The location of my waist didn’t really matter when I was sixteen (and had the figure of a ten year old boy). Or even twenty (with the same figure). And if you’d asked me where my waist was I likely would have placed my hands just above my hips. After all, we were in the midst of the era of low-rise pants (are we still? I don’t pay enough attention to know these days) and I had a closet full of jeans that barely (or didn’t) cover my hip bones. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the pants had been accompanied with longer than normal shirts, but at the start of the 2000s you didn’t see much of that and so there was often a midriff gap that was not easy to pull off if you were above a size 0.
Which brings me to a brief digression: I was watching the news a few nights ago and one of the reporters actually said that in fashion size 6 models are now considered “plus size models.” I’m not kidding. Just when you think that insanity has reached rock bottom, they plunge on by.
But back to my point: I had no idea where my waist was. Pre-babies this wasn’t such a big deal. Post babies it was something that I needed to figure out and figure out quickly if I was going to find anything that was vaguely flattering. The problem was that I didn’t even know that there was a problem. My waist had always been way down past my belly button, where my pants settled, and wasn’t that just where a waist was?
As I fumbled through post-partum dressing I began to figure things out: little by little, month by month and year by year. Low rise anything, even with a long, tunic that covered everything, was going to make me look like I either had a beer belly or was still pregnant. An empire waisted dress would mean that people were coming up to my husband at work, a month after I gave birth to Mae, and asking him in a whisper if we were expecting again already.
It was two of the skirts that I bought on clearance for something like $4 at Penny’s that pointed me in the right direction. They came up to the point that I would later realize was actually my waist, some inches higher than I’d previously realized, and then flowed out easily. They accented my actual waist, the narrowest point on my torso, and as a result were more flattering. It didn’t matter if the muscles in my stomach, after two nine plus pound babies, were not what they once had been, because they were camouflaged by my skirt, rather than problematically drawing attention to a waist that was either too high or too low and therefore disproportional.
The various trends of the moment, usually don’t fit to flatter this little secret. But I have found one secret that helps some dresses that would otherwise not make the cut. A wide black belt that I recently found at Target after my other belt finally kicked the bucket and was no longer useable. It felt expensive buying it with a gift card I’d gotten for Christmas, and I found myself saying $16 for a belt?!?!?! but I new I needed to replace the one I had, and this one was stretchy and pretty and I had a feeling it would work. It looks a bit like this.
It's been a great addition to my closet and has revived a few outfits I didn't like wearing with my old, narrow belt. Because it’s stretchy it slides perfectly to actual “waist” level and stays in place. It gives some of my stretchy-knit is-she-or-isn’t-she-pregnant (like now when I’ not) dresses enough definition to wear without getting comments about where I’m going to put #3 when I take the girls on walks in the red wagon (it’s happened since we’ve been here).
And that is what I wish I’d known a bit earlier when I was searching for a flattering fit. The fashion world doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to make clothes that are absolutely wearable for women who’ve gone through puberty, so these tricks are good to know!
Do you have any fashion secrets you’d like to share? If you do I’m all ears!