Reader Request: Dressing to Minimize a Tum

Reader R sent me this request via e-mail:

I love many of your outfits, but I’m larger than you with a not-flat tummy. Some clothes just make me feel self conscious because I’m not slimmer. Any suggestions?

So, I’ve talked about dressing around my particular type of tum, and how a figure like mine looks different from the side … but R’s question pertains to a body that is both larger than mine and possessing a more pronounced tum. And she’s specifically noted that she’s self-conscious about her tum and would prefer it be downplayed.  So here are a few ideas to get the conversation started.

Drape-detail cardigans

Calvin Klein Jeans Asymetrical Cardigan – $89.55

These cardigans? They’re EVERYWHERE. There are a million length, color, and shape variations to choose from, and while a few of them look best draped across a slender, tum-free figure, many more do a fabulous job of downplaying the midsection. Ideally, something with this much movement and volume should be balanced by a slim-fitting bottom – leggings, skinny jeans, or a fitted skirt – but the choice is yours.

Shawls and scarves worn long

Pashmina/Cashmere Floral Scarf – $33.45

When the winter winds howl, we tend to ball our scarves up into neck-warming wads near our faces … but once spring has sprung, letting our lightweight scarves flow long feels natural and chic. And a scarf, shawl, or wrap worn long is another artful way to distract from a prominent tum. You’ll have to go for a fairly large piece, of course – long, skinny scarves won’t do the trick. But a large rectangular scarf draped simply around the neck, a gorgeous shawl pinned over one shoulder, or a wrap with one end slung around the collarbone and the other falling freely can all help minimize without hiding.

Blazers

Torrid Black Ruched-Sleeve Blazer – $54

Blazers really are marvelous. They add structure and polish to any ensemble, dress up or down, and come in such a huge variety of styles. For this purpose, the ideal blazer will have some seaming at the sides to give the impression of curves, and hit at mid-hip. I’d recommend wearing it unbuttoned, and pretty much as shown above – with a flowy top that has some weight to it, and slim-fitting bottoms.

Items and techniques I do NOT recommend for minimizing a tum

Empire waistlines: Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. And when they don’t, they can create the illusion of extra body mass where there is none. It all depends on your figure, height, and taste, but I don’t see empire waistlines as a foolproof solution for tum minimization.

Wearing loads of black: Black does not automatically make everyone in the world look smaller, slimmer, taller, smarter, more talented, or better in any way. And since black sucks the life out of many complexions, do not rely on it for all matters of tum minimization. Dark colors do have some slimming properties, but there’s an amazing world of darks out there: Navy, brown, forest green … pick your poison, but don’t fall back on black every single time.

Over-sized everything: So you’ve got a tum. SO WHAT? Do not feel like you must cloak your entire figure in enormous, over-sized garments to hide it from the observing world. You’re gorgeous, and you deserve to be seen. Downplay the tum if it bothers you, but be sure to highlight other aspects of your marvelous figure. OK? Promise me.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

Next Post
Previous Post
  • I may not be this type of figure, but I will give some of my observations-

    My SIL is a haver of large tum and figure, but is very petite (5’0 or 4’11 I think). I have gone shopping with her quite a bit, and she has asked for advice and help before that I am woefully inadequate to give.

    In my experiences with her- tops that are fitted at the bust are very good, especially scoopneck and v-neck tops. I’m not saying go into inappropriate territory, but draw the eye up to your face rather than at your midsection. Flowy tops don’t work well on her for some reason, so tops that are looser in the midsection are good, but those that could work for early maternity are not best for her- they make her look like she IS in early maternity clothing. We’ve done well with tops that on a slim figure are very loose and flowy and sizing down a size- they are still looser, but don’t give off the maternity vibe. Given, a haver of a larger tum may not mask it completely… SO? Buy beautiful tops with pretty prints, colors that flatter your complexion, and with details at the bust to draw the eye up- and look beautiful, tum and all! : )

  • How about stretchy belt over a flowing shirt to cinch your natural waist? This draws attention away from the tum and accentuates your waist, hips and shoulders. Works for me. I don’t think hiding a tummy under drapey layers always has the desired effect.

    What doesn’t work for me? A top that hits at the waist paired with pants or trousers. It cuts me at the wrong place, shortens my torso, and calls attention to all my least favorite areas! A body skimming shirt that ends just below the hip bones (or pants that actually come up to the natural waist) are much better for me!

