Style Lift from the LOFT

anntaylorloft.jpgOne challenge for pregnant working women is finding maternity clothing that is stylish and well constructed, but doesn’t break the bank. When I was pregnant with Laurel and hunting for reasonably priced work pieces, I saw a troubling amount of highly flammable polyester construction that was ill reminiscent of the marching band and color guard (yes, color guard) uniforms I wore in high school. Designers are, thankfully, catching on to the need for affordable maternity style, and among the newcomers is the recently launched Ann Taylor LOFT maternity line.

I’ll admit straight out that when I need to hit an event with an elegant, feminine look, my first no-brainer stop is Ann Taylor. Their dresses and heels always fit like a dream, periodically I find just what I want on major markdown, and now I even have a shopping accomplice in that Laurel is obsessed with all of my “tall shoes” from that store (during a recent excursion on Newbury Street she saw the store and said, “Let’s get shoes at Ann Taylor!”).

I also have shopped the LOFT, which is the less expensive, somewhat more playfully designed counterpart to Ann Taylor. And if you dig Ann Taylor LOFT, you’ll likely dig their maternity clothing too, since the line is a direct extension of their style, but with a bump. I had a chance to check out a couple of pieces from LOFT maternity and was very happy with what I saw. As with the regular LOFT line, the maternity collection includes separates and dresses that are suitable for casual looks and wear-to-work, the price points are reasonable, and the construction quality is on par with the non-maternity line. I believe that khakis and a crisp white shirt are essentials in a woman’s wardrobe (pregnant or not), given that you can build countless looks over these basics, and the LOFT has done well by this combo. From their ready-made look (shown), the khaki boot leg gabardine pants are comfortable, cut well, fall flatteringly, and work for 3-9 months. The long sleeved white shirt is better suited to the later stages of pregnancy, but it’s a nicely constructed classic to have in your arsenal.

In sum, I give LOFT maternity good marks for pretty (if not a tad safe) styling, reasonable price points, and the fact that they offer clothing in sizes 00-18. And as they continue to grow, I think they could really corner the market by building in a nice collection of maternity suit separates. One of the most common questions I get from corporate mama-to-be’s is where to get maternity suiting that isn’t exorbitant (the answer currently is the sale racks at the exorbitant maternity boutiques...). And I’ll be keeping my eye on LOFT maternity to see if they rise to the challenge.