Mama Sartorial: A stylish guide to pregnancy

Sophie Burton talks to one new mum and two mothers-to-be about making the most of pregnancy.

Casey Ross, Jess Neff and Libby Hunt. Pictures / Babiche Martens

Eight months pregnant in the midst of an Auckland winter and Casey Ross, manager of Sass & Bide's Ponsonby boutique, is unlikely to be draping airy, expansive summer kaftans over her baby bump. Accessories now reign supreme in the capsule wardrobe she calls upon daily, brightening existing pre-pregnancy outfits with beautiful drop earrings, or the odd statement necklace.

Casey Ross manager of Sass & Bide's Ponsonby boutique. Photo / Babiche Martens.

Although she admits that everyone's approach to pregnancy and motherhood is an individual journey, for Ross there have been no major changes to lifestyle and style choices over the months - apart from admitting that when things started to get a touch tight, elasticised slouchy pants became a must.

"So much changes when you fall pregnant and I don't think your style need to be one of those. Everyone's approach is different and I think you pick up on things that you admire in people and take them on board without always realising." Nearing the end of her pregnancy, Casey's biggest lesson learned?

"I think I have a much bigger appreciation for my body and what it is capable of doing. Growing and nurturing your little bundle is such an incredible thing. It's so essential to look after and really listen to your body."

Sass & bide pants; The Complete Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali; Clarins Huile Tonic.

Casey's pregnancy essentials:

1. A good belly oil
I was given Clarins Huile Tonic as a gift early on in my pregnancy and have absolutely loved it. It's a beautiful oil that I have been using morning and night and so far I've managed to avoid getting stretch marks. I've also been using the Nature Baby Belly Stretch Oil and Mum's Butter, which are beautifully hydrating.

2. Epsom Salt Baths
A bath has become my daily ritual for the past few months. A few times a week I'll add epsom salts. They are rich in magnesium, an essential mineral needed during pregnancy that also works wonders for inflammation, aches and pains.

3. Comfy, stretchy, never-want-to-take-them-off pants
For me they have been my Bassike low slouch pants and Sass & Bide "Way of the World" pants ($220) - two of the most comfortable pants I own. I pretty much wear them all weekend long; they both have an elastic waistband so have stayed just as comfortable as my belly has expanded. I'm sure they will still be my favourites post-baby.

4. The Complete Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali
Two girlfriends gave me this book at my baby shower recently and I started reading it a few days ago while on holiday. I cannot put it down! This book focuses on always living in the present moment, not only for your children but yourself as a mother. It is such an inspiring read so far. This will definitely be a book I will pass on to all of my girlfriends when they fall pregnant.

Events coordinator Libby Hunt at home. Photo / Babiche Martens.


Red lipstick. It is the absolute necessity for expectant mother Libby Hunt, who ardently maintains that a swipe of the bright stuff is a must, while her middle is expanding with haste. In her hosting role for Auckland bar the Golden Dawn's series of popular Artists' Dinners, Libby is known for her vintage style. Yet she won't surrender her body to maternity wear just because a baby bump has consumed her waistline.

"Don't feel like you have to compromise too much on your style choices just because you're pregnant. Olivia Wilde and Gwen Stefani looked incredible during their pregnancies and both have striking personal style. You never saw Gwen without her lipstick."

Her approach to post-pregnancy style is just as considered. "Nobody talks about dressing for the months of breastfeeding that follow. It can be just as tricky. With my first baby, I bought lots of dresses and jumpers that I couldn't wear afterwards because they proved impossible when breastfeeding. This time, I made sure to purchase more button-down shirts and other items that will still be practical after the baby arrives. No new mother needs the added stress of wardrobe malfunctions."

And what of standard pregnancy wisdom? Is playing up the belly essential to avoid the tent look? "I don't necessarily agree. I've never been one to wear tight clothing, so that mentality wasn't about to change just because I am pregnant. Your outfits can still look flattering without having to resort to Lycra."

This carefully considered approach extends to Libby's health and beauty regime, too. The advent of her bump has ushered in a sense of maternal responsibility. Libby has cut out coffee, eats clean, guzzles water daily, takes supplements and makes sure to schedule a pedicure when the bump becomes overbearing.

Converse All Star high tops; NARS Heatwave from Mecca Cosmetica; Bio Oil.

Libby's pregnancy essentials:

1. Red lipstick
I use NARS Heatwave from Mecca Cosmetica. I can fool the world, and myself, that I'm not as tired as I am with a bit of bright red lippy.

