Reader Request: Altering a Wardrobe for New Curves

dressing to hide a belly

Reader A had this request:

My body composition has changed over the years and I’ve suddenly got a belly—and a wardrobe of clothes I used to wear with pride but now need shapewear in order to have a nice silhouette. I’ve invested in a couple of dresses that suit my “new” figure, but I really don’t want to have to get rid of all my clothes that I love. Any ideas/tips for altering or transitioning wardrobes to accommodate changing bodies could be helpful. My clothes all fit (I’m the same size in the same brands as before); they just don’t fit right.

It’s such a strange sensation to see your body shifting around, isn’t it? Curves that were high are now low, areas that were big are now small, and it can make you feel like your body is just a big bag of stuff that gets shaken every so often and the bits inside settle wherever they please. Now, this isn’t to say that all these changes are bad: New curves can be quite exciting, as can new flatnesses. But it does make getting dressed a bit challenging when, as A says, your clothes still technically fit, but they no longer look quite right.

Today I’m hoping to offer a few tips for continuing to wear clothes you love even if how they fit has become slightly wonky due to the arrival of curves. Some of these tips will fall under the “traditional figure-flattery” heading since A has indicated that she’d rather downplay her new belly. All together now: 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.

Get some great jackets

If you’ve got dresses that are bulging a bit around the tummy, throwing on a jacket can help make the bulge a little less noticeable. The jacket needn’t be oversized or even flowy, just a style that hangs well when worn open. Moto style jackets like the ones shown above are great, though they can be a bit boxy. If you want to show off your waist, choose something that nips in instead.

Try tunics

If you’ve got skinny jeans or pants that you’re loathe to part with but that may be pulling a bit more than usual, pair them with tunics. You’ll want something that hits mid-thigh for the best proportions (on most but not all figures) and to cover any whiskering. Tunics can also be a bit formless, so seek styles that aren’t too voluminous.

Wear prints

Hopefully some of the clothes you want to keep are prints because solids are revealing in ways that prints are not. So long as they’re not incredibly ill-fitting, printed or patterned clothing will downplay any new curves you’d prefer to keep out of the spotlight.

Direct focus where you want it

A foolproof technique no matter how you’re dressed: If you’re self-conscious about a particular body part, wear something bright, sparkly, colorful, or otherwise eye-catching somewhere else. Ideally near a part of your body that you totally love and want to show off. Statement necklaces draw the eye up, bold shoes draw it down, a gorgeous scarf keeps the focus near your face, bright red pants direct it toward your legs.

Consult your tailor

If your new curves are causing minor pulling in any of your favorite garments AND you’ve got a tailor you trust, ask for input. Taking in is always easier than letting out, but that doesn’t mean your beloved burgundy blazer might not have an extra half-inch to spare. It never hurts to ask, and your tailor might have solutions you never would’ve thought of.

Images courtesy Boden

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2 Responses to “Reader Request: Altering a Wardrobe for New Curves”

  1. Ginger

    I’m thinking about the statement, “I’m the same size in the same brands but the clothes don’t fit right.”
    Our writer might consider that the old fit-and-flare styles she loved will look better in the next size up. She may well fit into the same size if she’s going with looser styles where an inch or two at the waist or bustline isn’t critical, for more fitted dresses I’d try the next size up.

    If you’ve had a major life event, like a new baby or peri-menopausal changes consider a little toning. Our abs can get lazy and sometimes 10 minutes a day for a few months will help them return to their prior state.

  2. loubeelou

    These are good options! A very close loved one recently delivered a stillborn baby and is grappling with post-pregnancy body, but wanting to go back to work sooner than planned and definitely not wanting to field questions from strangers who think “billowy tunic” equals pregnant lady. I’ve also seen some cute looks lately where a looser cropped top is layered over a longer loose top. It seems like the layered effect cuts in a way that minimizes the tent effect while still providing the comfort of a more spacious garment.