Maternity Style Tips. Look Stylish when They Say You Can’t

It happens that three of my friends are about to give birth, subject which is a very exciting on its own. But for me as an enthusiast style consultant it is also a chance to challenge my knowledge and sense of style. It is good to have a challenge anytime, and especially in such rapidly changing environment as a wardrobe of a pregnant woman.

Today I’m going to share one trick that can help to save not only “second-and-third-trimester” outfit, but also one that looks heavy and stout. I’ll put a bit of theory to explain the works.

Every day while processing new information we are constantly matching it to things we already know and seen, engaging our brain to look for reference points. We might pick only the meaning we can reference to and skip any further thoughts of it. It might be not the ultimate meaning, just one we came across, the one that looks right (all optical illusions are based on such perception anomalies, by the way).

Now, going from theory to practice and from abstract visions to women figures and clothing, it is primarily a shape (silhouette) that our brain is looking for. Therefore, if we think the figure lacks something from a quick glance over it, the task of make-believing bears heavily on clothes.

As I do not consider corsets and other instruments of torture as a solution what then should it be? Well, almost everything that creates strict, distinct lines which could be a reference point of shape for the brain.

For example, one of my friends uses a cropped stiff corduroy jacket with usual “maternity” dresses. The dress made out of a floral jersey gently wraps the body, but the fabric itself is not heavy enough to define a silhouette. All this dress needed was a well-defined form and jacket provided it along with outlining right proportions.

The other friend of mine uses slinky skirts paired with wide, hip-length blouses and snug fitting shoes. Skirt and shoes act as “shapers” helping to emphasize the best features as well as serving the purpose and giving a reference point of the shape. That, at the end, is creating a balanced and attractive look.

vector fashion illustration of two pregnant woman one of them wearing dress and denim jacket, and other sheer loose blouse and tight skirt

Heavy fabrics that make gorgeous folds work the same: they do provide clean lines and create clear silhouette. Actually, it could even be accessories (belt, bangles, geometrical bag, a scarf tightly tied up) that help to change “stout and heavy” into “elegant and balanced”.

Try to look around yourself when you are in a big shopping centre and watch for pregnant looks. I’m certain you’ll see some “shapers” and give them a credit for style.

Best Graphics Tablet for Fashion Illustrations

Today’s post is inspired by my new purchase and it’s not a dress or pair of shoes. It is graphics tablet Wacom Intuos5.

So if creative process is a big part of your life – read on! I will share with you my experience and tell why I think it is great tablet for fashion illustrations as well as drawing or photo processing.
Wacom Intuos5 graphics tablet


The first best thing you would notice is design.

It starts with packaging. The Intuos presented beautifully with all components elegantly arranged into a compact box. There is no messy foam and plastic wraps. First impression is definitely a good one.

Visually, the tablet would satisfy a demand of the most particular connoisseurs. Its minimalistic, slick and lovely design certainly adds inspiration to my creative process.

It comes in black which goes well with almost everything (and reminds me of LBD congeniality). Its matt soft-touch finish adds a certain degree of sophistication and has a very practical function of preventing fingerprints left on the surface.

Ultra-thin ergonomic design allows palms to rest on the top and to draw comfortably for hours. And I know that, because I can hardly keep my creative impulses without spending hours trying them out.

Seamless buttons complement polished look and make the cleaning process swipe of a deal. Rest easy those who resorted to throwing their keyboard into the dishwasher. With Intuos you just need to remember to not put your coffee cup on top.
Wacom, Intuos5, graphic tablet


When you first look at the drawing area you get an impression of a matt glass surface. When you first draw with the pen sensation is close to drawing on a grainy paper. And that feels awesome.

Active drawing zone is highlighted by little glowing corners. I must say it is very handy to have that extra space around the drawing area. I can now feel free with sweeping strokes as there is less risk running pen nib off the edges.

Device comes it 3 sizes and I would say medium (size of a small netbook) is perfect for home use and to carry around as well.

The tablet is very intuitive (as name suggests) and extremely user-friendly. I’m not a tech gal, but software that comes with the tablet made setup fun and easy.
Among the bunch of great features I really like are multi-touch input where you can rotate canvas with your fingers and ExpressKeys that you can set to most used actions (e.g. copy/pasting or switching brushes). The TouchRing is also a very useful thing to have for quick zooming.

After getting a bit used to navigating and drawing with the tablet I tend to use keyboard less and less and that brings the creative process to a totally different level!

The pen itself looks and feels like an ordinary pen. Sometimes I even get it confused with my favourite ballpoint. Amazing sensitivity, it responds to different pressure, tilt and feels very close to drawing on paper! I already mentioned that, I know.

Below is one of my illustrations using Wacom Intuos5.
Fashion girl with perfume bottle. Vector Illustration

I’ve created some vector graphics and even that was more pleasant and easy on a pen tablet. Another reason to leave your mouse alone and do things differently?


Wacom Intuos5 lacks only one feature: it cannot make you draw better. But it certainly gets you to draw more!

Where to get one

If you are trying to find best deal on Wacom Intuos5 have a look on the Amazon offers. Wacom Intuos5 Touch Medium Pen Tablet that can be found there from $339*. Make sure you get “Touch” as there is a model without that functionality. Get a wireless kit for $36 extra as well if prefer to have less cables.

