Maternity Work Style: How Maura Kutner Walters Mastered Her Pregnancy
November 12, 2015
At MM.LaFleur, we get a lot of questions from women about how to dress for work and find the perfect maternity work style, as their bodies continue to change. [Update: In fact, we got those questions so often, in 2018 we created a new collection of maternity-friendly workwear using existing MM styles.]
We recently hung out with Maura Kutner Walters, the Digital Executive Editor of Condé Nast Traveler and one of the most put-together women we know. Six months into her first pregnancy, she’s looking more impeccable than ever. Naturally, we asked her to tell us everything she knows about how to dress well and feel good while your body is changing from week to week. And, since so many of our regular styles look lovely on pregnant women, we had her model a few of them.
In general, how do you like to dress for work?
Luckily, I work in an industry where creative expression is highly encouraged—and that extends to clothes. When it comes to dressing for work, I try to find a balance between professional and personal. You can’t have too many shift dresses or high heels as far as I’m concerned, but I think a person’s wardrobe should tell their story in some way. I have a collection of jewelry from both of my grandmothers, and I’m almost always wearing one of their cuff bracelets or necklaces. My watch belonged to my husband’s granddad.
How has your style evolved since you’ve been pregnant?
Oddly enough, I care more about investment pieces since being pregnant than I ever have before. I think that’s because maternity clothes are shockingly expensive, and I’d rather spend the money on pieces that I can wear with and without a bump. I’m more focused on clothing that won’t go out of style: Ulla Johnson ponchos (they’re so, so good) or Frame shirt dresses—stuff that’s flattering and reflective of what I’d normally wear.
I reject the idea that being pregnant means you have limited options and no room to play. I recently bought a Rag & Bone striped cape that I know I’ll have forever—unlike that $300 Pea in the Pod dress that I’ll be donating to Clementine (a great consignment store for maternity and childrenswear in the West Village) three months from now. Also, shoes. There are always shoes. I’m fascinated with footwear lately, because it always fits!
Have you bought any maternity clothes at all?
Aside from jeans, which are a necessity, I haven’t. I find them to be overpriced and sadly unimaginative. The last thing I need is another black turtleneck dress or a striped shirt from a store that exists to remind me just how much my body is changing. No thanks. I have the same feelings about “maternity clothes” as I do about “wedding diets.” Both marginalize women and make us feel a bit sub-human during what should be the most exciting times of our lives.
Hear, hear! So what have been your go-to pieces so far?
I love the Hanna. I actually call this my “magic dress.” I’ve worn her to work and to weddings, and she has gracefully adapted to my expanding shape without losing her own. I bought the dress well before I was pregnant, and, even at six months, it remains one of the most flattering pieces in my closet.
Many shops and lines I love—from Zara to Isabel Marant—have wearable options for pregnant women. I think that’s because roomy is in. Zara’s peasant tops are the best, and I’ve even gotten a lot of mileage out of J. Crew t-shirts. They stretch just enough without losing their shape.
I never realized how much I love jeans until becoming pregnant. I almost always wear dresses, but I’ve gotten more use out of my maternity jeans than anything else in my wardrobe. I have two pairs by A&G, which I think are the best out there. I wear them to work with blazers and boots, and on the weekends with sweaters and sneakers. They’re so soft and stretchy, and because they have these expandable waists that adapt to your mid-section, I’ll still be able to wear them after the baby’s here.
What do you feel most comfortable in?
Cotton, cotton, and cotton. I have sensitive skin to begin with, but it’s gone into overdrive since being pregnant. Cotton is the only material that doesn’t irritate my skin. I still love—and buy—jersey dresses and wool sweaters, but I almost always wear a cotton tank or slip underneath them.
I feel most comfortable in ponchos and peasant dresses. They’re forgiving but usually have some nice detail like hand embroidery or fringed hems. My friends make fun of me and say I currently dress like I’m vacationing in Morocco, but I’ll take it. There are worse things.
Body-con dresses don’t really flatter my body right now, but the Annabel has the perfect amount of ruching that enhances my belly in a very cute way. The color balances out the structure, too. A form-fitting gray dress feels more appropriate than a fire-engine red one (though, pregnant ladies who can pull that off, I salute you).
What have been the biggest challenges when it comes to dressing for work while pregnant?
I miss wearing my favorite clothes, particularly my shirts and skirts: I’ve tried wearing them together a few times, but the combination cuts off my stomach in a way that makes me look bloated, not pregnant. Also, it was much easier to get dressed for work in the summer, when a boxy t-shirt dress or even a caftan can be made to look office-appropriate with the right accessories. I have a few solid sweater dresses and embroidered shirts in rotation at the moment, but in general, it’s just harder to diversify your look every day when you’re pregnant. I know I’m not fooling anyone by wearing the same pair of black maternity jeans three days in a row.
The other big challenge is tights. It has been unseasonably hot in New York this fall, so I haven’t yet had to worry about leg warmth, but the thought of putting on maternity tights actually frightens me. Oh, man. I just picture feeling like a packed sardine for eight hours a day. I invested in a pair of Wolford thigh highs that I hope will do the trick come January. I’ll keep you posted.
The above look is definitely working for you.
The power of the Caroline lies in its sleeves. Their three-quarter length actually feels elongating, and I’m a fan of anything that draws attention to my arms or legs these days. Plus, the color is really beautiful. I’m a jacket junkie, and the Gramercy coat feels like something I’d have forever: It’s warm, adaptable, and looks like it was created to work with the other clothes I own. And again, the color feels really different and special.
Any advice for other pregnant women who need to dress for a stylish or formal office?
Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to change (or give up) your personal style. You’re not going to wear mom jeans once you have a baby, right? So why should you feel dowdy in your maternity-wear? I think pregnancy requires a little more creativity—that might mean looking outside your normal shopping zone, combining different things in your closet, or finding a new favorite accessory (mine’s the ever-wearable silk scarf).
Vintage stores can be a great resource, as can designers whose clothes you were always curious about but never thought you could pull off. For example, Ace & Jig’s oversized geometric prints are super flattering on pregnant bellies. Consider this a good time to experiment: If you can eat whatever you want, you can certainly wear whatever you want.
Looking to up your maternity style game? Peruse our maternity-friendly workwear here.
Photos by Frances F. Denny