Minimal Mama: Black Tie Maternity Style

Found this amazing black silk dress (on sale no less) at the seasonal Net a porter sale for a recent black tie event. The brand is Grace MMXII. I had never heard of it before but it's a new line by the founders of Frame Denim - and they secretly launched last season under the radar in London. Purchased it a few sizes up for my 33 weeks pregnant belly and had it expressed hemmed at a local dry cleaner and voila - channeling a little Rita Hayworth (my inspiration) or Bond Girl. Matching red nails and lips for my beauty with a simple chignon and kept everything else very simple. Hot husband in tux and bump were my best accessories anyway! I did manage to wear heels for the first time in AGES. Wasn't so bad and can't wait to start wearing them again post baby.

Grace MMXII Dress / Gucci Disco Soho Bag as clutch / butterLondon Lady Bird Lacquer & Lippy

A Minimalist's Maternity Style

MML_JNSQ Maxi Dress Maternity Style

In my A Wang Maxi, J Crew Abbot Slides, Rochas Tote (via ShopHer's), Target hat

I haven't written a lot about pregnancy on here, but as I approach my last few months and it being literally the #1 topic on my mind and inspiring my life. A great way to start talking about it is style - one of the areas I feel I've really failed at taking advantage of and embracing, for a few reasons.

1. I stubbornly didn't want to spend too much money on maternity specific clothes. At this point I've only purchased four maternity items - two of them being maternity pants because they really are just wayyy more comfortable then the bella band + your pre baby jeans (they fall off my bum!).

2. I've felt in a bit of a rut with my style. As in, I am having a baby girl, should I dress more feminine and less black and neutrals?

3. I didn't really start to "show" until a few weeks ago, but suffered all of the body changes despite so it was a little depressing as my body grew, but no baby belly to show for it! So really I just ended up wearing loose fitting clothing and felt mostly dumpy.

How have I been surviving these 30 weeks? Thankfully my wardrobe consists of a plethora of maxi dresses (pictured above), jumpsuits, loose tops and tees, oversized sweaters and jeans. Oh and let's not forget, flats. #thankyousciatica

One of my style icons, Swedish blogger Elin Kling, is also pregnant but hasn't been posting any fashion on her Instagram either! Wonder if she fell into same rut? Otherwise for my go to fashion inspiration I take no further look than at the amazingly stylish minimal mama fashion editors and bloggers like Mira Duma, Yasmin Sewell, blogger Could I Have That, French Vogue Fashion Editor Geraldine Saglio, and more. Here are a few my favorite "Minimal Mama" looks:

My Top 5 Chemical to Clean Beauty Swaps

515-toxic-chemicals-women-every-day

Did you know that humans come into contact with more than 500 chemicals on a daily basis? These chemicals build up in our bodies over time and could be causing your weird allergies, weight gain, hormone depletion, low energy levels, breakouts, eczema, the list goes on.

Since being diagnosed with endocrine and thyroid issues a year ago and becoming pregnant, I've been on a mission to educate myself a little more - not only what is in my food but also on the chemicals in my some of beauty and personal care products. It's overwhelming to say the least as there is so much information to digest, literally. Thank goodness for the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database that scans most beauty products and rates them 1-10 on a level of concern and why. It's mind blowing educational, but a little overwhelming. I am also a visual person so finding this infographic on Mind, Body, Green was a lifesaver for me!

Because I can't just ditch my well invested closet overflowing with beauty and personal care items, I'm swapping my products out for cleaner versions slowly, aiming for under a "3" on the EWG Skindeep database. The most important categories that are the worst offenders with chemicals: toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion, lip balm, and nail polish.  Here are my five easy swaps you can make almost immediately, without too much money or time sacrifice as I did the work and research for you!

My Top 5 Chemical to Clean Beauty Swaps 

5 Chemical To Clean Beauty Swaps_JNSQ
5 Chemical To Clean Beauty Swaps_JNSQ

TOOTHPASTE

WHY:Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (foaming agent that causes rashes) andTriclosan (chemical added to toothpaste and antibacterial products that is really toxic!). This was the first swap I did 4+ years ago. I used to get gum irritation, bumps on my tongue or mouth sores and since switching, no such occurrence. Coincidence? Also I also learned fluoride can be really irritating and was causing dermatitis around my mouth - so I stopped using toothpaste with fluoride and the irritations vanished from there too.

