Standing 5’3” and weighing 180 pounds prepared me to be a formidable opponent at any local eatery in the Metro-Detroit area. While a regular human might consider a restaurant a place to congregate and share a meal with loved ones, I was no regular human. In my eyes, restaurants were a public arena where the greatest stomachs came to compete to eat everything in sight. And in this arena, I was always the proud but regretful victor in a series of my own self-imposed eating contests. This was my way of life at 29. And how exactly did it get this way? It all began when I uprooted my life and moved 2,500 miles across the country to a new city and a new standard of living. During this stressful transition, I dealt with my anxieties and subsequent loneliness by eating my way through endless stacks of pancakes and watched as my my body transformed from elegantly petite to a human bulldog. I had gained an impressive amount of weight in short period of time and there was much speculation among “friends” as to why.
Ashlee: Hey! I miss you! I was looking at your pictures on Facebook, and you look so happy and…. (subtle tonal change) …..“healthy”.
Me: (long pause, as I take note of her tonal change and determine she is politely wondering about my new body) I look healthy?..... Really?
Ashlee: For sure…. You have a glow....
....so people may have asked you this, but, oh my god, are you pregnant?
Me: No, Ashlee. I just got fat.
Ashlee: (insert nervous and forced laughter) Aw, no you’re not. You are (again, subtle tonal change) “healthy”. But you’re sure you’re not pregnant? I feel I can always tell when someone has that pregnancy glow.
Ashlee: Nope not pregnant, just fat. The glow you see might just be a facial grease stain from one of the buffets I ate at. (Subtle tonal change) We “healthy” people forget to wipe sometimes.
The world around me seemed to demand and eventually infer a proper and acceptable reason for my changing body: I was “obviously pregnant” and did not want news to spread too quickly. The weight gain and subsequent metamorphosis of my body made the world around me uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that a conjectured pregnancy was more believable than the idea of a content woman who gained a sizable amount of weight. The insult was twofold: one, I was not pregnant, and two, never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Because God forbid, she might just be “healthy”. I learned about pregnancy etiquette long before my time.
But this post actually isn’t about the consequences of eating your way through anxiety or bearing an uncanny resemblance to a human bulldog. My encounter with Ashlee made me wonder: what if I had been pregnant during this time? I wittily fielded polite theories about my changing body, but a pregnant woman is forced to juggle so much more. From the army of mothers I have befriended in my life, I’ve learned the first trimester can be the trickiest to navigate. Pregnant mothers are required to be great evaders in the first trimester - never letting onto the biggest secret of their life until they are certain their little one has been granted safe passage. While the slightest showing in the first trimester can be stealthily attributed to a second week at the local burrito buffet, finding clothing that will stylishly evade inquiring minds can be trickier. With a few easy style hacks, I’ll help you re-purpose some pieces already in your closet to be the perfect camouflaging staples for your first trimester.
The first trimester requires an expectant mother to be a magician of sorts. Your body is subtly changing and growing, but only your discerning eye will be able to see and feel the difference. While “Abracadabra” and the subtle wave of your hand won’t make nausea and your unexpected cravings for soy sauce and vanilla ice cream disappear, there is a bit of magic at your fingertips that can easily conceal your tummy until you are ready to go public.
Magic Trick #1: Maxi Dress Update
The name of the game when dressing for trimester one is comfortable style that can offset all the physical ailments that often accompany the first trimester while strategically camouflaging your growing belly. There is nothing more magical than the brilliant pairing of the empire waist maxi dress with a button up boyfriend shirt. An empire waist maxi dress sits just below the bust line and comes away from your mid-section, drawing the eyes towards the bust and away from a growing belly. Pairing the maxi dress with a boyfriend button-up shirt will bring structure, visual interest, and a much-needed update to the simple maxi. There is much to be said of the boyfriend button-up which is simply an oversized dress shirt made to mimic what you may find in a boyfriend’s closet. Its crisp collar and cuffed sleeves bring a clean and refined elegance that is reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s style sensibilities. To add a bit of fun to the look I like to leave the last three buttons unbuttoned and single knot it along the waist. By doing this, you are adding dimension and interest towards the waist and continuing to draw the eyes away from the belly line.
Magic Trick #2: The Wrap Blouse
A worthy contender when it comes to hiding the baby bump is the multifunctional wrap blouse. The wrap blouse has a front closure that is formed by wrapping one side of the garment across the other and is secured by a tie at the waist. The magic surrounding the wrap blouse is that it naturally forms a V-neck and draws attention towards the collar bone and neckline, de-emphasizing the belly line. The ties that are secured along the waist will define and highlight your waist and modestly cut away from the belly line. The key to picking a worthy wrap in your first trimester is to ensure that it is form fitting. A wrap with too much fabric and volume will billow out at the bottom and stir curiosity about what may be brewing beneath. To ensure that you are comfortable, wear a camisole of a complimentary color under your form fitting wrap and loosen the ties along your waist line. This option gives you the benefits of a gorgeous neckline, defined waist, and a form fitting yet comfortable wrap ensemble.
Magic Trick #3: The Belly Band
The Belly Band is your magical assistant in the first trimester. While it has a host of physical benefits like decreasing back pain and providing gentle support as you go about your day, its style benefits lie in the fact that it will increase the longevity of your current arsenal of pants. No need to purchase maternity pants in the first trimester when you have this miracle worker in your closet. Essentially, a belly band is a tube top for your tummy. When the time comes and your pants sit more uncomfortably than usual, this magical band of fabric will make all that discomfort disappear. The beauty of the belly band is that it will give you the freedom to exercise your unalienable right to walk around freely with your pants unbuttoned while its elastic band wraps around your growing bump and keeps your pants up in discreet confidence. Plus, it goes a long way when those cookies and ice cream cravings start kicking in!
Magic Is In the Air During Trimester Number 1
At this point in your maternity style journey, the name of game is disguise. While these tricks will magically transport you through the first 3 months, the next stage of Accepting The Bump awaits during Trimester #2. Browse through Seconds to Impress to see how to style your changing body during each trimester and the postpartum stage of the maternity journey!