It is a joy to host my friend Danielle today! My first (and continuing) impression of Danielle includes her friendly smile and her stellar sense of style. Danielle always looks professional, put-together, and classically lovely. I admire that her outfits always seem to be both timeless and on-trend all at once- a difficult feat. But beyond the surface, Danielle portrays the value and dignity that she knows she owns as a daughter of God. Her fashion sense is merely an outward expression of that inner truth. And bonus! Danielle asked her good friend Morgan (also a fellow teacher, also happens to have a friendly smile and stellar fashion sense) to write some tips and reflections on how she has dressed during her first pregnancy. I hope that you enjoy their words as much as I have!
Life is Beautiful Dress Accordingly
I was humbled when Katie asked if I would put together a few of my thoughts about the importance of dressing for the occasion of life. After all, there are many cringe worthy photographs of me out there, especially from my adolescent years, that would destroy any shred of credibility that I have. That said, I come by my love of clothes honestly for my mother who has had a “fashion board” for as long as I can remember that displays outfits pulled from magazines and catalogs that she admires. Do not get the wrong idea here, these were not outfits she was planning on purchasing but rather works of art in the eyes of someone who sewed her and her three children’s clothes for at least the majority of my childhood.
After a few awkward years of hand me downs and buying trendy things just to fit in, I started to find my style niche when I began working at The Limited. It was there that I really experienced the uplifting boost that can come from a correctly chosen outfit and the difference quality pieces make. An added bonus was that I made wonderful friends there that helped me learn and build upon the fashion foundation started by my mother. I could talk about this developed passion for days, but with the help of some industry icons, I will narrow it down to some basic points to consider when thinking about clothing.
“Dress shabbily they will notice the dress. Dress impeccably they will notice the woman.” - Coco Chanel
This is an important thought to consider and one that frames all of the subsequent points. There is a deep rooted desire in all of us to be respected, understood, and appreciated for the wonderful women we are. Your choice in clothing can help to make that possible. There is a difference between dressing to get noticed or getting noticed because of how you dressed. Seek to pair together pieces that are not a distraction but rather a compliment to the beautiful creation God intended you to be. And if you are more of the practical type, realize that putting on a flattering dress involves fewer steps and less laundry than sweats and a hoodie!
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak” - Rachel Zoe
There will always be preemptive judgments cast from others based on our appearance, but instead of viewing this as a negative, think of it as an opportunity to invite others to get to know you better. Your outward appearance should be a reflection of what you value. It is worth underscoring here that it is not “vain” to put effort into looking nice. On the contrary, the effort you put forth simply shows that you have self-worth and value your dignity as a person which is undeniably an important fundamental truth of Christianity.
"Your clothes should be tight enough to show you are a woman but loose enough to show you are a lady" - Marilyn Monroe
A little bit ironic that this quote came from Marilyn Monroe but regardless it is great advice to live by. We are fortunate in this era to have a variety of sizes and price points available right at our fingertips. No longer do you have to just settle for what is at the department store but instead can browse the web exclusively for sizes that match your need. As someone with above average height and feet to match, I know all too well the frustration of walking into a store and realizing that not a thing in the place is going to fit the way it should. For the most part I go out shopping to find ideas and the occasional deal but most of my purchasing is done online so that I can get pieces that are flattering and appropriate for my shape.
"The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don’t wear her." - Mary Quant
This is where it becomes important to use some discernment with what you are buying and how you are putting it all together. If you are uncomfortable or unsure about what you are wearing, that will inevitably show in your behavior. Avoid walking into a store and thinking that you have to wear the exact outfit from the display. It is best to start simple and build a solid base of basics you are comfortable with and then add in something that makes the outfit special. You can make any white tee shirt and jeans pop with the right jewelry, shoes, or cardigan. Bottom line, make sure you put together outfits that help build your confidence.
“Life isn’t perfect but your outfit can be” - Anonymous
Let’s be honest here and call out the fact that life doesn’t always seem beautiful. In a world that is full of unpredictability it is empowering to maintain control where we can. Choosing your outfit is one of these areas. On some of the days when I’m having a particularly negative outlook, I put extra effort into making sure I look nice. This inevitably helps to boost my mood and at the very least brings me a bit of joy that may not otherwise be there.
Even out of context people mention that certain events are worthy of wearing your “Sunday best” but it is important to consider that each and every day as a Christian you are a visible piece of evidence that God the almighty creator exists. For some, you may be the only version of the Gospel they “read”, so take time to make sure your cover is an accurate portrayal of the beauty that accompanies living a life where Christ is King.
There is a lot more to say, but I want to be sure and save some space for a special look at dressing while you are pregnant. There are numerous traits I appreciate about my friend Morgan, but without a question one of the first things I noticed was that every time I was around her she was wearing something I wish I had hanging in my closet. Now just over a month away from giving birth to her first child, she is still rocking outfits I wish I could borrow.
