How to Dress for the Mom Belly

Ok moms, how many of you out there follow style bloggers who have either A- never had a baby or B- work out/diet like crazy and have a flat stomach? For the majority of moms that I meet, they have a tough time relating to women whose shape hasn’t been compromised by the mom belly. If you want to know how to dress for the mom belly, here are my top ways to work with your shape!

Many of us have a “mom belly,” a leftover remnant of housing tiny humans for 9+ months that makes dressing a bit more difficult than it used to be. I interviewed a well-respected Chicago plastic surgeon, Dr. Gregory A. Wiener MD FACS, last year and even he stated this:

abdominal muscles split down the middle. The space where those 6-pack
muscles are- this separates in the mid-line and increases the round look.
In most cases, that initial shape doesn’t come back. Some women who
work out intensely both before and after can maintain, but it is not the
case for most.” 

Here’s the thing: if you dress for your body- the body you have NOW, not the one you had before kids or the one you are planning to have once you lose the weight- you are going to be a million times happier and feel so much more comfortable in your clothing.

Now comes the hard part- how do you dress for the Mom Belly aka Mummy Tummy? My midsection varies from fairly flat to full on 4 months pregnant look depending upon the time of month, water retention, how many late night snacks I have been eating, etc… Here are the main tips that I have amassed over my 7 years of having a mom bod!

NO Maternity Clothing

First and foremost, please do not wear your maternity clothing in an attempt to hide post-pregnancy weight. Yes, I totally get that you won’t fit into traditional clothing right after having a kid but my rule of thumb- if it has been a year after having a child, toss the maternity wear and buy clothing that fits your current shape. Maternity clothing is not how to dress for the mom belly- it will most likely not make you feel good about your body because- hello!- it was designed for someone who is pregnant. Even though you might still have a belly, you are not pregnant anymore. Your body shape has changed! You want to wear clothing that makes you feel good, so read on….

Shirt Dress

A shirt dress in a bit of a stiffer fabric is an ideal way to work with that extra belly love you have going on. The buttons down the front and a tie waist prevent fabric from stretching tightly across the stomach area and break up a flat silhouette. Such a fabulous vibrant dress on @tabithafaith:

High-Waisted Pants

I am praising every deity out there for the invention of and popularity of high-waisted denim. So many women wear low to mid-rise jeans that cut them right in the belly area, creating a double bubble effect. For me, the most flattering spot for my pants to hit is above my belly button, closer to my natural waist. And yes, the quality does matter here. More inexpensive denim loses its shape/stretch after a few wears and washes. You don’t want a saggy front/bottom- evenly distributed curves are key here. I do adore NYDJ- they have a great mid-rise that looks wonderful on most. Jenna Kutcher is a major fan, and she has a fabulously curvy figure:

This high rise pair on @styledhappenings is from Abercrombie- so not super expensive but not bargain basement either.

Fit and Flare Dresses

We have Christian Dior to thank for this popular and flattering style! He re-invented women’s fashion in the 1940s/50s with a fit and flare style and started celebrating women’s figures. The bonus of this for women with a tummy is the dress literally flares out over the tummy and keeps going! Choose stiffer fabric (pure cotton as opposed to jersey) so the dress doesn’t just drape over your stomach. My favorite site to cruise for Fit & Flare styles is ModCloth…and they have a wide range of sizes:

Use Size Charts & Don’t Give a F&ck About the Size

How often do you go to order something on a website and just select the size you *think* you might be? This leads to items not-quite-fitting, you keeping them because it is a pain in the ass to return them, then wearing them because, well, you already paid for them, and feeling uncomfortable the whole time. Use the size chart, order the size that fits the measurements of your body, and cut out the damn tag if it bothers you. Done. Find a company that caters to your size- sites like Eloquii (sizes 14-28) and Simply Be (sizes 8-28) give a lot of flexibility in size ranges so you don’t get shut out if you pass that size 12.