  • Sue

    Oh, geez, this is EXACTLY my situation. In addition to Sal’s tip about the long scarf, a few things that I found to work most of the time: (1) Longer V-neck cardigans over a longer scoop-neck top. Get a nice drapey cardigan and wear it open, or a less drapey knit and wear it either open or closed. Find a longer tank that flares a teeny bit at the hips so that it skims over the midsection instead of clinging. A few days ago I picked up the Mossimo Embellished Tank at Target and it’s just perfect for this. (2) Longer necklaces! With a plain top, they create a long line that draws the eye up and down. Go for something a little substantial, not a very thin chain. (3) My new favorite–drape-neck tops. The neckline can hang down a little low, so I sometimes have to wear a cami under it, but the draping does the verticalizing thing and creates an interest point higher up. (4) Knit tops with some vertical detailing, such as like a vertical lace panel or stitched-down pleats. Ruffles can sometimes work (like the Merona Ardith top from Target). (5) If it’s very hot, try a longer scoop-neck racerback tank (again, the kind that fits at the bust and skims the midsection), and if needed toss it over a thin, formfitting tank (the latter will look horrible on its own but is great as an underlayer).

    Try any of these with slimmer pants (the ponte knits are great for this) or a short (above the knee) plain skirt.

    The way things fit is all-important. Keep looking and you’ll find tops that fit well at the bust and skim loosely over the midsection but don’t make you look pregnant. Try styles you never thought would work . . . they just might. Try a print for the top under a solid cardigan, or a patterned cardigan over a solid top. Buy what fits and don’t worry about the labeled size–I have everything from size M to XXL in my closet (Target’s a particular offender in this area), and I cut out the size tag if it bothers me. And I can’t emphasize enough what Sal says–don’t fall back on the oversized stuff.

  • Having just lost 30 pounds and hopefully on the way to more, I have fought this battle for years. I think blazers are the best way to slim a figure and minimize a tum!! The blazer needs to have great seaming and detail in order to work and hit at the hip! A curvy figure can be very sexy and feminine if your work with the fit and avoid anything oversized and too drapy!!

  • Katie

    Try rocking the flowy floral dresses that are so in right now. I see it usually paired with a scarf, bolero, or cardigan, and awesome boots. The eyes get drawn up or down, and the dress creates a beautiful impressionistic background. I really like this look!

  • I second that re: not trying to solve the problem with a whole lot of overlarge black clothes. That’s what I did when I was larger, but a) I was in grad school then and didn’t have any money and b) I didn’t know any better.

  • I’m plus-size, albeit with large hips rather than a large tum, but here are some of my favorite well-made clothing lines:
    Fashion to Figure (this line does run a little on the small side, hip-wise)
    -at http://www.fashiontofigure.com/
    Avenue
    Taillissime
    Ellos
    – all found at http://www.onestopplus.com/
    and Just My Size (JMS) which is at Walmart, amazingly!

  • Sal

    See, I KNEW you all would have fabulous tips to share! Woo hoo!

  • JennyDC

    Highlighting other aspects of your figure – spot-on! I had a friend who was larger and had the most beautiful shoulders/decolletage. Wider necked (boatneck?) tops looked gorgeous on her and had the added benefit of making her waist look tiny.

  • Laurie

    This is so my issue all the time! In fact, this morning I wrestled with belt or no belt, empire level or waist level, and ended up no belt. I am wearing a simple navy satin sheath with a long cardigan over it and, after stressing all through breakfast and driving my hubby crazy, I got to work and ditched the belt altogether.

    I agree with all of the recommendations and use most of them. What I loved most about the post was your advice to not stay hidden just because of a little tummy. You are awesome, Sally!

  • I wish R would have given us a bit more detail as to her body type. Specifically her cup size. I am apple shaped myself meaning I have quite a tummy and am big breasted, so chunky knits are definitely a no go for me even the soft draping kind.
    Blazers are an excellent choice but it’s difficult to find a nice fitting one. I found out that the blazers that have a vertical seam running from top to bottom from collarbone over the breasts are infinitely better that the usual princess seams kind. Also avoid blazers with pocket flaps, no need to draw attention to the midsection. The perfect blazer would have the pocket openings positioned vertically, again they do exist but are extremely difficult to find.
    As for tops I stick to v-necks or cowl necks preferably tops with a bit of ruching in the midsection. The ruching really covers up the tummy. I hope this helps.

