Category Archives: maternity

1970s

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“I think I’m in a bit of 1970s phase,” I text my friend Steph. “You don’t say!” She replies. She’s partly to blame, lending me the loose tent dresses of her wardrobe for the duration of my pregnancy. I went through a “1970s phase” when I was 17, long-haired and venturing into my first coffee houses, becoming politicized by my studies, and greatly influenced by. But this was different. If anyone had told me back then that a dozen years later I would be wearing long psychedelic polyester dresses at 40 weeks pregnant, I probably would have laughed in their faces.

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This paisley cotton nightgown is a DREAM. I had my hopes set on finding a bolder, more graphic muu-muu style garment but this one was of the easiest, most comfortable pieces to wear in my last trimester. It has pockets!

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In the colder months, I adapted one of my vintage coats into a bit more belly-friendly format. This Jeanette Hardy (Made in Quebec) coat has been in my closet for nearly a decade but doesn’t get much wear. I changed that by taking off the too-snug invisible snaps and belting the coat around the waist instead.

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And how badass do I look in that Holt Renfrew dress. Well, perhaps more surly than badass. Empire waist cuts, why did I avoid you for so long? Here’s a better picture of the Made in Italy design:

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I snagged this great little corduroy dress while visiting Iris in Seattle, and even though the exchange rate was brutal, I do not regret it one bit. It has probably been my most worn dress during my 3rd trimester. It’s not an official maternity dress, as you can tell when I turn to the side and the front of the dress is a wee bit higher than the back.

The dress was made by Candi Jones, and from a little bit of googling it looks like a lot of her dresses from this era are quite similar to Gunne Sax. I’m glad this one has a little less frou-frou than those for sale on Etsy

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Admiring the children’s section at Drawn and Quarterly, one of my favourite places in the world

 

This one was lent to me by my friend Steph, and it automatically makes strangers smile. It’s a wee bit snug in the sleeves for me but so so great for my big wonderful belly. And from the shortest dress… to the longest.

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At le Lièvre et la Tortue, the tea shop that has become a regular hangout for me since it’s around the block from my midwife appointments!

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I love love love this dress! Can you tell? All of these long dresses have been in my wardrobe for quite some time, but rarely got worn for whatever reason. May and June have changed that.

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I can’t wait to one day show these outfit photos to my baby! In the meantime, I hope you all enjoyed them. Now wish me a swift and painless labour.

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1950s outerwear

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Wearing a black deadstock FashionWise maternity dress from the 1950s (41 weeks pregnant)

In November, just as I was started to share the news with friends and family, I hit the vintage maternity wear motherlode while thrifting at Emmaüs. Racks and racks of mostly deadstock vintage maternity clothing from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The first time I set eyes on them, I think I audibly gasped and was totally flustered. It was 15 minutes until closing time on a Saturday and I knew I wouldn’t have the time to come back until the next week. Fearing they’d all be gone, I frantically tried on 3 gorgeous pieces and left with all of them for 20$. I’ll be back, I told the woman at the cash. I’ll be back, I told the dozens of immaculate deadstock dresses.

I returned, and the dresses had waited patiently for me. With original tags that read “Expectantly Yours” and “FashionWise Maternity” along with illustrations of storks and terrifying cherubs, these garments waited for me for decades. Not only were so many pieces in fantastic condition, many were in my size. In fact, many would only look good on someone as tall as myself, which is a rare thing to find in vintage (I’m 5’11”). Best of all, they were practically giving them away. I think the most I paid was for a silk number you’ll see in my 1960s post, which was more than worth the 20$ price tag.

The most common item were these strange top/skirt sets, complete with expanding window for your belly. Yes, just like this one. High-waisted pencil skirts but with room for baby. Or at least, very tiny growing baby.

This red maternity set has one of my favourite tags: Expectantly Yours.

red-exThat said, these skirt/top sets were not the best for my constantly changing body. As lucky as I was to find these pieces only weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t get much wear at all out of the skirts when my hips grew in the 2nd trimester. The tops, on the other hand! I am still wearing at 41 weeks, and were really great to wear at work.

Also, I was mostly pregnant during the winter months and these would have been far more wearable in a warmer climate than Quebec City.

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Wearing a Prestige maternity top at work (just about 7 months pregnant)

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This one has pockets! But didn’t come with a skirt.

IMG_1952These two grey tops are both parts of Hildegard Geisler sets. The skirt never fit me for either top, but I loved details and quality of the design of the tops… and pockets! Lulu approves.

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And lastly, two of my favourite, most wearable 1950s maternity dresses. Have you ever found a dress with an ADJUSTABLE WAISTLINE? incorporated into the design of a vintage dress? If you have, chances are this was once a maternity dress. I cannot believe how brilliant the design of these dresses are.

