Pregnant does not have to mean dowdy. In fact, maternity clothes can look an awful lot like non-maternity clothes. (Need proof? Check out our model, mom-to-be Mary-Frances Wain, executive director of Suited for Change. She's due to pop the end of August.)

"Fashion is responding to what women are clamoring for," says Julia Beck, founder of 40 Weeks, a consulting firm that focuses on expectant and new moms. "There are more independent maternity designers than ever before." The reason? The influx of chic celebrity pregnancies (and no, we're not taking about Britney Spears) and the widening age gap. "Women are pregnant in their early twenties to their late forties," she says. The range is much broader and so the demand is greater.

"There's so much more selection and it's so much easier to stay on-trend than 20 years ago," says Rebecca Matthias, founder of Motherhood, Mimi Maternity and A Pea in the Pod. Look no further than 7 for All Mankind maternity jeans. And the high-end maternity boutiques popping up, such as Daisy Baby & Mommies Too in Bethesda.

Strolling her store, co-owner Andrea Paro says, triggers memories of muumuus and housecoats for the older generation. "Now, there's stuff that's sexy and fun," she says. "You can you still feel sexy when pregnant. It's about embracing the belly."

-- Janelle Erlichman Diamond

Mary-Frances Wain in, at right, a Meet Me in Miami tube top ($65) and Noppies Maternity four-pocket Berceau jeans ($105), available at Daisy Baby & Mommie Too, 4924 Del Ray Ave., Bethesda. Lisa B. white Nubuck thongs, $95 at simplysoles.com.Diane von Furstenberg maternity dress, $299 at Urban Chic, 1626 Wisconsin Ave. NW.