  • I would also suggest figuring out what’s great about your figure–because there is something great about it–and dress to showcase that. I think Sal does a fabulous job of that–when she was brave enough to post a picture of her tum, I was completely surprised by it.

    And you know, the thing that’s great in your eyes is great, period, even if it’s not something anyone else finds great.

  • Emily

    My voice teacher is a very tiny woman who carries all her weight in her tum and she often wears sheath dresses, the kind that are straight. with no waist definition and with straight skirts, so that she gets a sort of column of dress. I don’t know why, but it really looks lovely.

  • I’m probably reiterating here, but I’m around a size 20 and more narrow from the front view and lumpy from the side view :-), so I have a tummy to contend with, especially my lower tummy –

    I am a HUGE fan of fitted shirt or dress under a cardigan – it looks good straight on and accentuates my waist, but the cardigan smooths out the bumps! I tend towards vintage styles, so most of my cardi’s are the shorter, slightly fitted, preferable crewneck styles.

    The long flowing stuff normally isn’t great for my body – just adds heaviness to my larger midsection!

    scoop or v necks are necessary!

    Figuring out where the narrowest part of my midsection was turned out to be key for me – my narrow part is much higher than my natural waist. I try to anchor at that point and then let everything flow from there. Above the narrow part, fitted is fine – below, I need to be careful. The point is to provide a point of structure for my garments so they CAN flow! So, for instance, a fitted tank top with a classic snug denim skirt is a terrible look and just outlines all the bumps. But a fitted tank tucked into a high waisted fitted pencil skirt totally works!

    And while I AM a fan of an empire waistline, I avoid shirts that are too flowy, large or ruffled below the empire line – much too baby on the way looking on me!

    For particular clothing lines, I’ve been impressed with the cut and style of the Michael Kors ‘womens’ line (egad, I hate all the euphemisms for clothing over size 14!) – I’ve gotten stuff from Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack.

  • Molly

    I’ve had this problem all my life, and my weight and the number of ab exercises I do seem to have no effect. It drives me crazy that so many tops that are nicely fitted in the upper body are cut to be tight over the stomach and hips (Target, I’m talking to you!).
    Good things:
    – Tops that are high-hip length and slightly flared. Too short and the tummy is highlighted. Too long and it can look maternity.
    – t-shirt layering. I put a tank under a t-shirt so the tank shows around the hip crease. For some reason this looks better than a t-shirt alone, I don’t know why. Maybe for the same reason that ruching around the torso can look good.
    – Skimmy dresses. Prints are good, but you have to be careful because it sometimes happens that a lovely print can end up with, say, a giant sunflower right on your belly. I can’t count the number of bathing suits I’ve tried on that have this problem. It’s like a giant arrow pointing “Lookee here!”

    I also discovered that if you are a size 14 or 16 you can have great luck in plus-size shopping. Regular misses sizes are designed to look best on about a size 8. When they’re scaled up for larger sizes they may not be flattering. Plus size clothes are designed to flatter larger figures, so if you can wear them (a plus size 1 is often equivalent to a 14 or 16, and sometimes you can find plus size 0, which may be more like a 12), they’re likely to look very good. (I admit it feels weird to go into a plus-size store if you’re really not in that category, but I’ve found some great-looking clothes that way, and NOT giant flowy things, either.)

