One question I’ve gotten a lot over the years is “How do I hide a muffin top?” The most common solutions are buying bigger bottoms, or hiding under baggier tops.

What most women don’t realize is that choosing a larger size isn’t the only–or even best- way to address the issue. Neither is Googling “how to reduce a muffin top,” exercising to exhaustion, losing weight, or trying miracle supplements to get a firmer, flatter belly. The real trick is to avoid getting a muffin top in the first place.

Before I get into how to get the muffin out of our wardrobes, and back into the bakery, let’s answer those burning questions: What causes muffin top? and Why do I have a muffin top?

Muffin top occurs when the waistband of a bottom garment digs into the soft, easily-divided parts of our midsections. For some people, that’s right at the natural waist. Some women carry their softness higher up, and some lower down. But that’s why styles and cuts have changed so much in recent years. Clothing designers and manufacturers have begun to realize that our bodies are so diverse, and there is no single cut of pant or skirt that can fit every woman.

I want to be clear–you don’t have a muffin top because you need to lose weight. A little spillage over the waistband can happen to just about every woman. It’s not you, it’s the clothes.

With that in mind, I’ve put together some tips to help you tame the top without losing your mind (or feeling like you have to purchase clothes you don’t feel great in).


Step 1: Adjust the fit

hide muffin top bellyThe first and most effective way to avoid muffin top is to adjust the fit, or cut, of your bottoms.

If you’ve read our recent posts about dressing the body types (Pear, Apple, Rectangle, and Hourglass), you already know a lot about fit. But here’s a simple tip to remember.  Straight bodies need straight cuts, while curvy bodies need curvy cuts.  By “straight” I don’t mean straight legs or straight skirts–that’s what’s happening at the bottom of the garment.  I mean straight fits, or, what’s happening through the waist and hip. Straight cuts, often called “modern”, have little difference between the waist and hip measurements. This is good for Apples and Rectangles. Curvy fits have a bigger difference between the waist and hip measurements.  This is good for Pears and Hourglasses.

If you’re a person who does not have a well-defined waist, and you find yourself in a curvy cut pant, you’ll automatically have a muffin top, as the waistband of the pants goes in, where your waist doesn’t.

If you don’t know your body shape and find yourself winging it in the dressing room (first of all, stop what you’re doing and take the quiz, experiment with the different fits available at your favorite store until you find the one that mimics your shape best. Also consider trying a style with some stretch or give in the waistband and material. Lots of women are between straight and curvy fits, and a flexible fabric will save you a trip to the tailor.


Step 2: Adjust your rise

jeans rise hide muffin top

If adjusting the fit doesn’t work, adjust the rise next.

The rise is the measurement from the middle crotch seam to the top of the waistband. Common rises for women’s pants and jeans range from 7 inches (ultra low) to 12 inches (ultra high).

Remember how I mentioned that women regardless of size have softness in different places? That’s why I love the fact that there are so many rises now! Having the waistband of your pants or skirt end right at your soft spot is a recipe for a muffin top, for sure!  Often muffin tops are easily fixed by finding a rise that goes above, or below, your softest spot.

There’s a right rise for every woman, and an easy way to find yours is to pay attention to where you like your jeans to sit. From being with hundreds of women in fitting rooms as a stylist, one thing I noticed is that after women put their jeans on, they often shimmy them up or down a little, finding the sweet spot. That’s your body telling you where your favorite rise is.

In most cases, a higher rise fixes a muffin top, but that isn’t true for every body. When finding your best rise, take a mid-rise and a high-rise style into the fitting room and compare.


Step 3: Adjust your size

avoid muffin top with the right size bottomsIf you’ve found the right fit, and the rise is right, it’s time to take a look at the size. Again though, this should never be the first place you start to fix a muffin top. Bigger jeans in the wrong fit will still give you a muffin top, but they’ll also be too big–doubly unflattering! Same with bigger jeans in the wrong rise.

There are times in life where we need bigger pants. That’s not a reflection on you as a person. You are not the number on a label. Finding clothes that fit you properly will do more for how you look, and how you feel about yourself, than hanging onto the idea that you “should” be a different size. Give yourself permission to buy pants that fit and flatter, regardless of how often you change sizes.

The right bottoms solve 90% of the muffin top problem, but your tops make a difference, too. Clingy, fitted knits will highlight any softness in the midsection, while flowy woven blouses, and even drapey knits will glide over your body.

The most important part of style is feeling confident in what you’re wearing. If you’re self-conscious in your clothing, it shows, so choose clothes you love, and that you feel great in, and then slay the day.

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