Wardrobe boot camp: how to hide post baby belly

Editor’s note: This is a series in which we help Styling You readers solve a particular wardrobe or clothing crisis with a little advice and some shopping suggestions. 

The plea

Emma’s plea is for guidance in how to hide post baby belly.

I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 3 month old, and I’m a size 16ish curvy hourglass shape with too much sand sitting in the middle of the hourglass after having two children. I have broad shoulders, ample bust and hips. Some of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe are from Metalicus, Sussan and Sacha Drake. One look I would like to master is the tunic and leggings as I think this may hide the tummy. However, I need to get the layers right for my 165cm frame. Having two kids I wear a lot of flats and more casual outfits for day.

The tips

I absolutely love Emma’s description of an hourglass with too much sand in the middle! Many of us can relate to that, I’m sure.

Let’s not focus on hiding the tummy so much as emphasising the waist and/or showing off an impressive rack. A little positive spin can make you feel better – and we’re all about positive body image at Styling You.

Emma’s suggestion of leggings and tunic tops is an excellent one. Let’s think outside the box and include flat fronted denim leggings (yes, the dreaded jeggings – just make sure they’re made of stretchy fabric, not opaque stockings printed to look like denim – those are the work of the devil!). Jeggings now come in an amazing range of colours and patterns – I love my NYDJ jeggings.

Extending on this theme, Emma could also wear stretchy tube skirts (or the infamous Condom Dress tube maxi dress) over opaque footless tights. As we head into summer, ditch the tights. Or opt for flat front jean short styles. The flat fronted style of pants, especially those that pull on or have a side zip, slim the tummy by reducing bulk.

Great tops to wear with leggings, jeggings, tube skirts and dresses that also do a fab job of disguising a tummy include tops with ruching, patterns, empire lines, panels, hi lo hems, peplum, kaftan, kimono and wrap styles. The tummy disguising tricks from these tops are legion and include visual illusion, showing off the bust, flowing gently over the tummy and emphasising the waist.

Keeping the underneath layer mid to high waist will help by streamlining the figure. Emma can go one step further by wearing a smoothing slip or camisole underneath.

One of my favourite fashion magic tricks is Spanx footless tights. They’re just like wearing an ordinary pair of footless tights but have a higher waist line so they don’t dig in to create more lumps and bumps.

Cropped jackets and cardigans are a great choice for a top layer as they perform a couple of fashion magic tricks. They visually narrow your figure and draw the eye in to your waist, enhancing the hourglass appearance – they disguise upper arms too, if that is your bete noire.

Whilst leggings and tunics are very practical for a young mum, dresses are also a great choice for tummy disguising – and equally practical. Look for empire line, ruching and wrap styles. Maxi dresses are easy to wear with the added benefit of not having to do your legs if you’re in a hurry!

Contradictory tummy disguising tips

  • Clingy fabrics aren’t recommended – but fabrics with stretch are.
  • A belt can both emphasise and disguise a tummy. A stretch belt with a wide feature panel worn over a fitted top with a loose waterfall cardigan works well.
  • Ruching can disguise a tummy but too much fabric bulk can emphasise it. Try on a few different styles to work out which style works best for you.
  • Clothes that are too tight can emphasise a tummy, but oversized clothes can make you look bigger than you are.
  • A peplum top can make your tummy look smaller by making your hips look wider – strange but true. But if the peplum is in the wrong place for you, it can emphasise your tummy.
  • Elasticated pants are a no no for disguising tummies but I’m finding the combination of silky tanks tucked into soft printed flat fronted elasticated pants with a cropped waist length cardigan, and adding a long necklace to draw the eye down, is working beautifully for me.

The shopping

1. Two Blue Maxi by Verily $79 | 2. Privvy Stretch Belt by Motto $39.95 (on sale) | 3. Botanical Print Swing Dress by Sussan $99.95 | 4. Soft Feather Print Pants by Katies $39.95 | 5. Tassel Beads in Aqua by Verily $40 | 6. Ultimate Jean Shorts by Katies $19.95 (on sale) | 7. The Tube Skirt by Metalicus $59 (on sale) | 8. Skinny Premium Ultimate Jeans by Katies $49.95 for denim $24.95 for colours | 9. Mint Maxi by Verily $99

1. Cropped Jacket by Verily $69 (on sale) | 2. Sleeveless Lace Peplum Top by Katies $49.95 | 3. Crochet Bolero by Katies $24.95 (on sale) | 4. Eyelet Linen Tunic by Sussan $69.95 (on sale) | 5. Assets by Sara Blakely Fantastic Firmers Shaping Tank from Target $34 | 6. Black and White Satin Kaftan by Katies $59.95 | 7. Tassel Beads in Blue & Yellow by Verily $40 | 8. Sleeveless Print Tunic by Katies $49.95 | 9. Shrug by Verily $69 | 10. Facet Bead Necklace by Sussan $24.95 (sold out online) | 11. Scarf Print Cardigan by Katies $49.95

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a tummy you’d like to disguise? Any tips you’d like to pass on?

Kim-Marie Williams is the Editor, Stylist and Consultant at KimbaLikes.com, where she chats about Family | Fashion | Frivolity – the things Kimba Likes! A retro cute stylish individual with a passion for fashion, a beauty junkie and opshopper extraordinaire. Offering style tips and reviews and sharing life, love and laughs on KimbaLikes.com, Kimba recently celebrated her Big Four Oh My Gods, and is enjoying the confidence which comes with knowing your own style. You can find @kimbalikes all over the social media landscape, sharing her latest bargain as her life mantra is Never Pay Retail.

