June 17, 2020

Sewing and Dressing for a “B belly”

Today I’m sharing a bit of insight into dressing a “B” belly! I’ve got one, and through designing sewing patterns I’ve learned about how to dress one in a way that’s comfortable and gives a nice flow to your garments.

Before I go on, a caveat: I’m 100% a fan of everyone dressing exactly how they want, and there’s nothing wrong at all with a visible belly outline in clothes! This is just sharing something I like to do, and you might too.

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What is a “B belly”?

Well, it’s a belly that looks like a “B” from the side! There are two curves, with an indent in the middle. It’s a super common type of tummy to have.

The “traditional” way of dressing with a “B belly”

Typically, your waist is thought of as the smallest part of you, which many people then understandably assume is the dent in between the two curves of your tummy. A lot of clothes are designed to be worn in that indent – and indeed I’ve found most ready-to-wear clothes from the shops—especially jeans and pants—have the waistband end up there.

But here’s the issue: wearing your waistbands there cuts into you, pushes the upper part of your belly out, and tends to cling to the lower part of your belly. If you then tuck your top in, it’s not going to be smooth.

A new approach!

What I’ve discovered is what I think is a much better approach: place your waistband on the upper curve—so a high-waisted style—and you get rid of all those issues! No cutting in, and the pants or skirt typically lie much flatter down your front. Then, as a bonus, when you tuck in your top, nothing’s pulling or cutting-in either.

This insight, together with the fact that most plus size, large busted women are very short waisted, explains why so many Cashmerette patterns are high waisted! You’ll find the waistband on dresses like the Upton Dress, Holyoke Maxi Dress & Skirt, and Lenox Shirtdress will likely hit you at that upper curve, and I think it’s one of the invisible reasons that so many curvy sewists feel confident in our designs.

What do you think, will you be giving this fitting strategy a try?


36 thoughts on “Sewing and Dressing for a “B belly”

  1. Kim Ansley says:

    This is such a great post! No wonder I love all my Uptons! Thanks for the help.

  2. M-C says:

    Good strategy for dresses. I prefer the pants in the groove thing, that helps them stay up, and I never tuck anyways

  3. Carrie S. says:

    I’m trying this new way if wearing pants, but the waist seems to migrate by mid day into the middle of the B. Perhaps I should try taking in at the top, so it can’t slide down as easily?

    1. Lusty says:

      Yes! I have this problem with pants. They always end up embedded in the indent with the waistband folded down. If I modify the shape of the waist to fit into the indent I get a pretty extreme slope on the waist from high in the back to low in the front.

      1. Claire D'Costa says:

        I find adding elastic to the back of the skirt or pant waistband, helps a lot to have them stay where you put them.

      2. karen tucker says:

        I have the same problem – after surgery, I was left very very short-waisted in the front with this “B” belly type body. I don’t tuck anything in and have learned to alter most patterns and ready made garments — dresses simply don’t alter well for me at all

    2. This approach only really works with high waisted pants, and the fit has to be such that it’s going to stay there – elastic can help a lot, or like you said, making sure it’s snug enough at that point on your body

  4. Aimee H. says:

    I will give it a try. I’m wondering about the Ellis skirt pattern and jeans….do you think they will work worn above the indent? In the pattern photos for Ellis it looks like it is worn above the indent. Is it?

    1. It always depends a little on your torso/crotch depth, but yes, the Ellis should be able to be worn just above the indent

  5. Colleen Garig says:

    This is sooooo amazing! It gives me hope that I could wear a shirt tucked in and it look okay. Thank you…. really.

  6. Evy says:

    When you posted about the b-belly on IG last weekend, I just went ‘THAT IS MY BELLY!’. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve learned a lot about my curves since I discovered Cashmerette.

  7. Denise says:

    Thank you SOOOO much for this article. Thats the belly I have! I have never heard of it referred to as this.. I always describe it as double muffin tops. But I have always had a hard time dressing well and just cover it with baggy tshirts. Now I can actually dress better! I appreciate this soo much!

