27 February 2011, by Tan Yi Lin
During the first few weeks of pregnancy, I avoided shopping altogether because I had no idea what size I was going to be over the next few weeks. The only new items I got were a couple of pairs of flats because I’m a ‘hard’ walker (I tend to walk very fast and pound my heels into the ground) and I was paranoid that my jarring strut might just knock the baby out of place before it could get a good superglue-like grip onto my insides (unfounded but I was ready to do anything not to jeopardise the pregnancy.) Clothes weren’t really a problem as I could still fit quite easily into my current ones, especially my looser dresses (which I used to wear with belt to create an illusion of a waist. I quickly learnt NEVER to attempt to wear a belt over a baby bump. It looked horrific. I tossed my belts into the dark depths of my wardrobe after that depressing incident.)
As my bump grew, I came to realise that dressing for work every morning had become a case of trial-and-error. I would try on 3 to 4 outfits before arriving at one that would allow me to breathe comfortably for the next 12 hours and still leave me looking decent enough for the office. Dresses that were cinched at the waist were a no-go. Skirt hems raised to indecent levels, allowing the gauzy inner linings to peek out in front. Blouse buttons were strained to the max and threatened to pop with every breath intake. Waistbands could no longer be buttoned. And yet, I was still too small for maternity wear.
In short, it was damn frustrating. I never thought that I would say this – but I desperately NEEDED to shop. Good grief, I sound like a shopaholic.
Thank goodness, I found good deals galore to tie me over this in-between phrase. Cheap tops are aplenty in departmental stores and fashion boutiques. I spotted comfy loose-fitting tube tops in every colour possible going for 3 for $12 at John Littles. I hit the Robinsons Lunar New Year Expo Sale and returned home with a haul of Fox tops at $9 each and heavily discounted pieces from The Island Shop. Popular brands like Forever 21 and Pull & Bear are also some options you can try. And if you’re not one for high fashion, there’s always your friendly neighbourhood This Fashion store.
Cheap doesn’t mean blah and boring either. Check out my $9 Fox halters and tube tops – all pretty and glitzy! Yeah, it my be a tad over-the-top for the office, but hey, when you wake up feeling like a lump every morning and are staring forlornly in the mirror at your disappearing waistline and thickening hips, sequins and shine can make all the difference to your life. Every weekday feels like Friday!
If you’re not feeling particularly diva-esque, there are always simpler designs out there to choose from (okay, okay, the black tube top below still has shiny beads on the front… some indulgence is necessary sometimes!) I love the baby pink tank top below with the adjustable drawstring waist. Or you could accessorise, but personally, I find most jewellery too fussy for my liking. My idea of a perfect accessory is a diamond solitaire (hint, hint – Dannie Cho, I know you read my blog.)
I also picked out some drape-y floaty pieces that wouldn’t cling too tightly to my expanding body.
Actually, if you’ve shared the news of your pregnancy with your colleagues and are comfortable showing off your tummy (because now you have a legitimate reason to let it hang over your waistband), you can continue wearing your current clothes that can stretch to fit your growing body. I’ve had this pink skirt for years and will continue to wear it as far as possible throughout my pregnancy (provided I don’t develop cellulite lumps large enough to house a clan of hobbits on my bum that might show through the material.)
Actually, the hardest thing to shop for are bottoms. Unlike tops, you can’t just go out and start buying larger bottoms to cater to a growing waistline because your bum’s not growing as fast to fill out the larger sizes (thank god) and your legs are obviously not going to get any longer to fit the longer lengths (damn!!)
So I caved in and visited a couple of maternity wear shops and bought myself a work skirt from Mothers en Vogue (located on the ground floor of Centrepoint, just opposite Mothercare) and a casual pair of culottes from Bloomingdales. The skirt ($69.90, pictured below) has extra room in front to cater for a baby bump and elastic ruches behind to fit a bigger waist and hips. Mothers en Vogue is pretty pricey but has really nice designs.
