Many women experience the development of a midlife spread which can quite suddenly make it challenging to find flattering clothes which are also stylish. But truly there is no need to panic; there a number of steps you can take which will have you looking fabulous again. And no I am not going to talk about weight loss or excercise programs – yes it is important to look after your health, but that isn’t the focus of this post. Let’s look at some tips to disguise that post menopause weight gain and the associated lumps and bumps.
[This post contains affiliate links for some of my favourite brands. If you click on a link and make a purchase Retiring not Shy! will earn a small commission. But you won’t pay any extra, and your purchase will help us to continue to provide you with great content]
So, what’s the answer? Cover yourself up in shapeless clothes, stay at home in your trackies? No, neither of those, you are a dynamic woman with much to offer the world, my aim is to have you feeling great in your clothes, and ready to head out into the world and give them hell ;-).
Here are my tips
Get your foundations right
There is nothing surer than that poor fitting underwear will not only add to your discomfort, but also to your muffin top.
If your bra is too tight, one of two things will happen (or possibly both). If the cup size is too small you will pop out of the top of the bra which will not look good under your tops and dresses. If the under band of your bra is too tight, the flesh immediately below your breasts will be forced down and out, and in a worst case scenario will meet up with your muffin top. A tight under band will also usually mean any back fat can also look lumpy under your clothes. In addition, make sure the sides of the bra are sufficient to properly hold you in. Believe me a properly fitting bra will not only look much better, it will also feel much more comfortable. Make the investment of time to get properly fitted for a bra and know your preferred brands and sizes.
As well as your bra, make sure your knickers fit properly and don’t cut in. The style of knickers you prefer is entirely up to you, I prefer full briefs without thick seaming, but if a G string is your preference just make sure it is comfortable and doesn’t cut in to you. And don’t assume that full briefs are necessarily dull and boring, check some of the options at Taking Shape where you will find gorgeous lace and patterns, but plain as well if you prefer. And of course they sell matching bras too, and have a focus on plus sized women to boot.
You will note that nowhere here have I talked about tummy tamers or shapewear. I do have some of these and on a special occasion or under a particularly slinky dress I will wear them. But to be honest, I find them hot and uncomfortable, and unless they are full body they tend to ride up and create their own problems. Let me know if you have found some that don’t.
Have the right bottoms for your tops – check those waistbands
It really doesn’t matter what you wear on the top of your body if your waistband is too tight. It isn’t unusual to find, for example, a pair of jeans which fit perfectly everywhere else, but cut in around the waist. Similarly with skirts. If the waistband is too tight that midriff flesh has nowhere to go but up, just what we don’t want.
So choose your skirts, jeans and trousers carefully, make sure you have room to move and test them by sitting down rather than just standing up when you try them on. Consider adjustable waistbands including drawstrings, and be careful of both firm fixed waistbands and elasticised ones which pull in too tight. Stretch is great when it has give, but it can be a double edged sword, so again do the sitting down test.
When it comes to jeans, one of my favourite brands is Styling You The Label. Nikki promises dig-free denim and she delivers in spades. I have a pair of the Raelene jeans and they are super comfortable. But also check out the incredible range of Bengajeans at Blue Illusion, there is a good reason these are best sellers.
Know your shapes and fabrics
Be clear on what shapes suit you and flatter your body without your looking like you are wearing a tent. I like box shaped tops and flowing dresses that skim my waistline, but I also make sure at the same time that they are not too big – I don’t need to add any more substance to my look. I also like anything that is cut ‘straight through’ rather than waisted. Partly that is because of my lumps and bumps, but also I have a scoliosis that means my ahem ‘waistline’, bulges far more on one side than the other.
But for me it is the fabric that makes the most difference when it comes to hidding my lumps and bumps. Be it a top or a dress, I will typically look for fabric with structure so that the garment holds its shape rather than clinging to my body. There is no wonder that linen and linen blends have become so popular in recent years, with linen holding its shape beautifully, including when it is a linen knit. But also add good quality cotton and rayon to your shopping list, as well as bamboo. Similarly with woollen garments for cooler weather; wool has enough structure to hold its shape.
