There are plenty of stylish and flattering clothes for a woman with a big stomach that will help you look and feel your best. Whether it’s adding the right design elements to your clothes or choosing the right type of silhouette for your dress, there are many ways for women with big stomachs to create outfits that will flatter their shape.
Choosing the right clothes is not going to replace exercise, healthy living, and good eating habits; but as I found out from my own life, as we age, our body changes and it becomes more and more difficult to look good. And knowing what to wear and what NOT to wear is in my opinion very important.
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So, the year was 2011. I made a pretty dress for myself from gorgeous knit fabric (with silver threads) and sparkling velvet to visit a class reunion. Everyone liked it and I got lots of compliments. And what happened in 2017? I put on the dress – and OMG… I see that I have a belly bulge and the dress style was showing it perfectly clear. I was really stressed out about it. Can you relate to that? Below you can see an image of the dress made in 2011. But I don’t want to show you how it looks now – it’s ugly.
I want always to look good in the clothes I make. So I started to exercise more, I tried to keep a diet but at the same time I decided to make flattering clothes for my new – and I hoped temporary – shape and to be very careful in choosing sewing patterns and styles.
It’s true that when there is no desire, time or opportunity to lose belly fat, figure-styling outfits come to the rescue.
The problem occurs at all ages; a large number of women face this problem, especially after pregnancy and childbirth. It can also become an issue for women working stationary office jobs.
So let’s learn how to hide or at least de-emphasize the belly bulge with clothes, and visually change the shape of the body; how to choose a beautiful dress, a fashionable skirt, a stylish blouse, comfortable trousers and a flattering swimsuit to look perfect in any situation.
Also, remember: you are unique. What works for me or your friends, might not work for you. All these below are general principles that I found work for me, and when they did not, I will mention that. You get the idea: wear what works for you, for your specific body shape. Emphasize what is good, try to de-emphasize things that are not. You may be taller than me, or have a bigger chest, or longer hair – all these are things that may be emphasized to look good.
By the way, this is the second guide in my series about hiding figure flaws with clothes. If you didn’t read the first one check it out here: “How to dress well: flattering clothes that hide figure flaws”.
Useful tips and a selection of photos will help you create a stylish image and forget about your shortcomings, no matter your shape or size.
Here are a few observations on what worked for me and made my life easier.
First of all, to hide the protruding tummy, choose loose-fitting outfits and avoid tight clothing and thin knitwear, which quickly stretches on problem areas and exaggerates what you want to hide. But at the same time, do not try to hide your belly with the help of baggy shapeless clothes – this will only emphasize your tummy.
Dresses That Hide Belly Bulge
Peplum – “a short flared, gathered, or pleated strip of fabric attached at the waist of a woman’s jacket, dress, or blouse to create a hanging frill or flounce” (as I read in this dictionary https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/peplum) is the perfect detail to hide the belly and narrow your waist at the same time.
But be careful with it also. I noticed that it doesn’t really work if there are too many gathers from woven fabric; gathers on the waistline are good only if they are made from thin lightweight woven fabric (like silk chiffon) or lightweight knits.
Below are some examples of patterns that use peplum.
A-line dresses (without seams at the waistline) made from medium weight woven fabrics can also hide belly fat, but they are only for girls who don’t mind drawing attention to their upper bodies. Consider this option if you have a beautiful bust, or a long neck, or thin arms. With a thicker constitution, the effect may not be desirable.
I didn’t think it would work for me but it really did work. I guess the secret here is to make the dress simple and not too tight.
If you’re a beginner when it comes to sewing, then A-line dresses are a great place to start. Not only are they stylish and flattering, but they are also easy to sew, even without the need for a commercial pattern. I recently published an ebook with step-by-step instructions on how to make the dress shown in the image below, including details on how to create an easy pattern right on your fabric using your own measurements.
