Repost: Reader Request: The Side View

Reader Vildy asked for some input on how to flatter her profile. Since she feels she looks considerably more slender from the front than from the side, she asked for a side-view analysis and a few figure-flattery tips.

This is a question that is quite close to my heart. And so, my friends, it is time to properly introduce you to my tum.

First, here’s me from the front:


And now, from the side.


Helluva difference, no? Just like Vildy, I look considerably slimmer seen face-on. Not better, mind you, just slimmer.* And I have learned a number of tricks for minimizing my midsection bulge that I will now share … with the understanding that they are best suited to women whose natural waists are a bit smaller than their bellies. My guess is that those who appear proportioned from the front but less so in profile will be built similarly to me. And since Vildy didn’t specify, I’m going with that theory!

You apple-shaped ladies will find most of these tricks useless, I’m afraid – click here for a few apple-specific musings.

EMBRACE

1. Full skirts


A full skirt with a nipped-in waist will draw the eye to your narrowest point, and flare out stiffly from there, masking the tum entirely. SCORE.

2. Princess seams

Much of de-emphasizing the belly is about emphasizing the waist. Princess seams are ideal for this, as they nip in at the natural waist and float over the hips without clinging.

3. Belted button-down shirts


This is basically a way to create the effect of a full skirt while wearing pants. Belting at the natural waist emphasizes its slimness, and since button-downs are generally stiff, they’ll flare out naturally beneath the belt.

4. Belted floor-length skirts

Belt nice and high, and let pick a long skirt that is A-line or full. It’ll create volume lower on your body, but overall have the same effect as a shorter full skirt. This look works best if you’re average or above-average height. Shorties might get swallowed up by all that length …

5. Vintage-style shirtwaist dresses


Belting helps, but this style can work on its own, too. Make sure to find a frock that has waist definition and a flared skirt.

6. Fitted blazers


And I mean FITTED. This blazer is my ideal, as it is practically a corset. As with all of the other key pieces, it emphasizes the waist, flares out over the tum, and creates pleasing proportions.

AVOID

1. Dropwaists

I’m pretty well convinced that dropwaists look horrendous on all body types, but they’re particularly offensive on havers-of-tum. You’re basically making a snug packet for your entire upper body, from shoulders to hips. What a fantastic way to draw attention to your spare tire!

2. Empire waistlines


I know that many, many style experts declare this style to be a life-saver for anyone with some weight around the middle. And they DO work for some folks, but not for all. Depending on your build and the cut of the garment, empire waistlines can make the slimmest of us look preggers. If you’ve got a protruberant tum, do you really want to stir up those rumors?

3. Well, just general tightness

My tee was super tight, and my skirt was pulling across the belly and hips. Both of which drew attention to my middle. The giant floppy bow sprawled across my collarbone helped distract, but still. Overly tight clothing will cling and reveal, so make sure your clothes are fitted without being suffocatingly snug.

FOR WHEN YOU DON’T CARE

1. High-waisted skirts and pants

If you’re more concerned with emphasizing your waistline than disguising your tum, high-waisted bottoms are fantastic. But don’t expect a bump-free side view.

2. Sheath dresses

There’s that same pink dress from the top two photos. A true sheath features a pencil skirt-esque bottom half, and since you’ll have an unbroken line from shoulders to knees, there’s no way to disguise the tum. But hey, check out how hot I am in my sheath, tum and all.

3. Long, slim, fitted layers

Same basic concept as the sheath: It’s gonna hug your curves, both the ones you want to emphasize and the ones you want to mask. But if you want to play around with proportions and look cool instead of svelte, go for it.

Is your front view drastically different from your side view? Is it tum-related? If not, what causes the discrepancy? Do you do anything specific to mitigate?

*Please be aware that if you decide that your tum is bigger than mine, and I have no right to be self-conscious, I will not publish your comment. See this post for further explanation.

  • Genuine Lustre

    YEESSSS!!! Thanks for this post. This is my body. I've learned that the "turn sidewise to look better in a photo" thing doesn't work for me, because my arms are not thin. I look thinnest straight on. Empire waists are deadly. I would add that wide waistbands are very flattering.

  • AbraCat

    Giving birth three times has given me bulges that aren't going away no matter how many crunches I do. Camouflage is definitely the way to go for me– I wear a lot of full skirts and wide, waist-defining belts. The right underwear is key, too (I think I've obsessed about that in your comments before…).

  • Anonymous

    fantastic suggestions. I would add wearing woven fabrics instead of knits. As you pointed out, when belted, the button-down shirt flares out, because its a woven. Knit fabrics, like tshirts, just hug our bumps, not always the look we're going for.

