Choosing Prints to Disguise Your Tummy


How to choose prints to disguise a rounded or protruding tummyHi Imogen,

Here’s my question: I’m an H shape but with a bit of a postpartum tummy (also short waisted with short mid-body). I’ve been thinking about purchasing some gingham/plaid tops but am wondering what elements I should be looking for or avoiding. What pattern size/density of check should I look for? (small/large/uniform shape/irregular?) Should I be avoiding a straight button down and opting more for a flowy sheer blouse style or perhaps a popover style instead? Does it matter how many colors are in the plaid? How do I avoid looking overly boxy and also not have too much horizontal attention on my midsection? And will styling it with a pullover help, or would that draw unnecessary attention where I don’t want it due to the line break?… In short, which ginghams/plaids flatter which shapes & proportions, and how best should we style them?




choosing plaids and checks

So a few simple rules to help you find flattering checks and prints to disguise your tummy.

  1. The larger the check, the more it will make your tummy look larger.
  2. The lower the contrast, the slimmer you will appear.
  3. If the check is horizontal, it will draw widening bands across your tummy and make it look larger.
  4. If the check is diagonal it will move the eye around your body (and so not stop focus on your stomach).
choosing a slimming fabric

Look for softer, more drapey fabrics (ones that puddle on the floor when you drop them), rather than stiffer fabrics which stand out from your body and make it look larger.

slimming prints

Slimming prints have one thing in common – they are dense – there is little ‘negative space’ between elements of the print or pattern.


So it doesn’t really matter how many colours are in the plaid – what matters is:

  1. How high the contrast is (remember, high contrast, makes the plaid look larger)
  2. The direction of the plaid – horizontal or diagonal.
  3. The fabric – stiff or fluid
  4. The size of the plaid or check
layering your sweater

If you choose to style it with a pullover – ensure that you don’t have the hem of the top sticking out beneath the Β pullover, as this will add an additional, unflattering horizontal line around your stomach.

More tips on Flattering Your Tummy

How to dress when you have a caeser scar or have lost lots of weight

How to flatter a protruding stomach

10 top tips on how to make your tummy look slimmer

How to hide your tummy

Where to end your necklaces


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  • Ive similare dilemma, but in my case is my broad shoulders and “chicken legs”. But One new thing I understood with this post is the plaid. I know the contrast and size of the neck, but the direction was new to me! πŸ˜›

    But my dilemma has never been about prints, I wear high contrasted wide striped tops (love dramatic prints as long as the style of the garment is simple or classic) despite the guidelines so I guess sometimes, knowing your personal styles can also helps these de-emphatize/emphasize problems because you are comfortable in them. πŸ˜›

    I also love pencil skirt despite articles telling people with broad shoulders “shouldnt” wear them. I just dont like a-line and flowy buttoms because it feels like they overwhelm my skinny “chicken legs”.
    Because if you compare these two pictures, + (another rebellious side when it comes to guideline, ankle booties and knee lenght skirt. Ive skinny legs so i dont mind the calf-thickening effect, in fact, I want bigger calves!)
    Doesnt the pencil skirt look better than the flowy polkadot shirt dress? I feel like a “strawberry on a stick” when wearing flowy garments even if they are the smallest size I can wear.. πŸ˜€ (the dress is from the kids section…Im a “plus petite”, average tall but skinny bodyframe)

    Is it normal that the guideline that suppose to work with your body doesnt actually work on you or did I follow wrong bodyshape? Because It feels like the opposite always looks better on and thats something Ive trying to figure. (mainly because my waist is more like a low hip hourglass shape with athletic shoulders)
    My goal is make my legs broader and shoulders smaller while still keeping my waist definition.

    Imogen: Should I really go for the Inverted triangle guidelines? Its just my shoulders that are about 4″ (all around) wider than bust/hips. Inverted Triangle doesnt seems to apply to me no matter how I try them out. Because I love slim fitted buttoms and dont like light colored or flared buttom garments/dresses :S. The only things Im staying away from are boxy jackets/sweater, tops that doesn’t give waist definition, huge labels and puffed sleeves because they make me look like soccer player! πŸ˜›

    • As far as body shape goes, it’s actually not as important as body proportions in many ones – it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Please don’t get obsessed with the instructions for it. The guidelines for each shape are just that. You are very slim, this means you have slim legs which bother you more than your broad shoulders. In many ways you work around the pieces of you that you like less, which obviously your shoulders don’t bother you. You have a defined waist which is not normally part of a V shape – so if the 8 shape works for you, but you have a longer waist than a traditional 8 shape, then work with these rules, rather than the V shape. Yes, flared skirts will make your legs look even slimmer. You could also think about wearing boots that come up to your calf too, and not matching hosiery to your shoes. Plus, a measurement around isn’t necessarily the same as the front view (diameter isn’t the same as a front view – this is why I don’t measure in my work as it can be deceiving).

      You could just follow the guidelines for a V for shoulders only, but take all the rest of your guidelines from the 8 shape. We are all unique. Very few people fit exactly into one shape. They are guidelines, not exact rules that should be adhered to by everyone!

