March 27, 2008

"Mr. Hall, I was surfing the crimson wave. I had to haul ass to the ladies'."

There is a day or two (or five) in every month where every normal woman on this planet feels less than fabulous. No matter how much fiber and water you take in your system, it seems like the bloat is uncontrollable and out or proportion. This is something I'm unfortunately very familiar with.

I'll include some anti-bloat remedies at the end of this post, but the purpose of this post is to give all of us non-menopausal women ideas for how to hide that extra tummy that sometimes appears when we don't want it to.

Outfit components that hide tummy:

1) A structured jacket
This is something to be worn in every season - corduroy, denim, wool, tweed, cotton, or satin. Sleeve length and color are not nearly as important as fit. The buttons should all button without puckering, the shoulder seam should sit on the edge of the shoulder, and sleeves should reach to the fleshy base of your thumbs. The length of the jacket depends on body type, but look for fits and lengths that give you an hourglass shape. The structure and put-together look of a good jacket is the best combatant to a little tummy.

2) Empire-waisted tops and dresses
Some people still say they make you look pregnant if you're larger than a size 4, but I disagree. Any top or dress that accentuates the smallest part of your torso (below the bust) and doesn't cling below that hem flatters everyone. And they don't need to be huge, blousy tunics to work.

3) Careful layering
Color-strategic layering using structured pieces works wonders. Take a sweater or vest in black, navy, chocolate or dark gray, and layer a lighter Oxford underneath it. The dark color on your torso, especially with a vest or short-sleeved sweater, will balance with your Oxford to create a torso that looks more in proportion with the arms.

4) Open cardigans
Start with a loose, pretty cami in silk, linen or another non-clingy fabric, and add a cardigan. Button if you like, but if it's on the snug size, leaving it open showcases the pretty tank top and will not make you self-conscious as long as the tank is loose, like I said.

Outfit components that don't work:

1) Turtlenecks, crewnecks and boatnecks.
High necklines showcase the midsection, especially if in an unstructured cut or snug fit. Avoid thin fabrics and light colors.

2) A long scarf.
It doesn't work for celebs trying to hide a bun in the oven, and it doesn't work for hiding bloat. The problem: a scarf may cover the front, center torso area when looking dead-on. But bloat invades the 3-dimensional torso, and lest we forget, scarves move often. You're not fooling anyone.

3) Baggy hoodies, sweaters and t-shirts.
Not only do they look sloppy, but clothing that's too large makes you look even bigger.

4) Oxfords solo.
Unless it's a roomier fit, bloating fluctuations can put you in button-pucker zone.

How to avoid bloating in the first place:
1) Water water water water water. It's important on a daily basis, but even more during that time. The more you drink of it, less of it you'll retain. You can also get extra water out of fresh fruits and vegetables.

2) Avoid carbonated beverages like soda and beer. The bubbles just make your tummy jut out more, and they are usually high in sodium, making you retain more water.

3) Don't chew gum, even if it's sugar-free. This makes you swallow small amounts of air that contribute to bloating and gas.

4) Avoid salt. Check labels - stuff that I love usually has a lot of salt, like fat-free Pringles, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, pretzels and soup. Less salt = less sodium = less bloating.

5) Try to be at least a little active. I know the most tempting thing is to lie down with a box of cookies and veg in front of the TV (hell, that's how I spent this evening). But if you do some stretches, take a walk, do some dancing or even just cleaning up the house, you'll feel a lot better. It's hard to get up, but once you do, it feels great. Trust.

Good luck!

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