2. Converse All Star high tops
Not only can I wear them with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, they are also super-comfortable. I have completely thrashed mine and my back has thanked me for it!

3. Bio Oil specialist skin care oil
This is my second pregnancy and I swear by Bio Oil. I have used it morning and night during both pregnancies and have managed to keep those pesky stretch marks at bay. They say avoiding stretch marks is down to the individual - in this case, I say it's down to Bio Oil!

4. Oversized vintage shirts
I look for great fabrics with unique prints. I prefer not to spend crazy money on maternity clothes that I'm not going to wear again. I like to wear oversized vintage shirts with leggings. It puts the fun back into maternity shopping as I figure a cool vintage shirt can always be worn again with a belt or on its own.

5. A good pedicure
I recommend the hot milk and almond pedicure at Spring Spa. There comes a time in pregnancy when you can no longer see, let alone paint your toes and your poor little feet are under some serious pressure. I like to take a load off (literally) and treat myself to a luxurious pedicure - I know that once the baby arrives there'll be no time for such extravagances.

Jess Neff from Yoga Yojana with her son Saul. Photo / Babiche Martens.

Previously a fashion stylist in New York City for the better part of 12 years, Jess Neff lusted after a more relaxed daily pace, relocating to the warm climes of Bali. Now living in New Zealand with her Kiwi partner, Jess is a new mother of one, not to mention yoga devotee and consultant to yoga apparel labelWe'ar.

Resolute about the way she wished to bring her baby boy Saul into the world, Jess committed to a natural pregnancy and birth. Dressing to accommodate her bump wasn't ever going to be difficult, given that much of her working wardrobe already revolved around natural fabrics suitable for stretching and bending. Jess' mother was, and continues to be, a source of beauty inspiration. "No matter how tired she was, my mom always managed to look beautiful. When I was little, I can remember hearing people exclaim, "I can't believe you have had six children!" It was certainly something to aspire to."

Having practiced and taught yoga for years, Jess committed to regular pregnancy yoga classes and massage over the nine months, not to mention the odd 4.30am Sadhana class. That Earth Mother approach extends to Jess' beauty regime. "Once pregnant, I stopped using all beauty products other than organic coconut oil and pawpaw. Oh, and mascara, I wasn't willing to let that go.

You just don't know what seeps into the body, and I wasn't about to take any chances. Besides, when pregnant, the skin just glows, cliche, I know."HypnoBirthing was another tool she called upon. Far from the hippie, swinging pendant scene some may expect, it served as a serene toolkit of deep relaxation, visualisation and special breathing techniques.

"HypnoBirthing really helped lower my stress levels leading up to, and during the birth. It's really more about getting yourself into a calm, relaxed state."

We'ar silk 'Painters' Smock; We'ar 'New Romantic' leggings; Raspberry Leaf Tonic.

Jess' pregnancy essentials:

1. We'ar silk 'Painters' smock $245
When I first went shopping for "maternity" clothes as my baby bump started to show, I felt everything available in the shops here in Auckland was so dismal and boring. But I love this dress because the fabric is so luxurious and beautiful, so I felt current and stylish as I grew bigger and bigger. I was able to wear it all throughout my pregnancy, and I continue wearing it now baby has arrived. Super-chic paired with tights and tall boots for winter walks with my little man.

2. Raspberry Leaf Tonic
Custom mixed at Harvest Whole Foods. Not a nice flavour, I will say that, but improves the health of the uterus before and after giving birth. Best thing for getting that tummy back into shape.

3. Yoga and massage
Weekend Pregnancy Yoga and 4.30am Sadhana classes at Golden Yogi, with the amazing Erin O'Hara. Yes, it is early, but so good for baby to hear the soothing sounds of my voice chanting. Both classes really set my body and mind straight for the week. I also recommend pregnancy massage at Soul Art: Caroline is just so attentive to the needs of pregnant women; complete and total bliss.

4. We'ar 'New Romantic' leggings, $125, and 'Mere' tank
I am a yoga teacher, and attend classes regularly. These leggings are definitely a must for everyone, pregnant or not. The waistband unrolls upwards, so they easily transition from pre-bump, to large bump, and back again. The Mere Tank is nice and long, and made of a beautiful ribbed cotton, so it doesn't ride up when in those extended yoga poses.

5. Coconut oil
No need for fancy, expensive oils, pure coconut oil from your local organic grocer is the best beauty treat for your skin to prevent stretch marks and ageing.

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