Chloé Pierre is the London-based entrepreneur, digital marketing expert, author and influencer who founded wellness platform Thy.self with the aim to diversify a space that hadn't previously resonated with her. Pierre's debut book, Take Care: The Black Women's Guide to Wellness, is now available for preorder ahead of its launch next year, and she's also well-respected within the fashion and beauty industries for not only her spot-on looks and content but also her willingness to be outspoken on topics such as self-love and size inclusivity. Oh, and she's just had her first child—so things are pretty busy right now for this multi-hyphenate! Here, she shares the key items that have kept her feeling and looking like herself during her pregnancy.
There’s so much that, as women, we don’t know about going into parenthood, especially in the early days of pregnancy. Something clearly overlooked, time and time again, by me too, is how much one’s self-image is literally tested for a whole nine months and longer.
As I write this, I’ve had a whole week (maybe a couple of months) of assumptions and projections from literally everyone and their mum, sister, friend, colleague, partner, and, my gosh, it’s overwhelming! If you are pregnant or in the early stages of motherhood, I hope this column brings you some comfort and inspiration.
Being pregnant comes with a lot of pressure, and despite the smiles and serious attempts to continue as "normal" during every trimester (and yes, I am speaking about myself and from personal experience here), do not be fooled by external appearances that every day is a struggle from sleeping to literally getting out of bed (rolling in my case) and then the pressure of getting dressed. No, it’s not the end of the world. I take my mental health seriously, though, and for me, getting dressed and feeling good in this vessel of a pregnant body means a lot, not just during my pregnancy but also beyond. I want to be able to look back and think, Chloé, you really did try. You really took care of yourself and protected your identity.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about. Protecting the identity of 30+ years, which I have grafted for… what I am so proud of and completely in love with. Why should this and planning on loving this new part of my life—my tiny human and my new responsibilities and body—be mutually exclusive? I still need to be Chloé. I commit to this!
So this post is all about what I’ve discovered in the last eight months about dressing for my ever-changing body, using self-acceptance and stepping away from the pull (or lack thereof) of maternity fashion and instead choosing non-maternity fashion that works now and post-baby, which can help me stay true to me and you to you.
1. FOOTWEAR, FIRST AND FOREMOST
Growing up, my friends and I had this thing. Whoever we met, especially guys, would be judged (sorry about that!) from the footwear upwards. As an adult, I often plan my outfits the other way around. That is unless it's an outfit featuring a pair of sneakers. I will always be a sneakerhead, but heavy pregnancy in the height of the summer season and sneakers aren't exactly a match made in Nike heaven (which is my idea of heaven).
I quickly realised that clothing itself isn’t my biggest issue being pregnant as much as footwear and overall looks are, even as a plus-size pregnant woman. What is an issue is swelling feet, so an absolute must-have is the Birkenstock or any chunky sandals that catch your eye or heart or represent pain relief. As soon as sneakers started becoming tight, I got myself into a pair of Birkenstocks.
Another part of your essential footwear wardrobe is chunky, heeled and versatile sandals. I have these Perspex Zara sandals from 2020, which I will cherish forever. You can be pregnant and glam without experiencing pain just to look good. It’s definitely possible and definitely not a crime to put a little or a lot of effort into making yourself look—and therefore feel—good when pregnant.
My pregnancy has spanned two years (hey, COVID-19) and is now in the height of its fourth season… yay, summer! I mean that sarcastically. London is practically burning as I pound into my keyboard with a tower fan circulating (or should I say recycling hot air?), but the upside is that I’m making every moment of this by wearing cute summer dresses, and that is what a summer pregnancy cannot take from me.
What do I look for in a summer dress, especially when pregnant? A style that, by its very nature, can be worn on repeat day to night is playful (hello, cut-outs!) and doesn’t cling but isn’t so floaty that it could reveal one's private parts in case of a sudden breeze! The chosen dress must make me look and feel cute or sexy (pick your character) and, most importantly, regardless of when it was purchased, always be on trend.
My DMs pop with every outfit uploaded to Instagram from both pregnant and non-pregnant women asking about my outfits, where I purchased them from and, sadly, that they didn't think they could "pull it off." If the past year has taught us anything, it's to buy and wear the dress. No buts. No hesitation. Go for it, and feel confident in your decision.
3. LEVELLED-UP PJ'S
It’s no surprise that comfort is not only practical but key for pregnancy-wear, fashion and life in general, but retail market intelligence platform Edited solidified my beliefs with recent stats from across the market, identifying increased attention on the sleep market over the past year, which has led to several retailers dedicating more of their assortment share to the category. Boden's sleepwear has grown from 0.3% to 2% and Loft's 1.3% to 5.1% YoY, and bathrobes have increased in popularity, equalling 12.3% of sleepwear at Madewell from 1.9% in 2020. Maybe the pandemic did it, but elevated sleepwear, which you can wear at home and outside (yes, the streets), breathes easily and functions in everyday life, especially on Zoom calls because, you know, pregnant people can still work and run entrepreneurial businesses—we don’t just stop. It’s all appropriate and totally relevant to redefining non-maternity, pregnancy fashion.
Now, this is not the kind of suiting you were initially thinking of but instead more carefully curated separates and wardrobe essentials (or basics depending on who you are speaking to) that, when worn together, just create effortless magic.
Depending on how you feel in this time of unprecedented body changes, you can go all out and purchase a whole new wardrobe based on your pre-body baby and plans for post-baby recovery, or you can shop smart. First, check what you have in your wardrobe, get your dejunking head firmly screwed on, and then digest. Colour-code what you have, and then top up. When I say suiting, what I really mean is matching, and by matching, anything can be thrown together. Two-pieces are my weakness, but don’t let that stop you. Try the following in the same colour or tonal palette: loose-fitted linen trousers and a bodysuit, a ribbed tank dress and matching blazer, a slip dress and textured cardigan, a shirt dress and statement shoes, sandals or boots (if swelling permits). The options are endless. Hot tip! Make linen a priority right now, and pay attention to how the garment is cut. Then, thank me later.