  • tigerteacher

    I am borderline XL missy/1X plus and have an hourglass figure with a tum that I don’t love emphasizing. Here are some of my tips:
    1. Wrap dresses (or better yet, faux wrap.) I know, I know, these are controversial and you’ll have to try on A LOT of them before you find one that works but, when you do, you’ll love the hourglass shape combined with exactly the right amount of drape at the midsection. Like I said, it’s a lot of trial and error but when they fit and are comfy, I love them. If you find one you love, buy it different colors and enjoy them all!
    2. I love tops that are out these days that have pintucking at the bust area and some interesting details but that loosen at the waist. I recently bought two of these and have been loving them. They actually have tab-rolled sleeves and are a breathable cotton and serve as a great backdrop for scarves and chunky necklaces. I know they look very basic in the pics, and they are, but they are very comfy and don’t cling at the midsection but still have shape at the shoulders and bust:
    http://www.kmart.com/shc/s/p_10151_10104_027B027808480001P?prdNo=24&blockNo=74&blockType=G74
    3. I second Sal’s recommendation for scarves because they add interest and a long line and can also cover any clinging you don’t like. I would also add great necklaces and substantially sized earrings to the mix! They draw emphasis to your pretty face.
    4. I know I’m not the first commenter to emphasize this one, but fit is huge and worth putting time into. I have compromised in the face of an unbelievable sale price and bought items that borderline on cutting into or clinging to my midsection and I just never end up wearing these items. It’s better to have fewer items that are LOVED than many that are in the closet with the tags still on them.
    5. I also second the blazer recommendation and would add vests for year-round shaping and deemphasizing. I love wearing a vest with a maxi dress and some neat accessories!
    6. I would also recommend a blog that has been inspirational to me, even though my French is so poor I can barely understand it! It’s called Le Blog de Big Beauty and features a plus model who completely ROCKS every single item she wears and has inspired me to branch out into things I thought I just couldn’t be comfortable wearing. Regardless of size, I think she could be an inspiration to any woman who wants to branch out style-wise. Here’s her link:
    http://www.leblogdebigbeauty.com/

    • tigerteacher

      I’m loving reading all of these comments! I remembered one more thing, which is a recent discovery for me: woven tops instead of knits. I love they way that they don’t cling to my midsection or bra lines, etc. and at the same they don’t stretch out and lose shape through the day because of wear or with washing. Knit tops often seem to end up not doing me any great favors, particularly with pants where they can cling at the waistband.

  • I think everyone has mentioned some great ways to conceal a tum but i dont think Aline dresses were mentioned. The large amount of volume on you ower half will minimize your waist. That is why Aline’s are the perfect dress for many women. just make sure the waist hits a good point of your midsection.

  • Katie

    I know that oversized clothes don’t always look good on me. But for me its about what makes feel comfortable and confident, and sometimes a blazer does that, and sometimes the only thing I feel confident in is my oversized sweatshirt. 🙂 just an idea that its ok to be unconfident in fashionable clothes some days.

  • I have this kind of figure – I am tall and broad with a large tum. I’ve found I feel more comfortable wearing darker clothes (but I do love black very much). When I need to inject some colour into my outfit, I wear all kinds of long, patterned or plain scarves – the brighter the better.

    I feel most ready to take on the world in an empire waist LBD, or in bootleg jeans (not too tight!) with a black v-neck sweater and a gorgeous blazer.

    I love wrap-over tops & dresses too, and little belts to define my waist without digging into my tum.

    Chunky knits and clothes with no ‘give’ are generally a no-no for me, but then everybody’s different.

    What I try to do is make the most of my va-va-voom cleavage by wearing V-necked tops. That way, the attention is drawn to my best features and diverted from my tum which I love, but which is not my favourite part of my body.

    You’re completely right about never wearing baggy clothes though – worst thing you could do!

  • As much as I love your suggestions for what to wear, I love even more your suggestions for what NOT to wear – black, oversized…gah! Good call. As a plus size woman with my own tum, I go for substantial fabrics that shape but don’t cling (City Chic does a great job with this) and pieces that are lined.

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly! A note on jackets – even if you’re going to wear them open all the time, it’s important that they’re able to button/zip closed. Otherwise, the too-small jacket will make you look bigger than you actually are.

  • Kris

    Since my figure for years was “imaginary fetus” I feel your pain. Some things that made me feel sassy:
    Tunic tops. I like the structure, the interesting necklines, and the hip-length sides.
    Straight skirts, especially knee-length, are flattering. Tuck a well fitting blouse into it and maybe a cardigan or blazer over it and feel gorgeous.
    I avoid low-rise and below the waist pants, not comfy and tend to put the tum on a platter if you know what I mean.
    Also, get a good bra. Really defines your waist better if you can lift and separate your bust from your midsection!
    I also agree that empire waists and the dreaded tie behind your back dresses are not always a good look. How I hated when a stiff wind would plaster all that flowing dress to the front and–ugh.

  • When I was a few weeks pregnant but not yet showing, my yoga teacher said, “Wow, your abs look great!” I replied, “Not for long.” The other night, my now-7yo son said, “Mom, you look pregnant!” (I’m not) I didn’t yell, “Whose fault do you think that is!” which I think showed considerable restraint.

