9 In Getting Dressed

Dress the middle by working around it

I got to thinking, in the middle of decorating the house for the holidays, about dressing the middle … that part of a woman’s body that many women hate. If you’re a woman who is over forty-five or fifty, I bet you’ve complained about it a hundred times this year so far. You’ve said things like:
“I used to show off my waist and now I can’t find one!”
“What do I do about these rolls?”
“My body’s betrayed me! I don’t know how to dress anymore!”
“I feel so old now.”

This bag begins to cover the area many women complain about

Believe me, I’ve heard the complaints, but I don’t believe any body part should be hated so join me in some new fashion math that can have you loving your middle.

Go Vertical

Create a vertical focus that draws attention up to the face

In the outfit above – a sleeveless gray tee (by Classiques at Nordstrom) with a gray ¾ sleeved cardigan sweater over it (by Theory) – the waistline isn’t the focus. The interest is in the vertical center section of the torso. The different directions of ribbon on the stretchy t-shirt as well as the multiple strands of beads that fill in at the neck provide distraction from the middle. Middle? What middle?

More vertical interest

In this outfit above, which could be worn with a trouser or a skinny blue jean and heels, there’s more vertical interest. The ruffles that line the button placket of the olive green silk blouse draw the eye up to the face. The sequined jacket is cut more square with a pleat in the back that draws in some of the fabric so it’s not too baggy. The contrast of the sparkly sequins to the smooth silk adds more interest to the outfit. Waist? Who cares!

Soft folds and side detail with buttons creates a waist detail while camouflaging rolls

Here’s a sweater (above) that is more friendly than a close-fitting pullover. The gentle gathering into the waist at the side actually provides extra fabric for those rolls to hide behind while creating the illusion of a waistline. No one will mistake a twenty-eight inch waist for a thirty-three inch waist but it’s the line we’re going for, not the exact measurements. The necklace draws the eye up which creates a longer, leaner line. Not bad for post-holiday waistlines!

Filling in the center of the body is the new direction to follow

This outfit has a lot of detail that fills in the center core of the body. The individual pieces are a ¾ sleeve scoopneck knit dressy tee, a sleeveless leather vest that looks best open rather than zipped closed, the same knotted necklace that’s in the picture before this one, and a cotton boa scarf tied in a simple hangman’s knot. I’ve worn this outfit a couple of dozen times already. What’s great is that I can take the top layers off and it still works. If I’m in a warm room, I can take the scarf off and the vest still has a lot of interest at the top. The sparkly necklace is a fun, feminine contrast to the leather motorcycle-styled vest.  I could even take the vest off if I wanted to because the top is not clingy. I don’t have to be worried about showing rolls when there’s no fabric clinging to them.

So, remember, you’re not decorating the waistline as much as you’re decorating the line perpendicular to it – that imaginary vertical line that would intersect your belly-button and your breastplate. There’s no reason to give up on fashion just because your body has changed. Embrace the changes and have fun!

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  • Reply
    January 14, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Wow, this is great! Thank you so much for helping me out in this area. Now, I just need to learn how this translates in summer attire, when it’s just too hot for vests, jackets and scarves.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2011 at 8:34 am

    So true! Summer definitely has it’s challenges. I’ll start working on the solutions!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I was going to ask the same question! 🙂 I love layering in the winter, but I get warm very easily and have no idea how to dress comfortably in the summer. And I’m REALLY short so clothing that is too loose and “airy” makes me look silly, which cuts out a lot of options.

    I really appreciated the suggestions in this article, though, and I loved the first look you put together!

  • Reply
    Patricia Harmanci
    January 15, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Thank you for this posting! I don’t see a lot of talk about this problem which surprises me with baby boomers being a significant part of our population. I have a question: are these clothing items now available? I love the black sweater. Thank you.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Whoo hoo! Will be looking forward to the summer one! I am opposite of Christy…I’m tall and thin but do have that “middle problem” that I want to disappear. At least when I’m dressed…ha.

  • Reply
    January 16, 2011 at 8:15 am

    To answer your question, Patricia, the black sweater that has the buttons on the side was available at Nordstrom. Someone else emailed me about that and found it in two colors!

    Looks like I have my work cut out for me–to find these solutions for summer clothes! That’s okay, I’m up for the challenge!

  • Reply
    Patricia Harmanci
    January 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Thank you, Brenda. I’ll visit Nordstrom. I’ll look forward to your summer solutions!

  • Reply
    Jennell Thornton
    January 17, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Love all the outfits!! I too am looking forward to your “summer outfits”. Living in Fl and having constant hot flashes I find it so difficult to dress comfortable and fashionable!!
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with:)

  • Reply
    Sally Alexander
    January 20, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Good guidelines! For summer, we can follow the same principle by wearing a long interesting necklace or choosing longer, shaped blouses with embellishment along the front placket (not that I have found any of those!) But it’s very difficult to find flattering yet comfortable summer clothes, especially when temps are 90 degrees and higher every day, so I will be looking forward to your suggestions.

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