Avoid pleats, folds and gathers at the front in the stomach area, as they emphasize the tummy. Once I decided to use this pattern from Butterick. And when I put the dress on, I looked like I was 9 months pregnant.
And this pattern with pleats from the bust to the bottom didn’t work for me.
Yet side pleats can hide the tummy very well. I had good luck with patterns like this one below. The folds are made in such a way that the stomach becomes less noticeable under clothing. Actually, I made a number of dresses using a similar pattern and I love to wear them – they really hide what I don’t want to show.
Still, the model on the cover looks better!
Drop waist options are an effective way to visually combat fullness in the stomach area. But the bottom part of the dress (I mean the skirt) shouldn’t be straight or tight – it’s better to choose flared or pleated skirts for drop-waist dresses. Also, the skirt should start below the waist but not too low (not under the belly).
You can also try the opposite style; I had good luck with high-waisted dresses as well. I think they are called “empire waist dresses”. They are very flattering for the thick waist. Actually, I like this kind of dresses the best.
Wrap dresses will also be a great solution: they will give the figure the necessary feminine outlines and hide everything that is superfluous.
It’s easy to see why wrap dresses are so popular – they provide comfort, style, and versatility all in one package.
Crafting your own DIY wrap dress is easy with my comprehensive video tutorial. I’ll be going through all the steps necessary, starting with an easy-to-follow explanation of how to make a pattern for a wrap dress. You can use your own measurements when drafting the pattern, so there will be plenty of flexibility in designing what works best for you.
Like sewing tips? I have other popular tutorials on my site that might be interesting for you. Check them out below.
Shirt dresses with button closures are another good helpers in hiding the belly bulge.
Another secret technique is an asymmetrical closure that runs not in the center of the tummy, but on the side.
Pay attention to the color blocking and use paneled pieces. Different color inserts on the sides draw a new silhouette and create a good visual deception.
Ruffles, frills, trims and all sorts of decorative elements distract from problem areas. However, this technique does not work so well for women who are larger in general. The formula is simple: the fuller the woman, the simpler the clothes should be.
It is worth using narrow belts and ties slightly below the waistline. But don’t wear them too tight. Your attempt to hide the protruding belly with the wide belt will result in failure. As soon as you take a sitting position, the treacherous fold will surely show itself. I only have an image of a jumpsuit with the belt (not a dress, but similar).
Also, this kind of dresses (see below) can hide the big stomach. I have a tutorial on how to make one of them easily and without a pattern. Check it out.
Recently I made a very interesting dress (see the image below).
All you have to do to make this stylish flattering dress is cut the fabric – one square and one rectangle and sew only one seam. No pattern is required. Super simple. You could literally make this dress in 30 minutes. And the best part is that the dress is ideal for all figure types and you don’t need to spend time fitting or tailoring it. Check out my video tutorial on making the dress.
Flattering Tops To Hide The Tummy
To safely hide the belly, choose long-cut shirts and blouses. Exclude from your wardrobe all that ends on the waistline and before it.
Choose free-cut shirts, with a light drape from the chest line, or slightly flared silhouettes. T-shirts and sweaters should not be tight. Avoid tight shirts and blouses – strung buttons look ugly.
In the first image below I am wearing a tight t-shirt – and I almost have a muffin top and my belly is visible (even if I tried to take it in and hold my breath). So I am sure the blouses in the other three images are more suitable to hide my belly.
Blouses and T-shirts with a tied hemband just below the waist look very good. As in the case of a dress, the overlap masks the stomach and sides, without making the whole image larger. This option is better suited for straight pants and skirts and is wonderfully combined with jeans and short pants.
Do not exclude all kinds of decorative layering, also twinsets, shirts, and capes worn over the tops and T-shirts. The layering slims and distracts from shortcomings because it has double the layers.
Consider patterns with peplums or pleats starting from the waistline.