For Australian residents PC Case Gear sells them for $305* or you might give Static Ice search a go to see who else is offering them locally.

If you enjoy a bit of a technical details make sure to browse through official specs.

*information is relevant to a time review was written and might’ve changed.

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Basic Principles of an Outfit Layout: Focal Point

My recent post about relations of peplum and pants has touched an important principle of an outfit layout – the subject of a focal point.

In fashion, like in art, focal point (centre of interest) is where the viewer attention is naturally attracted.
Proficient arrangement of focal points can turn a plain outfit into a good one. It is a sort of visual magic when a scarf thrown over a shoulder resuscitates the entire look. The question is how do you know what trick to use where.

Every garment independently of the outfit has its own centre of interest – it could be a collar, a pocket, a yoke, pleats, gatherings, you name it.
On the image below the shirt catches the eye and it is the focal point of this look. But both skirt and blouse has their own centres of interest – it is a slit and a yoke respectively.
fashion illustration of woman wearing red blouse with front yoke and skirt with slit

So, in an outfit the focal centre can be:
-a certain garment (blouse, T-shirt, shoes, shorts)
-a detail or accessory (collar, pockets, sleeves, brooch, bangles, and necklaces)
-a set of clothes (hat and scarf, scarf and gloves, shoes and skirt)

fashion illustration of woman wearing brown jacket and skirt paired with red gloves and scarf style

There are 4 basic approaches to emphasise something as focal point:
-by colour
-by texture
-by shape
-by complex trimming or other striking elements.

fashion illustration of woman wearing silk dress with sophisticated sheer sleeves fashion illustration of woman wearing dark skinnies and bright top decorated with frills

The number of centres in an outfit can vary from one to as many as desired as long as they are hierarchically coordinated.

Multiple focal points add interesting complexity. The diversity and elegant balance of details get attention of viewers. Most of the times we don’t even know why, but we can tell there is something in that look.

At the same time there should be a clear connection between individual parts of the design. They should be sending the same image message.

The cohering elements of an outfit can be present on different levels. Every one of these is a big subject and deserves a topic of its own, so we’ll keep it simple here.

-Proportion: consider how to vary placement of garments so they articulate strong message and the outfit has its centre of interest. The size of focal point must complement the proportion of the garment (e.g. you might not be the only one who thinks that a big bow on slim evening dress looks ridiculous).
-Colour scheme: coherence on this level works best when one accent colour dominates the look and the others work to support and add interest to an outfit. Have another look on that red blouse above. That’s it.
-Shape: sophisticated and irregular shapes cause strong sensory responses so they must be balanced within an outfit to avoid undesirable effect.A decorative blouse with plan paints works well.
-Texture: textures influence our mood. We make assumption according to certain textures about age, personality, lifestyle, degree of sophistication. Textures are also perceived according to hierarchy. Smooth and glossy fabrics are catching attention first.
-Pattern and decoration: some of them are active and dominant while others are not so strong.

Let’s have a look on the example. Below, a light patterned shirt is teamed with a plain skirt in matching colour. This outfit is well-adjusted on the levels of colour, pattern and texture. Here all the attracting attributes of each level belong to the shirt and that makes the look balanced. It might be, however, lacking a certain degree of sophistication, but that’s easily corrected by adding accessories.
fashion illustration of woman wearing floral blouse and plain brown skirt

Getting a balanced look is not an easy task as it may seem. But as most of things, you get it with a practice. A good rule of thumb here is: if you are uncertain about something just make it simpler. The safest way to mix clothes in an outfit is to start basic, use one focal point, or one accent.

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How to Wear Peplum With Pants

This summer peplum is again on the top of the fashion wave! And according to the fashion weeks taking turns in northern hemisphere this embellishment will be a trend at least one more season.

Now it is presented in the most refreshing and outstanding way since its appearance – it is teamed with pants and shorts.
I find this tendency to be a great subject for a field study.

Close observation of peplum+pants combination on the streets, fashion blogs and catwalk photos lead me to a number of ideas.

Peplum itself is a dominant feature highlighting the waist-thigh area and pants in their turn are doing the same. So, put together they make lower body the centre of attention.

There are several ways to make the look more balanced. Fist way to reduce the number of glances towards the hips would be to wear well-fitted pants without any visible fly-fronts, fasteners, pockets and other distractive details. The minimal number of lines and visible details creates lean appearance.
fashion illustration demonstrated two identical women one of them wearing pants with side fastening the other with front one

Second option is to use long peplum. This will help to conceal fragile to attention area.
fashion illustration of woman wearing pants with long peplum jacket

Another method to attain a light image is to shift a focal point to the upper body.

This can be done by using colour, pattern or accessories. A waist accentuated by peplum and plain top emphasize slim torso and drive attention to other areas.
Inverse also works. Patterned pants with plain top help to create desired silhouette and disguise lower body. The trick is that decorated surface attracts attention and at the same time provides a camouflage.

The right arrangement of decorative motifs and colour blocks become crucial in this situation.
fashion illustration of women wearing theirs peplum and pants outfits with focal point on top and bottom respectively

And the last, but not the least approach for the graceful peplum look is to use single-colour combination.
Add a pattern and we have even more streamlined silhouette.
fashion illustration of women wearing patterned  peplum and pants outfit

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Maternity Style Tips. Look Stylish when They Say You Can’t
Connecting Dots. The Importance of Intermediary in an Outfit