Mirror, Mirror: Dressing a pregnant princess

Kate's royal tummy gets some fashionable fantasy draping ideas from our town's A Pea in the Pod.

So your baby bump is at the six-month mark, and you've got an important luncheon to attend. What to wear?

If you're Kate Middleton, our favorite preggers princess, you would probably do long, lacy sleeves on a fitted pastel sheath - belted right above the tummy.

On your feet, matching strappy pumps, of course. And no Duchess of Cambridge look is complete without a perfectly perched pillbox.

So say the fashion-foreshadowers at Destination Maternity, the Philadelphia-based parent company of A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity.

They have been responsible for many a celebrity's fabulous close-to-due-date looks, including those of Heidi Klum, Nicole Richie, Cate Blanchett, and Jessica Simpson. There is a chance they may have a hand in dressing Kim Kardashian, too, who is expecting her first child with rapper Kanye West this summer.

But it's most fun to fantasize about dressing royalty.

"She has such a ladylike look, and that femininity is very in right now," explained Olivia Capone Myers, design director at A Pea in the Pod. "Kate updates classic looks and [we think] she's going to wear these well-tailored looks throughout her pregnancy, with just a little tweaking."

Otherwise known as leaving room for growth.

So, with a royal heir anticipated sometime in July, what will the mama-to-be wear? And more important, can we civilians follow suit? We asked Myers and her team to sketch looks that will compliment Middleton's growing tummy.

Presenting a ladies-who-lunch outfit, Myers, who has designed for A Pea in the Pod for 12 years, cited Middleton's affinity for British designers Sarah Burton, creative director for the Alexander McQueen label, and Stella McCartney - both known for structured, feminine looks that feature lace in their spring 2013 collections.

Saturated pastels also are important to womens wear this spring, Myers said, so she sees Middleton in frocks of seafoam green, cotton candy, or soft blue. Seams and tucks on the sheath's skirt create a ruffled, asymmetrical flounce that, Myers said, does a great job accentuating the beloved bump and camouflaging imperfections.

The most interesting detail on the sketch is a thin, bowed belt. Aren't belts on maternity clothes a big no-no?

"Waist interest is very important in fashion, and we are bringing it over to the maternity side," Myers said. "This is what gives the look soft structure, and it keeps the look authentic Kate Middleton."

It was the princess' love of skinny jeans - remember the orange J.Brands that sold out in specialty boutiques last spring after one princess appearance? - that inspired Destination Maternity's casual "cricket" look.

"We would put her in our Secret Fit Belly Jean," said Myers, lifting her shirt to show the way her own expectant tummy looks in the jeans. "It's seamless and it makes you long and lean."

(I fear not many people could look as long and as lean as Princess Kate, pregnant or not.)

With an indigo jean, Myers dressed her in a shrunken blazer - a hot trend for the expecting and the nonexpecting - in a bright shade. Think watermelon, lemon sorbet, or sunset orange.

But what about the horizontal - yes, horizontal! - striped scoop-neck T? Seriously?

"We put these stripes on a diagonal," which draws attention to the side ruching on the cotton-spandex shirt, Myers said. That gathering is a good pregnancy and postpartum look.

"Because of the ruching, the eye doesn't focus on the stomach, but the silhouette. The stripes are very flattering in this case."

In the last 20 years, we've seen pregnancy fashion go from frumpy to fashionable to body-conscious and sexy. Women decided they deserved more than tent dresses back in 1991 when Demi Moore cradled her belly on the cover of Vanity Fair. She may have been naked, but she inspired women to celebrate a part of their physiques they once took a great deal of effort to hide. (For you young, pregnant readers: It was the not-so-distant '70s when teachers who were expecting had to quit their jobs before they showed.)

And because the fashion industry is nothing if not adaptable, it jumped on the maternity-get-fresh bandwagon. Trendy empire-waist blouses and maxi dresses transitioned easily to the pregnancy market.

Now advances in stretch fabric allow maternity fashion to evolve at the same pace as runway looks - which, these days, are demure and feminine. These tailored collections hark back to vintage styles, but unlike those olden times, pregnant women these days don't have to stop wearing sheaths when they show - as long as there's room for a belly.

"Women are a lot of things now before they even get pregnant," Myers said. "They are in business, they work hard. They have established routines, they have established their looks. Maternity styles are reflecting that."

 


Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @ewellingtonphl.