An Interview with Claire Adams, Head of Maternity at Blooming Marvellous

Looking out of the window each morning, not knowing if it will be frosty, snowy or just thoroughly wet and cold, you might feel that spring is a long way off. But, the first signs of spring are starting to appear on the landscape, with the first few snowdrops peeping through the frost and the weeds surreptitiously appearing in our vegetable patch. Spring is just around the corner and hopefully, with it, there will be some milder weather and more colour to brighten our days. Winter clothes will soon be packed away to be replaced with a fresher, more colourful style and just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean your wardrobe should not get an injection of spring design.

With the launch of the Spring Collection at Blooming Marvellous, Claire Adams, the Head of Maternity agreed to answer a few questions about the range and provide a few tips to mums-to-be when choosing their maternity wardrobe. Having overall responsibility for Blooming Marvellous maternity wear, from the design stage right through to the production of the garment she knows the collection inside out and is the ideal person to seek inspiration from. She says, ‘For me, it is key to keep the customer in mind at all times and put yourself into their shoes’ and this shows in the spring collection with the focus on practicality and style.

According to Claire, her team have developed ‘stylish, high quality clothes that are value for money and offer our customer true choice whatever her shape or size.’ She says, ‘We don’t want our customer to have to change her style because she’s pregnant.  We design maternity clothes that she would want to wear. We invest a lot of time and effort in design research and intelligence, so that we are very aware of what is happening to fashion trends.  Our designers tailor this information and adapt the trends to our collections.’

This was evident when I flicked through their new catalogue which has a distinct ‘outdoors’ feel that fits the mood of a new season approaching. I love this Floral Button Front Dress which looks comfortable for wearing in the garden when I help our Little Garden Helpers with all the spring planting, soon to begin. And this Denim jacket, cut short to sit above the bump, is the perfect versatile cover up on cooler days.

Bold prints also feature in the new collection with this stunning dress for those of you with a wedding or party to attend in the coming months and this dress perhaps best represents the inspiration behind the collection, which was to create a range ‘that is refreshingly modern with bright colours and bold prints that compliment and reflect the happiness and joy of being pregnant.’ But as Claire points out, the collection also features ‘those essential maternity basics, making it easy to create the perfect affordable maternity wardrobe that works hard for the whole nine months and beyond.’

With comfort and practicality key to creating a workable maternity wardrobe I wanted to know what three essential maternity items the Head of Maternity would recommend to a first time mum and this is what she said;

‘I think it is near on impossible to survive without a good pair of maternity jeans – normal jeans very quickly become uncomfortable to wear and our range of jeans have been designed with comfort as well as style in mind.  We have 4 different styles of jeans and our most popular, the boot cut jeans, come in 3 leg lengths.

A dress – dresses may not be what you normally wear, but when you are pregnant they are absolutely ideal and are perfect for wearing during the day or dressing up for evening. The cut of all our dresses are flattering with drapes and gathers in all of the right places, making the most of your changing shape.  You can look chic and fashionable and be in the utmost comfort right through out your pregnancy wearing our gorgeous dresses.

A cardigan – your temperature fluctuates so much during pregnancy, so it is great to have something that you can easily slip on and off.  We have a great range of cardigans including a fantastic waterfall cardigan which comes in 4 colours and a dressy black shrug.’

One of the things which has always left me a little unsure when trying on maternity wear is just how to choose clothes that will fit for the whole nine months, so who better to ask than the person responsible for producing the clothes? Claire says, ‘Most women tend to start buying their maternity wardrobe, when their own clothes start to be tight and uncomfortable – and that usually is around 3-4 months.  All of our clothes fit from then right through to the final months and beyond.’ This has certainly been true of some my maternity clothes, although not all and I still find it hard to gage the right fit. One mistake I made during my first pregnancy was to buy slightly too big, expecting to ‘grow into’ the clothes, but as Claire points out Blooming Marvellous maternity clothes have ‘cleverly designed details to ensure that our clothes stay looking great and fitting well right to the end of pregnancy’ so the trick really is to buy your own size and if you can get into a store, try things on.

Another thing I have noticed with each of my pregnancies is that where I have been able to reuse most of my maternity clothes, I have never been able to reuse my maternity bras. With each pregnancy my shape has changed differently and at different rates and I seem to spend a lot of money on bras. So how often should we be measured for maternity bras throughout pregnancy? Claire says;

‘It is very important that your maternity bras really fit and support you properly because all the way through your pregnancy the milk ducts in your boobs are growing and developing. As you start to grow, your usual bras will probably start to feel rather uncomfortable.  This usually happens about eight to twelve weeks into your pregnancy.  This is the time to get fitted for maternity bras, including a night-time bra.

Over the years there have been lots of exciting developments in the fabrics and design of maternity and breastfeeding bras and the bras are now wonderfully supportive and comfortable.

All of our shops offer a personal bra fitting with experienced and trained staff.  If you are ordering mail order or on the web from home, our staff will happily give you advice over the phone to help you get the right fit and we also give helpful advice on our website and in our catalogue.  Bra brands come in slightly different shapes so try on a few different styles to find the correct fit.’

Through first hand experience I have to agree that getting advice and properly measured is absolutely the best route to follow, not just to get the best fit but also to save you money and make sure you are buying bras that will grow with you and last as long as possible before you need to return for another. It will also save you a lot of back ache!

It is true to say that the years of wearing men’s shirts under dungarees during pregnancy are long gone and this is thanks to designers who work exclusively to create maternity wear. There have been many design innovations over the years that have allowed shops like Blooming Marvellous to create comfortable yet stylish clothes for pregnant women, so I wanted to know Claire’s favourite innovation in maternity clothing. She told me

‘Jersey has completely re-invented maternity design, it has revolutionised the way we are able to create the cut of the clothes.  The trend has helped us design maternity clothes that hug the bump and stretch as your bump grows. We have also ventured into the recent revolution of seam-free jersey. This offers complete comfort whilst giving support for bump and boobs.’

Blooming Marvellous have, for many years, been at the forefront of maternity shopping due to the exclusively maternity ranges and perhaps also their visible presence on the high street, but with more and more high fashion retailers offering maternity ranges I wanted know what Claire felt Blooming Marvellous has to offer that these other stores don’t. She says;

‘More fashionable, chic maternity wear is something that we have always and will always continue to champion.  The yummy mummy trend has brought fun and glamour into the market and helped blow away the staid old thinking about maternity clothes.

Around 700,000 women are pregnant every year in this country and they deserve the best.  We know what clothes our customer wants to wear – namely, what she normally wears – but with our clever adaptations for her growing bump and boobs.

We are a one stop shop for mums to be and baby – we are an independently owned company and are passionate about offering our customers the most stylish, highest quality, best value and widest range of maternity clothes on the market. With our years of expertise we advise mums and dads on the right baby and nursery products that they really need to buy.  We are very proud that our customers continue to shop with us and, importantly, recommend us to their friends and family.’

And finally, I asked Claire to sum up the spring collection in just three words.Stylish, fun and comfortable!’, was her response and I think it is definitely worth looking online or picking up one of their spring catalogues to pick out some key pieces for the coming months and inject a bit of spring freshness into your maternity wardrobe.