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  • Chantel

    Perfect post for me, I have an almost six month old & gone are my days of having a flat stomach! Love that you included some baby approximate necklaces, I’ve found these hard to find.

  • http://redlandcityliving.com/ Janet from Redland City Living

    Some great tips there – and I should know as I still have “too much sand in the hourglass” even though my baby is now 17!!!! I have a dress very similar to the Too Blue one by Verily and it is a favourite :-)

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Love that phrase! Sums it all up really.

  • Kellie

    I personally love my long singlet tops in white and black from kmart for $5. I used to buy the Sussan ones which are only slightly thicker ($29 for that version) but found purchasing the kmart version I was able to wear them all the time. I love them because it’s layering in a summery way. They are as long as a slip so they are fantastic to wear under tunic tops to give a smooth line. I hear you on Metalicus so for me this gives me the ability to layer every day in a cost effective way.

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Yes, I’ve got a few of the Sussan ones. I buy them when they’re on special two for $40. I like the colour range too. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a monotone girl though for a fiver!

  • Jazzy K

    Written just for me!!! I too have post baby bulge … still counts even though the baby is 14 hey! :)

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Definitely counts! My baby is 9 with feet half a size smaller than mine – and I’ve got long feet!

  • http://soniastyling.com/ Sonia

    These are fantastic tips, tricks and picks not just for mums of human babies but also mums of wine and/or food babies too! Kimba, you are truly a genius of the highest style order.

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Oh, thank you Sonia! Just far too many years of shopping experience ;)

  • Emily @ The Beetle Shack

    Kimba, you KNOW what is up! You are a constant source of cute, frivolous, playful fashion inspiration!



    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Haha, Emily! Fashion is all about fun and if we can make ourselves feel better on the inside by making ourselves look better on the outside, then that is all for the good! X

  • Cheekie

    Waaaaay past babies but ongoing baby belly…love the Katies kaftan and scarf cardigan. My rule is also, ‘v’ necklines, floaty top and NYDJ skinny jeans and capris and gorgeous flats, on occasion a nice espadrille for height and lengthening. I like a wide stretch belt for a little definition, i have a red leather Japanese obi that does the trick nicely.

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Cheekie, my baby is 9 and I still use these tricks! Depending on the style, I can sometimes get away with a round neckline by creating a V with a necklace or jacket.

  • kmac

    Thankyou so much! I also have a 3 month old and have purchased stacks of clothes this season (mainly online due to being housebound with two littlies) in an attempt to dress for my new (hopefully temporary) shape – very tricky. I don’t know about other mums. but as soon as my pregnancy was over I didn’t want to go near maternity wear. I agree that hi-lo hemlines are the way to go, the tummy magically disappears while still looking on-trend. I’ve also reaffirmed my love of skinny jeans, look great with a floaty top while showing off slim legs.

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Happy to help! Skinny jeans with a floaty top are perfect. They don’t hang off the boobs as much, I find.

  • Chic To Do

    Portmans has some really great flowy tops at the moment that are quite forgiving in the belly area – nice bright Summery colours and very on-trend styles. I stocked up last week!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Ooh yes. Sounds perfect! I often forget about Portmans as they’re not at my local shopping centres but they do fab stuff.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Great tips Kim-Marie i still have a tummy and my baby is 23! I agree with you about the Katies Ultimate Jeggings in a skinny leg I have 4 pairs,2 denim and black and the exact same colour you have chosen.I also agree on the hi low tops there is something special about that style,it looks good on anyone.I myself am not a belt wearer because i have no waist and i am a very boyish shape,and a long body so they don’t work on me but you wear a belt with style.I also like dresses that fall from under the bust and tank dresses that don’t cling look great,also a fab necklace or scarf distracts the eye to your necklace instead of your tummy.
    Good knickers are a must under a dress as well i have found THE BEST knickers for under a dress ,they are Bonds Cotton tails hi cut full brief ,they are comfy and give you a smooth look under dresses.I do hope Emma can find some clothes she loves and enjoys wearing!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      I’ve found some Target cotton knickers with bum ruching, flat waistband and a tummy panel. I bought the store’s stock when they were on sale! If you get it right underneath , you’re heading in the right direction!

  • Petra

    Great post! I’m not an hourglass but I’m an (big) apple with pin legs! I find the empire line dresses and tunics are the absolute best. I got into a bad habit wearing big stretchy tunic tops (over leggings) but realised I looked bigger. Interesting how we all have our lumps and bumps!

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Yup, we all have them. Just in different spots! There is a fine line between oversized and just too big so I’m glad you’ve figured that one out. The empire line is a winner!

  • chrisatpb

    Some great ideas Kim – love the empire line frock. I’ve always found the trick to be to find one that doesn’t have too much fabric – you need just enough to skim over the bumpy bits. Works for short or maxi. Congrats Emma, on your new little arrival.

    • http://kimbalikes.com Kim-Marie Williams

      Yes, fabric choice is so important. Too much and you look like Yiure bigger. The type of fabric and pattern can make a big difference too. (Pun intended!)