This black Fashionwise Maternity number has three hooks and one clasp on each side of the waist, and can be adjusted depending on how big your waist/belly is. This is one I will be able to wear belted when I’m not pregnant anymore, which makes me love it even more. On this black one, it really is “invisible” thanks to the pleats, but on the burnt orange one the buttons made it a little trickier. In fact… I may even prefer to wear the orange one when I’m not pregnant! I love it so much, these pictures do not do it justice.

Look at how not pregnant I was! 12 weeks! What a lifetime ago.

Next up, 1950s loungewear.

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1950s lingerie

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Get ready for things to get very… pink and blue. It is the baby-boom era after all, and we’ve got to start imposing those gender roles on babies before they’re even born! I’ve got a lot of great slips and vintage lingerie, but I’m not about to post a million pictures of myself wearing it on the internet. Because… nipples. I have basically lived in these outfits for the last month of my pregnancy! And best of all? I had them all in my closet before I even knew I was pregnant.

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This Pink Lady number is the best. A matching lace-trim coat to go with a sleeveless tent-style slip underneath. I feel very Betty Draper circa Season 1 of Mad Men when I wear this. I also have pretty much the identical set in… you guessed it… cotton candy pink.

 

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This white one has beautiful embroidered red roses on the neckline.

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Last but not least, the one I wear out of the house like nobody’s business. Yes, in this picture I have just woken up but if I brush my hair I look like a Serious Grown Up who wears vintage maternity lingerie wherever she wants.

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On to the next best things: the 1960s and 70s.

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1960s

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Chartreuse mod dress from The Little Shop (Mtl)

Ah, the 1960s. Post baby-boom, increasing numbers of women in the workforce, better and safer access to contraception… not to mention leaps and bounds in the world of fashion, fabrics and technology. I, five decades later, reap the benefits.

Let’s start with the fancier items. February! Month 5 of my pregnancy! I finally start to grow out of my non-maternity wardrobe, and am very pleased to turn to the side and rub my belly, à la Beyoncé. These are two of the non-maternity dresses that I was able to wear up until the beginning of my 3rd trimester.

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A gorgeous – also still non-maternity – 1960s silk dress I found when visiting Morgan in Victoria this winter at a great shop called Duchess and Duke. Only wish I had found it earlier in my pregnancy! Will definitely keep in my closet and think I will be able to rock it. I even got to wear it with a cape since it was already feeling like spring in Victoria in late February/early March!

This grey silk cocktail dress was what I chose to ring in the new year, and what I wore to tell the Internet I was pregnant! I only wish I had had more occasions to wear it. How many dresses come with matching shawls? It feels as though it were custom made for someone for a very specific time in their pregnancy. It looks silly when you don’t have any belly at all, but very quickly no longer fits that ever expanding belly. There is zero give in the gorgeous fabric at all! It was one of the very first 3 dresses I snagged when I hit the vintage motherlode. Here’s the original tag as well:

This black and turquoise number was my go-to dress for December, January, February and I was so sad when it no longer fit come the month of March. I can’t really make the details of the design shine with these pictures, but it was so comfortable and adjustable and really made for my body type and size. No tags on this one, also suspect custom made.

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Oh and how could I forget my coat. Being pregnant from September to June gave me an excuse to buy a new vintage coat! My biggest weakness! I knew exactly what I wanted – a 1960s swing coat – and knew I did not want to pay 100-200$ for it. I was lucky enough to find this one for 40 bucks in the fall, and got wear out of it well into April… and even once in May. Yes, it snowed twice in May this year.

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And let us end with the late-spring outfits! Yay warmth! Stretch fabrics! Comfy cotton blends!

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1970s, here we come.

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1930s/40s Maternity Wear

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Wearing a 1940s black crepe dress in January (at 20 weeks pregnant)

Look at how happy I was! Most of the 1930s or 1940s clothing I ended up wearing was during the first and second trimesters of my pregnancy. I was lucky enough that some of my vintage dresses fit me for quite a long time; mostly those that weren’t fitted at the hips. The items that got by far the most wear were looser slips, like this 1930s bias-cut one I love so much. So comfortable, the next best thing to being naked. I would wear an even older piece of vintage lingerie over top to be a little warmer in the winter months. These photos don’t show either item off in the best way, but gives you an idea… and shows you my guest room/walk-in closet which has now evolved into baby’s room!

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Photo by Amélie Laurence Fortin

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Now, for something I’d wear outside the comfort of my home. I was really surprised to find how comfortable this outfit was, up until maybe month five of my pregnancy. The dress was something I thrifted ages ago, just a simple black 1940s dress. The jacket was designed by Hildegard Geisler, someone who I have found absolutely nothing about in my online searches. If you look at the picture of the tag, you see the amazing texture of it. The quality of the garment! I love it. I’m not sure what year it is from, it could be from 50s, but I’m lumping it in here.

