Wedding attire for two
Deirdre Wall, an actress in Brooklyn, New York, was eight months pregnant when she was married on a New Hampshire mountaintop on June 25. While planning for the wedding, even amid a whirlwind engagement and impending motherhood, she found the task of dress shopping the most worrisome.
“There is a real hole in the market for cool maternity bridal dresses,” said Wall, 36. “I looked really hard throughout New York and couldn’t find a place to try one on that would also let me return.”
After perusing Etsy and Anthropologie, Wall ordered two gowns from Tiffany Rose, a British-based designer of bridal and special-occasion maternity dresses. One gown featured a lace bodice with cap sleeves, while the other had a classic sweetheart silhouette.
The best part was that Wall could try them at home and send one back. “Both dresses are beautiful yet stretchy, and I felt like I could gain 30 pounds next month if I wanted to,” she said. “I’m relieved that I have options.”
Wedding-dress shopping is a rite of passage for any bride. But throw in the physical demands of pregnancy — a rapidly expanding middle, growing bra size and disappearing waistline — and the process becomes all the more complex: How will it look a few months, and pounds, down the road? The same goes for pregnant wedding guests and bridesmaids who want to look and feel great while on their feet all night.
Though traditional maternity labels have long offered their share of empire-waist gowns with endless ruching and layers of stretch jersey, for a growing number of stylish women, these dresses feel matronly and passé. Whether trekking to a remote field or a hotel ballroom, today’s expectant brides and pregnant wedding guests want fashion-forward alternatives that offer the security of comfort and fit throughout pregnancy and even after baby.
“The modern pregnant woman doesn’t want to wear maternity only for a short period of time, but wants clothes that are adaptable,” said Sarah Rutson, vice president for global buying at Net-a-Porter. “Of course it depends how pregnant you’re going to be and which stage you’re in, but many pregnant women who shop our site expect to wear these pieces afterward.”
Rutson cited voluminous cocktail and black-tie dresses by designer brands like Chloé, Isabel Marant, Lanvin and Tibi. With their forgiving silhouettes and looser cuts, certain styles could fit some pregnant wedding guests.
Last November, Net-a-Porter began selling its first maternity-minded label, Hatch, which offers ready-to-wear that women can dress in before, during and after pregnancy. “I wear Hatch all the time, and my pregnancy days are long gone,” Rutson said. “The style and design is there, and if you’re eight months along, it’s not too tight.”
Ariane Goldman founded Hatch in 2011 after wearing a strapless dress she designed for a wedding while pregnant with her first daughter.
“I got stopped constantly by people saying how beautiful and comfortable I looked, but also how formal and appropriate,” said Goldman, who also founded twobirds, a bridesmaid dress label. “I thought, wow, this is the feeling I want women to feel: that they can go out on a beautiful evening and be comfortable and chic and not be omitted from fashion.”
Lindsey Evans chose the Fete gown by Hatch, a black sateen maxi style with a crisscross top, for a June 10 wedding in France. She was just over 30 weeks pregnant.
“The fabric felt really expensive, and it didn’t look like a bag hanging over me,” said Evans, the director of merchandising at the jewelry firm David Yurman. “I also appreciated the flexibility, that no matter what my size would be, it would still fit.”
Evans plans to wear the gown to a friend’s wedding in Mexico at the end of the year, long after her baby arrives.
Seulki Chung shopped Hatch for a wedding she attended over the Memorial Day weekend at the TriBeCa restaurant Locanda Verde. After trying on a few dresses in the maternity section of Nordstrom, she felt matronly and uncomfortable. Hatch’s off-shoulder Audrey style features an easy A-line silhouette that Chung expected she would wear during the warm months after her baby was born May 31.
“What drew me to Hatch is the idea that I can wear the pieces after my pregnancy,” said Chung, who runs Real Food Kitchen, a food company.
LoveShackFancy is another label offering dress styles for pregnant bridesmaids and wedding guests. Rebecca Hessel Cohen started it in 2013 when she was unable to find bridesmaids dresses she liked for her own wedding. She designed a single dress for her maids that featured a halter top and empire waist.
Since then, the pregnant bridesmaid has been an unexpected but loyal customer. Given the label’s ethereal aesthetic, in which many of the flowing chiffon styles lack closures in the waist and bust, the dresses are comfortable enough during pregnancy and flatter post-pregnancy bodies.
“When I designed the first dress, I didn’t know anyone pregnant at the time,” Hessel Cohen said. “Now our dresses do really well with pregnant bridesmaids. Personally, I wore our dresses a few times when pregnant and to a wedding three weeks after my second daughter was born. After you have a baby, your waist is nonexistent. You still look pregnant, and these pieces are forgiving.”
But for many women, an easy go-to remains a classic maternity style. Liz Corder was a bridesmaid at a Florida seaside wedding on June 18 when she was 25 weeks pregnant. Like Wall, she opted for a Tiffany Rose gown with cap sleeves, with a long skirt and sweetheart neckline.
“Something about the jersey underneath makes it so comfortable,” said Corder, a development manager for the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida. “A lot of people think of maternity dresses as unflattering and tentlike. I feel really pretty in this style.”
When bridal designer Monique Lhuillier created the actress Ginnifer Goodwin’s tulle-and-lace wedding dress in 2014, Goodwin was well into her third trimester. Lhuillier suggests to all pregnant clients that they show off their neckline and shoulders, which are flattering regions regardless of a baby bump.
She also encourages them to enjoy their silhouettes. “I tell my pregnant brides, ‘Let’s not hide the pregnancy, because it’s such a beautiful thing,’” Lhuillier said. “The best thing to do is embrace the belly. I love showing it off.”Read more at:princess formal dresses | blue formal dresses