Like many women expecting their first child, Danielle Brooks didn’t care too much about styling a baby bump until she had one. At first, the Orange Is the New Black actress was fine with letting out her costumes and clothing, waiting a few months to share her pregancy news with the world. But once it was all out in the open? The star was ready to start dressing cute — but, unfortunately, couldn’t find anything that properly fit her changing body.
"I wanted to feel amazing and beautiful in clothing, but I felt like a fish out of water," she reveals to InStyle, reflecting on the experience. "When you're plus-size it's harder; people think you can just size up, but it doesn't quite work that way because everyone's body is so different. What's expanding most of all is your stomach, and for me, my arms might not fit that size up. A pair of pants might be too long because you sized up. It was more work than I thought it was going to be."
That’s where Universal Standard came in. The size-inclusive brand responded to an Instagram post where Brooks spoke about her dilemma (“I was kind of serious and joking at the same time,” she admits), and soon, Brooks was working with the company, curating a collection of clothing perfect for pregnant bodies and beyond. Then, a lightbulb went off.
“We thought, ‘What can we do to add the icing to the cake?’” says Universal Standard's co-founder and creative director Alex Waldman. “That’s when the Fit Liberty program came in, which we already have for our regular pieces. Why not allow women who are pregnant to get stuff that fits, then give them a year as their body changes where they can size up or down without incurring extra costs? That’s how Fit Liberty works across the rest of our pieces. We’ll replace something with a new size for free, and that happens once in a year for each piece.”
Fit Liberty (Mom) is far from a maternity collection. Ranging from size 00 to 40, with prices from $30 to $185, it's meant to work with mothers at all stages, even after their baby is born. Customers can choose from a variety of must-have, wear-everywhere basics, from T-shirts, to turtlenecks, to camisole dresses — AKA the one item that Brooks considers the perfect pregnancy outfit.
“A cami-type dress is my favorite,” she tells us. “Any dress that I can throw on and not have to worry about jeans, because I have not put on a pair of jeans, probably, since I've been four or five months pregnant. And the thing is, you can layer it. I can put a turtleneck underneath for more warmth and still look really cute. And change the color — do a black turtleneck with a gray dress or vice versa.”
Brooks is also excited about how stain resistant most of the Fit Liberty (Mom) pieces are. According to Universal Standard’s website, a handful of items are made from a mix of modal and elastane, which means they're pretty durable.
“Being pregnant, it’s like I have a hole in my mouth right now; I keep dropping food on my clothes. But you can drop something on these clothes, wipe it off, and keep going, and you don't have this huge stain because of the material they're using. You can dot it with some ice, and when you have a baby spitting up and all of these miscellaneous things that happen with babies, you can recover quickly and look cute if you do have a spill on your clothes. I'm just throwing that out there.”
With all the life changes that Brooks has been experiencing, she’s admittedly happy that she hasn't had to sacrifice her fashion sense through it all. Still, the actress did open up about what she was willing to stop doing, especially after celebrating her 30th birthday last September.
“One thing I have definitely learned, with becoming a mother and the process of becoming a mother, is that some things are just not that deep," she says. "That has been a wonderful discovery as I enter my 30s, where everything seems so important, especially career-wise. We don't want to make any mistakes. We want to make sure to pick up every call and do everything, cross every T and dot every I. To be able to take a breath, and kind of take in what's important in life — family, and friends, and creating memories — I think that's the biggest lesson I've learned in the past few months.”
Fit Liberty (Mom) collection is available to shop now on universalstandard.com.
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