Bloomingdales (3rd floor, Marina Square) has EXCEPTIONAL service. The lovely lady spares no effort in finding something to fit you, no matter what stage of pregnancy you’re in. And while she’ll pile your arms with various options, she won’t talk you into buying anything unless you absolutely love it. In fact, Dan almost got talked into buying a cool guys version of a diaper bag! My culottes were $59.90 – not cheap either – but I take comfort in knowing that I like them so much that I will continue to wear them after I have given birth. As with Mothers en Vogue, customers who spend up to a certain amount within a few months will get a loyalty discount card – so do check with your friends to see if they already have cards that you can take advantage of.
You can also hunt around for non-maternity pants. The ones I’m wearing below are from Mango which I bought a couple of years ago. These are just normal pants with a stretchy foldable waistband. I love them so much that I’ve got the same pair in navy blue. The best thing about shopping at boutiques like Mango is that they can go on sale quite often, so you can nab clothes at up to 70% off their normal price. I bought a pair of shorts with a similar waistband from Mothers en Vogue just yesterday too (although this time round, I wasn’t too pleased to be curtly asked, “Are you pregnant?” by the sales assistant. Humph.)
Another good investment is the Bella Band which is available at Maternity Exchange (3rd floor, Marina Square.) It’s basically a really expensive tube top ($59) that you can wear over the top of your existing bottoms, so as to hide the fact that you’re walking around with your pants/shorts/skirt unbuttoned and unzipped – and to hold them up. The band can also be used to hold too-big maternity bottoms up. After birth, it can be worn as a tube top to facilitate nursing. I suppose it’s money well spent if you consider its versatility.
I’m also really lucky to have received a whole bagful of used maternity wear from my colleague who has 3 kids. And, if all else fails, there are always your husband’s leggings (modelled by Spidey in the picture below.) I’ve never worn leggings out in public in Singapore because it’s just too damn hot here – and I strongly believe that only women who have very slim legs can carry them off without looking like an Auntie going to the market. Well, I tossed those “strong” beliefs out of the window in a fit of desperation for pants that fit and donned the leggings without complaint.
I suppose the picture which was taken during Halloween is a good-enough explanation for Dan wearing women’s leggings from Giordano. He now claims that they are a good investment, which he had the foresight to make given that his wife could wear them later during pregnancy.
What Lies Beneath
Then there’s the problem with the bras. Well, not quite a problem since I’m quite happy to report the growing presence of the much-coveted baby boobs (who cares about baby booties at this stage, it’s the boobies I want!) In the early stages, I relied on bra extensions to give some relief to imminent suffocation caused by a growing rib cage.
After a couple more weeks, I could no longer surreptitiously tug at the front of my bra as it got tighter and tighter, so I caved in and bought new and bigger ones. Non-wired is the way to go for maximum comfort. The problem is, non-wired bras are somehow designed to look massive – and Dan has found great pleasure in laughing at how my giant bras peek out (actually, they practically scream HELLO!) from the armholes and neckline of some of my tops. Whatever. What do guys know anyway.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve made the switch from heels to flats. I kinda miss the frenzied click-clack of stilettos on marble office floors. Stropping off to a meeting in squishy flats doesn’t quite have the same Corporate Girl Power effect. Ah well.
If I had a choice, I would go to work in my favourite footwear – Havianas. And the occasional Birkenstocks. But nothing beats Havianas for their spongy comfort and cool (literally) designs. We fell in love with these rubber slippers while travelling in Brazil in 2009, in particular in Rio de Janeiro – where it’s the choice of footwear of every man on the street.
But since life in the office isn’t exactly a day at the beach, I’ve expanded my collection of pretty flats, also from the Robinson’s Lunar New Year Expo Sale plus a few pairs from my colleague who outgrew her new shoes even before she could wear them! (yes, I have very nice colleagues who give me alot of stuff!)
To the secret male readers out there (how come none of you ever leave a comment?): if you think I’m incentivising your wife or wife-to-be to go crazy with your credit card, don’t be silly. This is nothing. Go read the novel by the same title (Shopaholic & Baby) and learn to tell the difference between a real shopaholic and a pregnant woman desperate for some decent clothes and underwear. Go read, breathe a sigh of relief, mutter a thanksgiving prayer and let the poor woman shop!