Want to hide your belly and still look fabulous? Below you’ll find lots of ideas and tips on how to hide a belly or stylishly cover up or disguise a tummy.
Why would you want to hide your belly?
Many women after 40 experience weight gain on their bellies, especially after going into peri-menopause or menopause.
Your waist may disappear and you will start to develop more characteristics of the apple body shape
If you are trying to cover up a tummy, it can be easy to do the opposite and make yourself look bigger than you really are.
Thankfully there are many things you can do to hide your belly, so that it doesn’t get in the way of looking fabulously stylish!
Check out my 15 tips below on how to hide your belly with the right clothes.
Hiding your belly in spring and summer
Many of you will be heading into warmer weather now, which is something to look forward to. It can be easier to hide a belly during the cooler months when it is natural to add plenty of lovely layers too create long, sleek lines.
However, that’s not to say you can’t use many of the tricks below during warmer weather too. You can still opt for draped, asymmetrical styles, wrap styles where you can alter the belt for the most flattering effect, or long cardigans and lighter weight ruanas for an elongating effect.
For more inspiration, read our top tips and tricks on what to wear in summer.
Now, onto my 14 tips. Read on for more flattering layering tips.
1. Don’t wear tight or clingy garments over your belly and choose tops with ruching or drape
If you want to look stylish and highlight your strengths, it is best not to wear tight tops.
They will accentuate every fat bubble you have and draw attention away from you and your fabulous clothes.
Rather choose tops that have some draping or ruching.
Hide your belly with the right tops
A crossover top is very effective and this one creates asymmetrical vertical lines which is an extra bonus.
Plus, you can choose a top which comes in new season colors. There’s more inspiration in this article on the color trends for fall and winter 2023.
Karen Kane is a good brand to look out for to find flattering, layered, crossover tops.
Below is a draped blouse that is also effective at hiding bellies as it doesn’t cling to your tummy. It also has a flattering v-neck which can help to lengthen (rather than widen) your silhouette. There’s a good choice of colors, and reviewers say it hides love handles.
2. Wear leggings or skinnies with longer, draped or asymmetrical tops
Leggings or stretchy pants that tuck in the tummy will be your best friend.
They will fit comfortably around your belly and tuck it in a bit.
Also, with so many wonderful tunics and long tops to choose from, you will look fabulous. No-one will notice your belly!
Choose the right leggings that tuck in your stomach
A favorite amongst 40+style readers are the Zella leggings.
For a very affordable option that has 1000s of good reviews on Amazon, you can’t beat the Satina high waisted leggings. Wearers say they keep their shape all day.
Find out our top picks for the best tummy control leggings
Choose the right tunics that make you look good in your leggings or jeans!
Look out for long or asymmetrical tops and sweaters.
Wearing leggings underneath can let your hero pieces stand out.
The tunics below can easily be layered with a longer cardigan or shorter jacket and will help to distract the attention from your belly.
Below are some tunic tops you could try.
Also, check out these recommendations for the best shops for women with the apple body shape.
3. Create vertical lines to hide your belly with long cardigans, jackets and ponchos
Layering is very effective to disguise a belly and is much easier to do during fall and winter, when you will want to use layers to stay warm. You can add a cardigan or a jacket.
However, it is definitely still possible to use this technique during spring and summer depending on where you live. Rather than a coat, you could opt for a lightweight cardigan, a sleeveless vest or a kimono.
Waterfall or straight designs can both work and will create a nice vertical line which will create the illusion of length and distract the eye from your belly.
Or you could wear a block color such as navy, red, black or gray underneath this cardigan style below, thus creating a slimming column effect down the center of your outfit.
Below are more examples of outfits where you create a long lean line and hide the belly.
Layering for any season – use a long cardigan or a short jacket
Creating vertical lines with cardigans (as discussed above) works really well, but you can also wear shorter jackets to hide a tummy.
If you pop a biker jacket over a longer top, you confuse the eye so that the different hem lengths hide your belly.
Layers are definitely your friend when it comes to hiding a belly.
CHARTOU Notched Collar Oblique Zip Suede Moto Jacket – COS Poplin Tunic Shirt (similar option here) – FRAME Wide Leg Jeans (similar option here) – Johnston & Murphy Evelyn Open Toe Sandal Bootie – Missoni Rainbow Stripe Fringe Scarf (another option here)
Below, the longline cardigan will create nice long lines, drawing the eye away from your belly.
