Fashion 101: How Not to Look Pregnant

via Zazzle

I was standing on a crowded bus the other day, clutching the handle with one hand, and my cup of takeout coffee with the other, as the bus swayed and bumped it’s way down the street. You can imagine my surprise and sheer delight when a young man got up, gestured towards his seat and said, “here, why don’t you sit?” I stared at this man in shock for approximately three seconds before jumping right into the seat. I was really stunned, I mean, this sort of thing never happens in New York! I have hobbled around on a broken foot in a cast on the subway, and no one so much as even looked up from their Daily News. So of course, given this rare opportunity, I happily obliged. But no sooner did I plop in the seat, did a feeling of dread wash over me. “Holy shitballs,” I thought, “did that dude just give me his seat because he thought I was pregnant?” I looked down at my stomach, I was wearing a very formfitting dress, and I had just scarfed a plate of enchiladas and a few Coronas. Did my food belly really just land me a coveted seat on the B62? Was this just run-of-the-mill body paranoia, or did my stomach finally cross the line from potbelly, to possible bun-carrying oven?

For the sake of my sanity, I am going to choose to believe that perhaps the young man in question was just paying forward a random act of kindness. Or maybe his stop was coming up. Or maybe he had been sitting all-day and felt like standing. Or maybe he thought I was cute.

Regardless, this incident forced me to examine my own body insecurity. Yep, I have a belly. No, I don’t like doing crunches, running, or spinning. I also do not like drinking in ‘moderation’ or skipping dessert. So, if I want to prevent embarrassing freak-outs like the bus incident, I am going to have to start dressing better. Below are a few tips for dressing to minimize the your chance of appearing pregnant.

1. Just Say No to Low rise

This is tricky. Low waisted jeans can cause a tummy to pooch out. If your favorite jeans just happen to be low waisted, then do not wear a tight or short shirt with them. If you like how the jeans fit everywhere else but the stomach, wear a longer, looser shirt that covers the waistband. To test the length, try raising your arms above your head. If the tum-tum is still covered, you’re good.

2. Beware of the Mom Jeans, or the Jessica Simpson effect

High waisted pants are very chic and very hot right now- but be careful. If the waistline is too high, say above the belly button, then that will draw attention to the gut as well, as you will be highlighting the belly curve. Ideally, the pants should hit about one inch below the belly button, thus cutting the belly in half, and preventing the ballooning look.

3. RIYF (Ruching is your friend)

Ruching is a technique where fabric is gathered and bunched. When a dress is rouched in the right places, it can obscure the belly and draw attention to the dress, and away from your abdomen. If the ruching is done well, it can also create an optical illusion that your waist is smaller.

4. Waistband

I think shirts with bands on the bottom are a bad idea. Always. I don’t even know what these shirts are called. I saw a woman wearing a loose, flowy shirt that had a tight band on the bottom. I don’t know what would possess a person to wear a shirt like that. Anything with a band around the middle screams ‘with child.’

5. Save the Empire Waist for when you really are pregnant

I say this a lot, but for women with bellies, empire waist is just not flattering. I know you want to just hide your belly sometimes, but empire waist dresses and tops will make you look pregnant. I know they can make your rack look great, but hello, this just adds to the problem (hello nursing?). I have said it before, but it is best just to stick to your natural waist. A-line skirts that hit on the waist are flattering. Anything that can help give the appearance of an hourglass shape is good. You want to highlight your bust and hip curves, and take the eyes off of that other curve.

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    • Kate!

      The week before my period, all I wear — ALL I WEAR — are empire waists. I think that bloated week before, empire waists are valid life choices. You need SOMETHING. Giant t-shirts just can’t cut it in every situation.

    • Lauren

      The same thing happened to me on the subway once. I was holding on to the bar across the top and a guy saw me and said “oh, are you pregnant? You should take my seat.” and go up so I could sit down. I was so SHOCKED by the chivalry – I have never seen that happen before – that I just sat down and thanked him. Then I almost cried until my stop because I was definitely not pregnant, and I had broken up with my boyfriend a few months before so I had gained a little post-break-up weight, and since I had broken up with my boyfriend, it was impossible for me to be pregnant. This is what happens when someone thinks your pregnant and you are not… I have since lost weight, but anytime my belly stands out in an outfit, it gets trashed.

    • Maria

      I got asked at my work, “When’s the baby due?” when my youngest was about ten months old. The lady was a regular and crazy but it was still humiliating and she said it loud enough so EVERYBODY in the building heard. Pretty upsetting. I don’t even know what I exactly said back to her. It was some jumbled, high-pitched mess of words that basically meant, “I. AM. NOT. PREGNANT!!!!”.

    • Cori

      I just had my son in January & bought those “slim fit” jeans at Walmart because they were cheap & knew I would quickly grow out of them, and because the belly panel went up like my maternity jeans & would hold in my excess skin from having a 10lb kid. I was wearing them the other day because I just haven’t bought new ones yet, even though they’re too big, and realized I was wearing mom jeans. It was awful.

    • Carrie

      When I was 7 months pregnant I was taking the train to and from work. Coming home one day, the trains were packed due to a sporting event. So there I was big and pregnant, because my baby was standing in utero. 40 minutes go by and a train full of men just sit there, reading, talking, sleeping and what not. 5 minutes before my stop, an elderly woman looks up and sees me and takes my hand and sits me down and scolds the men surrounding us saying “shame on you boys, this young gal is with child and not one of you gave up your seat”. Yeah…that’s not embarassing at all.

      • Kaylaandrena

        Yeah…That’s not embarrassing at all, that’s exactly true! Those men should have given up their seats because it is the right thing to do…