    1. Roselle Cgives says:

      I’ll try the high waist. I’ve never heard of a b belly..except a beer belly…ahich is not quite the same. I’ve steered away from high waist before…ita a running joke about high waisted pants and old man in my country…but maybe they were onto something

  8. Anita says:

    It’s such a relief to finally find my belly shape represented.
    But… I’ve tried this, mostly because I had a sewing instructor who insisted that’s where my waistline sat. My biggest problem with this is that, as every human does, I breathe, and when I breathe my belly (both Bs) move, so, like others mentioned above, I end up with that high waist in my actual waist (which is a lot smaller than this higher waist). And the last thing I want to do is keep having to pull up my trousers, paying attention to my figure.

    Thing is. I never wear shirts in my trousers, I tend to wear flaring tunics and wide legged trousers, too. No, I’m not tall, but the wide legs under flaring tunics give the idea of the trousers being extension of that flare (my humble opinion, your miles may vary). It’s clothing I feel comfortable in.
    The last couple of trouser I bought (assumed to be my size) meant that the backwaist was where it was supposed to be, but to get the crotch sitting in my crotch, I had to pull the trousers up to almost breast height, which is weirdly comfortable, but looks weird if I only wear brahs and trousers. Still, they actually stay up. So I’ve started to wonder if I should stick to this high, high waist style.

    I’m about to make new trousers, and I don’t know if I should go low waist (between the Bs), or high, high waist (just below breasts).

    Any tips?

    1. Wynn says:

      I think go for the high high waist. I also stumbled across this in rtw. Exactly as you described – stops just under the bra. Best fit ever – no bulk at the “real” waist as it was all smooth knit attached to low rise jeans!! Best of both world’s. But I wish I could have similar in all linen so that I could wear a cropped shirt top untucked. So I think the Cashmerette High waist shorts & trousers would work well with a high high waist. For me, I’m not sure the big flare would work. I wonder if I could slim the legs down from the hips to hem. But definitely I’ll eventually go for the high high waisted shorts. I’m 5 foot tall.

  9. Heather Barnes says:

    I’m so glad I have found you. I am new to sewing, and trying to fit with a FBA is a nightmare for me. Patterns for a B belly, with bust sizes accounted for is just what I need, so thank you.

  10. Angela says:

    This is such a helpful insight! Follow-old question: when looking at shirts, especially more square/boxy or cropped styles, do you think it’s better to have the hem hit just above, just below, or at the indent? I’ve been struggling with that proportion, especially with high-waisted pants where there’s no tuck.

  11. Kelly Deltoro-White says:

    Hahaha! I never knew my belly had a name! Mine is kind of saggy and sloping, though. I work out a lot to help control my ADHD, and as my muscles have tightened, my skin and poodge have gone from sticking out to just kind of hanging there. It’s almost like I’ve developed a roof slope that falls off my leftover c-section flop. I’ve been sewing more and more because it is hard to find RTW clothes that are attractive on a proudly muscular-in-some-places-and-floppy-in-others body. I love my Cashmerette clothes. I love that they look as good as they feel. And I love love love that all bodies and bellies are celebrated here. And while I’m totally into the high waists, I would love to see you all develop a mid-rise that doesn’t cut into the B belly. I’m a casual dresser, and sometimes I like a slouchy look.

    1. Chris says:

      I have the same problem since my last couple pregnancies. The floppy bits are very aggravating!

  12. PennyC says:

    This is me!!!! And this explains why slightly high-waited tops and dresses are so flattering on my body.

  13. Marguerite says:

    I never thought about there being a B belly but you are so right and I have one! What a lightbulb moment. Thank you, that is so helpful.

  14. Margaret says:

    I’ve tried this, but for me the pants just keep creeping up as I move. It’s incredibly uncomfortable if I’m wearing pants as the crotch feels like it is trying to saw me in half and the waistband is cutting into my diaphragm every time I inhale. And skirts don’t fix the problem either because they quickly end up at my bra, which looks stupid. I don’t know what’s different about my shape, but this definitely doesn’t work for my “B” belly.

    1. Wyn says:

      Re the pants – go with the flow. Let them creep up and cut the crotch lower. I had this “sawing” problem with rtw and found cutting the crotch lower fixed it. Felt & looked better. I was very conservative – I just sewed it an 1/8 inch lower, trimmed the seam, try on. Repeated that until I got the fit right. (Didn’t want to hack too much off and wreck them.) I was happy with the result. I really recommend it.

    2. Wyn says:

      I have skirts move up too. But it’s ok with me in winter – a bit hot in summer, though. How tall are you? To fix it, maybe you need to do a short waist adjustment? ie shorten between the waist and hip? Also, if it rises up, is it because it’s not wide enough somewhere? Maybe the hip is riding up until the the widest part of the skirt is sitting on the hip so above that needs adjusting ie lower and also widen the waist area.