WHAT: After trying several clean toothpastes, my favorite is the Desert Essence brand. Minus fluoride, gluten (yes they even add gluten to toothpaste!) SLS, dies for coloring (which can cause digestion issues and allergic reactions) and all the bad stuff, whitens naturally, disinfects without triclosan using tea tea oil and leaves my mouth feeling really fresh. No cavities either.

DEODORANT 

WHY:Parabens (cancer causing preservatives) andAluminum (blocks sweating and also known to cause cancer). Sweat is a natural form of detoxing and if we don't allow our body to sweat, we remain toxic. Although I won't get into cancer scares - all non natural OTC deodorants have parabens that is linked to causing breast cancer. My grandmother had breast cancer twice, and that's enough example for me to swear off my favorite deodorant!

WHAT: After trying several crunchy deodorants and learning I am allergic to something in a few of them, I've landed with Weleda rose Deodorant Spray. It has a controversial rating on EWG because it contains alcohol and fragrance, but the important thing here is that it's all organic certified ingredients and it WORKS unlike all the other options. Also Weleda has the highest of integrity as a brand and I trust them. I love the smell - it's almost like a perfume. Comes in a more manly scent too.

LIP BALM

WHY: Petrolatum. It's derived from gasoline.. so enough said? And one more point, it actually dries out your skin versus hydrating, so why would you do that to yourself?

WHAT: I started using Homeoplasmine, a french pharmacy find that's homeopathic plant based product, months ago when NYC took its toll on my skin and had majorly dry chapped lips. It's amazing and my lips aren't constantly dry and my lip balm addiction (apply every 5 minutes) has waned. This is a makeup artists favorite as well, and can be used for eyelids & cheeks to create a natural dewy glow down to curing chapped nipples from breast feeding. It's a major multitasker!

BODY  LOTION 

WHY:Parabens, Petrolatum,Phthalates (its a plastic used to help fragrances and substances stick or penetrate the skin and are VERY toxic when it touches your skin and inhaled). Your skin is your biggest organ and there are so many other natural options for moisture.

WHAT: Body Oils. And when I don't have access or run out, I use coconut oil or grapeseed oil. I find even food grade grapeseed oil is more hydrating than coconut! But if I do buy a product, I've been loving Malie's Organic Body products, especially the Koke'e (aloe) scent. The brand is made of 70% organic ingredients safe of all the bad stuff, and the fragrance is actually extracted from the plants, not man made.

NAIL LACQUER 

WHY: Formaldehyde, phthalates, toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, DBP, Xylene, Ethyl Tosylamide. ALL of the bad stuff  that is toxic to our immune systems, hormones disruptors, causing birth defects in pregnant women. etc.

WHAT: butter London. Years ago, butter London was the pioneer in nail lacquer eliminating the first 3 ingredients listed above tagging the "3 Free" label. Now brands have gone "5 free" and now bL is stepping it up and is "7 free". I love their trend and classic colors, is long lasting, and their line extensions for nail care are out of this world. I've been using butter London for 5 years now, but Chanel, Zoya, Essie, RMS, Tenoverten and a slew of our other favorite brands have stepped up their clean nail lacquer game as well.

UP NEXT

: I will be cleaning up my cosmetics - from my mascara to my foundation!

How to Maintain Your Bikini Area at Home

Bliss Bikini Trimmer
Bliss Bikini Trimmer

I have a hidden fear of P.D.O.P. (Public Display of Pubes) - likely stemming from junior high when I actually was happy that I had late puberty due to my teenage friend having to sunbathe with a towel laid around her bikini bottom, where a sea of dark hair and razor bumps existed. #gross #puberty #ouch. So when I finally became a woman, much later than everyone else, who also by that point started waxing or lasering everything off, I vowed to myself to always appreciate my hair down there. 

Lady bush has been making a come back and here we are currently celebrating 70s styles in fashion and beauty -  literally, every woman in my gym locker room, GP, Cameron, GIRLS , American Apparel say so - pubic hair does have a purpose on our bodies, but let's make sure we keep it nice and tidy.

This may be a little TMI, but it's been YEARS since I've actually gotten a bikini wax. Waxing hurts, it's expensive, and I have a tendency to breaking out due to an allergy from the wax, so I am over it. This SHOCKS my lady friends. They ask how I can get away with that? Well, a handy at-home groomer, the Bliss Trim and Bare It. So handy and compact, it comes with me on trips to keep up on the maintenance and it has a plethora of attachments for however you prefer your garden grow.

JNSQ APPROVED BEAUTY PRODUCT!

