Having a baby is a very exciting experience filled with lots of highs and lots of changes. From your changing hormones, a change in your priorities and mental state to a change of your body. With all these changes (and more to come) it’s important to stay positive and feel like yourself, even if you don’t recognise yourself in the mirror some morning.
I, myself, am lucky enough to be experiencing my first pregnancy, with our little girl expected any day now. So, I thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on my pregnancy journey and the things I have learnt, such as how to dress for an ever-changing pregnant body without losing your identity or spending a ton of money.
As a Fashion Stylist, what I wear is important to my brand, and I have loved being able to continue working with my clients throughout my pregnancy. But the experience of being pregnant has forced me to be much more creative with what I wear and how I dress my changing body. During every stage of pregnancy that my body goes/has been through, sometimes daily, I have learnt 5 important things about what to wear, how to wear as much of my existing pre-pregnancy wardrobe and what is important when it comes to clothing purchases during pregnancy.
TIP #1. ALWAYS Be Kind to Yourself!!! ALWAYS!
BE KIND TO YOUR SELF! You are growing a human being! It’s a miracle!
Your body will go through major changes, everyone and EVERYBODY are different!
Never feel like you need to compare your pregnancy body to your pre-pregnancy body (or any other body for that matter). I hear so many clients compare their current bodies to those of pre-pregnancy, kids, before they got married or before they moved to Hong Kong. Whatever your comparison is… STOP IT!
If your body has stayed the same, great, but a negative comparison has rarely ever helped anyone. It just makes you feel awful. I am all about my clients feeling great in their skin and whatever they are wearing, no matter your shape or size. Who doesn’t want to glow of confidence?
During pregnancy, I found that you just have to go with the flow, every day can be different with symptoms such as sensitive and enlarged breasts, swelling and all kinds of fluid retention, aches and pains, and of course a growing baby bump.
I had constant nausea through my whole pregnancy, so being kind to myself was my first focus to feeling better and getting through the day!
Never EVER try to squeeze yourself into your existing clothes that ‘use to fit’, especially those that were never comfortable to begin with. Your body also has to get ‘use to’ be pregnant! If it doesn’t fit and it is not of value to you at this moment, simply put that item of clothing away in a safe place (vacuum-sealed bags are great for this), somewhere that you are not reminded daily and only hold onto items that work for you NOW and may fit in the future. Think stretchy, machine washable and comfortable. This will have you feeling so much better every morning!
Tip #2. Invest in Comfy Maternity items
I found the best clothing to invest for pregnancy were versatile and comfortable Maternity items.
Maternity wear is not often known for its ‘fashion-ability’, so it made me a little hesitant to buy and invest a lot of money, even knowing it would be very comfortable. Maternity wear is also treated as a niche market, hence the inflated price it, but a few pieces are definitely worth the price/purchase.
Many of my clients hear me talking about ‘Price per Wear’. This is simply a formula that I apply to any new purchase to see if it’s worth the cost, and this also applies to maternity wear.
Simply take the price of the clothing item, for this example let’s say we were buying a HKD100 T-shirt. Ask yourself, ‘How many times will I wear it’ (3 times per week for the summer season of approx. 6 months), the shirt would cost you about HKD1.30 to wear each time. As long as it doesn’t need dry-cleaning or any alterations, you don’t have to invest any more money into it. What dollar amount makes it a good investment is up to you!
Clothing Price Divide by the Number of Wears (per season/week/month) = How much it will cost you to wear it each time.
For me, this meant the purchase of some great maternity bras and some comfortable pants. I found that as I progressed in my pregnancy, the more comfortable it became to sit in a ‘man-spread’ position. This meant I relied far more on pants to be comfortable in public. A fit provided by a pair of maternity pant/jean is also hard to replicate in normal pants, especially late into pregnancy, so this is also a great investment.
Any maternity tops that I purchased also had to work in with my plans to breastfeed once the baby arrived, meaning I was going to get more than a few months wear from them (as it takes your body time to recover from pregnancy and during childbirth too).
Besides buying a few essential and comfortable investment items, I was able to use much of my existing wardrobe with a few edits. I focused on items that had a good amount of stretch and wore T-shirts and dresses that had an extended hem length. The purchase of ‘bra extensions’ from a lingerie store was a money and time saver as I was able to get more out of my existing bras.
