Seasoned style writer Amy Tara Koch spent the early years of her career writing for Paper Magazine, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and countless websites. Her recent project, which has had her traveling across the country on a book tour, is her style guide for Maternity: Bump it Up, Transform Your Pregnancy into the Ultimate Style Statement. In between press events and TV segments, Style Wylde caught up with Koch to chat about fashion and surviving maternity with your style in tact.
SW: After many years as a style reporter and television personality, What inspired you to write Bump it Up?
ATK: Well, I like to say that Bump it Up is based on my own fashionista-in-the-family–way experience. I have two children, and when I got pregnant for the first time, I was completely overwhelmed. I have a cartoon in the book about this. I was wearing my jumbo-sweat pants, and my big sweatshirt and I looked in the mirror one day and I looked like my potato-picking Russian ancestors. It was not a flattering look at all. So I started to think, Ok, how do I apply all of the things I’ve been writing about for many years to pregnancy? I decided to really fine-tune the concepts of garment rotation, super accessorizing, and layering for pregnancy. Basically by doing those things it allows a woman to buy a handful basics, and make 30 different looks. That is really what the book is all about, how to look great, but not spend a lot of money by rotating your pieces, and layering them, and super accessorizing them for every situation.
SW: That leads right into my next question, what is one key piece, above all else that a woman needs when she is pregnant?
ATK: As soon as you start showing, from about 13 weeks on, I would say a black empire-waist dress. The empire waist dress is flattering on every body type, whether you have big boobs, big hips, whatever, the empire waist gives the illusion of a waist, starting at your bra line and the fabric just sort of cascades out. Keep in mind however that the hemline is also important. You want it to be above the knee or ground sweeping. Nothing in between, it just won’t be flattering on a pregnant woman.
SW: What advice do you have for the fashionista that is hooked on high heels, but feels like she can’t wear them now that she is pregnant?
ATK: I really, really think that heels are great for pregnant women, and literally get you out of the preggo-dumps. I talk about this in the book, when your stomach is so huge flats inspire waddling. So I think for a woman, especially this season, you don’t have to wear those Sex and the City, high-high heels,but what you can wear is a kitten heel, a wedge heel, a stacked heel, even a cowboy boot will give you that elongated look, and lengthen the leg.
SW: Any other tips for lengthening and elongating?
ATK: Actually the whole book is about lengthening and elongating, I call it being a Lean Mean Baby Making Machine. There are many things you can do, like always wearing neck-grazing earrings instead of studs. Women never gain weight in their neck and shoulders, that’s just not how pregnancy manifests, so you want keep the focus on that area and lengthen the neck. Also you never want to wear chokers when you are pregnant, you want to wear longer layered necklaces or beads because again it lengthens the look. Scarves are another great way to do this, not the square Hermes type scarf, but the longer gauzy, Stevie Nicks type. It just makes you look taller, and it adds contrast to your look and is another styling element. There are a lot of tricks and tips in the book that will help make you look taller, and help to balance out the watermelon in your stomach.
SW: Do you have one across the board ‘fashion don’t’ or trap that women tend to fall into when they are pregnant?
ATK: The biggest fashion "don’t" is lack of proportion. It’s such a natural response to pregnancy to want to hide in oversized clothing. The biggest mistake pregnant women make is to wear a loose shirt and then a big peasant skirt. THAT is what makes you look fat, dowdy and unattractive. If you want to wear something that is loose and breezy on the top, like a tunic, that’s fine but you need to balance it out with something slimmer and more tailored on the bottom like a legging, or a maternity jegging. So big on top, narrow on the bottom, if you wear something narrow on top then you can go with a little more volume on the bottom.
SW: Of all the maternity lines on the market, do you have any favorites?
ATK: I've actually discovered a lot of great things while I've been out on the road. I love Isabelle Oliver, it’s a little on the pricey side but I love it. I also think there are a few cute things in Liz Lange maternity at Target. I love Japanese Weekend, they have a great empire waist dress that I love, and it’s not so expensive and I also love the long ruched tank top from Ingrid and Isabelle. It’s really about getting those basics and then accessorizing. I am not telling people that they need to go out and buy Tory Burch, or anything super expensive. I always say creativity; confidence and a lot of accessories get you through anything.
Amy Tara Koch will be at the W Hotel in San Francisco on May 26th signing her book, Bump it Up Transform Your Pregnancy into the Ultimate Style Statement as part of a special event that will feature Spa treatments by Bliss Spa, Bra fitting, stroller demos, and delicious mock-cocktails for the mother to be. To attend the event, simply RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bump it Up is available at Amazon, and major bookstores nationwide.
To read our interview with Japanese Weekend Maternity designer, Barbie White, click here.
Image courtesy of Amy Tara Koch.