  15. krnmackenzie says:

    I love this idea. Everytime I wear a Lenox shirt dress, I feel happy and confident. I get lots of compliments. I’ll have to try the others now! Would the Washington fit in this style? I really like the knit tunic version that Jenny made. Thank you so much for addressing this issue. As I age, I feel like my “B” is getting more “shapely” and prominent and it’s been difficult to accept.

    1. Hannah Papernick-Yudin says:

      Yeah, it always seems so frustrating when the curves that become more prominent always seem to be the curves we don’t want. I know this comment is a year old but I recently discovered the Puma sportswear bra. It feds low on the torso as well as big supportive in the breasts and it kind of acts as an unintended shapewear for your upper belly. I feel so much slimmer and confident in it and it’s very comfortable to wear.

  16. Sandy says:

    Thanks for the article. I’ve never really seen this addressed elsewhere and this is my body shape. Now I know why the Upton had such a high waist.

  17. Susan says:

    Great article! Any advice for more of an “O” belly — like the B but without the indent?

  18. Beeble says:

    This is me and I’ve been doing this for years with RTW skirts in particular – I had a fantastic realisation one day in a store fitting room. I’m just starting my first Cashmerette patterns, so looking forward to having clothes actually designed this way!

  19. karen tucker says:

    Thank you for identifying my body type. I’ve tried everything to make things fit at one “waistline” or another. If I choose the higher one, everything folds down into the lower one and I spend all my time trying to pull up my pants. If I choose the lower one, there’s a very strong drop from the side seams to the middle, and I’m only 5’3″ tall so high waisted things don’t work overly well either. I have discovered that a nice simple tunic top over lower waisted pants works best for me.

  20. Adeline Rozak says:

    II am 5’1″ ( technically a petite) but most of my height is in my legs and RTW petite pants can only be worn with flat shoes. Regular pants are waaaay too long in the crotch. My torso is quite short and I have only a hand span between the bottom of my breasts and the top of my hip bone. Wearing pants at the top side of my B belly looks like I have no waist at all, just boobs and legs, and then “waist” drops down to the indent and I get baggy crotch. I want a smooth look but have no idea how to proceed. Help please.

    1. Heather Friedrichsen says:

      Adeline we must be twins! 5’1” petite curvy, narrow shouldered, sewist here too! While I love the high waisted pant with a tunic – the proportions look “off” if I choose to tuck anything (even a French tuck). I will continue my quest to make a well fitted white shirt that I can tuck with a well fitted pant, that accommodates my belly (bellies?) – high waisted or not! 😊

  21. Hannah Papernick-Yudin says:

    Great advice! I also love how you acknowledged that many people (or at least some people) have this body type by default and don’t just get it from being pregnant or overweight. The b belly goes down my family lineage, and I have been looking for hacks to work around it. Another hack that I have stumbled on completely by accident is the sportswear bra by Puma. It comes as a bra-shirt that can cover most of your torso and smooth down the upper part of your b-belly. It also fits lower on the back and could help prevent bra bulge, and is very supportive in the breasts. It is like an unintentional shapewear for your upper half and it makes me feel so much slimmer and held in.

  22. Des says:

    But what if you have large bust a long torso and a B belly? I find most high waisted pants uncomfortable and feel like it accentuates the wide ness of the middle terribly. Maybe this works for those on the smaller scale with shorter torsos.

  23. I’ve been struggling for quite a while to find a spot on my mid-section to call my “waist”. My problem with my B belly is that my upper belly protrudes out further than both my lower belly and my bust (and I have a large bust). So using this philosophy of setting my waist on the upper belly, just makes me look even bigger. I’ve been trying to come to terms with my shape and acceptance is hard!!

  24. Mary Powell says:

    I’ve been struggling to accept this advice. Stylistically, it’s brilliant. Everything looks great when I get dressed. But once I start moving around, the pants waistband either rides up to the underbust or down to the indent. It will not stay put. Adjusting the elastic doesn’t help. On my next pair of pants, I’m going to lower the rise to sit at the indent, cause that’s where it’s going to end up anyway and I’m sick of having a saggy backside and crotch as I move around during the day.

Let me know what you think!