Structured Top/Shoulders

When there is structure around the top/shoulders, it immediately pulls eyes upward and creates a slimmer look. Notice I am not saying volume- when you add volume up top and have volume on bottom, it just adds up to….a lot of volume if you don’t create a shape. For example, check out this dress that @thelipsticklaw is wearing. There is detail on top, it is structured/tailored more around the shoulders and then it flows:

Front Waist Detail

If you want something to detract from a concave belly, add a tie front shirt that hits lower like this from @britannileigh; just keep it slimmer on bottom to avoid too much bulk:

Or a similar style on @agnesanddorabykarenj:

The website SimplyBe has a few fabulous dresses with detail around the mid-section- perfect if you are looking for ways to dress for the mom belly. If you want to dress to impress, they have a lot of holiday-appropriate looks!

Knot Front Dress for Moms

Knot Front Dress for Mom Belly

You can also go with a more subtle detail like pleating. I am not a huge fan of ruching, which is horizontal pleating- it screams “maternity,” but vertical pleating can camouflage fabulous. Check out the detail in this dress that I wore to a black tie event- structured bodice, light vertical pleating at the belly. Yeah, horizontal stripes aren’t always friendly, but in this look they go from narrow to wider which creates a slimming illusion around the waist:

Vertical Stripes

A change from my dress above,  @jennadawnrenfrow has contrasting vertical stripes that detract from the abdomen:

Drawstring Waist

Similar to a fit and flare, a drawstring waist allows you to nip in the waistline where you want it, how tight you want it. The fabric can then flow out from there. I adore this Peach dress because it is made from a French Terry material that doesn’t cling to curves:

Tiered Dresses

Tiered dresses are a little slice of heaven if done right. The key is to have a little sex appeal on top- whether it is a fitted bodice, spaghetti straps, an off the shoulder look, anything to balance the volume of the tiers on bottom. This gorgeous number that @homeofstars is sporting is such a YES in my book! Although I doubt she is trying to demo how to dress for the mom belly, she hits the nail on the head in this number.


Tie Waist Pants/Shorts

Ok, this style can go either way. I just purchased a pair of tie waist shorts and had the hem taken up…and now they look like a diaper. Make sure the material lays flat in front under the tie, and the shorts don’t bunch up- keep the length to mid-thigh. The tie waist helps draw attention away from what is below as long as the material stays flat. I think tucking in a simple top looks perfect- @thecheekybeen just uses a plain white tank with glam heels and statement earrings:



The Half Tuck

I see so many women trying to hide their tummy with an oversize t-shirt that comes down of the tummy and hits at the widest part- your hips. This is not doing favors, ladies! You can do a half tuck to help cover your post-baby bump while still creating a waist and shape.

I am not a fan of the button down half-tuck, it just looks too contrived. Love how kept it casual but still gave her outfit shape:

Control Top

No, not talking pantyhose (do people wear those anymore?). I am talking about leggings with a whole lotta shaping on top. I wear my Spanx faux leather leggings at least 2x/week in the cooler months, and they suck my tummy in and redistribute the wealth so everything looks smooth. You need these leggings in your life. Oh, and they are on super sale right now during the Nordstrom sale- $64.90 vs. $98. GET THEM HERE.


Monochrome + Open Long Jacket

I love dressing in all one color- it is a trick that will never get old. To deep the tummy under wraps, pop a long jacket over top. Keep it a bit structured and have it hit mid-thigh so it doesn’t cut you at your widest part. The jacket creates movement in front of your trouble area and creates a long line. Check out this example from @fashionfamilygoals:

I hope these examples help you feel more comfortable in the clothing you choose to wear! I am hoping to tone up eventually, but you know…life happens. And restaurant reviews happen where I just HAVE to try every dessert on the menu. Oh, and cocktails. Those happen too.

Cheers to feeling fabulous in what you are wearing, regardless of your shape or size!