    Thus, I’m loving the topic and replies. I was wearing a full skirt that was tight around the tum and a top that didn’t cover it. So we know what NOT to wear.

    The problem I’ve found with some empire waists, as Sal has said with different words, is that they look like you’re pregnant, even if you’re not. Skimming, not blousy, works for me.

  • Hannah

    I have this problem too and have come up with a few things that really help:
    (a) wear dresses and skirts when i want to minimize the tum, not pants, which almost universally cut in and/or emphasize it while hiding the legs that could be balancing/distracting from it. (even my favorite denim leggings do sort of cut in.)
    (b) DRESSES WITH PEPLUMS! (for example: http://www.shabbyapple.com/p-786-too-darn-hot.aspx) (although their construction is a little shoddy. just to give you an idea). This is my go-to for “sexy” dressing–they look hot and flatter away any tum-ness if the peplum is the right length.
    (c) shirtdresses with flared skirts (i.e., sal’s land’s end poplin shirtdress, http://www.landsend.com/pp/OriginalBeltedShirtdress~201099_59.html?bcc=y&action=order_more&sku_0=::MTX&CM_MERCH=IDX_Women-_-DressesSkirts&origin=index
    which i also own and *adore*. the structure all around (as aforementioned with blazers) is good, and the flared skirt makes one’s waist look small by comparison.

    in short: structure, structure, structure.

  • Kate K

    Reader R, I do believe we are body mates! I’m about 5’10”, size 14 or 16 and I carry all of my weight in my stomach, starting with fullness right below my bust and then culminating in a nice little extra pooch-spare tire thing right below my belly button. It causes me

    Sal, I would agree with all of your recommendations. I think empire waist shirts are problematic but I do think the concept of wearing a shirt that flows out just a bit at the bottom is a good one. For example, I usually avoid t-shirts but if I can find one that’s a bit stiffer fabric (I despise tissue ts!) and that flows out just slightly at the bottom, then I buy as many as I can find. I also love button downs and non-button down tops made from that crisp button down shirt fabric.

    Pants and especially skirts tend to segment me and it’s hard to find a rise that works well with my body type. If the rise on my pants is too high, my tummy pooch looks HUGE and if they’re too low, muffin top. Big time. I have found that Gap Long and Leans hit me at a perfect spot. But, again, that’s just me and my stomach. I do think it’s worth finding at least one brand that fits you will.

    I love dresses and I’ve actually found that a variety work really well. I love shirt dresses, especially ones that have an A-line or fuller skirt, and I think a properly fitted sheath can be extremely flattering, even with a protruding tummy. (Like Hannah above, I also bought Sal’s Lands End dress and it’s the most flattering thing I own. In fact, I’m wearing the black one right now! :D) I think most wrap dresses are just awful for women with prominent bellies but I love dresses like this one, which I bought last summer: http://tinyurl.com/3uaat7p I took the belt out of its original loops and brought it up higher and tied it loosely. With the stiffer fabric and the a-line shape, it skims over my stomach but with the belt, I still get some waist definition. I still avoid the traditional empire waist dresses but I do make an exception for empire waist dresses that have a wide band under the bust with the fabric flowing from there. Again, that’s what works best for me.

    It’s taken me a very long time to figure out how to dress my body and I still struggle with how to work around my stomach. I think ultimately *FIT* is key.

    • Kate K

      Whoops, I didn’t finish my sentence! It causes me stress and makes it difficult to buy clothes.

  • Kate K

    Okay, I know I’ve already written a novel but I wanted to add one more thing. R, I don’t know how old you are but when I started figuring out what types of things looked best on me, I found that I was disappointed that some of the items weren’t young and trendy–they sometimes seemed matronly. I couldn’t wear the flirty little tops or the cheapie little dresses. I needed structure and classic shapes but I was worried that those items were making me look older than I was (mid-20s.) However, any attempt at wearing those trendy, flimsy items made me feel miserable and look awful. So now I wear the classic shapes, like full skirted shirt dresses, but I wear trendy accessories and colored tights and ridiculously fun shoes to top it off. That gives me a youthful but polished look with lots of personality. Just more food for thought.

  • Carol

    Such great comments and suggestions on this post! I’ve had the dreaded lower belly pooch since I was 13 years old. My mother and grandmother both had it too. When I was younger, it was really hard to camouflage since all the pants and skirts of the era (mid 80’s) seemed to be cut for women with extremely flat tummies. Fast forward to the present and I’m having a much easier time with it. Maybe I’m just willing to try on more clothing!

