Stylish spring apparel accommodates the growing figures of mothers-to-be

EXPANDING WARDROBE

April 18, 1991|By Lisa Lytle | Lisa Lytle,Orange County Register

Deborah Norville, former co-host of NBC's "Today Show," is an advertisement for maternity chic.

Throughout her pregnancy, Ms. Norville wore bright dresses and separates that looked feminine and flattering but professional enough for a serious discussion on the Persian Gulf crisis.

Here's the surprise: She didn't wear maternity clothes. She carefully picked styles that accommodated her expanding figure.

"The wonderful thing is that my timing is perfect for current trends. The swing dress, the little trapeze of the '60s is back in style," said Ms. Norville, who recently gave birth to a boy.

One fashion expert agrees.

"Boy, what a time to be pregnant," said Robert Rosenthal, fashion director for Macy's South/Bullock's. "Many spring styles are so adaptable for women who are going into the maternity stage, so that they don't have to get into 'maternity clothes' right away."

An oversized top with leggings or stirrup pants is one popular outfit many pregnant women can wear, he said. And the baby-doll dress -- loose and short, worn with a unitard or leggings -- is another fashionable look favored by teen-agers, but worn by mothers-to-be as well.

For work, options include new styles such as the wedge dress, which is generous around the waist and hips but tapered at the hem, and the swing dress, which is shaped like an inverted cone, Mr. Rosenthal said.

All these styles are perfect for a modern mom-to-be, said Consuelo Fein of California, who is pregnant with her first baby.

"I've been putting off buying maternity clothes," she said, because they have the pregnant look written all over them, and they're often expensive and impractical.

But that's not necessarily so, said Lori Chu, a California manager for Mother's Work Maternity, a clothing chain for pregnant women which also has a location in Baltimore on Charles Street.

"We have doctors and attorneys who still want to look good and come in to buy clothing," she said. "The women who aren't spending money on clothing before they were pregnant aren't going to spend it on maternity clothing."

For pregnant women who would rather buy regular-size clothes they can wear after childbirth here are some options:

The swing dress: shaped like an inverted cone, roomy at the bottom. This can sometimes be worn with print or solid stirrup pants or leggings.

At Ann Taylor, a long-sleeved, black-and-white-checked version ($130) is ideal for the office or a luncheon.

The Limited stocks many long-sleeved Cassidy ($39) and Paul et Duffier swing dresses ($49) in solid lavender, canary yellow, red and turquoise, as well as black-and-white stripes and other prints.

The wedge or chemise: a dress that's generous around the waist and hips, but tapered at the hem. This style can be worn primarily by women in the first few months of pregnancy, but be careful to try on this shape in the store to make sure the lining isn't tight.

The baby-doll dress: a short, loose dress usually in a floral print fabric, worn over leggings or a unitard.

Contempo Casuals has an extensive selection of what it calls "funky flounces," with cotton or rayon prints ranging from dots to florals in a variety of colors ($28-$48).

Oversize sweaters over stirrup pants: The upper thigh-length sweater can be a pullover or a cardigan, V-necked or crew-necked, cotton or acrylic.

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