”Pregnancy is such a miracle!” ”It’s the most beautiful period of your life!” “You’re practically glowing!”
Yes, I 100% agree- it IS a miracle, it IS a gift from God, it IS amazing to see how an actual person grows by the day inside of me. But when the little miracle that grows by the day has you constantly waking up with the question, “What’s going to fit and/or look right today?” it starts to feel a little less beautiful.
I am accustomed to having a full closet (let’s be honest, a closet and a half...) of clothes to choose from that I have meticulously pieced together. Now suddenly I’m faced with the realization that either:
A. I need to spend thousands of dollars on a brand new wardrobe that I will only wear for 5 months (most people can get away with wearing MOST of their pre-pregnancy clothes, to some extent, for the first few months with the help of a Bella Band and some ingenuity), or
B. I need to come up with a game plan of how I can work with what I’ve got, and then invest in some classic pieces to mix and match and hopefully use again in subsequent pregnancies.
I’m a third grade teacher, therefore, in all aspects of my life, I’m a planner. Before I even needed maternity clothes (remember, you don’t have to do all your shopping the minute you see those two pink lines!), I started my research with a few questions in mind and here’s what I found:
Which store has the best deals?
- Hands down, Old Navy. Typically, you can get between 30-50% off on any given day, combined with free shipping (when you spend over $50) and rewards dollars (from my pre-pregnancy Banana Republic addiction), I found my best bargains from here. These perks, along with free returns (in case those pants, that they said would fit in your “pre-pregnancy size,” wouldn’t slide over your newly sized hips-remember, it’s a beautiful time!) makes Old Navy an ideal place to start.
- In my opinion, Ann Taylor Loft. As one whose personality and attitude is expressed firsthand through the clothes I choose for the day, sticking to my pre-pregnancy style was a must for me. Though often more expensive, Loft maternity wear makes me feel the most “normal” during a period in my life that is so abnormal. On the plus side, you can usually catch a good 30% off sale to make the purchase not so daunting, and if shopping enough ahead of time, you can wait for some things to go on sale.
- Because, let’s face it, there will be days when all of a sudden, those pants you just wore three days ago, won’t slide over your hips, and you need something to wear to work ASAP. I found that Loft has the fastest shipping, without having to pay an arm and a leg extra.
- I found that Gap had great basic tees for layering, especially crew neck tees, for a decent price. It seems like an odd request, but when your bust grows a few extra sizes, it’s kind of nice to not have to layer up with a tanktop under a v-neck (Why do so many stores insist on only carrying v-neck tees for maternity attire??). Otherwise, Target has a good selection of basic tees, but I will warn you, they’re all v-neck!
Find what works, wait for it to go on sale, then buy it in every color.
As I said before, I wanted my pregnancy style to stay as similar as possible to what I wear when not pregnant. I love clothes, I would even say shopping is my top “hobby,” but I also know better than to spend too much on something unless completely and absolutely necessary (I can’t be the only girl who has justified a purchase by doing the age-old math equation: price of garment divided by number of times I plan to wear it).
I have tried my best to continue shopping at the same stores I did pre-pregnancy, but sometimes you do have to step into that dreaded store: Motherhood Maternity. Here I found a couple gems: a great pair of basic dark, skinny jeans (an absolute necessity), a swimsuit (for $12 no less! Trust me, wait for the sales on this site), and a cute pair of Jessica Simpson flowy shorts (finding the perfect pair of maternity shorts could be an entirely different article).
By shopping early and holding out for sales I was able to start a good base wardrobe complete with basic tees in various colors (Gap!), black and navy pants (Old Navy!), and a few cotton dresses (Target). I then worked on layering these basics with accessories and items I already owned. Even if those cardigans or jackets don’t button, layer them anyways! Switch out the sweater or jacket for a fun printed scarf or a statement necklace and you have a brand new outfit.
With a few scarves, you can make countless outfits out of maternity basics.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t stop with those few items! But at least having a starting point helped me build a solid maternity wardrobe for the upcoming months that I was both comfortable in, and felt my best.
Pregnancy is truly a miracle, a gift from God, and a blessing. Dressing beautifully during this time only adds to the joy of the beautiful life being created day by day.
I loved hosting Danielle and Morgan today! How have you found your own style niche and stuck with it during different events and times in your life? Chime in the comment box with your tips!
Danielle's guest post is part of this year's Why Make Beautiful Things series.
Monday, Shirley shared about being a hostess & hospitality here: Open Heart, Open Home
Tuesday, Betsy wrote about finding value in history and restoring heirloom linens here: Making Old Things New
Tuesday, Betsy wrote about finding value in history and restoring heirloom linens here: Making Old Things New
If you are curious, you can go back and read the posts from last year here. And make sure you come back for one more unique post tomorrow and beautiful things giveaway on Friday!