dressing post pregnancy belly stomach

Reader Liz asked this question over on Facebook:

I would love it if you could share some tips for working around a post-twin-pregnancy belly. Snug tops make me look like I’m still a few months pregnant, though it’s been about 3 years and I’ve lost all but 5 or 10 of the 50 pounds I gained; I have abdominal muscle separation and a fair amount of loose skin there, but can’t afford elective surgery, so I’m trying to just work around the protruding belly. Fitting pants has been tricky, as anything that works in the waist tends to be baggy everywhere else, and skirts don’t sit evenly around my middle. With tops, I need extra length to cover a triple-D bust *and* my belly, and even then it seems to be really hit-or-miss with just about everything except peasant-style blouses.

I am always both honored to be asked post-partum style questions, and a little leery that – as a non-mom myself – I’ll suggest items and practices that would work in theory but are useless in practice. So, as always, I’ll offer my two cents and ask you all to continue the conversation and offer more resources in the comments.

Soft but structured jackets

This piece is a solid bet for anyone hoping to add shape to or downplay her midsection. Drapey cardigans will just add volume, but if you can find some blazers or jackets that are soft but structured, they can help streamline your silhouette. Think heavy knits, twill, and ponte, though some linen and tropical-weight wool may work, too. Blazers may be among the only options if you need a jacket that is both long and structured, but moto style jackets (like the one shown above) and utility jackets are good alternatives if shorter length works for you.

A snug camisole underlayer

I know that some women opt for shapewear to make loose skin a little less loose, but I also know that shapewear every day is neither comfortable nor healthy. If it’s not too hot for layers, adding a snug camisole under your lightweight sweaters or blouses may help re-shape your abdomen a bit. I’m a huge fan of Karen Kane’s Supersoft Tanks for this purpose since their nylon/spandex fabrication means outer layers slide over without sticking, and they come in plus sizes, too. But if you need something more breathable, a cotton blend will work. Old Navy’s v-neck camis are 94% cotton and come in regular, petite, tall, and plus sizes. A color that’s nude to your skin tone will work under everything, including pale colors and white. This may help pants and skirts fit better at the waist. Speaking of which …

A friendly tailor

Fit issues with pants and skirts can be addressed through tailoring. If you can find pants that fit comfortably at the waist but that bag out elsewhere, buy them and have the seat and legs taken in. (Always buy to fit your largest or hardest to fit feature, then have the rest altered.) Skirt length and waistband width can be tailored, too. Otherwise, you might be limited to knit bottoms or styles that are meant to be snug and therefore created with lots of stretch. If jeans, dress pants, and skirts are proving impossible to fit off the rack, consider getting them tailored.

Tall size tops

If length is an issue for tops, you’ll get more torso length to play with buying tall sizes. If you’re not actually tall, you may find sleeves to be long and shoulders to be wide in some cases, but those can be tailored as needed. If fitting your bust is a specific concern, Hourglassy has lots of great resources and recommendations.

Long over lean

Tricky, it’s true, especially if leggings and skinny jeans won’t work. But one of the best ways to balance out the volume of loose, flowy tops – which are currently working well for Liz – is with slim bottoms. Mid-thigh length tunics worn with leggings, skinny pants, skinny jeans, or jeggings will skim your midsection. J.Jill is a great resource for tunics, as is Eileen Fisher.

What else would you suggest to Liz? Are others of you having similar fitting challenges? How have you dealt with them? Other styles or resources to recommend?

Top images courtesy Nordstrom – left | right

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