Lisa Ebbing was having a bad day. Pregnant and having already resigned herself to months of maternity wear, she was feeling frumpy. And she was about to feel worse. Shopping for a maternity bra, she was horrified to discover that maternity lingerie – if it could be called that – consisted almost entirely of beige and matronly foundation garments that bore a definite resemblance to instruments of torture.
Instead of weeping at the fate that awaited her though, Ebbing joined with her friend Ange Crosbie and created HOTmilk, a fashion design house that creates maternity lingerie with an emphasis on sexy, without compromising practicality. Three years later, HOTmilk is now an international label, which has won design awards in Britain and is taking off in the notoriously difficult USA market.
Ebbing says much of the label’s success has been that it has filled a gap in the market that designers of maternity wear had avoided. “Traditionally, maternity lingerie has made women feel more like they are turning 80 than having a baby!” she says. “Most did not have any lace or interesting colours and were designed purely for function with no thought of style in mind. Yet this is a time when a women needs to feel fabulous.”
According to Ebbing, the fashion world is finally coming around to accept what has always been known: “Pregnant women are sexy! “There has most certainly been a shift in both maternity lingerie and outerwear as woman realise that pregnancy and motherhood is a time to feel fantastic and celebrate the changes and beauty of the female body. HOTmilk has led the revolution, giving choices and freedom to still feel sexy, feminine and desirable.”
Sexy, Ebbing stresses, means different things to different women and definitely doesn’t mean looking like you just stepped out of the Moulin Rouge. “Our designs are an expression of sensuality,” she explains. “They are created for all moods of women, whether that be pretty and feminine, sexy and sensual or simply romantic and beautifully witty.”
Sexy also means embracing the pregnant body. “Our latest collection is all about the Nesting Instinct of a woman. You will see strong, sophisticated, sexy styling alongside soft, charming and elegant designs, that also support and encourage breastfeeding.”
Sair Hamilton is head designer at HOTmilk. She shares with Kid Magazine, her tips for buying a maternity bra.
1. Be professionally fitted
Maternity bras should not be an impulse buy, says Hamilton. Take your time and have yourself professionally fitted. A perfect fit can really change your body shape, allow you to stand tall, and be comfortable.
2. Say no to underwire
During pregnancy, breasts are constantly changing size and shape, says Hamilton, so trying to squeeze into an overly-structured bra can only lead to discomfort. “Underwires can also restrict milk flow during breastfeeding,” she warns.
3. Choose cotton linings
Lace and other detailing can appear alluring, but unless the woman is comfortable, she’ll never feel totally sexy. Whatever design you choose, make sure the bra has a soft cotton lining.
4. Seemingly seamless
Every woman knows the joy of the seamless cup. When choosing a maternity bra, make sure the seam construction won’t cause rubbing or chaffing. “This is important, especially in the cup as the nipple area can be very tender,” adds Hamilton.
5. Simple clasps
Caring for a newborn can be a juggling act, so don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be. “Look for maternity clips that are easy to use with one hand,” suggests Hamilton. “You will probably not have both hands free at feeding time.”
Sexy doesn’t need to mean flimsy. The key is to choose a design that is alluring, and a fabric that is strong. “You really need a strong power fabric in the back panels for extra support,” says Hamilton. “This type of fabric ensures you get the best fit whether you’re a 10B or a 20G.”
7. If you are a larger size
No two women are the same, so make sure your choice is suitable to your specific cup size. “Look for wider bra straps and back adjusters if you are a larger size,” says Hamilton. “Larger cup size must have the best support possible, especially at the breastfeeding stage, as the breasts will be heavier.”
8. The eyes have it
When it comes to maternity bras, there’s no such thing as too many eyes. Hamilton recommends six rows of eyes at the back to provide expansion in the diaphragm.
The principles of purchasing a maternity bra, says Hamilton, are ones that should be employed when shopping for any lingerie. “I don’t have any children yet, but that doesn’t stop me from wearing HOTmilk. I appreciate just how much a good supporting bra can change your shape, and in turn how you feel.”
Visit HOTmilk now.
By Margaret Ambrose.
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