Tip #3. Slip-on Shoes
I found the type of footwear I chose to wear to be very important in my third trimester of pregnancy. My bodyweight (and position) dramatically changed, meaning my centre of gravity felt very different.
This had me questioning if my favourite heels were a little dangerous to wear around Hong Kong, so I made the switch to a comfortable pair of flats that I could just slip on and go. This was also important as it became very difficult or impossible to bend down and tie shoelaces up without getting breathless or feeling sick. I have been told that shoes can make a real safety difference during your pregnancy as much more is at stake for you and your baby’s health if you have a fall.
So, whatever makes you feel secure and comfortable in a shoe is the most important to avoid this risk.
Any shoe you do buy should be comfortable, but also secure enough that you don’t have any Cinderella moments. I also found out during pregnancy your joints tend to soften as you get ready for childbirth. This includes feet.
Many women can experience their feet permanently lengthen and widen during pregnancy due to weight, unsupportive shoes and joint movement. I was able to adapt a few pair of my flat supportive shoes by replacing some laces with elastic to make it faster and easier to slip on. A bonus is they became more comfortable as my feet swelled during the day.
Tip #4. Light Layering
During my pregnancy, I have noticed a change in my body temperature. I now feel ‘hot’ all the time, no matter what temperature the AC is set at.
This is a normal symptom of pregnancy…. but what it means is I found it much more comfortable to wear light layers of clothing that I could take off if I got too hot.
Another benefit of lightly layering clothes was to distract from the visibly growing baby bump, this way I felt more like myself and less like a ‘baby carrier’. I loved to elongate my body by wearing a sleeveless long vest that covered my bum. It made me feel tall, emphasized the small of my waist and being a dark colour made me feel slimmer no matter what I layered it with.
This is a not so secret stylist technique to distract the eye from one part of the body and draw attention somewhere else, also known as “Illusion dressing”. You can create curves where you have none, dress to look taller or slimmer (or the opposite).
Tip #5. Be creative with your Wardrobe
I have learnt so many additional tricks of dressing well while being pregnant and I am grateful for the experience to stretch my creativity with clothing.
Did you know that you can extend your fitted jeans (when they feel a little too tight around the waist) by adding an elastic hairband around the zipper and (looping it through the zip end) and attaching it onto the button? As long as you wear a slightly longer shirt with it, no one will notice the difference.
I also loved wearing dresses that became too short (because of a growing bump) as a blouse with stretchy skirts, layering dresses/skirt with opaque stockings and getting really good use from all my fun costume jewellery to change up any look (as it was the only thing that was guaranteed to fit every morning). It’s amazing how you can change a look with the right accessories and basic pieces.
During my pregnancy, I also looked to Social Media (e.g. Instagram) and sometimes YouTube videos for inspiration on what to wear and how to wear it.
Inspiration to use my existing wardrobe has helped me to save money on clothing so I could spend it on more baby items, but you don’t have to be pregnant to do this.
Anyone looking to be inspired can do so without spending money on new clothes. I love to look at celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Miranda Kerr and Kate Middleton for inspiration (all who had amazing maternity wardrobes) and then make that my look with what I have already. Just like baking a cake, once you have the basics of the recipe you can add any additional flair to it and make it your own.
Given that baby could arrive any day, I am excited to be starting on this journey of motherhood that many of my clients have already been through. Being a first-time mother, I am nervous but also excited to meet our little girl.
This means that I will be taking a step back from styling for a few months to adjust to my new role, but I look forward to re-connecting back with the Amanda Leigh Style community later in 2020.
For when you can’t find the right fit. Thankfully the fashion industry has finally realised we aren’t all the same shape and size, meaning there’s more choice for the curvier among us than ever before. This includes plus-size clothes, bump-friendly stylish attire and shoes made for all types of feet. But in Hong Kong it can be hard to find sizes in stores that are readily available across Europe, the USA and other Western countries. Lots of women in the expat community struggle with where to shop, especially if you have a tall figure, a larger cup size or have Western-sized feet. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! There is more out there than you think and you’re not limited to just shopping from overseas online stores (although there are some great options there too!). Here’s where to head to ensure that perfect fit.
