Daily, my body twists and bends, my new form growing in directions I did not have in mind these past few months as I acquired lovely frocks in Paris, London and New York. Portobello, Spitafields and Williamsburg will have to wait—my baby is coming.
Being six months pregnant makes me feel like the antithesis to aesthetically pleasing. These days the better part of my morning is spent combing through long-loved blouses, hand-sewn dresses and vintage skirts for the sole piece that won’t make me feel fat today.
I have often heard fashion gurus (What Not to Wear‘s Stacy London, anyone?) say “dress your body now” (not the one you hope for), and I am doing my best.
In recent months I have mastered the art of the cinched belt: disguising my widening hips (or trying, at least) and accentuating my burgeoning belly. I’m donning oversized dresses, leggings and flats, shopping in my closet for creative ways to smile in the mirror. (An impending birth is not the time to splurge on personal style; the extra pennies are already being tidily tucked away in the mattress.) This, I am told, is a time to celebrate the female form! So, why would I be hiding?
Pregnancy, like any season of life, requires attention. With such rapid and obvious changes afoot, it’s been easy for me to notice the details. But, more than an outward metamorphosis, this experience has been a lesson in living. I need to approach my wardrobe and my life with the same intentionality, every day.
Over the years our frames change, both literally and figuratively. Just as a woman’s body one day makes room for a visitor, so our bodies shift and change as we age. We take desk jobs and, sadly, one day our metabolisms stop burning Peanut BusterÂ® Parfaits like they’re fresh spinach. Our frames change, and they require daily adornment, so why not relish in the simple creative opportunity this affords us?
Creative dressing comes in many forms. The more ambitious types, like Alex Martin of the “Little Brown Dress” Project, don the same homemade dress for 365 days. More than practicality, it’s an anti-consumerist statement, and a beautiful one at that. Others, like Ryan Marshall of Pacing the Panic Room, take a more mainstream approach. Working from the racks of American Apparel, this photographer/writer provides a weekly chronicle of his wife’s growing baby belly and her creative means to cover it.
There is a season for everything (even tight pocket books and broadening mid-sections), Ecclesiastes reminds us. Perhaps pregnancy is a time when we mothers—writers, professors, teachers, painters, carpenters, dancers, students, baristas—embrace our inward and outward selves in new and inspired ways.
And, as Mark Twain coyly aphorizes: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”