Try to shift the focus to other parts of your body: for example, wear a blouse with a décolleté, or pay special attention to shoes and accessories to distract from your belly. If you have a beautiful bust, neckline, and cellulite-free arms, you might want to accentuate these parts of your body with embroidery, applique, nice trims, decorative accents, buttons, collars, etc. (Options are practically endless.)
It’s easier to choose how to hide the stomach if you are wearing leggings or skinny jeans. Slightly flared tunics and long male-style shirts over leggings will be very appropriate here.
I noticed that if you visually increase your breasts, your stomach will look smaller.
Do not tuck shirts, blouses, tops, and T-shirts in trousers or skirts.
Make some tops that can be tied in the front above your belly.
Flattering Skirts That Hide The Belly
In order to correctly choose the length and style of the skirt that hides the belly, critically evaluate the size of the waist and the slimness of the legs. If these parameters also need to be camouflaged, trousers might be your best bet. The skirt is not an easy part of the wardrobe in this case. But it doesn’t mean that women with larger stomachs can’t put on a skirt. This is the wrong mindset to have. It is all about finding the right skirts and pairing them with suitable tops.
A tummy can be hidden under a slightly flared skirt, or skirts with pleats and drapes. You can choose plaid fabric and fabric with lines.
I really like skirts with yokes – they hide the belly bulge very well really.
And here is my tutorial on how to sew a reversible skirt with a yoke. I made the skirt for Halloween.
It’s the perfect way to update your wardrobe and give yourself an easy option for everyday styling. Learning how to sew it yourself can be satisfying and fun. This tutorial will guide you through all the steps necessary to make the skirt, from cutting the fabric to hemming and everything in between.
If you like pencil skirts, choose a model with a peplum.
Or, if you love straight skirts, wear a jacket, a cardigan, or an elongated vest to adjust the silhouette.
Eliminate tight skirts, as they further emphasize the bulge of the abdomen. Do not make (or buy) tight-fitting outfits, even if they’re in your size. You can see that I don’t look good in the tight store-bought skirt (in the image below).
Pay attention to skirts and trousers made of thick fabrics that can support the stomach and thus hide an undesirable shortcoming.
Best Pants For A Full Tummy
Eliminate low-waisted pants – even if you immediately like the overall look in the mirror, after an hour of wearing them, excess fat will be visible.
High-waisted pants and jeans can hide the belly. However, do not think that high-waisted jeans can be worn with short tops and T-shirts. It is better to wear long blouses and tunics, otherwise, the effect may be undesirable.
Straight stretch jeans and leggings visually lengthen the figure and take attention from your flaws.
Swimwear Styles To Hide Belly Bulge
How to hide your belly with clothes on the beach? Do you have to swim in a tunic? Of course, you should not rush to extremes and be shy when the vast majority of women can’t boast of what is considered “perfect” proportions. Be proud of your assets, and disguise what makes you self-conscious. For example, wear beach dresses to disguise a plump waist, or buy beautiful pareos and learn how to tie them.
First of all, there are bathing suits with various draperies, imitation wrap styles, decorative frills, and pleats.
Wear one-piece swimwear.
If you prefer separate swimsuits, then wear high-waisted shorts to mask the abdomen. But they are not for everybody. If you are petite, this kind of shorts reduces your height even more. In this case, it is better to choose a one-piece swimsuit.
Swimwear with mini skirts looks interesting. Conveniently, if this skirt can be tied at the waist, you can remove it during your swim.
There are other ways to de-emphasize some body issues, for example, vertical patterns or lines, prints that have mostly a vertical pattern, or prints in alternating contrasting colors. I have already shown these images but they show the point very well; however this is another subject, we deal here only with the pattern of the clothes.
Shapewear For Women’s Tummy Control
Ideal to help you in this situation is slimming underwear: lightweight spandex body shapers. Did you try wearing any? I tried recently a few styles and was surprised at how comfortable it was to wear under my dress. I am not completely out of shape without it but really it helps to look slimmer.
