Making Clothes Work For You – Part 1 The Tank Dress

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IMG_9027 I’ve heard quite a bit lately that I look great, and I don’t even look like I just had a baby 4 months ago.  I always say thank you and appreciate the compliment, but I am always a bit perplexed when people say I don’t look like I just had a baby.  I always wonder what discerning factor tells those of us that gave birth in the last year, apart from those that have not, besides the little baby in our arms.  I’m still about 20 pounds overweight from my prepreganncy weight, I still have a very obvious pooch, and my prepregnancy button up pants still don’t fit, but either way I’ll take the compliment.  All swelling has gone down in my tummy though, so at this point, this is the body I have for the time being, so this is the body I’m going to make the most of, whether I lose anymore weight or not.  So when I get compliments that I don’t look like I just had a baby, I would politely beg to differ and tell people that I have just learned to dress my body in its current state to hide some of those obvious tell tale signs.  What does that mean?  Accentuate the positive, of course.  Let me give you an example. IMG_9065 IMG_9041

The tank dress; I’ve had this one in my closet for the last couple of years, and while it’s admittedly not the easiest style to wear, I wanted to use a bit of an extreme example to start off.  From the front view it doesn’t look so bad, right?  But then I turn to the side, and whoa, look at that pooch!  I easily look 3-4 months pregnant here, and while in my book it’s still perfectly acceptable to look this way, especially since I’m still breastfeeding, it’s not acceptable to dress in a way that will flaunt those “trouble” areas.  So let’s see what we can do to correct this situation a bit, shall we? IMG_9043

The first thing I’ll do is add a long layering tank.  I’m not sure why these work so well, but long tanks perform some sort of magic when it comes to helping to hide a tummy.  It’s like an extra layer of defense, or a deflection tactic.  You can’t even see that I have it on, but it gives me an extra bit of security knowing that if I raise my arms you’ll see the tank.  Call me strange.  Anyhow, once I have my layering tank on, I’ll add a loose fitting sweater.  But the key to this look working is to have your top layering piece, such as this sweater, be loose, but also form fitting in the arms and to have a bit of a lower neckline.  Why? IMG_8997

The form fitting sleeves elongate the arm and make them look overall more slim.  It also gives the look a less bulky feel.  The slight scoop in the neckline shows off a bit of skin and again, makes the sweater look less overpowering.  The loose silhouette in the body drapes right over that tummy and pretty much hides it entirely, and the length is long enough to cover the tummy, but short enough to show off a bit of my bum, which I still consider to look pretty decent for a 36 year old mom of 3.  Accentuate the positive right? IMG_8999 IMG_9010

And while I’ll admit that a form fitting tank dress is a tough look to pull off, I think this is a great example of making any piece work in your closet (that fits, that is!) work for your postpartum phase.  With some creativity and experimenting, you can make the most out of what you’ve already got in your closet, instead of having to rush out and buy a bunch of new clothes for your new body.

My arms and my tummy are right now, my problem areas.  I plan to do a few of these series in the future, showing different staples to choose to help with these problem areas, focusing on dresses and tops.  But are there any other “trouble areas” you’d like me to consider and work with?  I’d love your feedback and questions, if you have any!



Andrea Howe

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • Mara Yager says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this!! I admire you for sharing with all of us, and it’s inspiring. I remember the horrors of dealing with getting dressed after baby, and a year and a half later it’s still tricky! I always tell people, it’s all about putting your best foot forward, and learning what and what not to expose. It’s a science

    • Andrea Andrea says:

      Mara I’m more than happy to share and glad you enjoyed the post. And you are so right, getting dressed after having a baby, in a way that will flatter you can definitely be a science. Happy to break it down a bit :)

  • jill says:

    I love your honesty and humility and confidence. You look fabulous…and let’s be honest, the fact that Hayden is such a happy healthy baby has made you positively GLOW.

  • i love your confidence in your body– keep rockin’ it lady.

