After two kids, my stomach is a mess. It’s not fat. I’ve actually lost all the weight. It’s just that the loose skin won’t hold the shape of my waist. When I stand up, it sticks out. When I sit down, I get at least two rolls (not a good look in my usual flimsy T-shirt). I can’t deal with wearing yoga pants anymore, but jeans give me major muffin top. What am I supposed to wear for the rest of my life? (I am assuming this skin ain’t bouncing back if it hasn’t already). – Sad Sack of Skin
Dear Sad Sack,
The belly hang of which you speak is a common post-baby affliction. If your skin’s not super-elastic, you’re left with a rather textural experience between ribs and hipbones. A soft, “maternal” body is not, in itself, an eyesore. It’s often ill-fitting clothes that make it so hard to bear. But there are ways to avoid the traps of this midsection crisis.
The key to preventing “muffin top” is avoiding a situation where your stomach is constricted, then released. It’s not just squidgy moms who are susceptible. Hell, we’ve seen teenagers in low-cut jeans spilling love handles all over town. You can try a higher cut jean, which can often be more flattering. But be wary of the seriously high-waisted trend. Even a slightly convex shape can hurtle you into mom jeans territory when the waistline nears your navel. You can also try the “Boyfriend Jean” approach, a reliable solution to the “freshman fifteen” for generations. While a tight hipster jean will give you a full-on Brioche Belly, the right loose pair will hang flatteringly from your hips without digging into your overly flexible midsection. If you’re not a baggy jeans girl, you can find yourself a good tailor to take in the legs.
Sadly, the tissue tee is a hard look to pull off with a loose belly. One option is putting a tight tank top underneath to contain the jiggle. Or layer a few tissues. But maybe bag this trend for a more structured or heavier tee. You may also want to venture into the more forgiving blouse family, though we acknowledge that irons are not our personal friends and we are loath to advise anyone to do anything that might lead to more housework. The diaphanous tree-druid look may be another way to go, if you’re into free-floating fashion.
And then, there’s Shapewear. We know. It’s uncomfortable. It’s expensive. But it does work, and can be a pretty reliable way to improve your appearance in clothes you might otherwise leave in a heap in the bottom of your closet. And while we’re on the topic of annoying solutions: posture. If you sit up really straight, you’ll lose at least one roll. A little training at the gym can be helpful for this, whether or not you need it for weight-loss purposes.
And one, last, somewhat counterintuitive option: gain a few pounds. Anecdotal evidence tells us that women who still have weight to lose have far fewer complaints about sagging skin. Whether this is because their bellies are tighter or because they’re too busy complaining about losing the leftover weight is unclear.
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