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.