UNDERWEAR AND LINGERIE FOR THE FULLER FIGURES
The right outfit starts with the right underwear, as it’s the base that makes everything else look great! A well-fitted bra is especially important when you have a more than an average cup size, a beautiful fuller figure or if your body is going through significant changes due to your menstrual cycle, weight loss or gain, pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause. We say embrace the change!
Sheer, Don’t be shy when going in, Sheer may display a limited range, but ask its friendly and knowledgeable staff for help as the full range is kept in secret drawers (how very chic!). It also stocks maternity bras, support underwear, swimwear (during the summer season), sleepwear and a full range of accessories (such as nipple covers, stick-on bras and lift tape). You are sure to find the right bra for every occasion and the right accessories for any outfit.
Sheer, Shop 310, 3/F, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong, 2388 2876, WhatsApp: 9174 6363, email@example.com, www.sheer.com.hk
Her Own Words by Regina Miracle is a company where comfort meets technology in underwear. It has the best seamless underwear in Hong Kong, that will give you a smooth, breathable and comfortable feel all day. Sizing goes up to an XL. Its sports bras and athleisure wear are similarly engineered, and even include a front zip closure that makes it super easy when breastfeeding. Bras go up to a European 85D.
Her Own Words, various locations, 2762 0866, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.howherownwords.com
PLUS-SIZE WOMEN'S CLOTHES
No two women are the same and the same thing goes for the size of their clothes. To make things even more complicated, every store (and its sizing!) can be different, making the hunt for suitable clothes in Hong Kong quite difficult. Thankfully, many stores are now offering a customised service so that EVERY woman has the perfect fit! Here are some stores we suggest you try to refresh your look.
If none of these stores has exactly what you are looking for, then perhaps getting in touch with a local tailor or going on a shopping tour is a great alternative.
Beam Bold, and its Hong Kong designer Audra, have a strong sustainable approach to fashion, which is focused on size inclusion. Audra makes her beautiful designs up to a 3XL and will also custom make to any shape and size. If you are someone whose shape tends to fluctuate, Audra even goes into the detail of adding a good seam allowance to her resort collection, so there is plenty of flexibility for alterations. It’s so nice to know that your dress will always fit perfectly! Many of her dresses also make for a chic and fussless maternity outfit for the summer.
Sassy Mama tip: There’s a Beam Bold Kids collection coming soon, so expect adorable matching sets for mother and daughter!
Beam Bold, online store (see website for pop-up shops) 6177 5746, email@example.com, www.beambold.com
Rue Madame is a chic store that provides French styles for Hong Kong women. It has several styles that range in size up to an XL and XXL, which provide elegant everyday solutions.
Rue Madame, various locations, 2234 7880, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ruemadame.com
Marks & Spencer, Did you know that Marks & Spencer makes a range of pants in different vertical proportions (not just horizontal sizes)? Some pants are available in a “Long”, “Regular” and “Short” leg size. This means that it has a great cut of pant to work for every woman’s height. Sizes range from a 6 to a 32, with the full range also available online.
Marks & Spencer, various locations, www.marksandspencer.com/hk
Favourite Online Stores For All SizesIf you prefer to shop for an extensive variety of plus-size clothes from the comfort of your living room (or office, we won’t judge!) there are many online stores all offering free delivery to Hong Kong. A couple of our favourites are ASOS, Next Direct, Bloomingdales and Zalora.
When you have feet that are bigger than a European size 41 (UK/US size 8), it can be difficult to find a comfortable pair that give you that perfect movement and fit. Many women in Hong Kong are limited to online purchasing of shoes, which can be limiting and time-consuming. Here are some local stores that provide comfort and style worth trying out.
La French Cut’s shoes are known for their balance between comfort and beauty. Giving customers the ability to choose the heel height they feel most comfortable in, material, style and colour, along with the most elegant cut, it is easy to have the perfect pair of shoes made for every foot and fashion style. You can try on a limited selection at Ionic Mode, Four Seasons Spa, Verde Organic or Jules & Coco. Alternatively, get in touch directly to arrange your own fitting, or visit its website to see when and where the next pop-up event is being held.
La French Cut, email@example.com, www.lafrenchcut.com
Bespoke-made shoes at Shoe Artistry will give you the perfect fit for any foot. Choose from its standard range of sandals, boots and flat shoes. Those with foot problems can even choose to have a 3D printed corrective insole made. They don’t come cheap so you need to be willing to spend $2,800 or more.
