Thick in the Middle? Here’s Some Tips on How NOT to Look Preggers

Bias Stripe Cutout Top

Dear Budget Fashionista,
I just love this site! I have checked it daily for years now! Help. I am a petite bottom (size 12 to 14) and regular on top (size large or 12). I carry excess weight in my stomach and always have a pooch. When I try on the new styles that are tight in the ribcage and more flowy below, I think I look pregnant. Same with tunics. Summer is here and I hate to layer (I live in Texas) too much in the summer. What types of tops should I be looking for?

Answer: If you remember one thing from my answer, remember this: the more skin you show, the thinner you look.
Why? Because the eye travels to where the skin is at. So wearing a tank top (unless you have flabby arms like me) or a low-cut top will actually draw the eye towards your toned arms and sexy bustline, rather than your midsection.

Bias Stripe Cutout Top, $17.80 from Forever 21

Current Affair Ruched Cap Sleeve Top

You also want to look for cotton tops with either a collar or a v-neck with a bit of stretch (two-to-three-percent Lycra content) in a solid color or a pattern that is in scale with your body. (Contrary to popular belief, patterns can be flattering–just make sure they’re not too small or too big; i.e., if you have bigger features, go for a bigger print, and if you have smaller features, go for a smaller print.)

If you’ve got a bit of a tummy, make sure to avoid the following:

  • Tops with drawstring waist
  • Empire-waist tops (the waist is right under the bust)
  • Tunic-style tops with belts (alone, a tunic top is fine)
  • Crop tops

Current Affair Ruched Cap Sleeve Top, $29.90 from Nordstrom

Another great way to “reduce” your middle is to dress monochromatically–black and black, blue and blue, pink and pink. This can help distract from your midsection. You might also want to try ruching (the scrunching of the fabric of a top to create several folds, like the above image), which can camouflage your middle section.

Last but not least, you can also wear a pair of tummy-control panties or a pair of Spanx–not the best option during a hot summer, but an option nonetheless. And…make sure you’re wearing the correct size in tops. A too-small top will highlight any “issues” you might have.

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Catherine Brock

Style Editor at The Budget Fashionista
Catherine Brock is a writer, editor and marketer who's been sharing wisdom online since 2002. She's been featured on, and ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis and KCAL9 Los Angeles. Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.
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