      • 8 Shape? I thought I had a X waist! Some say Im “balanced” waist but can wear thick belts under my but. (skinny belts looks “threads” on me for some reasons). haha Its a little bit strange because I usually Im someone who pay attention to visual (proportions and such) looks, but never get a good grasp which group I fit better in.

        I actually do not follow them strictly, but always get suprised when what usually doesnt work for you, works better and then get lost in that “puzzle”. πŸ˜› They are more like guidelines to prevent buying clothes I dont feel comfortable wearing. (e.g. anything oversized unless belted looks bad no matter how I try to style them. Mainly because my waist dont mesh with the shoulders regarding clothing sizes. Im a small in jackets, but need to wear clothes from kids section for the rest sometimes. In one way the broad shoulders are not very bad, because Ive never needed to change my sweater/jackets size, because of weight changes!).

        My only concern with my shoulder is that it feel like they make me my legs looks skinnier even if flared skirts “fill in”the hips width (making them less noticeable with dark jackets is easier because the arms doesnt seems affect the rest of the silhouette as much). Like a petite wearing too oversized clothes, thats what happens with the legs when I try style my outfit. So you’re right, its my legs Im more bothered with but this is a genetic issue, my whole family is born with broad shoulder and skinny but fairly long legs and when I loosed weight (unintentionally) , it was mostly my legs. :-L However, these issue is not really huge deals (I accept how I look, I just like experiementing) , but it can make you go a bit nuts when you cant get ready in the morning because it doesnt feel right. So its more like a shopping dilemma. πŸ˜›

        • Sorry – X shape -I thought you said high hip (8) not low hip (X). You know, many women would love to have your broader shoulders and slim legs! Think of them as an asset rather than as a flaw!

          • Well, I used to someone who doesnt care about it but got concious about my legs because people always think Ive “medical disease” like telling me I look too unhealthy when wearing clothes that accentuate my legs …even if Its genetic. Im 5’5″ and 98ibs/45kg now but Ive never been more than 120ibs/55kg even if I ate pizza and cheeze 3 times a week, I just cannot gain weight. Lost weight because of a depression a few years ago and it feels like the weight scale has freezed since then. :L

            That people think its unheathy is a bit strange, because it seems to be some type “thigh gap” hype going on for a couple of years now. But personally, I prefer the old glamour 50’s ideals alot better than models that look like kids. I just dont get whats feminine with wearing size double zero in jeans when you are not teenager or shorter than 5 feet. Im 25 in May but get mistaken for 13-16 all the time. I cant even order juice in a bar without my ID card and always treated like a kid by other people. Im not influenced by peer pressure, but I often get an eye opener and become more concious when someone give me negative critism (both good and bad ones…).
            Its interesting though, people always want to have the things they dont have. Skinny people want to gain weight, Average to Plus size people want to be model thin. Its never a “happy medium”. As long as you dont get sick from being skinny or chubby or go on diet to match other people ideals. I dont see anything wrong with any size as long as they are healthy.

            Opps off topic. Anyway, Im appreciate that you actually answer people on this blog sometimes, so thanks for that! This is my favorite website when it comes to understand the elements of clothes! :-3 Dont find many blogs like that. (most seems to be about trends and social media…)

      • But isn’t it the case that the flowy polka dress is not as good on her because it LACKS structure and is too flowy? Surely she needs stiffer materials because she is thin? That is the case with me at least. I am a slim 8 and actually have pinchable fat around my middle (shelf on my high hip and tummy) but not much fat/flab anywhere else. with my slim arms, slim legs and tiny waist, garments with structure suit my body better than anything flowy/drapy/fluid.

  • Plaid is difficult for we apple shapes… Vertical stripes are easier and the vertical line in a buttoned up shirt is flattering.
    If you are looking for a more casual or feminine style than vertical stripes, there is a wide range of tunic or kaftan options in the shops now with patterns that might suit. This is because tops which are not shirts and not tunics/kaftans can easily look a bit like maternity wear on apple shaped people.

  • Perfect Imogen, Thanks! This is so helpful! So does the same advice make stripes more wearable (denser pattern on the midsection, more tonal, less structured fit, and on the diagonal?) Or perhaps a chevron, zigzag, or ikat print would be more ideal since they naturally make use of diagonal line? Thanks! It is fun to learn more about what works and why!

    • Checks are actually hard to wear unless you’re slim. Same advice goes for all patterns. Chevrons, zig zag are easier as the eye finds them hard to stop and focus on and moves more quickly over them.

  • I have to admit a weakness for big plaids but I try to resist and they do work very nicely on me in a diagonal bias cut. I really enjoyed this post because I’ve been trying to figure out why I tend to wear knits and sweaters and reject most of shirts and blouses. The exception was two stretch knit (not poly jersey like the 70’s disco shirts) white and off white button front shirts that I wore out. What you said about whether a garment would pool on the floor has given me much to think over. I’ve greatly reduced my stock of shirts and blouses and don’t buy more but I still have 4 left that would fail that pool test. Silly to keep if I keep passing them over to wear. (one always thinks it’s going to come out “right” next time πŸ˜€ )

    • Huh? It was a comment reply. If you thought I was writing a “post”, no, I just tends write long comments or “essay’s” as some calls them, when commenting (sometimes it ends up off topic…) . LOL. I just cannot summarize what I was trying to say. πŸ˜›

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