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Lessons from Bea Danville: Be Pretty When You're Pregnant

Copyright 1956 by Wilfred Funk, Inc. 

[When I was a teenager, my fabulous mother gifted me with this genius vintage book: Dress Well on $1 a Day by Bea Danville. I can't believe I left it behind when I moved, but my mother graciously sent it along to me so that I could remind myself of this wisdom. And now, I share this wisdom with all of you.

So, today I opened the book randomly, and it fell open at the end of the chapter about dressing for your size. I figured this info might be useful for the preggos out there and, for the non-preggos, you can glean the usual amount of Bea wisdomosity that you can share with your friends later.]

Audrey Hepburn, lovely as always, in fab 60s maternity garb

When she is pregnant, a girl's beauty seems to take on a Madonna quality. [*Note: Bea means this in the Mother of God way, not the over-the-hill popstar way] This is perhaps in some measure a recompense for a figure line that is beyond her control. Gone are the days of a few decades or so ago when a woman felt embarrassed at being expectant and when film stars of the silent era found motherhood a disaster to be kept as much from the public eye as possible.

[Note: When  my grandmother became unexpectedly pregnant at age 40, in the 1950s, she was so humiliated and embarrassed she DIDN'T LEAVE THE HOUSE DURING THE ENTIRE PREGNANCY. Which led to people suspecting that her adult-aged daughter, my aunts, were secretly the mother. The moral of this story is, basically, don't hide yourself away when you're pregnant. Make at least one public appearance each month, would be my advice. Not that I know what I'm talking about.]

Motherhood is now accepted as the glorious event it is, and dress designers, ever cognizant of the sociological trends of fashion, have found a serious new field in the creation of attractive maternity clothes.

Catherine Deneuve's French take on fabulous pregnancy fashion in
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

You needn't, therefore, be too despondent because a maternity outfit may have to be your usual way of dress for some months on end. You may get heartily sick of it, but to the people who seey ou in it, it can be just as attractive - or dowdy - as any other dress. Once again, it will be up to you, your choice of clothes and the way you wear them, as to whether you will look attractive or not.

Creating an optical illusion if you are eight months pregnant, will quite honestly take more than ingenuity and a knowledge of the laws of perspective. Unless you are making public appearances for some reason or other, it really doesn't seem worth the trouble, either, for such a short time. But before the last few pretty hopeless weeks [LOL] I do feel that it is psychologically more than worthwhile to tackle the problem, as you would any other clothes project, with an organized plan.

Mia Farrow may have had a kind of awful, Satanic pregnancy in Rosemary's Baby,
but she did it all in fab mod 60s style.

In the first place, it may not be necessary, unless you are very unlucky with your figure problem, to think about maternity clothes before the fourth month. Until that time, when Nature very inconsiderably seems to jump your hip-line several inches overnight, you can probably get by with your usual clothes.

For the first four months, therefore, you should:

1) Try to forget you are pregnant (as far as your clothes are concerned anyway)
2) Go through your wardrobe, checking to see what you have that is fairly voluminous, and thus wearable for some time
3) See what you can do with your straight skirts in the way of letting out side seams and moving over zippers.
4) Buy a paper pattern of a peplum [*Note: peplums are very in, in 2012] and cut one out in muslin. Attach this at the waistline of your sheath dresses and check which ones will look well with this addition. Then cut out and make peplums of fabric that tones exactly in colour with the dress. If you plan to stay on your job while pregnant, you will find these peplums a tremendous help in disguising your secret for several weeks. [Unless your co-workers are like, "WTF is she wearing those peplums all the time for?"] They will also save you buying new clothes at a time when you want to save money, not spend it.

The peplum is the sticky-out bit at the waist.
They make your waist look smaller, I think.

There's more to this section, but I'm sure I'll post that in short order. In the meantime, pregnant ladies (and ladies who have been pregnant before) what were your techniques for dressing fabulously and fabulously (optional: and Frenchly) during these "hopeless weeks" (tm Bea Danville)?

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