DRESSING TO DISGUISE A BIT OF A BELLY

I’ve been promising to write this one for a while now. It came up again and again when I asked what you’d like to see. It’s a potentially post-lockdown special; ‘Dressing To Disguise A Bit Of A Belly’. I know we should all be embracing our body shapes and loving ourselves as we are but come on, everyone has a part of themselves that they are not happy with and would like to hide. I could list a lot of things I’m not particularly enamoured with about my appearance, especially since I’ve not been in polite society for months and months: grey regrowth, split ends, drizabone feet, VERY 70s lady garden, the list is endless… but I’m focusing on one of the main ones. Something I have learnt how to deal with over the years, that’s the stomach area.

I used to call it the ‘Mum Tum’, now I call it the ‘Peri-Meno Muffin Top’. Before I hit 30 and had children I was a big fan of a tummy baring top, I could do bodycon until the cows came home. I wouldn’t say I had washboard abs, but I had a reasonably flat stomach and frankly, I took it for granted. Since then I have tried (admittedly not very hard and not very often) to get rid of it, but it’s clear it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, middle age spread is real. So I worked out how to hide it with good clothes.

I should make clear at this point, I’m not a trained stylist, so these are just things that work for me, they may not work for everyone. I’m not formally trained at anything, although I have done a first aid course and once I did a day’s training at the Camberley Civic Hall before I started as a waitress in Muswell’s Bistro. I can STILL balance 4 plates up my arm and, at a push, I could probably still carry a very large tray over my head with one hand and flip open its stand with the other…Life skillz.

TAILORED TROUSERS & THE FRENCH TUCK

The Navy Blazer and trousers combo. Easy. Jacket is from now defunct J Crew. Bag from Hill & Friends

The key is the word ‘tailored’. These trousers should fit you properly, sit on your waist and not pinch. One rule of mine is ‘if in doubt – size up’, clothes too big are ALWAYS better than clothes too small. One of my top tips for giving the illusion of not having a dough belly is the ‘French tuck’. You can do this with t-shirt or shirts, you just need to tuck it in at the front and pull it over a bit. No one will ever know if those are folds of fabric or folds of fat underneath.

Make sure you have a shirt or top with enough length to do this. A good loose-fitting collared shirt works best. Keep it loose at the back and just tuck a small section in the front.

1. The Outnet Maison Labiche Embroidered Collar Shirt
2. Urban Originals Canvas Tote Bag
3. White Stuff Navy Yates Blazer
4. Cos Navy Straight Woven Trousers
5. Adidas Originals Americana Hi Top Trainers 

HIGH WAISTED JEANS

Old Fence photo. Top was from Forever 21, Jeans were Madewell. Trainers Golden Goose

This is one I would never have tried a few years ago. High waisted jeans can be tricky. They are not for everyone, but find a good pair and they will hold you in like a corset. My favourite ever pair were from H&M – called ‘Vintage High Jeans‘ they still sell versions of them, but just not the exact pair I have. I loved them so much I bought a ‘spare’ pair in case I lost / wore out / broke the first pair. I also did that with the Whistles Hollie Jeans, another top rated pair.

For the top half, either do your French tuck again or look for slightly cropped tops. Don’t be scared, I’m just talking about ones that sit ON the waist, so would be slightly below the top of your high waist jeans. I find it often gives the illusion of a waist where in reality there is none.

1. All Saints Faye Jacket (I’m really taken with this)
2. Doughnut Macaron Waterproof Nylon Backpack (and this, for bike rides)
3. H&M Vintage Slim High Ankle Jeans
4. & Other Stories Relaxed Sweater
5. Vans Retro Cali Hi Tops 

BUFFET DRESSES

Buffet Dresses don’t have to be loose all over, fitted at the top is just fine. Dress from Pink City Prints, Boots by Shoe The Bear.

A perennial favourite of mine. Coined a ‘buffet dress’ as you can eat to your heart’s content and never have to worry about loosening a button or busting a zip. This should be an easy throw-on dress that is roomy enough so no one will ever know what’s really going on underneath. It doesn’t have to be a total tent dress, although I personally love those, it can be more fitted on the top half. The key is to look for something that has a flowing fit at the waist. We don’t want anything tight. We don’t want any waist belts either. I can never get to grips with a belt around a dress. Unless I wear it right under my boobs it only serves to emphasise the lack of a waist. Much like Deirdre Barlow and her signature chain link belts.

I do have a Deirdre Barlow chain link belt as it goes, I was given it for my birthday a few years back by my friend Sorcha, along with an amazing video featuring many of my favourite Corrie Classics. It’s here. I still don’t know who had the ‘in’ on the cobbles to get these people to do this..

1. Toast Mia Check Cotton Dress
2. Saint & Sofia Rita Basket Bag
3. Monki Babydoll Prairie Dress
4. Veja Camp Leather Trainers 

SLIM LEG BLACK JEANS

When Hanwell went to Hollywood. These are my favourite H&M jeans, look how they give an illusion of a waist!

Fashions may come and go but skinny black jeans, or rather slim-leg black jeans as skinny might be a touch too much, will always be something I pull out when I just want to look slimmer. My go to going out outfit (remember those?) is most often slim black jeans, silk shirt, blazer, and Gucci loafers. I think when we go out out again this year I’m going to be a lot more adventurous, but always good to have a fail-safe option. For daytime right now, maybe go for a stripe top and a quilted jacket. Keep the loafers.

1. Mint Velvet Stripe Button Shoulder Jumper
2. Coach Rambler Cross Body Bag
3. & Other Stories Oversized Quilted Jacket
4. Gap High Rise Cheeky Straight Jeans
5. Gucci Horsebit Leather Loafers 

BOHO BLOUSES

When we had plants on the old fence and I wore heels! Must dig out those boots when we can go out again. Top from Whistles, Jeans, Mos Mosh, Boots Isabel Marant.

Not sure if these are all strictly ‘boho’, but what you’re looking for is a blouse with a widish hem, ideally not too long. I would wear again with a high waisted jean to give a little shape to the stomach area. As I mentioned before the higher the jeans the easier it is to literally tuck your stomach into them. if you go for a mid or low rise style, you’ll only suffer with the muffin top. I’d rather hide my flesh UNDER the denim than have it hanging over the top.

1. & Other Stories Smocked A Line Blouse
2. Demellier Vancouver Leather Handbag
3. Mango Printed Quilted Jacket
4. Levis 501 Crop Jeans
5. Sezane Jules Suede Boots 

Like I said, I’m not a stylist, I did go to fashion college, but I studied journalism not design, so I’m afraid I can’t give you all the answers to your ‘how to dress for your body shape’ questions. I do think though, that after a while you work out what suits you and what doesn’t. There are never any hard and fast rules.

K x