January 08, 2015 08:00 AM

D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

Blake Lively opens up about her baby joy, beauty secrets and more. Subscribe now for instant access to the exclusive PEOPLE interview.

From the red carpet to the streets of New York City, Blake Lively had one seriously style pregnancy.

But just how did she keep up her fashion-icon status while dressing for two? Because she didn’t mess with her personal style.

“It’s important to still feel like yourself, because so much of your life is changing,” the new mom and founder of the lifestyle site Preserve tells PEOPLE of her pregnancy in this week’s exclusive cover story.

“I would’ve felt foreign in my own body if I’d started dressing differently.”

She means it: One of her standout red carpet looks during her pregnancy turned out to be a dress that wasn’t meant for a baby bump!

For L’Oréal’s Women of Worth dinner in New York City on Dec. 2, Lively wore a KaufmanFranco gown (which looked absolutely awesome from all angles) — and you could almost hear a collective whisper of “How?” from moms everywhere. It was clingy and backless!

Although it looked like it was made for her, Lively bought it herself, and it was hanging in her closet long before she chose to wear it. In fact, it wasn’t her first choice.

“I was going to wear a different dress that evening but … it broke,” she says. “I was too big! The zipper just broke. It popped right open. I changed right before I walked out the door. I have that dress for real life, not pregnant life.”

Lively insists that “other than maternity jeans, I didn’t buy anything maternity. Everything is my clothing, it’s something I can and will wear when I’m not pregnant.”

The Lindsey Thornburg cloaks that have become one of her signatures (they retail for $1,390 and she has four!) fit her simply stretchier maternity M.O.: “They’re magical and sexy, and so flattering but not body-conscious.”

Another element of her killer style that she maintained? Her penchant for sky-high heels by one Christian Louboutin.

“What can I say? I feel good when I’m wearing heels. I feel sexier, attractive,” she says. “When I put on Louboutins while super pregnant, it makes me feel more empowered in that moment, it gives me that extra oomph.”

Seeking out pairs that were upwards of four inches was a form of mommy-to-be retail therapy. “Trust me, when you see that scale starting to go up up up — and not the little number slide on top but the big number slide on the bottom — you go shopping and buy yourself some red-soled shoes,” she says.

Amen, Blake! If we could, we would.

— Catherine Kast

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