Myth: If you have a tummy, you need to hide it under looser clothes.
Truth: If you have a tummy, you need to wear fitted clothes that camouflage it. The tummy is an issue for pretty much every woman at some point. If you were pregnant and had children, there’s always a tiny bit of tummy left even if it’s just some extra skin that won’t go away. If you go through menopause, you gain a few pounds and the tummy becomes more noticeable.
Having a tummy doesn’t mean there’s something wrong. You don’t have to be overweight to have a larger tummy. I’ve never been overweight and I have a tummy. After three children, I’ve earned one. But none of us want our tummies to be the first thing people notice. In particular, we don’t want to look pregnant when we’re not.
From me, you get the truth.
The good news is that a tummy is not difficult to camouflage. But the correct strategy that will work is counterintuitive. Many women think they need to hide their tummies under looser tops. The problem there is that looser tops make everything appear bigger. After all, why else would you wear them? The key is to go with fitted tops that make the tummy less noticeable.
The best tops for a tummy are the ones with shoulder seams that hit at the shoulder and that nip in at the waist. Those shoulder seams emphasize the width of the shoulders, thus making the waist and tummy appear smaller by comparison. You can get this effect with structured tops such as fitted jackets and fitted button-down shirts, but you can also get the effect with less-structured tops. My favorites are wrap tops and mock wrap tops precisely because they’re cut to nip in at the waist.
The best skirts for a tummy are straight or A-line. A-lines are universally flattering, and they work here because they give a feminine look to the bottom half and make the waist appear smaller. Straight can work too as long as the skirt is not too narrow. Too narrow on the bottom will make the top half appear wider by comparison. And the length counts. If the skirt is too short, it will truncate the bottom half and make the top half appear larger by comparison.
Are there dresses for a tummy? Absolutely yes. In fact, dresses are terrific for camouflaging a tummy precisely because there’s no break in the middle as there might be with separates. But the dress has to be right. A straight or A-line shape works and it’s even better if there are princess seams. Those are seams that run vertically down the front from either the shoulders or the chest. While princess seams are ideal, it’s okay if the dress has a seam at the waist for definition as long as it’s subtle and doesn’t draw a lot of attention.
Whether it’s dresses or separates, the monochromatic look always works best. This means one color head-to-toe or the same value (lightness or darkness) head-to-toe. That gives you one long line that makes you appear longer and narrower. And with no break in the middle, the tummy goes unnoticed.
A smaller trick is to keep the base outfit neutral. Neutral colors don’t draw a lot of attention, so the tummy doesn’t become the focal point. It’s even better when you use colored accessories to draw attention to your face. Yes, you can look great in a pair of brightly colored or printed shoes, but colors and prints on top near your face works even better. You can use oblong scarves, jewelry, and even a non-shaytl covering to draw attention. One trick I love is a dark dress with an oblong scarf draped in front. The scarf gives me a long line and camouflages any tummy bulge while leading the eye upward to my face. I particularly loved this when I was in the first trimester and didn’t want to announce anything.
“Froufrou” such as ruching, ruffle, and draping in front can actually work to camouflage a tummy as long as the top is still fitted and the froufrou is vertical or mostly vertical and right over the tummy. I once picked out a cardigan for a client that had ruffling in the front middle and it did camouflage her tummy. These things add texture, and that actually can distract from the tummy. But this trick is not foolproof because it can also draw attention. You have to try on these kinds of tops and see if they work for you.
Finally, you do have get those unmentionables just right. The right ones will give you a good shape from underneath and smooth out everything. Get fitted as needed and find what gives you your best shape.
You do not need to be ashamed of a tummy (or any other part of you, for that matter). Just dress your body the right way and people will be able to ignore your tummy and focus on the real you.