5 Ways to Hide Your Belly Fat

Muffin top. Pooch. Paunch. Spare tire. Whatever we call it, we’d all like to ignore it, but that’s easier said than done. “It’s just always there,” says Dominique Barthole, 50 (below), with a laugh. But fret no more. Thanks to draping, color blocking, structure, a play on proportion and the clever use of prints, your “breadbasket” can be your own little secret

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Belly Buster #1: Draped Fabric

1. Draping across the belly camouflages, with help from the color: Dark eggplant is as slimming as black.


2. Fit matters. Seams should hit at the outside edge of your shoulder. When they droop, they add width.


3. The below-the-knee hem seems to elongate the body. And shapewear lends an assist: high-waisted bike shorts.


Far left: Three Dots cotton tee, $42; shopthreedots.com. Sizes up to XL. J.Crew suede pumps, $245; jcrew.com. Left: David Meister jersey dress, $310; davidmeister.com. Sizes up to 14. Diane von Furstenberg suede pumps, $278; zappos.com. Margaret Elizabeth stone earrings, $178; margaretelizabeth.com. The 2 bandits gold-plated bracelet, $98; the2bandits.com.

Nathan Martin

Belly Buster #2: Color Blocking

Contrasting swaths of light and dark create an optical illusion that masks your middle


1. The dress straps are wide enough to cover a good, supportive bra (we used a seamless one for a smooth silhouette). The V-neckline has a slimming effect on shoulders and bustline. If you’re looking for arms control, top this with a black shrug.


2. Talk about curve appeal! The black side panels are key: Not only do they hide Barthole’s love handles, but they also mimic an hourglass shape. The teal accents look lovely with her skin tone, and the narrow, mint-green center section pops.


3. To make legs look longer, opt for a sleek, pointy pump (no rounded toes, please; pointed is back). Avoid any shoe that’s skimpy and strappy (the blocking makes a strong statement and needs something with visual weight). Even worse is an ankle strap, which creates leg-shortening horizontal lines.


4. The sheath-style dress looks best in fabric that has a bit of structural integrity, so choose sturdy over flimsy. This version, made of a dense jersey knit, holds Barthole in without sacrificing comfort.


Helios & Luna jersey dress, $295; heliosandluna.com for stores. Sizes up to 16. Sequin enamel, cabochon and crystal bangle, $58; sequin-nyc.com. Diane von Furstenberg suede pumps, $278; zappos.com.


Undergarment trick

The bike-short shaper we first tried produced a visual “ledge” (on the previous page, the draping concealed it). Here, a full-slip style worked.

Nathan Martin

Color-Blocking Option #1

With black triangles nipping at the waist, there isn’t anything shapeless about this sheath.


Adrianna Papell polyester blend dress, $120; nordstrom.com. Sizes up to 16.

Gisel Florez

Color-Blocking Option #2

Those dark side panels will do more for you than a scalpel. This knit sweater is roomy, so wear it with -narrowpants or jeans and a pair of flats. 


Nic + Zoe cotton blend sweater, $148; nordstrom.com. Sizes up to XL.

Gisel Florez

Color-Blocking Option #3

Like the dress above, this one is an insta-hourglass: The pink sides recede, and the (slender) black-center column stands out.


Amy Matto polyester blend dress, $296; amymatto.com. Sizes up to XL.

Gisel Florez

Belly Buster #3: Structure

Uses tailored-styling and smart details to carve out (or cover up) your middle


1. The armholes are slightly cut in, racer style, which trims the upper body. Also minimizing: the short necklaces (a long one would overemphasize Barthole’s bust). The mixed metal draws focus with a hint of shine.


2. The peplum top is having a major moment this season, so use it wisely. The version here has a slightly higher waist, hitting at Barthole’s narrowest point, and the woven fabricwon’t -expand as a knit would. The peplum, with its kicky asymmetrical hemline, covers the rest. Not liking the idea of bare arms? Stay with the structured theme, and top with a fitted, cropped jacket (the peplum is supposed to hang out).


3. This skirt seduced both Barthole and our editors, and for good reason. Made by a company that also produces shapewear (Yummie Tummie), it has extra control around the stomach, thanks to the bandage-wrapped construction. Genius.


Need to know: Yummie Tummie. This line of shapewear and clothing, developed by Real Housewives of New York City cast member Heather Thomson, was specifically created for belly busting. At yummietummie.com.


Helios&Luna silk crepe top, $370; heliosandluna.com for stores. Sizes up to 16. Yummie by Heather Thomson polyester blend skirt, $128; yummielife.com. Sizes up to XL. C. Wonderstone necklaces, $58 each; cwonder.com. Diane von Furstenberg suede pumps, $278; zappos.com.


Undergarment trick

Visible panty line? Not in this skirt, with its built-in control panels. You could wear granny panties and no one would know (but please don’t!).

Nathan Martin

Structure Option #1

An inside front panel flattens the tummy; the cotton blend broadcloth won't cling or bunch.


Rafaella cotton blend capris, $65; rafaellasportswear.com. Sizes up to 16. 

