Style tips for camouflaging a belly

Recently I shared a photo of my post baby belly, and a bunch of you expressed surprise since it’s not noticeable in most of my outfit photos! As someone who’s dealt with bloating most of my life, I had a little experience on what types of clothing and silhouettes work to camouflage a tummy. So whether you’re postpartum, bloated, or just want to feel more confident around your midsection area, here’s a few dressing rules of thumb that may help!

Check my IG Reels for my corresponding styling video, and more videos on other styling tips!

1. When in doubt, go A-line with higher waistline (not empire style)

postpartum style tips

Left: Open Edit mini dress xxs (very cute, just not for me!), Express sandals 6
Right: Few Moda dress xs (similar & super cute on), Castaner wedges 5, Sea & Grass bag, earrings

Instead of tight styles like on the left hand side, the universally flattering silhouette on the right is my go-to! The higher waistline is elongating on a petite frame, and allows the A-line skirt to flow freely over the belly and hips area. It works on either dresses or peplum style tops, like this one I’ve been loving for summer. Empire waistlines (which hit right below the bust line) work too, but approach with caution since they can sometimes look too youthful or maternity-like.

Shift dresses that graze the figure are another great alternative, but I love the more defined waistline that A-line cuts give.

Side note: I have been obsessed with Few Moda dresses lately – after buying their quarterly membership I have found it to be very worth it even to buy  just 1 item, since the price of a dress plus the membership is still less than comparable styles from other brands!

2. Play around with prints

Prints and patterns, especially colorful or larger scale ones can do wonders for camouflaging trouble areas!

3. Try a higher rise

levis high waisted jeans for petites

Right: Express bodysuit xxs, Levis jeans 24 (cut; also at Shopbop), J.Crew sandals 5.5, Polene bag c/o

What an improvement this simple swap makes in the above photo! Finding the most flattering rise for your body type may take some trial and error, but in general, I’ve found bottoms that hit at my navel to be the most tummy friendly and elongating on my petite frame.

4. Know when to size up

If you’re dealing with muffin tops at the waist area, the simplest fix is to try the next size up. When my weight fluctuated quite a bit postpartum, I bought a handful of my favorite bottoms in the next size up and it made such a difference! Wearing a size too small is also the usual culprit for back bulges.

5. Smooth with shaper shorts

kindred bravely maternity nursing dress

Spanx or TC brand will have more serious control top shorts, but for everyday wear you guys know I love my lightweight Uniqlo shaper shorts (see a style tip with them in this post)! They add just a light level of smoothing and shaping and are comfortable for me to wear and sit in all day.

While pregnant, I also swore by my maternity shaper shorts which helped provide a little tummy and back support, and kept my belly button from showing through dresses!

Speaking of maternity, I received this super duper comfy bamboo blend dress in both sage green and black as a gift, and didn’t even realize it was labeled “maternity” until I went to link it! It’s made of a very stretchy ribbed material that’s cooling and comfy against the skin. Nothing is maternity-specific about it, so I’d definitely recommend for non-maternity wear too if you’re looking for a comfortable maxi tank dress!

I wear the black colored one all the time – sleek, flattering and easy to dress up or down. Size Small is a figure grazing fit on me (currently 5 ft, 95lb). There is a short slit in the back center, and the material is so stretchy I’m actually able to pull the neckline down to breastfeed in.

6. Knot a sweater or jacket around the waist

Or, look for pieces that have interesting gathering or wider ties at the center waist area!

Leave a Comment

13 Comments

  1. Angeline wrote:

    Love this post, Jean! I personally love flowy dresses and super high-rise jeans (although they are always so hard to find where they hit in the right place on my ankles 🙁 xx

    Angie x

    Posted 6.11.21 Reply
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Love these helpful hints, Jean!

    Posted 6.11.21 Reply
  3. Rhonda wrote:

    With the uniqlo shaper shorts, how high is the rise? I’m 4-10 and short waisted, or maybe it’s just that I’m short. I wear the Vassarette slip shorts and find that they are a tad too high and roll over. For me it’s got to hit below my belly button. If the photo of the model shows below the belly button, then it’s probably right at my belly button.

    Posted 6.11.21 Reply
  4. Taylor wrote:

    Thank you so much. I had my baby around the same time as you had your son and its been helpful to normalize and stylize this new postpartum body of mine.

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  5. Kayla wrote:

    I ordered the Open Edit dress & promptly returned it. Like you, it was not for me 😳

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  6. Lucy W wrote:

    Love those jeans! Perfect for petites

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  7. Tennile wrote:

    Thank you Jean. I bought the Uniqlo Shaper Shorts years ago because of you & it’s really amazing. It’s not overly tight, it gives me a great shape & it doesn’t ride up. I absolutely love it.

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  8. Marie wrote:

    You look beautiful! Thank you for sharing these tips and showing how different postpartum bodies can be. I’ve had a hard time accepting my belly after my pregnancies and your post helps so much! I’m also petite and when your belly stretches sooooo much to grow a beautiful baby, it’s not surprising that it doesn’t snap back right away. My issue was diastasis recti. PT helped a lot but I still need tips like these to feel more confident. I think peplum tops are flattering. Thank you again! Remember your body did such an amazing thing… twice!

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  9. Sara wrote:

    Hi! Just saw your post about the few mods dress. Can I ask what bra you wear with that? I also have some material showing from
    Mine in low
    Square necks, so I’m curious what works for
    You! Thank you

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  10. Meg wrote:

    I’m definitely more conscious of my belly these days (5 weeks PP) and these tips are incredibly helpful! I love that you make fitted silhouettes look flattering. Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing!

    Would also love to see a full review on Few Moda with more of your pics – I’m intrigued!

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  11. Betty wrote:

    Such helpful tips, Jean! The Few Moda Dress is so pretty but sold out now. If anyone else is looking for the blue floral pattern, the kourt Calypso Maxi Dress on the same website linked under the first picture is similar.

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  12. Jenny wrote:

    Which bag do you have from Sea and Grass? I love it! Is it a small or medium?

    Posted 6.10.21 Reply
  13. Jennifer wrote:

    Thank you for your honest posts and normalizing postpartum bellies! I’m starting to accept my new body and your posts definitely help me.

    Posted 6.9.21 Reply

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