  • Scholar Style Guide

    You really know how to dress your body! I feel like I've only recently identified looks that work on my body consistently, but I have an even longer list of looks that don't work. I'm absolutely curveless, which is perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum, but equally unfortunate in its own way. Any advice?

    -Anne-Marie

  • Anonymous

    Great suggestions! This is my bodytype as well, thanks for the tips!

  • SarahN

    So true, so true. Empire waists are the devil. Belts and Spanx are my saviors. Wide-waistband trousers can also work some magic, but be sure to define your waist with a fitted top or blazer. Even if the trousers hit at just the right spot, pairing a baggy top will only make you look baggy.

  • AntiSlice

    We have practically the exact same body type. This makes me really excited, because you have such wonderful style and have really learned how to dress in a flattering way. I'm still working on transitioning from my pre-college-body wardrobe and this is encouraging.

    I don't think I'll give up the tshirts for a while though.

  • Queen of Sheba

    "Havers-of-tum" is my new favorite word.

  • Luísa

    Thank you! most helpful post ever!!

  • jill

    this was great sal! thank you :) thinking of you and i hope all is well.

  • CrystalH

    LOVE this post! After three pregnancies and one set of twins, I've definitely got a tum (mostly caused by sagging skin… yuck!) I'm currently trying to find what works best for my new body shape and this post definitely helped. Thanks!

  • E

    AH you're so good with angles! And I think it totally depends on the person. Something I look ridiculous head-on, but you look perfect that way. What great ideas!

  • Fia

    Great post! Especially useful now that I've had a child. This is the one part of my body that's changed the most and probably for life so I'm already learning to live with and celebrate it instead of trying to get rid of it.

  • Jenny

    Is it OK to say that, self-conscious or not, I think you look stunning in all these photos? Truly. I'm (slowly, tentatively) working on a fall wardrobe as we speak, and I'm thinking of keeping a small statue of Saint Sal by my bedside for inspiration. :)

  • jen

    I know this is a repost, but I really want to thank you for this, and for the linked post about comparisons. The comparers are missing the point — if they can see the beauty in your non-model-shaped body, maybe they can see the beauty of theirs too.

    I have a similar body shape and I have to say that my tum has been a lifelong target for shame and self-hatred. Seeing this post helps me realize that avoir-du-tum is part of the adult human female experience for many of us, and that there is a way to work with the tum-having body instead of fantasizing about tumectomies. Even the name "tum" is endearing.

    I don't normally follow fashion blogs but I have gotten some great ideas from yours since Shauna alerted me to its existence. Thanks so much! I look forward to your reposts and future new posts.

  • Steph

    Fantastic post! Really helpful for those of us with tums, and anyone else who looks different from the front and side views. I definitely do: am not a fan of my chubby upper arms and tummy bulge. And boy have I fallen for the empire-waists-solve-everything farce in the past. Sure they cover up a tum, but they obliterate any of the body curvature that I actually love! Tummage is problematic, but I'm learning to work with and around it. I've always been a round hourglass–had the tum all my life–and after 30-some years I've finally realized: it ain't going anywhere. I just won't look at myself from the side view anymore! :-)

  • Laurelann

    I am definitely an apple, as is my mother before me, and we both are at a loss sometimes about what to wear. I've been doing a lot of research lately for figure flattering (as a new blogger) and this is the best thing I've ever seen done on apple shapes. Thanks a ga-million!

    I did an entire post about princess seams! Check it out here at: http://one-girl-vs-world.blogspot.com/

  • Anonymous

    I love you for posting that side view. It makes me just a little less ashamed of my own tummy, since you're so unashamed (and you look foxy!).

  • Lisa

    Since I have the exact same body type (but with a bit more belly), this is THE PERFECT post for me. I just wish I could print it out as a little wallet-sized cheat sheet for when I go shopping.

    Thanks for inspiring me to dress better than my typical "pretend I don't care" frumpiness. I'm going to go buy a belt, too.

  • Jackie

    Christina Hendricks definitely has the "different from the front and side" thing going on, and I hear women (and men) raving about how beautiful she is.

    And, no, we're not going to look like her, either. The comparison point is well-taken. She enjoys what she has, and dresses beautifully–why shouldn't we all do the same for ourselves?

  • Ella M_de

    Uh-huh that's me! (Online quizzes report I'm an apple, but I'm not, btw.)

    Right on here with this one. BTW I love the face in the 2nd pic. Hehe.