Clothes to hide a muffin top and other midlife fashion challenges

Jan 09, 2022

Many women experience a midlife spread, which can quite suddenly make it challenging to find flattering clothes that are also stylish. Yet there is no need to panic; there a number of steps you can take that will have you looking fabulous again. Let’s look at some tips to disguise that post-menopause weight gain and the associated lumps and bumps.

What’s the answer? Cover yourself up in shapeless clothes, stay at home in your tracksuit? 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.

Get your foundations right

Ill-fitting underwear is not only uncomfortable, but it accentuates your muffin top, so take the time and buy the right fit.

When it comes to your bras, the same principles apply. Not having the right fit and result in several things. A cup size that is too small will have you popping out over the top, which won’t look good under tops and dresses. If the band under your bra is too tight, the flesh around your breasts will be pushed down and out, and in the worst case it 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.

Make sure the sides of the bra are sufficient to properly hold you in. A properly fitting bra will not only look better, it will feel more comfortable. Take the time to get properly fitted for a bra and know your preferred brands and sizes – it’s a valuable investment all round.

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 into you. Don’t assume full briefs are necessarily dull and boring.

I’ve not talked about tummy tamers or shapewear. While I do have some of these and will wear them on a special occasion or under a particularly slinky dress, I honestly find them hot and uncomfortable. Unless they are full body they tend to ride up and create their own problems. I’d be interested to know if anyone has found a brand that doesn’t do this…

Have the right bottoms for your tops — check those waistbands

It doesn’t matter what you wear on the top of your body if the waistband on your pants or skirt is too tight. It isn’t unusual to find, for example, a pair of jeans that 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, which is not what you want.

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 ‘Sit Down’ test.

With jeans, it’s a matter of trying brands and shapes to see what works best for you. Check measurements against your own and consider stretch as well as ‘rise’ (i.e., high rise, mid rise or hipster).

Know your shapes and fabrics

Be clear on what shapes suit you and flatter your body. I like box-shaped tops and flowing dresses that skim my waistline, but I also make sure they are not too big – I don’t need to add any more substance to my look. I also like anything cut ‘straight through’ rather than waisted. Partly that is because of my lumps and bumps, but also I have a scoliosis and that means my ahem ‘waistline’, bulges far more on one side than the other.

For me it is the fabric that makes the most difference when it comes to hiding my lumps and bumps. Be it a top or a dress, I will typically look for fabric with structure so the garment holds its shape rather than clings to my body. Linen and linen blends have become so popular in recent years, and it’s a fabric holds its shape beautifully, including when it is a linen knit. 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.

Image: Jan models for the Starts at 60 Marketplace. See her dressed in style here

Jerseys can work too, depending on the cut, and the thickness of the jersey. As I love the look of soft jersey fabrics, I don’t have a lot of these pieces in my wardrobe.

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.

Jan wears the Camilla top from the Starts at 60 Marketplace

There are lots of ways to do this. Choose outfits with interesting details at the top, perhaps a neckline that 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, such as 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 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 one 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.

Jan wears the Estelle patterned dress from the Starts at 60 Marketplace

Know what brands supply stylish clothing for mature women

It is in your interest to support the brands that acknowledge real women and older women. Don’t try and shop where the young one’s 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 frumpy.

Jan models for the Starts at 60 Marketplace.  You can see her modelling a wide selection of clothing here. We currently have up to 50 per cent off each of the women’s fashion styles Jan is pictured in. Take a look now. 


This article was originally published on Retiring not shy and has been republished with changes and permission.  

What other style tips would you benefit from?

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