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My New Favorite Item of Clothing Might Be a Maternity Dress

This is in no way a pregnancy announcement.

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Photo: Dwell + Slumber

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About four minutes ago, I got an email: "Your package from Dwell + Slumber has been delivered." About one minute ago, I put on the best thing I have ever worn. It may or may not be maternity wear.

My journey to this moment started last October, when Megan Reynolds, who wrote this great and deeply relatable piece about house dresses for Racked in September, emailed me. "A house dress company wants to repost my house dress piece," she wrote, linking me to Dwell + Slumber. I was surprised: A house dress company is a thing?

On the company’s site, I was met with effortless, aspirational, California-y looking women wearing caftans in solid colors or floral patterns or beach-y stripes. These women weren't wearing the worn-out old sacks Megan described and I kept in the drawer under my bed; they were wearing luxurious daytime nightgowns glamorously. They paired their dresses with cool-lady floppy hats or ropes as belts, laughing by the ocean and in well-appointed homes. Some of the women had children — a lot of the women had children, I realized, and, it dawned on me, almost as many were clutching their bellies and glowing, pregnant as Kim Kardashian at the 2013 Met Gala.

As I navigated back to the sales page, considering whether or not I could buy a high-class mom muumuu of my own, I discovered that dress after dress was sold out. There was nothing to buy.

Dwell + Slumber restocks as often as it can, it seems, but the site is frequently sold out. I planned at first to revisit the purchase, but the glow faded. Remembering to buy a sought-after item is a hassle, and the price tag — $62 — fell confusingly between a good deal for a regular dress and a high price for something that would never see the light of day. And most importantly, this brand — where even the women carrying prospective human life in their bodies are tall and tan and thin — didn’t feel quite aimed at short, sloppy, New York-based, entirely childless and totally unpregnant me. Sometimes strangers stood up for me on the subway, and I didn't need to invite that assumption by wearing actual maternity clothes.

But recently, as in exactly one month before the day this package arrived at my house, I moved to Asheville, North Carolina. I don't go to an office every day anymore, I don't take the subway every morning. I'm home, in a real house, a lot. (Yes, this is a brag.) When I received an email telling me that Dwell + Slumber was going to be restocking in the first weeks of the move, I thought, “Maybe now is the time.” And damn, I was super right.

Photo: Dwell + Slumber

I got the "cozy Charlotte" — a dark floral pattern of the type that I am constantly searching for or pointing out on other women. As soon as I put it on, I relaxed; the caftan feels like an wearing expensive sheet. It’s soft and nicely heavy and drapes in an appealing way. The dress has gold buttons down the front that probably make breast-feeding easier, which I don't need, and pockets, which I do.

With a belt (not a rope) and some sandals, it looks more than presentable. It looks lovely, effortless, and ready to leave the house — a comforting notion upon which I have no plans to act.