And yes jerseys can work too, depending on the cut, and the thickness of the jersey. But much as I love the look of soft jersey fabrics, I don’t have a lot of these fabrics in my wardrobe. There are a couple of exceptions to that; one is a top which has a second layer at the front, the other is a dress which has an interesting lower half which draws the eye down, which leads me to my next point.
Also, determine whether tucking in your tops or leaving them loose works for you. I tend to always wear my tops loose and out, although I will occasionally play with a half tuck. Take the time to play with the different options so that you know what works best for you.
Use accessories and features to draw the eye away from your mid section
There are lots of ways to do this, including the following:
- Choose outfits with interesting details at the top, perhaps a neckline which draws the eye, or off the shoulder or cold shoulder details. A V neck can also be great as it shows more flesh and takes eyes up.
- Wear strong accessories; jewellery or scarves. Don’t choose pieces that end at your waistline, you want them to end up high or be worn long, away from your mid section. A hat can be a great idea too.
There are differences of opinion in the fashion world as to whether patterns can flatter or be a problem when disguising a midriff bulge. My opinion is that they can flatter, and in fact hide a million sins, but be careful with your choice of pattern; don’t wear a pattern that draws the eye to your middle and don’t choose a pattern that ‘wears you’. The pattern needs to be of a scale that matches your height and size.
Know what brands supply mature womens clothing that is stylish
It is very much in our interests to support the brands that acknowledge real women and older women. Don’t try and shop where the young ones shop, you won’t get the in store or online support you need, and the clothes will be cut to suit younger more svelte frames. Look for brands that show clothes on a variety of body shapes. And do buy the best quality you can afford. You are looking for tops and dresses for older women, but that does not have to mean daggy.
Some of the brands and stores I have found that focus on older women and those with less than perfect size 10 bodies are:
Adrift Clothing – check out the Comfort Edit page on the Adrift site for garments that drape beautifully and will flatter any figure, but take some time to look at all the gorgeous accessories as well.
Black Pepper Clothing – Black Pepper describe their mission as bringing stylish garments to women over 50, which they have been doing since 1976. It goes without saying that they get a lot of things right 😉 and their clothes are definitely designed to be flattering for mature women.
Birdnest – one of the reasons Birdnest has been so successful in the online shopping space is the attention to helping you find the right garments for your lifestyle and your body shape. Right on the home page there is a Style Me tab for selecting garments according to body shape, with options like ’round tummy’ and ‘skim your waist’. Yes please!
Blue Bungalow – Blue Bungalow also has an excellent online store and again from the home page you can take their quiz to focus in on shapes, styles patterns etc. including shapes that are ‘flowing’ and ‘flattering to my curves’. You can also ask them to call you to talk about sizing or you can book a virtual shopping session free of charge, where you can benefit from the styling advice of a team member. Whilst you are looking at the clothing, don’t forget to check out all the drop dead gorgeous accessories to complete your look.
Blue Illusion – Blue Illusion was founded in 1998 with a focus on celebrating women of all ages and sizes. I find their clothes flattering and stylish. They are particularly famous for their Bengajeans which are a regular best seller. No wonder with their easy wear pull on design and the enormous choice of lengths, leg widths, colours and finishes. Hmm, should I buy the red straight leg or the coated denim in pinot noir? But it isn’t all about the jeans, you will also find flattering tops, dresses and layers to suit your lifestyle, as well as great accessories.
Styling You The Label – Nikki from Styling You is one of Australia’s gurus when it comes to personal style, and now has her own label designed to make dressing easy. I mentioned earlier but will repeat, that my SYTL Raelene jeans are super comfortable. Take Nikki’s advice and dress for the size you are, don’t wait until you lose those next few kilos.
Taking Shape – Taking Shape specialise in plus size women’s clothing so may not suit you if you are of a smaller frame. But if you are a larger frame, then check out your options from this brand where the cut of the clothes is designed to flatter and skim.
Ready to step out in the world feeling fabulous ? Read my thoughts on why you don’t need to be an invisible woman.
Follow me on Instagram for more of my personal style favourites.
Do you struggle to find womens clothing that is stylish? Are you challenged to find clothes to hide a muffin top? What tricks do you use to draw the eye away from problem spots?