Ask dapperQ: Pregnant Style?

A reader asks:

“Do you have any plans to do a piece on what to do about one’s attire once you are pregnant? I’m in early stages of my pregnancy and starting to stress out about what I’m going to wear.

I’m very comfortable in men’s clothes and it’s a perfect fit for me. Maternity clothing, on the other hand, exists 100% within the confines of very feminine options (I’d go as far as saying that’s even more emphasized in maternity clothing).
There is no such a thing as pregnant butch wear or masculine pregnancy atire, however one would prefer to frame it. This is specially true if you are talking about any type of professional clothing (people keep telling me overalls and sweat pants, which would be fine if I fixed cars for a living, but I work at the headquarters of a multinational company where my dapper style fits right in).”
First off, on behalf of the entire dapperQ staff, CONGRATULATIONS on your pregnancy! We are thrilled to receive this submission and hope to provide some alternatives to alleviate some stress. This is a very important topic and I am happy that it is being discussed. In fact, you should also take a look at a recent post on Qwear by Taan, a transmasculine genderqueer who shared some advice about this subject.
I like this Dashiki from Etsy. Qwear agrees that non-Western shirts are a great option for androgynous style during pregnancy.
Now for my two cents. When it comes to clothing, many dapperQ readers run from anything remotely feminine looking like it’s the zombie apocalypse. And, I don’t blame them, given that many of these same dapperQs were forced to wear dresses, ridiculed for dressing “like boys” (the HUMANITY), discriminated against, bullied, and worse. What I’m going to say next is in NO way a push for you dress more like a “lady.” Quite the contrary.  But, sartorially smart, masculine presenting folks (including cis-males) who are known for being incredibly stylish understand that a key element to some of the best masculine outfits is a touch of “androgyny” or “femininity.” Don’t believe me? Just take a look at some of these cis-male runway models and style tastemakers (including Kanye West rocking a women’s Celine shirt):

So, my recommendation – use this time to play with some high fashion and work with some traditionally “off limits” feminine pieces in fashioning a really killer masculine pregnancy style. As you may know, I do not like to give recommendations on where to purchase specific items. As someone who reads a lot of fashion blogs, nothing is more frustrating than seeing something I love, clicking on the link provided to purchase, and then finding out that the item has been out of stock for two years or that it is no longer available in my size.
These three outfits I put together incorporate maternity pants (from Three Seasons, Motherhood, and A Pea in the Pod, respectively) in a masculine way. You can pair these pants with oversized men’s or women’s tops: blousy button-downs (aka, “boyfriend” button downs is the new buzz word in the women’s department); “grandpa” cardigans; and dashikis, tunics, and other non-Western tops. You can find oversized tops at a variety of retailers from designer shops (the $360 leather trim shirt on the left is from Band of Outsiders) to Ebay to thrift stores (much more affordable). Grandpa cardigans can be great for hiding the feminine details of maternity tops. Be open to shopping in plus sized women’s floors in department stores, men’s big and tall shops, and maternity boutiques; you’ll be surprised at some of the variety of items that you can combine to achieve the pregnancy style you seek. And, most importantly, remember that the Devil is in the details; get your hands on some hip masculine accessories, like bow-ties, masculine shoes, and a dapper diaper bag.

If you’re a stickler for the classics, Suits Your Belly carries professional maternity business suits that are designed for “women,” but do not have flowers and lace and all that other jazz (see feature photo above).

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  • I didn’t like the flowery girly maternity crap either. I swore by farmers’ overalls — which are available for eeeeevvvvry size, and I wore scrubs a lot at home. And Hawaiian shirts!

  • I’m in my 9th month of pregnancy and struggled with the same issue initially. I found that buying “regular” clothes in larger sizes was better for me than trying to make anything labeled “maternity” work. I tend to wear my pants low on my hips, so I stuck with regular pants under the belly. Another option if you’re curvier might be some of the less flashy maternity dress pants (Gap and Old Navy have some inexpensive options). For shirts, loose materials and layers were helpful; open button down shirts or cardigans on top of some slightly oversized basics worked. I’m not sure I’ve been the pinnacle of style, but at least I haven’t been covered in little bows and floral patterns, either. 😉

  • I had the same issues when I was pregnant. My mother offered to buy me some clothes, but then tried to pick out a very feminine looking pant suit. I declined and decided to pay myself for a few androgynous looking crew neck shirts and some plain maternity pants and jeans. I did not buy a lot. I didn’t want to spend money on clothing I would only be wearing for a few months. Luckily I was able to borrow a few other basics and then unapologetically wore the same outfits repeatedly. (You can get away with a lot while pregnant. Who’s going to complain?) I never felt dapper while pregnant (like EVER!), but at least I didn’t have to feel forced to dress feminine.

  • This was a big concern for me early in my pregnancy, too. I would concur with Titus that I never really felt dapper during any period of my pregnancy.

    Here’s what I did, how it worked for me.
    Early on, my shirts mainly fit, and my pants started quickly not to. So, I bought a few pairs of regular pants the next size up. As my belly started to come out, I wore zip-up hoodies over button down shirts that I could no longer button all the way down over my belly. Sometimes if the shirts were short enough, I would leave the bottom buttons undone and leave the zipper undone on the sweatshirt. As my belly grew and the pants I had bought got tight, I bought a belly band and used that to close my pants. This was more comfortable at certain points in the expansion process than the strategy I developed towards the end of the pregnancy, which was to buy an oversized belt and use it to hold up my unbuttoned, half unzipped pants. In terms of dapper, the hardest time for me was when my feet were swollen in the last month or two months (as it was approaching summer) and I really could only wear sandals. [If there is anything that I agree with more than not in this article, it is the importance of footwear.] As for shirts, I bought bigger size men’s shirts in the casual department. Dress shirts are generally oversize on me anyway, and not in a way that helped when I was pregnant. The “casual” button downs could be dressed up with a tie or a jacket, depending on the print of the fabric. And many of them could be left untucked, which was a good thing!

    Things I experimented with and got good feedback on: suspenders. I wore suspenders out over my shirts and holding up some slightly big pants, and I wore them under my shirts and holding up some big on me and my belly pants. It was a very good investment and made it possible to buy fewer sizes of pants since I could hold up the ones that were too big on the waist without people knowing. Another thing that I experimented with to mixed but occasional success was to wear mixed-season clothing. Shorts with a jacket, for example. That probably wouldn’t work well at your job though it worked fine for me in mine.

    I would also add, though this comment may be less for you in particular depending on your particular gender identity, that I was worried that people would not be able to continue to read me as a man, and/or would read me as a pregnant man and that would feel, maybe even be, dangerous. For me, that never happened. I only once ever had someone mess up my pronoun during my pregnancy and honestly it was a mentally unstable person who was having a difficult moment on the street. Not even sure it was really directed at me. That said, I had been on testosterone for almost 5 years before going off to get pregnant. So just to share this piece of my experience in case it is helpful to anyone out there.

    Good luck and if possible enjoy the ride. I found the process of being pregnant incredibly meaningful and powerful. For me, it will be highlight of my life.

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