  • Kat says:

    I was a bit sceptical when you combined your blogs because I don’t consider myself to be a big follower of “modern style”. However, I have been very pleasantly surprised by your posts. In fact, I have really valued your honest approach to trying to look good whilst still being a wonderful mum. I too am a 36 year old mum of three. My baby daughter is now 7 months old and I have pretty much the same trouble areas as you, so I will read your future posts with great interest.

    My big question at the moment is about my hair. I have slightly shorter hair than you and sometimes I wonder if there is a age at which I should go shorter. I never have the time to do anything with it, so it just sort of hangs there. I have been looking at some styles I could do it up in but sometimes I worry about trying to look a bit too young. I think that your hair looks great in these photos and if anything you tempt me to grow mine even longer :) I just wondered if you had any thoughts about it, or ideas about age appropriate low maintenance hairstyles. Thanks. x

    • Andrea Andrea says:

      Hi Kat! First, let me apologize for taking sooo long to write back! I hope you are still following this thread. Life got a bit away from me these past few weeks. Second, I’m glad you are enjoying the blog and finding posts that hit home with you. And third, regarding hair, I really think age and hair are a non issue. I see that many woman feel that at some point they need to chop off their hair or go with a certain style that is more “mom” appropriate, but I think as long as you feel good and can manage the style, then that is all that matters. For me, longer hair takes more work to actually “do”, but it’s perfect for the 90% of the time when I don’t have time to do my hair. When that happens, I simply sweep it up in a very loose bun or wear it in a ponytail. I add some curls if I have time to make the pony tail a bit more “pretty”, but that’s not necessary at all. I think as long as you’re not dying your hair some crazy colors are shaving off the sides or some new trend like that, hair is hair and there is no “young” or “old” styles. That is honestly how I feel :) I personally love seeing older women with long hair. Does this help at all?

  • Megan says:

    Andrea, I absolutely love you! This is my first comment since I’ve started following you shortly before Hayden’s birth, but I have to tell you how much of an inspiration you’ve been to me in preparation for and after my second son’s birth a month ago. Your posts encourage me to take the extra time to find the right something to be comfortable in while still looking good, and my self confidence is all the higher for it. So thank you for being so real and so inspiring.

    • Andrea Andrea says:

      Thank you so much for the very sweet and thoughtful comment Megan! I truly appreciate it :) I hope I can continue to come up with content to inspire :)

  • Susie says:

    Thank you for your honest sharing! I’m just starting to try to dress “nicer.” My trouble areas are definitely my pouch (I still get mistaken for being pregnant despite being 1yr+ postpartum. I also struggle with finding breastfeeding friendly clothes. I don’t want to have to buy a bunch of new clothes so I end up with low-cut tops or cardigans over my nursing tanktops.

  • Beth @ dot in the city says:

    I’ve been wondering about a shift dress and how to make the look work for someone with curves. I agree, it can be a great layering piece.

  • Great post, Andrea! I’m 9 months post-partum and still hanging on to an extra five pounds or so, so I love the inspiration to dress for the body you have.

  • Ms. Megan says:

    Such a clever idea!!

  • Amanda says:

    I think is great advice in general, and not just for postpartum figures. You look great!

    • Andrea Andrea says:

      I would have to agree, many woman, postpartum or not, have trouble areas and it’s all about working with what you’ve got! thank you!

  • MoniQue says:

    I love this post! I feel like I have so much to learn about picking clothes that look good on me. I’d love it if you did another post on working with big bottoms! Thank you!!!

    • Andrea Andrea says:

      I’ll have to get creative with this one. I used to have a bubble butt, but after 3 kids it’s a bit more flat and smallish now, hanging down to the back of my legs haha! I’ll see what I can come up with though!

  • […] Behold! The power of knowing how to make clothes work for your body. […]

  • Suz says:

    I think black tights would be a great finish to this look-make it more polished and streamlined.

  • Jennifer Ott says:

    I love you. You are amazing!!! Thank you for looking amazing and still showing your pooch!!!

  • […] totally different direction, I’ve been enjoying this blog recently. As a mom, her honesty in this post and this one were […]

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