Gisel Florez

Structure Option #2

Wear it unbuttoned for an elongating vertical line; close it and the slight A-line gives you enough room. 


Coldwater Creek polyester blend coat, $150; coldwatercreek.com. Sizes up to 24.

Gisel Florez

Structure Option #3

For this soft knit, the camouflage is in the details: a cinched band around the ribs (your body's narrowest point), a flutter bottom (for coverage) and a delicate print (that hides lumps).


Rafaella polyester top, $58; rafaellasportswear.com.

Gisel Florez

Belly Buster #4: Proportion

Stop hiding your waist under big and baggy. A prettier solution: layers of varying lengths


1. The jacket is made with a touch of Lycra for stretch, so while it’s tailored, it doesn’t constrict. The brilliance is in the design: Interior panels of fabric (stitched into the jacket) get tied at the belly button, allowing soft tails to provide strategic coverage. Attention, shoppers: This topper is made by Eloquii, the new plus-size line for the Limited.


2. To get the jacket size right (i.e., big enough in the bust), we had to go up a size. We then slenderized Barthole’s silhouette by taking in the blazer’s arms at the inside seams.


3. The longer, slightly A-line underlayer (a cream shell) provides just enough room through the midsection and hangs below the jacket’s hem. Short over longer—in this case, jacket over shell—creates a waistline.


4. What you don’t see in these pants is what’s inside: panels of reinforced Lycra that compress the belly and offer a slight lift. The modern, skinny ankle crop gives legs a slimmer appearance and looks best with bare legs. Heels or flats, your choice.


Eloquii by The Limited polyester jacket, $149; eloquii.com. Sizes up to 24W. Nic + Zoe polyester top, $88, sizes up to XL, and cotton blend pants, $128, sizes up to 16; nordstrom.com. Banana Republic leather pumps, $128; bananarepublic.com. Sequin enamel and cabochon bangle, $58; sequin-nyc.com. Margaret Elizabeth drusy earrings, $143; margaretelizabeth.com.


Undergarment trick

What to wear under cream and white? It should be all nude (bras) all the time.

Nathan Martin

Proportion Option #1

Love the bright hue, but it's the belly-hiding front tie that's important. Wear a longer, ribbed tank underneath for a layered effect. 


Lafayette 148 silk blouse, $298; lafayette148ny.com. Sizes up to XL.

Gisel Florez

Proportion Option #2

Featuring higher waist and extra panels of Lycra, these leggings are made to tame your midsection. Top with a tunic. 


Yummie By Heather Thomson cotton leggings, $76 to $84; yummielife.com. Sizes up to 3X.

Gisel Florez

Proportion Option #3

The soft folds dripping from the neckline of this dress hit at precisely the right spot. Belly be gone!


Helios&Luna charmeuse dress, $435; heliosandluna.com for stores. Sizes up to 16.

Gisel Florez

Belly Buster #5: Prints

Hocus-pocus, where did your middle go? Prints can hide your pooch—especially when they’re used in strategic splashes 


1. The award for calculated use of a print goes to this dress. The biggest, boldest palm leaves fan out over Bar-thole’s belly bulge, providing an excellent disguise; the identical print in a smaller scale does the same for her arms. This was Barthole’s favorite look of the day.


2. The subtle boatneck shows just the right amount of skin, including the appealing (and discreetly sexy) collarbones. We skipped a necklace to minimize the bust, but if that’s not your issue, a couple of chunky gold chains would add shine. We hiked up the sleeves for a more casual look.


3. The graphic color combination is not only chic but also effective. The high contrast between the red background and the intricate black-and-white print makes this a hide-and-seek success. Bonus: Tomato red is a hot color this spring.


4. Have great gams, will flaunt them. Bare legs have appeal, but black hose would also look good. And on weekends, this dress can double as a tunic, layered over black leggings and paired with ballet flats.


Muse jersey dress, $148; museapparel.com. Sizes up to 16. Banana Republic leatherpumps, $128; bananarepublic.com. Sequin crystal and gold-plated bangles, $78; sequin-nyc.com.


Undergarment trick

This dress is clingy, so buyer beware. We used shapewear in a bike-short bodysuit style.

Nathan Martin

Prints Option #1

The subtle swirl design does wonders, and the faux wrap style (a side tie but no opening) creates draping where it's needed most. 


Simply Ver Vera Wang polyester blend dress, $68; kohls.com. Sizes up to XL. 

Gisel Florez

Prints Option #2

The busy print, in a large- and small-scale mix, is intelligently splashed.


Nic + Zoe cotton blend skirt, $128; nordstrom.com. Sizes up to 16.

Gisel Florez

Prints Option #3

This dress—a true wrap—boasts a digitalized pattern that's a masterpiece of middle minimization. Consider yourself warned: The lightweight fabric calls for shapewear.


BCBGMaxazria polyester blend dress, $178; bloomingdales.com.


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Gisel Florez

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Love the Nic & Zoe cotton blend sweater! Where can I find it? Did not see it on Nordstrom site.

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