Over the course of her pregnancy, the Duchess of Sussex has, in general, shied away from off-the-rack maternity clothes, instead opting for looser silhouettes from regular brands and favoring bespoke designer pieces.
It's a choice journalist Elizabeth Holmes, who is also well-known for her popular #SoManyThoughts series about royal fashion on Instagram, ascribes to a general stereotype that maternity wear is not stylish. "I think what it comes down to is there is a mindset, especially among some in the fashion community, that maternity clothes can be frumpy or dowdy," Holmes tells Town & Country.
"And I do think that there is a certain kind of pride that some fashion people take in being able to just avoid maternity clothes all together."
In the early stages of pregnancy, that's a fairly easy task to accomplish. For example, on last fall's royal tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, shortly after she publicly announced that she was expecting her first child, Meghan simply wore looser-fitting clothing.
"I think when it becomes more apparent that you’re not wearing maternity is later on in your pregnancy, which is what we’re seeing from her now," Holmes says.
Meghan has the rare privilege of being able to commission dresses from the top designers in the world. But not every designer is equally skilled at dressing a woman's body during pregnancy. "The problem is that maternity wear and maternity bodies are a specialty in the fashion world, and understanding the dynamics of a changing figure, and how each bump sits differently, can pose tailoring problems. And I think we’ve see some of that with Meghan," Holmes says.
In contrast with some of Meghan's custom pieces, mass-market maternity clothes are specifically designed with pregnant women, and their changing bodies, in mind. "I think there’s something kind of magical about maternity clothes. They have extra fabric in the right places. They have ruching and give and stretch and they’re designed for flexibility," says Holmes. "And so much of what Meghan has chosen to wear does not have that built in. She’s wearing pieces by high-end names that don’t do a lot of maternity wear."
Despite her penchant for bespoke designs, the so-called "magic" of maternity wear hasn't fully escaped Meghan's wardrobe. One brand in particular she seems to have embraced is Hatch Collection, a New York City-based company focused not only on fashionable designs, but also on supporting women during the transitional period of pregnancy through education and community.
The first time royal watchers saw Meghan in Hatch was when the Duchess visited Smart Works, one of her first charity patronages, in January. She wore the line's Eliza dress, a $218 black, body-hugging piece, which she paired with an Oscar de la Renta coat, printed heels, and a sleek up-do:
Seeing Meghan in her design was a complete shock to Hatch founder and CEO Ariane Goldman. She has "no idea" how the Duchess got ahold of the dress, but the morning of Meghan's event, Goldman woke up to emails and calls from friends in London celebrating the news. "At first, I thought this has to be a mistake," she tells T&C.
Goldman, who says she watched the royal wedding with her daughters and is "obsessed with the love affair" was "starstruck" when she saw Meghan wearing her designs. "It was the first time she had come out in something that really showed off her belly," she says. "I was blown away. It was an incredible moment."
Meghan's sartorial endorsement, the so-called "Markle Sparkle," has also undeniably generated sales for the company. "You cannot pay for global press the way that this story hit," Goldman says. "It’s been incredible. We sold out of the Eliza dress within three days. Then, we relaunched it again because we had so much demand, and we sold out again."
In addition to the Eliza dress, Meghan has publicly worn Hatch denim. Notably, she was spotted wearing the brand's "Nearly Skinny Maternity Jean" during her visit to New York City just a few weeks ago for her baby shower. She paired them with a vintage coat by Courrèges from the '60s.
"With pants in general, you reach a certain moment where there’s no amount of stretch that’s going to keep you in regular jeans," Holmes says. "Maternity jeans are sort of the inevitable for a lot of women."
Clearly, they were for Meghan.
Holmes was glad to see Meghan wearing Hatch, and even went so far as to call it a "perfect brand" for the Duchess. "I think Hatch is a really welcome entrance for a lot of pregnant fashionable women. Because it does have sort of a fashion sensibility to it even though it is maternity wear. I wish she would have worn more Hatch pieces during her pregnancy."
But maybe there's still hope, even after Meghan gives birth.
According to Goldman, her next big initiative is creating clothes for the "fourth trimester," those first few months directly following the birth of the baby.
"Hatch is really known as a modern maternity solution, but the next era for the brand is going to be the fourth trimester, after the baby is born," she says.
"We’re going to be introducing nursing bras and a whole range of products, but also showing that the clothes we currently create are still nursing friendly. It’s not just about maternity, but about the journey after as well."
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