Once they used to pop up all over the place - frumps with bumps.
Yep, Mums-to-be looked like walking tents. But no more. Maternity wear has grown up, with celebrities like Salma Hayek and Katie Holmes strutting their stuff as red-hot mamas.
The sexy, expectant look is proving a huge success here, with stores selling clothing for trendy, gym-buffed Mums springing up like hot cakes - or should Urban make that, quicker than you can say 'bun in the oven'.
Urban counted 10 stores, including speciality outlets and lines that are part of big chains, in a quick check last week.
Cotton shell top, $66, and linen drawstring pants, $73, both from Topshop; zebra-skin belt, $39, from Collage, 04-138 Far East Plaza; London Sole Canvas flats, $259, from Sole2sole, 03-28 Mandarin Shopping Arcade.
As Sharon Ho-Norton, director and founder of home-grown label Mothers En Vogue, puts it: 'A lot of celebrities were given much media attention when they were pregnant. Pregnant women are no longer dowdy but cool and glamorous.'
The modish Mums don't stint on style either, paying anything from $50 to $300 for a dress that catches their eye.
From sexy halternecks and girly tunics to slinky dresses with room for a growing bump - and even specially designed 'skinny' jeans - there are plenty of ways to carry off pregnancy chic.
Dolly Tan, co-owner of Swell, a home-grown maternity boutique in Paragon, says: 'Lots of customers come in looking for tube tops and halternecks. They're after a more sexy look.'
That's quite a change from several years ago, when a pregnant pause meant a gal faced wardrobe woes.
On top of morning sickness, mumsy Mums back then faced the nauseating prospect of outfits that were more baby-doll than baby-bearing. Remember dresses with a sailor neckline, anyone?
Or else they pawed through racks of plus-size monstrosities.
Nowadays, though, clothing that puts the yummy into Mummy is being bought even by women who aren't pregnant.
Michelle Lee, a sales executive at La Bloomingchic, says: 'Some of our customers aren't pregnant but they like the soft materials we use and think the clothes look stylish. Our pants are also favourites because they fit really well and look just like regular pants.'
BIRTH OF THE TREND
Of the stores on the blooming maternity scene, some are relatively new industry babes. Local online maternity store, Pumpkin (www.pumpkin.com.sg) opened in March 2005. Expectant by Colette, the local multi-label store's foray into maternity-wear, opened just eight months ago at Forum The Shopping Mall.
Earlier on the scene was 9 Mois in Paragon. Co-owner Cindy Goh, who has an eight-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter, opened the store in 2002 after being disappointed with the maternity wear available at the time. 'We're entrepreneurs born out of desperation,' she says.
La Bloomingchic and Mothers En Vogue, which both have flagship stores in Delfi Orchard, opened in 2000 and 2003 respectively.
|'BEING PREGNANT GAVE A NEW ROUNDNESS TO MY BODY... I GOT A CHANCE TO TRY OUT TOPS WHICH I WOULDN'T NORMALLY HAVE LOOKED GOOD IN'
- Channel NewsAsia producer and mother-of-two Joanne Leow
They have since expanded overseas. La Bloomingchic has four branches in Indonesia, while Mothers En Vogue is distributed in nine other countries including Australia, France and the United States.
Big chains have also recognised the demand for fashionable maternity wear. British retail stores Topshop and Dorothy Perkins have extended their lines with maternity ranges which were introduced here in 2005.
BUMP UP THE ACCESSORIES
While looking chic can be the perfect pick-me-up for a woman going through the ups and downs of pregnancy, it is important that they are comfortable, too.
'Comfort is the golden rule when it comes to getting dressed,' says Dr Cordelia Han, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Raffles Hospital. She advises against too-tight jeans and high heels.
She explains: 'As your tummy grows, your centre of gravity shifts and your stability's altered', adding that heels may cause women to be more clumsy or trip.
Fashion boutique owner Kai Tan, 26, who is featured in the photographs, is the mother of a seven-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy. Now six months pregnant, she says: 'My clothes must be comfortable. I stay away from clothes that are too tight and stick to soft materials like soft denim.'
Stylist Steven Kong recommends simple and comfortable cotton tops, a classic white shirt and linen drawstring pants, while Jona Neo, a product manager at Yahoo!, says she wouldn't have survived her pregnancy without her skinny jeans from American online store Motherhood (www.motherhood.com).
Norton of Mothers En Vogue recommends 'foldover' jeans, capris and pants which come with foldover waistbands.
'The foldover waistbands are a godsend because they can be pulled over your belly when you're at your biggest or folded down to hug your hips without adding bulk,' she says.
Mums thinking they can simply splash out on bigger sizes of their pre-pregnant self should think again, she adds. 'An empire dress may be flared below the bust but its length may not have been designed with a growing belly in mind. A front hem that rides too high is not classy and definitely not flattering,' she says.
Some more advice: Accessories and a great pair of shoes will go a long way in jazzing up an otherwise simple outfit.
'I went crazy on flip-flops, sandals and flats,' says Neo, 'They added plenty of vibrancy to my outfits.'
And mothers-to-be shouldn't forget to make the most of their newly-formed curves and that maternal glow.
'I've been a skinny girl all my life, but being pregnant gave a new roundness to my body. I certainly filled up the clothes better, and I got a chance to try out tops which I wouldn't normally have looked good in,' says Joanne Leow, 27, a producer at Channel NewsAsia who has two sons, a two-year-old and a six-week-old baby.
Ee Wan Lim, 27, a stay-home mother to 16-month-old Bobby, adds: 'From my second trimester, my skin glowed. I loved dressing up and showing the world that I was a Mum-to-be.'
|Is this article useful to you?