Now, I guess, slimming underwear is ten times more comfortable and less noticeable than the corsets of the ladies of the last century. I saw online that the most popular styles that hide the belly under clothes are high-rise underwear, which goes all the way up to under the bra. So I bought it and tried it. It worked but after half an hour of wearing it these completely rolled down, defeating the purpose of buying them for hiding the belly bulge. So I do not recommend it but it may work for you as I read lots of good reviews.
Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means I will receive a commission if you order a product through one of my links. I only recommend products I believe in and use myself.
Now I have a variety of different shapewear products. And the best ones that work for me are the full body slips and shapewear with adjustable straps that I can pull on my shoulders. They look so small that it’s hard to believe the slip is going to fit, but after I manage to put it on it provides good control and hides the belly and I feel that I look good in my tight dress.
The length goes to my mid-thigh and does not ride up. Such underwear hides not only the belly but slims the waist and sides, visually reducing fullness there and giving you that ideal hourglass shape. Here are some examples from Amazon:
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When choosing corrective underwear, feel the seams; they should be flat so as not to stand out under the clothes. For summer, buy a correction with mesh inserts when choosing panties, so that they are not hot. And don’t look for cotton in the material list – such products are produced only with synthetics.
If you follow these simple rules, you will not only be able to hide your shortcomings but turn them into real virtues. Most importantly, you should not focus on your figure’s problems, since “ideal” women simply do not exist. If you overcome your complexes within your own mind, none of those around you will even notice what you consider as flaws. I think that a less-than-perfect figure is a mere trifle in life. The main thing is that you are kind, sympathetic, and sincere and that you believe in yourself and in your right to happiness. Fortune will surely smile on you then!
Now, I wonder: what do you think? What is working for you? What styles do you choose that are comfortable and flattering and suit your body?
Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you need this information on flattering clothes for a big stomach, and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!
Sunday 13th of November 2022
Olga, I just want to compliment you on your fashion sewing skills: you are an extraordinarily talented seamstress. Perhaps you began sewing young? But you clearly have both a great deal of natural talent as well as tremendous love of sewing WELL in a technical sense. Thank you for your fun and informative blog!
Sunday 13th of November 2022
Thank you! In my case, it was a case of learn to sew or don't dress well, because it was very hard for me to find ready made clothes to actually fit my body frame. That I grew to like sewing was a bonus, but in the beginning it was mostly need.
Thursday 13th of May 2021
This was really fantastic. It really gave me good advice. The woman who wrote it was beautiful. Down to earth and honest. Cudos to her
Saturday 15th of May 2021
Thank you; I think from the post you have seen that unfortunately I am speaking from experience ...
Wednesday 19th of August 2020
Hello from the UK. I too have just found your website, and I'm sure it's going to be a lifesaver. After abdominal surgery last year I find that my tummy has grown beyond belief, and I am getting back into sewing for myself out of necessity, but like many sewers I have found that mass market patterns need so much alteration. I've also downloaded your guide to making a bodice block. Thank you for making it all sound achievable.
Wednesday 19th of August 2020
I am sorry that you had health issues but even without, we all probably have this problem after an age. May be hormone imbalance, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating, stress - many reasons. My findings are not really groundbreaking just common sense things that sometimes I arrived at the wrong way - by trial and error, if you look at some of my "creations" here you will probably agree with me. Glad I could help a little.
Sunday 16th of August 2020
I do like most dresses on you. I think I could use most, too. Even have some styles already. Gave me some ideas. Only thing for you, I think if you lengthened your dresses you would look taller. Either AT THE BEND OF KNEE or right below knee. Thanks
Sunday 16th of August 2020
Thank you; I may try this.
Wednesday 5th of August 2020
Hi Olga, I am in New Zealand, I have just stumbled upon your site with my twitchy fingers. I am getting back into the sewing mode which means by summer I may be in dresses and not trousers full time. Yes my big tummy has been the stumbling block. So thanks again for all the helpful advice and coments from the other people.