Fashion Editor Deborah Brett has worked in the industry for over twelve years as a writer and a stylist, now contributing fashion editor to Red Magazine and Harpers Bazaar UK.
She is also mum to Phinnaeus, 5 and Hermione, 3 – who inspired Deborah’s gorgeous blog Mini’s Fashion File.
Now pregnant with her third baby, due in a couple of months, DB talks to MMM about pregnancy shoe splurges, where to buy the best jeans and why red lipstick will always make you feel better.
You’re currently almost at the end of pregnancy number 3. Has this one been a different experience? Do you feel you have found your maternity fashion groove?
Although the shape of my bump has been different compared to the other two (more compact and less spread thank heavens!) I have found dressing this time around far easier. Partly because I knew what to expect and how my body would morph, but also because I was also less hung up on those changes. Plus I also had a big box of maternity clothes from the last two rounds so I knew I’d be equipped. Saying that, however I couldn’t help but splurge a little!
How do you usually dress? What would you say is your usual non-pregnancy style?
I have an hourglass shape when I’m not pregnant so rely on accentuating my small waist and flat stomach. I love a Mad Men retro style, as well as tapping into a boho hippy vibe especially in the Summer. I love colour and mixing patterns and am a huge accessory girl. I love nothing more than piling on great earrings, bracelets and bangles, a pair of stand-out shoes and bag. Minimalist I am not!
Do you have an idea of your pregnancy ‘look’ depending on the seasons? What styling tricks do you use in Summer as opposed to Winter, for example.
I love wearing dresses, pregnant or not, as it suits my feminine figure so when I was pregnant in the winter with my first two I lived in comfortable sweater dresses. I bought them mainly in grey, navy and black and they tended to be fitted on the top around the bust in an empire shape and then flared out leaving room for the bump. They weren’t maternity ones, instead I picked them up from Whistles, Cos, Banana Republic and in America from Barney’s own label.
Then I added a whole array of different leggings from American Apparel and Top Shop – especially some great wet-look leggings that added another dimension and texture to the look. Finally I invested in a pair of Jimmy Choo fur lined biker boots for opulent comfort (five years later I still live in them every winter). Gap always does a great high street alternative (minus the fur of course!)
For next season I’m already obsessing about Toga Pulla’s buckle boots and Isabel Marant’s Shearling booties as great alternative. Although I will have had the baby come Autumn, I won’t have lost the baby weight and this daily uniform will still come in handy.
With this pregnancy I’ve been given the summer challenge of looking stylish in a heatwave. And this is where I tap into my hippy dress obsession. I head straight to a small boutique near me called The Cross where they have really individual dresses from small designers. The shape I plump for is basically the same as the winter sweater dresses (enough room for my expanding boobs, but nipped in under my chest to allow for some definition and then enough fabric to skim over my bump but not overwhelm it either). Then I accent with some gorgeous beaded earrings, fun sandals (love Zara, Boden and Gap for their summer shoes as well as dresses) and an amazing straw tote from Anya Hindmarch or colourful clutch from Myhibi.
Another big obsession of mine has been my oversized shirt from Made In Heaven. I bought it in a pale blue cotton as well as their circle shirt and they’ve become the best two cover ups, both in town and on holiday. I went abroad at both four and six months pregnant so on the beach I can wear them over my J Crew bikini (they do great larger cup sizes) and also in town over jeans or leggings, and of course once I start breastfeeding they will work a treat too.
Would you say you have been frustrated at the lack of choice on the high street? Are there any brands you would love to see bring out a maternity collection?
To be honest I don’t buy a huge amount of maternity clothes. I’m very specific about what I buy from maternity ranges. Such as bras from Bodas, tights from M&S, Isabella Oliver leggings or pants for the end stretch of the pregnancy where all you want is comfort, Jeans from Trilogy are brilliant, they will take your favourite jeans, add a maternity band and then return them to new once you’ve lost the baby weight.
When it comes to the high street I choose a size or two up from their normal ranges, I do this because I feel their maternity ranges are compromised style wise. They are trying to please too many people, so ultimately things become boring. I’m a Fashion Editor so even when I’m pregnant I like to stay on trend and wear things that are relevant. I’m not going to dress in a sedate conservative manner just because that’s all there is in the maternity range. My favourite high street stores are The Gap, Cos and Zara and I feel you can adapt a lot of their collections to your pregnancy wardrobe.