Shoe Artistry, Unit S603, Block A, 6/F PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2796 6018, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.shoeartistry.com.hk
Rockport makes comfortable shoes in classic styles. Every shoe incorporates an anti-slip grip sole and the latest range also has inner gel supports for all-day comfort. A variety of widths are available (narrow, medium and wide) and sizes range from 5 to 13. This is a great shoe for the woman who is on her feet all day.
Rockport, various locations, www.rockport.hk
With the end of 2019 fast approaching, it’s time to celebrate both the end of the year and mark the new beginning of 2020!
This year’s looks are all about that sparkle. You wouldn’t want your Champagne to be flat, so your outfit shouldn’t be either!! Here are some looks to inspire you and help you ring in the New Year, 2020, in style.
Style Tip: Remember not to leave your outfit to the last minute, especially if you are an online shopper. Make sure you receive your items with plenty of time to try them on, just in case they don’t work or need to be tailored. It’s best to avoid that last-minute stress!
1. Stay Stylish At A Rooftop Event
You will have the best views of the Hong Kong skyline and it gives you the excuse to dress up a little warmer.
This Reiss off the shoulder knitted dress is the perfect combination of style, comfort and warmth. Put your stamp on it with a great belt, statement necklace or fabulous pair of diamante studded tights like these from Calzedonia and glittery Jimmy Choo boots! A girl can never have too much sparkle. This versatile dress is also great for a cosy evening at home, or a casual night out with the kids.
2. When The Party Calls For Glitz And Glamour
This Sau Lee dress has everything you could want to start a celebration. An ombre tulle gown covered in glitter with a sheer hemline, this can be worn either as a ball gown or a cocktail dress. This local designer knows how to dress a woman for a party. Pair this sexy plunging neckline with a silicone adhesive cup from ASOS to make sure you don’t have any wardrobe malfunctions. Make sure to keep your accessories minimal and let a statement dress like this do all the talking. These 18k white gold hoops with pearls from Jemocracy are the perfect complement for this show-stopping dress. Simply pair with a simple black strappy heel to complete the look.
3. Keep Cosy En Route In Fur (faux, of course!)
Local Hong Kong designer, Dyus K, has a beautiful edgy and powerful winter collection, which this faux fur coat features in. It’s perfect to get you to and from any party, looking and feeling fabulous!
Paired with a simple velvet slip dress from Zara and sparkle hair clips from Wan Chai market, you will not only feel fabulous but look like you have just arrived from Hollywood! “Alright Mr DeMille, I am ready for my close-up”.
4. Budget-Friendly Sparkles
If you are the family accountant and the wallet is looking a little thin after all the Christmas spending, but still want a new and sparkly look, check out this Zara cross-over dress. It has both sequins, pattern and colour and won’t break the bank— the dress is only $599! Pair with an elegant black boot like this one from J Crew and a fun New Year’s Eve novelty tiara. This is a fabulous look for a party at a friend’s house or at any bar.
5. Chic And Elegant In Ivory
Toast the New Year in this strapless ivory jumpsuit by Reiss, that’s classic and effortless. It can be beautifully complemented with a glistening crystal necklace from J. Crew. For an additional look, match with a black blazer for a daytime option, or dress it up with a fabulous pair of snakeskin pumps with flecks of gold from local designer La French Cut. This is such an effortless chic look to bring in the New Year with style and grace, even Victoria Beckham would approve.
6. Baby On Board
Just because you are an expectant mother, this does not mean you should miss out on the pleasure and excitement of dressing up to celebrate the New Year.
This satin maxi dress from Mayaraya has a great stretch and a luxurious feel, which will make any mother-to-be comfortable without compromising on style. Coordinated with an embellished metallic beaded bag from Reiss and a shimmering chandelier earring from J.Crew, you will be ready to dance the night away.
This is also a great dress for breast-feeding mamas, and it can be easily transformed into a day look with a simple pair of sandals.
Amanda is Founder and CEO of 'Amanda Leigh Style', a Hong Kong-based fashion consulting business, which is committed to empowering its clients to achieve their unique sense of style and build confidence to maximise life’s opportunities.