Design by Olivia Sleeveless Open Front Cardigan – Anne Klein Nehru Tunic Shirt – Zella Live In High Waist Leggings – Johnston & Murphy Evelyn Open Toe Sandal Bootie – Ted Baker London Darcell Logo Leather Satchel (similar option here) – Sterling Forever Ezra Chain Necklace
The longer your cardigan, the longer and leaner you will appear, although you usually don’t want to go longer than 2/3 from the height of your shoulders to the bottom.
Short straight cardigans will hide your belly too, but will have an overall more boxy silhouette so you need to be more careful when styling these.
You can layer in summer and winter
You can still layer in spring and summer depending on the weather where you are, you just need to choose lighter fabrics.
Instead of a cardigan, you can also choose a vest. A long vest is perfect for creating long, lean vertical lines, but you can opt for a shorter waterfall vest too.
Layer your (sleeveless) top with a sleeveless vest. It work well for all seasons. This vest cardigan from Amazon can be combined with many tops and will look great over skinny pants and jeans. You can also wear with a tank top and shorts for summer. For winter, you could wear over a long-sleeved sweater.
It has the benefit of being asymmetrical too which makes it even more flattering.
If it’s very warm where you are, or if you’re on a summer vacation, you could look out for a draped crochet cardigan, which could also double as a swim cover-up.
For more options on wearing vests you may like to check out this article for lots of options on how to wear a long vest.
4. Don’t emphasize your tummy by adding accessories like belts right on top of them, rather belt higher
When choosing a coat, top or cardigan, you don’t have to avoid belts altogether.
Simply make sure that the belt sits a bit higher, so you aren’t drawing attention to your belly at its widest point.
Again, patterns can help to take attention away from a larger tummy too and in combination this can do the trick.
Play around with where and how you fasten your belt to see what looks most flattering for you.
Below are more belted styles you can try. If you leave a couple of buttons open, you’ll create a v-neck effect which will add to the flattering effect.
The patterns on the Allegra K top (below) will also help to confuse the eye, which can be another effective technique for hiding the belly.
5. Dresses that hide belly bulge – Choose dresses that don’t cling and/or have a draping element
Make sure that your dresses don’t cling around the tummy area. Dresses with a draping element around the tummy area often work.
Asymmetrical dresses work well too as they draw attention away from the belly and create a vertical line.
Dresses that don’t cling and which also have patterns are also great to hide the tummy area.
The dress below is draped just right to draw attention away from the belly and creates a flattering vertical line.
If you add a statement necklace at the top, you will further distract the eye from the belly area as the eye will be drawn upwards.
You may also like our article on how cover up your arms if you prefer to wear a dress with sleeves.
6. Wear tops over your skirts and pants and don’t tuck them
Tucking draws attention to your (non-existing waist again) so better to avoid that.
This is because if you tuck in your shirt, you will create a line across your tummy at its widest part.
Instead, leave your top outside of your skirt or pants.
However, pay attention to overall balance and don’t let your top end at the widest point of your hips, as that may also be unflattering.
A short blouse that loosely falls on your tummy will also work really well for many women.
Massimo Dutti Printed Shirt – (anther option here) – Open Edit Wide Leg Pants (anther option here) – Johnston & Murphy Evelyn Open Toe Sandal Bootie – Rebecca Minkoff Megan Leather Tote – Tory Burch Tiered Resin Hoop Mismatched Drop Earrings (another option here)
You’ll notice that my cropped top (above) ends at my waist drawing the attention there and not at my tummy area.
The asymmetrical hem and the fact that I just wear one column of color underneath further enhances that look.
Barb @barb_styling above wears her blouse untucked over her pants. A v-neck is flattering as it creates vertical lines, and draws attention to the neckline.
7. Flattering clothes for big stomach – Don’t wear garments that are bulky around the tummy area
You don’t want to make that area even bigger with pockets or other embellishments.
However, a vertical loose drape like this cardigan below could work as it elongates and does a good job at hiding. Reviewers say it is beautiful, comfortable, and reasonably priced.
8. What to wear to hide a big stomach – Choose asymmetrical tops to hide your belly
Asymmetrical tops create vertical and diagonal lines and break up your silhouette so they are great for disguising tummies.
You could also add a poncho over the top of your outfit like the one from Amazon (below) which is available in a huge choice of colors. Reviewers say the fabric is soft, and it elevates any outfit.
Great shops for asymmetrical items include:
9. Use pants that tuck the tummy in
The pants you wear can make a huge difference to how big your belly will appear.
Be mindful of not buying pants that end in the middle of your belly and create a huge bulge.
Instead, you want to wear pants that have a higher rise and that are capable of tucking your tummy in.