    My favorite things to wear to minimize my tummy are shirts that nip in a little at the waist and hit at the top of my hips, structured jackets, longer tops with cropped jackets, and longer tops with shorter cardigans. For dresses, I try to find something that has a defined waistline and skims over my lower half.

  • rb

    One tip – if you have a garment that’s supposed to tie in the back, tie it in the front. Let the tie ends drape down over your tummy. This is kind of like the scarf trick, but has the added advantage of creating a waist above the tie. This is one of my favorite ways to deal with my insecurity about my mama belly.

  • tagatha

    As someone with both a big tummy AND big breasts – piling stuff in front of me doesn’ work most of the time. Flowing cardies or scarves make me seem like I’m pushing a pile of fabric in front of me and if I wear long chain jewelry, I inevitably end up wearing it around one of my breasts. Same thing when I wear cardies open: my breasts just push aside the flaps and it doesn’t look good.

    Cardies with fitted sleeves are better than yoked with dropped sleeves, as the latter ones make my shoulders sort of droopy. Figure-skimming is better than boxy (which has already been stated).

    Scoop neck and V-neck blouses are good as they leave some space between my face and chest so my neck doesn’t disappear completely 😉 and empire-waist blouses I just need to try on: some of them actually look good on me so don’t give up hope, maybe there’s a one for you, too!

  • candice

    I went through a long period of time where I tried to minimize my stomach size by wearing big, flowy tops with empire waists. Combined with a large chest and arms, this was not a flattering look for me. After some experimenting, I discovered that sheath dresses with rouching–and especially those that also have three quarter length sleeves (something about balance? not sure) are really flattering and tend to draw the eye away from a tummy bulge.

    Also, well-tailored, crisp cotton shirts and (as you mentioned, Sal) blazers almost always create really nice lines. I try to play with balance and color as much a possible. Belts (regardless of size) tend to make me feel like I’m gasping for air all day, so I try to create a more defined waist through the natural shape of shirts and dresses.

    Another suggestion is to wear lots of layers: tank tops under loose tops seem to help add structure and in some ways, this added layer works to hold everything in. Finally, don’t be afraid to go a size (or several) up. I have everything in my closet from a size 6 to a size 16. It’s all about what makes you feel great, not the stupid size tag!

    • M.

      3/4 length sleeves, right?! Right!

  • Firstly, love your blog, love what you stand for, and love that you post so frequently.

    Secondly, I had never before seen your post regarding how your figure looks from the side! I’m astounded! I have ALWAYS felt that way about my figure! I am an hourglass shape size 8 and I always feel like I look slimmer from the front than my side view. From the side I have a very defined tummy pooch and a rather flat caboose. I’m not dogging my shape… I’m 32 and I’ve birthed and nursed 2 children so I definitely have a newfound respect for the awesome things the human body is capable of… you just rocked my world though. I’ve never met anyone with the same figure. And I think you’re lovely so I must be lovely too 🙂

    • Sal

      Yay! We are BOTH lovely.

  • I’ve taken to wearing A-line skirts almost all the time. If I wear them where my natural waist is and pair it with a tank and an unbuttoned cardi it makes for a nice outfit. With my larger bustline and belly, buttoning a cardi can lead to a lot of gaping and weirdness so I use fabric tape or a sweater clip to keep the cardigan in place.

  • Thanks for saying that an empire waist is not a general recipe for success with a fuller figure! I’ve been thinking that for years, too, and came across so many “experts” that just praised it. But honestly, in some empire styles some women just look plain pregnant. And I doubt that’s the road they wanted to go down…

  • M.

    I’m not in this exact situation, but when I want to minimize my tum, my best trick is this one cardi I own. It’s a pretty standard sweater cardigan, but I went up a size when I bought it (I wanted something loose), so when I only do up the top button, it closes just below my belly button. Instant pooch-over-the-top-of-your-jeans camo! Makes me look like a gym bunny, I swear.

  • The thing that I hate the most is high rise pants. When I sit, they “pooch” over my tummy making it seem ever bigger than it already is. Plus, it just outlines the entire tummy. I find that things that fall about midway on the tummy (but don’t pinch it! No muffin tops!) help minimize it some. I don’t know how well this translates for everyone though. : )

    I love dresses and shirts that float *just enough* away from the body to offer coverage without looking pregnant. As someone said above “skimming” is key. “Floating” is bad.

