Singaporean stylish mums on styling their baby bumps and pregnancy figures, from waist expanders to embracing body positivity
Dressing up when your breasts are perky, your legs are toned, and your stomach is flat is a walk in the park. Dressing up when there's a human dancing inside your womb proves slightly more challenging.
Charmaine Seah-Ong, co-founder of Elementary Co.
"[Dressing for my pregnancy] was a challenge I took on gamely to try and see how much mileage I could get out of my existing wardrobe. I didn't want to purchase any maternity-specific pieces and end up not having any use for them after giving birth. Maternity-specific wear is expensive and rarely stylish. Opt for pieces like tank tops, maxi dresses, and pants in stretchy fabrics, or well-tailored, oversized pieces that you can still wear after delivering. Check out Hatch — they design stylish, classic pieces that can be worn during pregnancy and beyond! It was fun figuring out which cuts and silhouettes worked best to hide or flaunt the bump, depending on my mood for the day."
"I was definitely hiding the bump at the start when it was smaller because I just looked bloated. Then I was flaunting it as it grew bigger because wearing oversized pieces made me look sloppy. I had to buy a nifty little device called a waist expander to, well, expand the waistline of my regular pants, and I ended up using more of the stretchy pieces with elastic waistbands in the later trimesters. During my second pregnancy, I discovered the clothing rental service, Style Theory. It was a game changer because I could rent outfits that were a size up as my belly grew, and they also had a pretty decent assortment of outfits that were stretchy and great for stylish maternity wear."
Melissa Celestine Koh, influencer
"Dressing for pregnancy was fun for me. I'm glad that the growing belly was a slow progression so it gave me time to adjust, explore, and learn what would work. I turned to flowy dresses and relaxed silhouettes at the start to hide the baby bump that people could very easily mistake for a food baby. I also shopped for non-maternity outfits from places like Mango and upsized my bottoms from XS to S, and then later on M. Towards the last few weeks (from week 32), when my bump was obviously more than just a food baby, I felt the urge to embrace it more. I ended up going for a lot more figure-hugging pieces such as body-con dresses."
"My personal style didn't change much — I was in New York for fashion week when I was 25 weeks pregnant! It was winter and I had so much fun layering up. I dressed in Carolina Herrera and Asian designers Xinnatex and Lie loads. A styling tip for other mums: go all out and have fun dressing the bump! Embrace your new body, because you might miss it when it's gone. You can still achieve comfort while looking stylish."
Wanie Kayleigh Gomez, entrepreneur
"Being pregnant can be challenging as it takes a toll on a woman's body, but I enjoyed dressing up when I was pregnant. It gave me a chance to experiment with new looks. I've always been practical when it comes to purchasing outfits, so I didn't have any specific designers or labels that I turned to during pregnancy. It all comes down to "can I still wear this after I've delivered?" If yes, it's definitely a purchase. One thing that was hard for me was not being able to wear heels most of the time. I felt incomplete without them, so I compromised and exchanged stilettos for block heels. It's more stable and comfortable, though I usually had a pair of cute sneakers or sandals in my bag in case I got too tired from walking in heels."
"I embraced my bump during my pregnancy. After all, it's only for a good six months or so from when you start showing till you deliver. I encourage pregnant women to do so too! I enjoyed wearing bolder prints and brighter colours as they brought out my pregnancy glow. I also realised I grew more confident in wearing brighter prints post-pregnancy because of the experimenting I did before. I was always either in cotton or satin, because pregnancy heat is not a myth! My advice: don't shy away from fitted dresses, because baggy and oversized clothing can make you look bulkier. Go with something lightweight and comfortable — that's essential!"
Marianne Wee-Slater, founder of Smitten PR
"Even though I was working at a fashion magazine then and surrounded by stylists and styling ideas, dressing while pregnant was a real challenge as there weren't many fashionable maternity label options available at that time (about 10 years ago). I was quite self-conscious about my baby bump in the beginning and tried to disguise it with lots of flowy dresses, which melded with my personal boho style anyway. As the bump got bigger, I loved flaunting it in skinny maternity jeans (Topshop had the most fashion-forward maternity range) and a fitted tank, which became my uniform at work and off-duty. Just throw on a structured blazer or a kimono over it, and it instantly transforms."
"I did go a little crazy buying maternity clothes online, especially in the third trimester, when my bump outgrew my existing wardrobe. The sartorial options here were just so frumpy and shapeless that I couldn't bring myself to wear them. But there are now some labels that do great maternity ranges, such as Love, Bonito and H&M for everyday basics. Uniqlo was a savior because everything was classic, wearable, and stretchy — I just had to go up a couple of sizes. The biggest lesson I learnt about dressing a bump is that you don't actually need proper maternity clothes until the last few months of pregnancy. Getting bigger sizes of what you would normally wear usually works. Also, fitted clothes look better than shapeless ones."