Beauty Banter: Caroline de Maigret & Company

Caroline de Maigret in eyelet white jumper Since the release of her book last fall How to be Parisian (read my book review here!), in less than a calendar year, model and muse Caroline de Maigret has sky rocketed into an international icon. From every fashion magazine cataloging her effortless style, to her role as Ambassadress for Lancôme (where she will be creating her own beauty collection inspired by her favorites), Caroline is taking names in the beauty and fashion world. Luckily I was able to catch her and her author cohorts on summer holiday last year before her life got hectic to answer a few questions for JNSQ readers. Noted are some of Caroline and co's beauty secrets; from how Caroline styles her signature messy mane to how the authors indulge themselves. Come to find out French women aren't much different than us. Tres refreshing! Read on... Caroline even reveals a secret address for the first time, ever! 1. Does it bother you that American women idolize French women? Who does it bother to be idolized?! No, more seriously though, we really don't think Americans idolize French women. Both our cultures are interested in one another. The American lifestyle is a big influence in our daily lives.

2. When spending time in NYC, do you find yourself following any of our workout, health /wellness / beauty trends? If so, what? Many health trends are now followed in France: the organic trend, gluten free food, juice cleanses... we copy a lot, actually! So when we're in NY or in the US, it's not that different from home.

3. Who is in charge of Caroline's cool girl mane in the US? No one! I wash my own hair in the morning and just let it dry (no conditioner -- it makes it too smooth!!). I then try to be a good girl on the weekends and do a hair mask (Leonor Greyl’s Fleurs de Jasmin).

4. Thing you do to unwind? Drink a good glass of Bordeaux with our girlfriends, and most importantly: laugh!

5. I notice French women don't carry handbags like American women. Is this true and what is your explanation? Parisian women are always suspicious and cautious about everything that is too "show-offy" or "bling". It’s considered good taste in Paris to wear a Chanel bag to meet your boyfriend for lunch, and at night, to carry either a simple bag, or, yes, sometimes no bag at all. It makes you feel free -- and is considered very rebellious chic!

6. Are you concerned about chemicals or ingredients in your skincare ? Unlike for organic food for example, we probably don’t know enough about the ingredients in skincare yet, and should be better informed.

7. Biggest indulgences? Anything that could make you feel that a normal day is special: drink champagne because it's Monday… Wear delicate lingerie one night when you're alone... Light candles around the bathtub to make it feel like a hotel room. And, as often as possible, treat yourself. Caroline de Maigrets Beauty Essentials How to Be Parisian, Diptyque Lait Frais, Chanel Rouge Noir #18Leonor Greyl’s Fleurs de Jasmin, Lancôme Grandiose Mascara, YSL Touché Eclat, Lancôme Micellar Water

8. How does a French girl deal with a hangover? Or do you even get them? Drink a bottle of water before going to bed - it will fight the alcohol while you sleep! And don’t forget to clean your skin (it has nothing to do with the hangover, but it's good for the skin, and thus good for morale).

9. Favorite beauty products? Grandiose Mascara from Lancôme- adds mystery to your eyes, Touché Eclat from YSL -- to remove imperfections, and a body cream by Diptyque called Le Lait Frais (fresh milk); makes your skin feel like a baby’s.

10. Heels, flats, or in between? Very high heels, or flat ballet shoes. Parisians don't go halfway!

11. I notice French women don't wear earrings, and read it's a "thing" to not have your ears pierced. This wasn't brought up in the book, is it true? For the older generations, sometimes it was not well perceived to have your ears pierced. Today, almost everyone has their ears pierced, but it is true that Parisians wear very discreet earrings. Only on very special occasions do they put their hair up and break the rule with bigger ones!

12. Nails - do you do your own? When in Paris I can't track down a single nail salon. Yes, same as with the hairdresser, we mostly do it ourselves. For evenings, we recommend the famous Chanel "Rouge Noir" Number 18!

13. Where do you purchase your beauty products when in the US? Ricky's on Broadway in NYC!

14. How do you deal with stress? We breathe deeply, and think of all the worst situations that we could be living through. We relativize the problems, and then focus on finding solutions to them.

15. Caroline, what brand is the stripe tees you are wearing on the Instagram pic? In France (and probably in other countries)  there is always a shop for sailors in harbors where they sell all kind of stuff for boats or fishing. They also have a few basic clothes for sailors and that's where I get all my stripe tees or jumpers. They're perfect and really cheap. The one on the pic though is from Anne Arbreiz, 73 rue Blanche 75009 Paris. It's a sailor shop and was my secret address until now!

-As told to Melissa Middleton Lanman for JNSQ. 
My favorite everyday looks on Caroline de Maigret. Photos from CdM's Insta.