Fashion: What to do when your waistline starts to thicken?

Fashion editor Heather’s solutions for when your waistline ain’t what it used to be.

waistline-fashion-200x300I admit it: for years I have been a small-waisted gal, the one who would feel a little embarrassed when admitting to still wearing size 8 jeans, even post-children. Actually, if the truth be told, I needed a belt more often than not, as jeans cut for ‘normal’ women bagged around my more boyish waist.

But recently all that changed and, at the ripe old age of 52, I began to notice something I remembered hearing other women moan about – the gradual widening of my waistline. And, bar going up a size (or two) when making new purchases, I admit I was stumped.

I wasn’t quite sure how to dress this ‘new’ me. Things that had worked well for years (or so it seemed) looked somehow wrong. I had a mini-panic over this when I realised I was going to have to re-learn the rules of style – or rather what worked for me.

I mean, I love clothes, but I certainly didn’t want to waste time obsessing over what to wear, nor was I ready to retreat into a uniform of over-sized jumpers and leggings (which, I should add, have their place and can look fabulous – see below) to hide my disappearing waistline.

So, here’s what I have discovered so far in my quest to find fresh ways to dress that a) still show something of my figure but b) hopefully avoid the obvious pitfalls of the shapeless look.

For now, they are my new fail-safes.

Solution 1

long-top-fashion-waistline-300x300Long line tops with some fit and/or stretch in them are flattering. Wear these over flat-fronted trousers or a pencil skirt and they will elongate your body and emphasise the shapely part of your waist, without drawing attention to any bulges.

But make sure you get the fit right: the top should skim your waist and tummy, not cling to them. Choose a decent fabric, as anything too flimsy or cheap will have the opposite of the desired effect. Oh, and dark colours are the most flattering.

Team the top and trousers/skirt with an interesting necklace or scarf to balance your silhouette, and throw on a long line cardi for warmth and added elegance. And off you go.

Solution 2

long-jumper-fashion-waistline-180x300Long line jumpers and straight-legged trousers. I know, I just said I didn’t want to get stuck on the oversized jumpers and leggings look, but, worn well, this one can be a winner. And it is so comfortable.

Again, the choice of fabric matters here. A fine knit with some shaping detail looks great on almost anyone, even the more diminutive woman, if she gets the proportions right. Go for a top which finishes not longer than six inches above the knee. Any longer and it will look frumpy.

A simple chunky choker-style necklace or an elegant long twist is the only accessory you need. Oh, and some heels will look good.

Solution 3

wrap-dress-fashion-waistline-210x300The wrap dress. I am so happy these are still in fashion. In fact, they’ve been around for over 30 years, one way or another, and there’s a reason for that: they make just about every woman look great. And they give you a waist.

My personal favourite is the type that drapes from the shoulders into a cross-over V at the bust down to the waist (M&S has some great versions this winter), although I am still wearing a shirt-collared cross-over I bought years ago, which is pretty flattering too.

If you don’t want to flaunt cleavage, pop on a plain camisole or tank top underneath and all the jewellery you like on top. I wear mine with knee-length flat-heeled boots most of the time, but you can glam them up with heels for added elegance.

These dresses work miracles, adding shape where you need it and somehow taking the eye away from what you would rather hide. Miraculous!

Solution 4

floaty-top-fashion-waistline-107x300The ‘floaty’ top. So obvious this one, but it’s my go-to default position when I am feeling a little…rounder, shall we say? There are many types of these out there and some I have had for years.

Indeed my absolute favourite is a white cotton cropped smock with three quarter puffed sleeves that came from Primark. Almost every time I wear it (and I have been wearing it for years) someone compliments me.

It looks good with cropped trousers or straight legs and even though it is quite full, and so has the potential to make one look pregnant, somehow it really works. When you are wearing these, you can relax – all is truly hidden.

These are just some ideas – let me know yours. After all, we can get stuck in a rut and some of my most interesting fashion discoveries have come from suggestions made by other people. So let’s share!

Heather Boal-Russell

About Heather Boal-Russell

Like many women of my age (52 – just), I have had several careers, including lawyer, sales manager and teacher. I am also a wife and the mother of three daughters, and recently added grandmother (of the wonderful Alettia) to my list of accomplishments. Having grown up in Northern Ireland, my heart is still drawn to the sea but I now live in beautiful rural Sussex - ideally placed for Gatwick Airport (travel definitely broadens the mind) and those inspirational shopping (and, of course, cultural) trips to London.