went online at Pumpkin Patch and bought two pairs of jeans – a boot cut ‘vintage’ washed pair, and a skinny black pair – and a pair of leggings.  The leggings fit very well (and I’ve since bought two more pairs of leggings from Farmers – they seem to only stock leggings and tights for pregnant customers), but the jeans are quite large.  I chose size ‘medium’, which – given that I’m 5’10” and usually NZ size 10 – 12 – seemed appropriate.  However, Pumpkin Patch’s medium is a lot bigger than me.  The boot cut jeans are OK, albeit slightly loose, but the skinny jeans are enormous (although I know that they’re likely to be too tight before long, given how quickly I’m expanding).

Although the boot cut jeans are wearable, they’re also hideous – they’re that kind of bright navy colour that you automatically associate with really geeky mothers.  I’m going to buy some black fabric dye today and see if I can sort them out.

I realised that I didn’t have much to wear over all those pairs of maternity leggings, so I visited Max and picked up some merino stuff in their end-of-season sale: a blue dress (which will also work with tights), a red tunic, and a green top that I bought in a large enough size to enable me to wear it as a tunic.

I also cleared out my wardrobe yesterday, packing away into plastic crates all of the things that I have no hope of wearing in the next twelve months.  This has left me with a fairly tiny capsule wardrobe – I think I’ve probably packed away 95% of what I had in there.  I’ve got a few dresses that I can also fit at the moment, so that’s handy.  I’m all about the clingy dresses (there’s no hiding a baby bump, so you might as well flaunt it), or empire line dresses.

My main issue is that I don’t like my pregnant shape very much – I’m not one of those women who revel in the ‘goddess’ nature of it: instead, I really miss having a small(ish) waist.  However, I know that I’m going to be enormous before my twins arrive, and I’ve made my peace with that, even if I don’t love the thought of it.  It won’t be forever, and eventually I should be able to unpack all of my lovely normal-sized clothes again.

Of course, celebrities swan through their pregnancies looking far more stylish that mere mortals like me.  I’ve been perusing lots of celebrity pregnancy photos while writing this post, and it’s interesting to see that they almost all follow the ‘clingy or empire line’ rule for dresses as well – really, there isn’t much else you can do.  Here’s Sarah Jessica Parker rocking the empire line:

And here’s Kourtney Kardashian in something more body-con (she’s actually more stylish when pregnant than she is normally, in my opinion – it must be because she’s got less scope to dress like a complete idiot):

It’s also funny that the celebrity press are often obsessed with pregnant women ‘confirming’ their pregnancy, as if they have an obligation to do so.  For example, Glamour magazine ran this photo of Angelina Jolie:

and captioned it:

Looking back it’s hard to believe it, but Angelina Jolie still hadn’t confirmed her pregnancy (with twins Knox and Vivienne) when she set out on the promo trail for Kung Fu Panda at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. But there was no hiding her bump in this apple green empire line gown – a classically flattering shape for mums-to-be – by Max Azria Atelier.

Perhaps Angelina Jolie assumed that, given her massive pregnant stomach, ‘confirming’ the pregnancy was somewhat unnecessary?

Jamaican party prince

Prince Harry is in Jamaica, helping the locals to whoop it up and celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.  He looks to be having a great time – hugging the Jamaican prime minister and causing photos that look like the two of them are enjoying a ‘sugar mummy and her redheaded playboy’ relationship:

getting stranded on a boat and being rescued by the press (which seems to have caused a fair bit of hand-wringing amongst the locals, possibly explaining the lack of photos of this event), and sneakily beating Usain Bolt in a 20m dash (by not telling Bolt that their race was starting) and making the kind of facial expression that we’d all make if we’d done something this awesome:

I like Prince Harry – he doesn’t let being Royal or a ginger slow down his quest for a good time.

His touring style has consisted largely of chinos and shirts, although he rocked a light-coloured suit and looked pretty decent:

And he showed a tremendous flash of footwear-related personality – and some real white man’s dancing – when he visited a Kingston-based charity project and danced to Bob Marley:

Those shoes are fantastic!  They’re desert boots of Russell & Bromley, if you’re desperate to emulate Prince Harry’s style.  It’s difficult to imagine any other member of the Windsor clan wearing them, so good on him for injecting a bit of personality into the stereotypical wardrobe of the Royal touring male.

Cardigans

Breaking news from the Fashion section of The Independent, kids: love or it loathe it, the cardigan is back.

What do you mean, ‘it’s back’?  Where has it been?  Who doesn’t own a cardigan or two (or ten, in my case)?  Isn’t this like saying jeans are ‘back’?  There I was, thinking that every woman wore cardigans, and it turns out that they’ve been languishing in the fashion wilderness and nobody remembered to tell me.  Of course, nobody remembered to tell the countless shops that stock cardigans either, so that makes me feel a little better.

That Independent article feels that the return of the cardigan is sufficiently newsworthy and controversial to justify presenting an argument for and against.  From the pro-cardigan angle:

A cardigan can be thrown on over almost anything without smothering the impact of what lies beneath, and the flexibility it offers is paramount to its appeal. The cardigan resonates in these straitened times – especially thanks to its inbuilt “climate control” functionality. Don’t turn up the heating, pull on a cardigan instead. Feeling a bit rosy cheeked? Pop a few buttons.

And rebuttal from the anti-cardigan faction:

You will never look streamlined in a cardigan; you will always be just a little bit lumpy. The lumpier the cardigan the more intellectually aspirational you will appear, and the further into the “grandad from the Werther’s Originals adverts” territory you will stray. You may start finding Woodbines and parts of Hornby train sets in the pockets. You will certainly feel a little under the weather and will probably want to stay in bed all day long.

How utterly ridiculous.  As you’ll have guessed by now, I am firmly pro-cardigan, and am aghast at the idea that there is anything bad to say about this blessed garment.  What else can a woman wear when she’s going out and about and there’s a bit of a breeze?  A jumper?  You won’t be able to see the nice top you’ve already got on.  A jacket?  OK at times, but often too formal.  A zip-up hoodie?  Only appropriate if you’re wearing a casual t-shirt and don’t care about looking like a student.  A scarf?  Come on, people – we’re not all mentalist compulsive scarf-wearers.

Behold my favourite cardigan:

It’s raspberry pink (a far deeper tone than the photo shows), I bought it from Monsoon three years ago for something like fifty quid, and it’s earned me more compliments than nearly every other item in my wardrobe.  It looks good over all neutral colours – white, light grey, dark grey, navy, and black – and also over florals.  Here it is keeping me warm up the Eiffel Tower (and Claire, my niece, is wearing another one of my cardigans in this shot):

It can be useful for embracing the whole colour-blocking concept:

Regardless of what the fashionistas at The Independent might say, I remain firmly convinced that cardigans are a wardrobe stalwart; one of the most useful items of clothing you can find.  If I did a cost per wear analysis on my clothes, I’m sure that my cardigans would trump everything else – even jeans.  I wear cardigans with dresses, with jeans, over shirts, over fitted tops, over strappy tops, when I’m just lounging around the house and it’s a bit chilly – there’s never a time that isn’t a good time to pop on a cardie.  They can add a pop of colour to an otherwise monochromatic outfit, or they can provide a tonal match to other things you’re wearing.  They’re awesome.