bazaar

Thanks a big fat lot, Kate Hudson

Pregnant women used to happily waddle around in muumuus. Now they're supposed to look sexy.

KATE FILLION December 5 2005
bazaar

Thanks a big fat lot, Kate Hudson

Pregnant women used to happily waddle around in muumuus. Now they're supposed to look sexy.

KATE FILLION December 5 2005

Thanks a big fat lot, Kate Hudson

bazaar

Pregnant women used to happily waddle around in muumuus. Now they're supposed to look sexy.

KATE FILLION

Kick is one of those Toronto stores where jeans cost considerably more than $200 and a dressy shirt can be twice as much. “Our customers tend to be fashionistas in their 30s,” says saleswoman Tracey Robert, who is not exactly unfashionable herself. “On the weekend, the couch outside the dressing rooms is lined with husbands giving input. Positive input. ‘Do you like this?’ ‘Yes! ’ ‘Does my bum look big?’ ‘No!’ They’ve learned. They’re afraid.”

The thing is, their wives have put on a few pounds, which used to be an unremarkable aspect of pregnancy. But gone are the days when pregnancy was a nine-month reprieve from the beauty myth, and a woman could waddle around in a floral muumuu fielding compliments about her glow. “There’s no glow,” says Adrienne Down Coulson, a tall, blond VP at an ad agency who is four months pregnant with her second child and came to Kick looking for a dress for a black tie affair. “Your skin is dull and gross, your hair looks kind of funny, you feel like crap, and you’re gaining weight.”

And yet, magazines are full of photos of Gwyneth Paltrow and Katie Holmes prancing down the red carpet in frisky little maternity outfits—aside from the bump, they look as thin and alluring as ever. “Absolutely, you feel pressure to look sexy,” says Down Coulson, eyeing a rack of tiny satin camisoles and diaphanous wraps.

Clinging fabrics and plunging necklines have become de rigueur in maternity wear,

which can make finding the perfect little black dress for a holiday party—a daunting task at the best of times—something of a nightmare. Or, to put it another way: damn that Kate Hudson! “We’ve seen a lot of tears at this store,” says Robert, straightening a $425 black tunic that has slipped to the side of its hanger. “Women will have the most amazing bodies and say, ‘Look how thick I am! My breasts have got so big!’ But they don’t want to wear coloured tents for eight months, like their mothers did. They want to wear the same kinds of clothes they did before they got pregnant.” Which is to say, form-fitting. “I can’t wear

'I'd like to get a pair of jeans, too, but I should probably save the money for my child's RESP'

any of the empire-waisted stuff from my first pregnancy, it looks dumpy now. Everything is tighter and the trend is to accentuate the bump rather than conceal it,” says Down Coulson, who wound up purchasing a floorlength dress with spaghetti straps and floaty layers of thin, black fabric. “I’d like to get a pair of jeans, too”—Kick specializes in sewing adjustable panels into low-rise designer jeans— “but I should probably save the money for my child’s RESP.”

It’s not uncommon for a woman to spend

thousands at Kick or Belly, Canada’s other main source of high-end prenatal style, which is also in Toronto. Although each has a different aesthetic—Kick is more casual chic, with heaping bowls of chocolate bars and a bulletin board with photos of customers’ babies, while Belly has strapless satin evening gowns, tailored suits and a bulletin board full of press clippings—their price points are both astronomical.

“It’s hard to justify that kind of investment for clothes you’re just going to wear while you’re pregnant, but there are very few basic pieces at good prices in Canada,” says Melissa Ahlstrand, an ad executive at Loulou magazine who is due to give birth in mid-December. “My big splurge was a pair of 7 jeans with an under-belly panel. At this point, I practically need a pair of suspenders to keep them up, but I spent so much on them I’m going to wear them right to the end.”

Some women are so devoted to looking fashionable, they shop right to the end. “One lady was looking for something to wear to a wedding while she was having contractions,” says Nicole Mann, Kick’s store manager. “Her doctor told her, ‘Pack your bag,’ and she said, ‘No, I just bought myself a really great shirt and pants! ’ She went to the wedding, ate dinner, and two hours later, gave birth.”

Even post-delivery, many women shop at maternity stores. “Then you’re in the depressing transition period, when you’re not back to your normal weight,” says Carolyn Berger, 38, a legal recruiter who gave birth to her third child a year ago. “Yes, you’re thrilled to have this beautiful baby, but there’s an aftermath, and it’s not pretty.” The preferred look, too, is a little less revealing: “Afterward, the last thing you want is someone looking at your belly. Let’s face it, there’s no pretending it’s sexy when there’s not a baby in there any more.” M

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