  • isidore

    I have the same figure type, and one thing that I don’t think anyone mentioned is wearing things with structured shoulders or extra volume in the shoulders. I think the extra volume higher up balances out a larger stomach. Also, I second the suggestion about peplums… I looove peplums. The thing I’m always trying to camouflage is not so much that my stomach sticks out, but the sharp in when it gets down to the legs, and a peplum is already trying for that silhouette so your body type is perfect for it! I think a lot of fashion advice could be boiled down to picking silhouettes that are close to what you already have. Don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole!

  • MelD

    I agree with a lot of things said – and the most important is to try everything and try it all on!! All different lengths and fits. I need a top length that exactly hits the hip-bend to give me maximum leg-length but cover the tummy, then it needs to give me a waist without emphasising either tummy or back fat or heavy shoulders…
    I am short 5’2″ and plus-size tops don’t work for me because they end around my thighs so my shortish legs look about so-high – not good! With broad shoulders, big bust, tummy, wide hips and full calves in addition to lack of height, I sometimes struggle to find the “good” parts to emphasise, usually wear something with a nice neckline to bring attention to my face, but I can’t stand big wide layers and drapey allover. Shift dresses or straight skirts make me look square, classic shirts make me look butch (short neck), empire tops work if the bust seam is placed correctly, capris only work if they end between knee and calf at the slimmest place, and I have now learnt to wear a shorter skirt despite my age (46) so the slimmer knee area shows rather than ending at the chunky calf and upsetting the length proportions, sometimes over capris/leggings.
    It’s hard! But I love colour and I will sometimes wear things that aren’t perfect for me, just because they’re special and I love them and if people think they are eye-catching, whatever (I live in a very conservative area where sporty-elegant-neutrals are the thing). Bright tights are fun 😉
    Shoes, too, careful. Too dainty looks silly, too chunky just emphasises heaviness, boots rarely fit… but wedge heels usually work, so that’s something!
    Try, try and try again – don’t give up!!

  • b.

    What fascinates me about this post is the variety of body shapes described–and the correspondingly different fashion advice–even within the dictates of “big tum.” I am short and small-boned, with big (H cup) breasts and an enormous tum (think permanently 7 months pregnant–and I’ve never had kids), so I always think I’ve cornered the market on apple shapes. But this post is clearly proving me wrong! R, I hope you’ll take whatever of our advice works for you and won’t feel bad if not all of it does.

    What’s good for me (some already mentioned by others):
    -A really good bra. Clearly separates your chest and your stomach.

    -No dresses. I own exactly one dress, for formal occasions. I know others will disagree, but I’ve never found any style that doesn’t make me feel incredibly self-conscious. Being able to lower and camouflage my waistline with separates is so much more “me.”

    -No belts. Again, there is a difference between a waist “pooch” and an enormous belly, and the latter just does not work with any kind of cinching. If it doesn’t flow over my middle, it’s going to look ridiculous on me.

    -Pants: low- to mid-waists, flat front, with no on-seam side pockets. No pockets or front, coin-style pockets are much better for me.

    -Shirts with high-cut sleeves emphasize my slender arms and prevent my torso from looking like one big bag o’ fabric.

    -I have to be a bit careful with the proportions when wearing skirts. I have lovely slim legs and delicate ankles, which look nice with dainty shoes…but then sometimes my tummy looks so big by contrast that I look like I’m going to tip over!

    -My t-shirts all come from the Daisy Fuentes line at Kohl’s. (Whoda thunk?) She designs for curvy girls!

    Good luck and let us know what you discover!

  • Chelsea

    I’m tall, and generally slender except for my stomach. It’s always been my problem area, and I’ve learnt a few things to deal with it.
    First, I try and excentuate my waist as much as possible, with belts or cardigans or blazers that cinch right at it. I find cinching my waist and then clothing go away from there hides it well enough for me.

    Also, i agree with wearing a cargidan or something drapey, but make sure it’s not TOO drappy. I always worry about the pregnant look, but i found that by having a belt, then a cardigan thats buttoned RIGHT below the belt works great for me

  • i just feel hopeless, i suffer with endometriosis and have a big tummy, i use to be a size 28 now im heading towards 36 and its making me feel miserable i dont know what to wear anymore, please help