My only word of advice, especially if this is your first pregnancy, is to buy a few pieces every few months when you body is changing rather than kitting yourself out in one fell swoop in the beginning. You have no idea how your body will change (I was shocked how I went from a small 34B to a 38E in the first three months) and it means when you get bored and feel frustrated with your expanding body and lack of wardrobe choices you can pep things up with a quick high street purchase.
Have you actually bought any maternity pieces? Where from?
My favourite new addition to my pregnancy wardrobe has been a whole set of new underwear from Bodas. I live in their underwear normally and was delighted to find out that they have finally added a small maternity range of bras and knickers. I also adore my new maxi dress from Babes with Babies. Its a really simple easy style, floor length with butterfly sleeves in a supportive stretchy jersey but what’s really fab is that it also contains a nursing bra inside. So its not only perfect for now but will come in ultra handy for after I have the baby too!
I also love the retro range of maternity clothes from new cool maternity label In Pig. Their designs are simple and chic with a nostalgic feel.
What do you think stores get wrong when it comes to maternity style? I think very little thought goes into maternity styles. They work out what shapes they think will suit pregnancy and then roll them out in an uninteresting array of colours and patterns. These are dull and unimaginative and have no reflection on what the brand stands for or what is happening in fashion. Meanwhile on-line maternity brands tend to also rely on the over use of stretchy fabrics with pleating to accentuate the bump in bold colours. Isabella Oliver however is starting to add some pieces that have a real fashion flair into its ranges like their leather leggings which I adore.
Have you had favourite pieces that have worked for all three pregnancies?
I bought a grey spaghetti strap empire line sundress from The Gap’s mainline collection when I was pregnant with my son five years ago and I still haven’t tired of it. It is so simple, elegant and pretty.
What have been your own personal hero products (clothes / accessories / shoes)?
I tend to buy high street when i’m pregnant and pepper things with designer pieces i already own, however I love splurging on one great pair of shoes when I’m pregnant. With my son it was the Jimmy Choo biker boots, with my daughter it was a pair of black Azzedine Alaia shoe boots and with this pregnancy it’s been a pair of Celine leopard espadrilles. They are all such special pieces. Not only have they made me smile each time I wear them, especially when I may not be feeling my best, but they have also become firm favourites in my wardrobe long after the baby’s arrived.
How do you cope with those early months when you’re not showing but everything feels different?
In my first pregnancy I found the early months really tough. I’m used to a nipped in waist, small bust and flat stomach and suddenly I looked like I’d eaten one too many curries and I went from a small bust to being really heavy chested. It really challenged my notion of how to dress. I had to shift my style radically from something that usually accentuated my waist to a more masculine feel, as well as taking into account my expanding bustline. So I went for boxier shirts, worn unbuttoned and with mannish cardigans and blazers, boyfriend jeans and brogues and channelled Katherine Hepburn rather than Audrey.
The main thing to do is continually try and retry things on again. Because even in a few days your shape can shift and something that looked awful in the beginning can suddenly work.
How are you coping being heavily pregnant during a heat wave?! What are your go-to outfits?
Wow its hot! Luckily I kitted myself out in a whole host of pretty summer dresses, however I’ve had to ditch the jeans and my Rick Owens leather gilet (which was the best thing to layer over a slouchy t-shirt and leggings). I’ve bought a huge array of gorgeous sandals and I’m loving my black and khaki Gap Body tube dresses. But my top tip for keeping cool and stopping any leg swelling is to take a 20 min luke warm milk bath – simply add a pint of milk and a cup of epsom salts and soak.
If you could create the ultimate maternity-friendly capsule wardrobe, what five pieces would you have in it?
It would have to be a pair of boyfriend jeans, a pair of grey marl leggings, a simple lightweight sweater dress in navy, an oversized blue mens shirt and a cool slouchy t-shirt.
I would then jazz it all up with a great fedora from Maison Michel, or a cool pair of silver brogues from JCrew and an oversize clutch from Stella McCartney.
What specifically would you suggest women invest in during their pregnancy?
I would definitely invest in a pair of maternity designer jeans, especially if you live in denim normally. With my first pregnancy I didn’t think I would need them and plumped for a Top Shop pair, but ultimately they were not very nice and the fact that you wear your maternity jeans even after you’ve had the baby means that they’re worth every penny. Getting some great maternity or feeding bras (I love Elle McPherson’s range) is definitely well worth it. And a great pair of flats, whether they be shoes or boots – they should make your simple maternity wear shine and make you feel fabulous.
But for me its also about going the extra mile with grooming. Even if you feel awful and your body is out of your control, the fact that your hair, skin and nails will be blooming is something to enjoy. So I often invest in a slick of red lips from Nars and a great blowdry.