A few years ago I realized that the only way I'd ever sport abs of steel was to airbrush on a faux six-pack (like Mariah Carey allegedly did.)
Of all the body challenges we face in aging, middle-age spread is one of the most common. According to the Mayo Clinic, weight gain begins in perimenopause (years leading up to menopause) and accumulates at about a rate of a pound a year. Even more important, the weight tends to accumulate around our belly instead of hips and thighs.
This can mean dressing for an entirely different body than you had in your younger years. In "What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life" author Kim Johnson Gross calls her new belly "The Alien" and bemoans how it seemed to appear out of nowhere around menopause.
But just because our tummies get poochier and our waists wider, doesn't mean we can't use fashion tricks to stop the clock. Here are some ideas for disguising middle-age spread:
- Wear a dropped waist: Blouson-style tops and even dresses that feature a waist dropped down around the hip area give you a blousy cover up in the tummy area. It's an easy way to have some controlled fullness that hides a belly and wide waist at the same time.
- Raise your waist: If you aren't too full-busted, a raised or empire waist works because it nips in right under the bust line where we tend to be thinnest. This is a great way to look like you are slim in the torso, while distracting from an expanding waistline.
- Bias cut: A great bias-cut dress or top will gently hug your curves. It can be forgiving at the same time because it suggests a perfect hourglass figure.
- Shift: The shift dress is fashion's summer gift to women with middle-age spread. Because it hangs straight and loose from the body, it can disguise all sorts of upper-body sins.
- Control it: If you haven't turned to shapewear yet, this is the time to try out panty-style control and cami shapers. Both will hold in your tummy and other jiggly body parts.