Next up: this coral top is way “cuter” than what I normally go for, but come on! Look at the collar! The buttons! Sadly, this one got a little ruined in the wash but I got a lot of good wear out of it. In these pictures I’m wearing it with pyjama pants, but I wore it with a black skirt in the earlier months, and maternity pants later. This is one that still fits, even now at 41 weeks pregnant… because pleats! Betty Hartford, thanks for designing this gorgeous top ages ago.

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Lastly, we have this dreamy dreamy dressing gown. I only found it around month 7 of my pregnancy, and it’s not necessarily exclusively “maternity.” It does make me feel really glamourous, which I definitely needed some days. Maybe a bit Veronica Lake? Femme fatale goes goody-two-shoes?

I must admit, other than the nightgown, I’m not super into the 1930s/40s maternity wear… because it was all about concealing. This post at Just skirts and dresses goes into more detail about what the dominant discourse was around how pregnant women were encouraged to dress. Witness to Fashion also outlines the impact wartime fabric rations had on the way mothers-to-be dressed, which is fascinating.

I also recoil at the idea of maternity girdles… Today, it is strange to think of how much pressure there was to avoid making others uncomfortable by being “visibly with child.” Personally, I wanted to show off my belly as soon as I had one, so the idea of emulating the style of this era wasn’t terribly appealing to me. As you’ll see in the coming posts, I think the 1970s works for me best!

I leave you with this terribly condescending fashion advice from 1944:

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Garçonnière is Pregnant

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7 months pregnant on the Plains of Abraham. Photo by Amélie Laurence Fortin

I’m pregnant. In fact, as I write this, I am very pregnant. 41 weeks to be precise. To say that I am looking forward to meeting this baby is an understatement, and I am suppressing every exclamation mark, every all caps, every desire to underline and bold these words. I haven’t written about it much online, but given that baby is proving to be pretty happy in utero and in no rush to come out, I have a bit more time on my hands than I expected. This means an unexpected (perhaps temporary) revival of this dormant blog with some outfit photos.

I feel like I’ve forgotten how to “blog,” or rather, how people blog has changed so much in the two+ years I’ve stopped posting here, so I’m channelling the early ‘oughts and going back to how we used to share outfit photos in the early Internet days – think newestwrinkle or thriftwhore on livejournal, or dailywear on Flickr.

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Before we get to the eye-candy, some caveats. I have been reticent to write about this for many reasons, namely because I have been overwhelmed by the massive amounts of judgemental, condescending information out there targeted at pregnant people and every element of their pregnancy. What to eat, what not to eat, how to feel, what is normal, and of course what to wear and how one should look. In my experience, the multiplicity of experiences that the women I know who have been pregnant is hardly reflected at all online, even if it has changed a bit with blogs and message boards.

Do not consider this a “what to wear while pregnant” guide by any stretch of the imagination. Wear whatever the fuck you want while pregnant! That’s about all the advice I have to offer.

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A tag that reads “Service prénatal Colette Québec”

There are a lot of things I’ve really loved about getting dressed while pregnant: namely, it gave me a reason to revive my thrifting, which had all but come to a halt. It’s the first time my body has dramatically changed in shape or size in over a decade, and I love the thrill of the “hunt.” Plus, thrifting for maternity clothes meant I also started checking the racks of baby clothes… and I have found some phenomenal little vintage baby outfits, quilts, and toys while looking for clothes for myself.

That said, I shouldn’t have been surprised to leave so many stores and websites… angry. Angry at the high cost of modern mainstream maternity wear, angry at the lack of ethically or locally-made options, and angry at the fact that I often fit into the largest size available. Every person’s body changes differently while pregnant, which is why I have been baffled by chain stores like Thyme Maternity whose salespeople claim certain pieces will last you your “entire pregnancy.” I’m also angered that the few pieces of modern maternity wear I did buy was overpriced, made in shitty conditions, and not made to last at all. Not to mention sizing – I’ve been wearing their XL pants for my last trimester, and I’m a 12. XL is their largest size. Where does that leave anyone bigger than me? What a joke. And do not get this dress-wearing tall person started on maternity tights.

A smiling pregnant woman looks at the camera as her sleepy partner hugs her and places his hand on her belly.

But let’s get to the good stuff! I’ve broken down my outfits into eras, all an approximation based on what I could gander from tags and styles and the little bit of information out there. 

I promise this doesn’t mean à l’allure garçonnière is necessarily becoming a Mom Blog! If you want to follow more of my pregnancy-related and baby-related content, I’ve been sharing a lot on Instagram and a bit on Pinterest.

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