Clothing is an important form of creative self-expression and identity. It’s a uniquely human ritual, part of what defines us as a species. Every culture ever studied throughout time and space has developed some form of fashion: dressing the body in a way that goes beyond simple functionality and integrates emotion and beauty.
Clothing can have a real impact on our psychological and emotional state. There’s a term in psychology, “enclothed cognition,” defined as “the systematic influence that clothing has on the wearer’s psychological processes.” For instance, wearing a lab coat is associated with increased attentiveness and carefulness. Other studies have found that students who dress formally perform better on standardized tests. Conversely, wearing provocative clothing is associated with lower test performance, for both men and women.
Founder and mom Elena wears the Maia shirt.
From a personal standpoint, I feel most powerful when I am wearing clothes that are comfortable yet flattering, with a bit of an edge. This feels aligned with my identity as someone who is both pragmatic and creative, and who cares about clothing and fashion. For others, the formula may be different. The reason our economy can support such a diverse proliferation of clothing brands is precisely because the formula is different for everyone, and we gravitate towards the things aligned with our preferred form of self-expression.
When a woman becomes pregnant, the diverse and fantastic range of clothing that was available to her pre-pregnancy suddenly narrows to a depressingly small selection. Most of it comes from fast fashion brands, cheaply made overseas in unethical conditions from polluting, synthetic materials. From an aesthetic standpoint, where once we had access to tailored trousers and vests, we are now forced to conform to the matronly tyranny of floral dresses.
I wrote earlier about some of the cultural forces behind this dynamic. Maternity clothing is a reflection of our (unspoken but widespread) cultural belief that when a woman crosses the threshold into motherhood she leaves her other identities behind her and becomes a matronly, domestic, “pure” mother. Society no longer expects us to continue expressing our identity as professionals and creatives. It's time to give that up now and start changing diapers and washing dishes.
Hera was born out of a desire to challenge this outdated paradigm. I want to help women celebrate motherhood, celebrate pregnancy, and celebrate the changes our bodies go through while also maintaining their identity outside of motherhood and domesticity. If you’re the kind of woman who prefers a pleated wide-leg trouser and button-down to a floral tent dress, then we’ll make the pregnancy-friendly version for you. Better than that, we’ll make a version that looks good after pregnancy and functions as a staple in your new life as a mother. I also want to push the boundaries on how clothing is sold and exchanged, by tightly integrating resale into our online store. Part of feeling powerful and sexy through our childbearing years is embracing the changes our bodies go through, and releasing the pressure on ourselves to “bounce back” as quickly as possible to our old bodies and old selves. I want to accommodate those kinds of size changes for women without adding guilt about extra waste or expense.
With daughter Gaia, wearing the Gaia dress, a more minimal take on the floral favorites of traditional maternity brands.
I am now done with pregnancy and done with nursing. My son is three and a half and my daughter is one and a half. But I still resent the endless wardrobe overhauls of the last 4 years and my personal struggle to feel good in my body through pregnancy and after. My hope is to offer the women who come after me a better option.
What was your experience like dressing through pregnancy and after? I would love to hear your thoughts.