Should we be taking style notes from pregnant French women?
This year Bastille Day is 14 July so naturally when thinking French things I started thinking about French maternity style and whether pregnant French women really were more stylish. After all I’d read that French women don’t get fat and have better behaved children so it seems a small leap to expect they do maternity fashion better too.
My bank account said “non” to a quick trip to Paris to conduct on the ground research making Google my next best option. Asking the Google Oracle about what French women do during pregnancy was quite a surprise. Rather than pages of tips on how I could look chic while sporting a giant belly, I was served up page after page of articles on the dangers of drinking during pregnancy. Clearly foregoing the glass of wine at lunch is a big deal en France.
Refining my search I made it a bit easier for Google by including terms like “how to dress” and “French maternity wear” but still the results were disappointing. I couldn’t find much useful information on what tricks the French femmes use nor few pointers on how I could incorporate those tricks into my own maternity wardrobe.
So, necessity being the mother of invention (apologies to Plato for any misquoting here), this is my two Euros’ worth.
1. Striped maternity top
Is there anything more French than a striped top? Well perhaps a striped top accessorised with a beret and baguette… Striped tops are reinvented by designers season after season with winter 2014 no exception. For those that prefer a simple, classic look, pair your striped maternity top with plain pants or jeans but if you’re looking to be totally on-trend this winter, pattern-clash with a floral skirt or pants and bold accessories. Try the navy/grey or grey striped maternity top here.
2. Trench coat
The first trench coats were issued to English and French soldiers during the First World War but it has been a fashion mainstay ever since. Burberry is perhaps the most famous design house to offer beautiful trench coats and if you’re happy to skip a mortgage payment or two definitely invest in one. Leave it undone while pregnant and once your bebe arrives you’ll treasure it for years to come. Wear your trench coat more formally to the office paired with your power maternity suit or add a flowy scarf and your favourite maternity jeans on the weekend.
3. Elegant shoes
We all saw Kim Kardashian’s swollen pregnant feet stuffed into elaborately strappy sandals, right? It made my feet sore just to look at them! That’s not a look you’d expect your average French pregnant woman to aspire to. Indeed in my travels, the French always seemed to be wearing fabulous leather shoes – not a Jerry Seinfeld sneakers-with-everything ensemble to be seen. Spend a little on your footwear making sure it provides excellent support for your oxytocin-addled ligaments as well as looking chic. Seraphine is worth a browse in this department.
The French, and I’m including the blokes here, know how to rock scarves. I’m a late bloomer when it comes to scarves but now love them for so many reason not the least of which is that they can be an inexpensive way to completely transform your look. A neutral-inspired maternity wardrobe provides a good foundation allowing you to mix your pieces in multiple ways to give you lots of looks without lots of clothes. Of course this can be a little boring so jazz it up with some cool accessories. For scarf-tying inspiration go to Youtube University for loads of tips. I particularly like Wendy’s Lookbook tutorial helpfully titled “25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes”
France isn’t necessarily wall-to-wall with beautiful people but what they do know how to do is carry themselves. French women have a wonderfully confident air that makes any outfit seem like it’s been stolen from the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week. French women dress for themselves, not necessarily for their husbands/boyfriends/lovers (ok, maybe for their lovers). Even during pregnancy, which women around the world often find to be a very challenging time filled with unexpected body changes, your average French gal knows what style suits her and sticks to it. We all have different tastes, lifestyles and favourite looks so we should embrace our uniqueness and wear it proudly.
Isn’t that what vive la difference is all about?
Danielle is the founder of online maternity clothing boutique, High Street Mama. Her life before children involved living the corporate high life in a range of industries. Two large-bellied pregnancies later and dismayed at the lack of desirable maternity wear, she launched High Street Mama to help pregnant women look fabulous. www.highstreetmama.com.au