Back in the fall, I had a speaking gig at a big financial corporation in St. Paul. Once we dug into the Q&A – my favorite part – the audience members began plying me with fabulous questions. And one I’ve gotten time and again came up: “How do I get rid of muffin top?”
In my opinion, there are two answers to that question: Buy larger pants, or buy differently shaped pants.
In the majority of cases, muffin top is not an inevitability that should be worked around and disguised. It is a sizing or fit issue. For most people, midsection spilling over the waistband is a sign that pants are either too small or in a style/cut that doesn’t suit your frame.
Your pants are too small
Have I mentioned lately that clothing sizing is a load of arbitrary bunk? Because it IS. Head out to a vintage or thrift store sometime and try on your current numeric size of clothing through several decades. Oh, the laughs you’ll have. I have thrifted up everything from size 4 to size 16 in my time, and at this point, I generally ignore the tags and eyeball fit instead. And even if you aren’t a ninja-level shopper who can tell at 20 paces if pants will fit your curves, here’s something you can do: Ignore tags. Ignore sizing. When you try on bottoms, take a size above and a size below your typical size. If the larger size fits better – if it fits to your waist without pinching or subdividing your midsection – that is the size you should buy. If the size number bugs you, cut out the tag. Forget about the number, focus on the fit. Ideally, pants shouldn’t dig into your midsection, and in many cases going up a size or two can alleviate digging. (The next tip may address this in some cases, but if sizing up in the waist makes your pants too big elsewhere remember that they can be tailored.)
Your pants are the wrong shape
I hated pants for SO LONG because around the time I became a fully-formed adult human, the only pants available to me were low-rise. Remember the 90s, people? The variety of styles and cuts we have now did not exist back then. Times have changed, and for the better: Most folks can access low-, mid-, and high-rise pant styles new or used and in the gamut of sizes. There are even styles designed to work with small waists and large hips, and lines that aim to fit a variety of body shapes. In many cases, muffin top is caused by wearing pants that are too low in the rise. Many figure types carry more squish lower on the abdomen and less toward the bra line. So simply switching to a higher rise can make the waistband spillover vanish, in some cases. (Including mine.) The opposite is true on other figures: More softness is found higher on the torso and less toward the pelvis and hips. Trying a lower rise can help in this case. Muffin top occurs when waistbands dig into parts of our bodies that are softer and easily subdivided. Placing your waistband on a part of your torso that is less soft can work wonders. Yet another possibility: Your waist doesn’t curve in where the pant waistband expects it to. If you have a more straight-up-and-down torso shape without a defined waist, consider trying men’s jeans which are designed for a mostly curve-free figure shape. You won’t have as many wash and style choices, but you might just land on a few great pairs that fit without pinching. (Again, if waistband fit is the most challenging, buy pants that fit there and have them tailored elsewhere as needed.)
Also possible? Your underpants are too small
I’m a size 10/12 on the bottom. I generally buy XXL panties. In an ideal world, your underwear shouldn’t dig or subdivide either. This can be harder to make into a reality, I know, but be aware that your panty size and your pant size may not be the same. Again, ignore the numbers. Focus on fit. If you can find a style and size that fit to your curves without digging into your body, buy and wear those.
Are these universal truths with absolutely no exceptions? Of course not. Some bodies are shaped in such a way that waistband spillover will occur no matter the size or shape of the pants. If this is the case for you and if the spillover bugs you, there are other options: Look for bottoms made from softer materials or with softer waistbands that won’t dig as harshly, wear thicker or more structured outer layers with any pants that cause spilling, layer a snug but untucked tank or camisole between your top and pants. Also be aware that dresses and many skirts don’t cause these issues as often or as severely on many frames. (All of these work-arounds will work for most people, but I’d encourage you to try sizing up or changing pant style first if you think it might help.)
And, of course, if you experience muffin top no matter what you try, there is absolutely nothing “wrong” with you or your body. I mean it. Most of the clients I’ve worked with have been able to eliminate or lessen spilling by changing pant size or shape, but not all of them have. This phenomenon gets lots of negative attention because, in many cases, it can be avoided. But not in all cases, and no one ever seems to acknowledge that. If you can and want to experiment with fit and sizing to avoid muffin top, by all means do. If you’ve tried everything and it still happens, think of this advice like a tall woman reading tips for petites: It just doesn’t apply because that’s not how you’re shaped. End of story.
Furthermore, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.
So. Are you someone who struggles with muffin top? Have you experimented with different sizes and rises? What’s working for you? If you are someone who gets waistband spillage no matter what, do you try to find workarounds? Any others to add?
P.S. Why does all figure-related jargon have to reference food? Eesh.
Images courtesy 6pm.
Originally posted 2014-11-10 10:41:36.