Find out what are the best tummy control jeans in stores now.
I already mentioned some of my favorite leggings that are strong enough to do this under #2 above, but skinny pants can do this job too.
You can also consider tummy tucking jeans. Some of these jeans have an elastic waistband, and some have a regular fastening but are made from stretchier fabric with clever control panels. Reviewers say the secret sculpting jeans (below) are classy enough to wear for work but can be dressed down for casual days.
10. Use tops with prints
Prints are very effective in hiding bellies and you should definitely consider adding a few in your wardrobe.
If you combine a printed top with one of our belly-hiding tips above, no one will notice your tummy!
I’m also currently loving this printed top from Stella Carakasi (below). It’s great to wear on its own, doesn’t cling and can easily be layered with a jacket or cardigan too.
11. Use shapewear
Of course, shapewear like these shorts that tuck the tummy, is very effective too in hiding the belly but, as I personally find it uncomfortable, I only use it for very special events.
For options on shapewear please read my article on the best shapewear for women over 40.
12. Highlight something else
When you think about how to hide your belly, it’s easy to become so focused on doing that you forget about everything else.
You may not be confident about your tummy, but what about the parts of your body that you do like?
Could you show off some cleavage, highlight your shoulders or showcase your lovely legs?
The top below for example, shows off the decolletage and draws the attention away from the tummy.
If you like your legs, you could place the focus there instead of your tummy. That doesn’t mean wearing a mini skirt, but you could wear some lovely printed jeans to show your legs and a plain top so that the eye is drawn to your legs rather than your belly.
Or, rather than drawing the eye up, you could draw it down (or, of course, you could do both). A pair of bright shoes or on-trend booties will put the attention on your feet and legs rather than your tummy.
It’s all about hiding what you don’t like and drawing attention to what you do like.
13. Think about where your sleeves end
When you are thinking about hiding a tummy, you are probably focused on whether your top or dress drapes over your belly area or whether it clings.
However, don’t forget about your sleeves. If your sleeves end right at the point where your belly is at its widest, you will only draw attention to this area.
Look instead for sleeves which end above your belly or below at your hips. The right sleeve length for you will depend on your arm length and where your belly is biggest.
14. Choose flattering brands
It goes without saying that some stores and brands are more focused towards women with supermodel-type figures, while others are better at designing for women who want to skim over certain parts of the body.
Some of my favorite brands which create clothes to hide a belly are.
15. Use accessories to hide your belly
I’m not suggesting you carry a handbag in front of your tummy to hide it! However, accessories can be a great tool to hide or distract from your belly.
You could, for example, wear a colorful scarf to draw the attention upwards to your face. Or, you can leave your scarf loose so it drapes down and creates a column effect to disguise your tummy. Statement necklaces are another good way to draw the attention upwards.
Tory Burch Mini Kira Top Handle Bag – Aimee Kestenberg Zen Convertible Crossbody (another option here) – San Diego Hat Beyond Prairie Packable Wool Fedora (another option here) – Karine Sultan Medallion Drop Earrings – Tory Burch Wire Wrapped Doorknocker Earrings – Tory Burch Roxanne Necklace – Missoni Stripe Zigzag Silk Scarf (another option here)
You could also draw the eye upwards with your earrings or a stylish hat.
When it comes to your handbags, think about where they sit when you carry them. If, for example, you have a shoulder strap bag which ends at your belly, this will draw the attention there.
Choose a bag which sits further up or further down, or a bag that you carry in your hand as you can draw attention to your lovely legs. Don’t opt for a bag which is too small as this will look out of proportion.
A tummy-hiding capsule wardrobe
Below are some of the clothes and accessories used in this article, together in one capsule wardrobe. You’ll see, there are plenty of ways you could mix and match to create countless outfits.
SHOP the tops to hide a belly below:
More tummy-hiding inspiration
The capsules below are from previous seasons, but will give you lots of outfit idea.You may have many of these items already in your closet.
A winter capsule wardrobe to hide your belly
A capsule wardrobe for spring to camouflage the belly
Last year’s winter capsule wardrobe to hide your belly
Do you want to hide your belly or are you happy to flaunt it? And if the latter what are your best tips to hide your belly?
- The Best Tops To Hide Your Tummy
- The Best Dresses To Hide Your Tummy
- The Best Tummy Control Jeans To Give You A Smoother Look
- How much should I weight for my height and age
P.S.: If you carry most of your weight around your belly, you are most likely an apple body shape. Check our tips for the apple body shape here and download our extensive guide for the apple body shape.
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Feature image by Deborah @deborahgates_
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