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9 Ways to Fake a Waist

When your midriff goes AWOL, here are ways to bring it back

spinner image Mary McCormack, Octavia Spencer and Oprah Winfrey wearing dresses
Getty Images (3), Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; Frederick M. Brown; JB Lacroix/WireImage

Where'd it go? My waist was here just last year. It's no secret that after age 50 extra subcutaneous belly fat (the inch you can pinch) and visceral belly fat (the deeper kind, buried around organs) sneak up and body-nap our middle, causing it to expand. Blame menopause, metabolism slowdown, stress and insomnia but the battle of the bulge eventually arrives. "Eat less, move more," we tell ourselves, but what about today? Resist the temptation to hide out in shapeless clothes. Here's how fashion editors and stylists like me reboot silhouettes with nine shape-making tricks (even celebrities benefit!):

spinner image Carolina Herrera belts a green shirtdress, Mary Steenburgen in black narrow belt
Getty Images (2), Andrew Toth for the Museum of Modern Art; Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

1. Wear a belt with a new uplifting bra

You need both bra and belt for this tip to work. The bra hikes "the girls" up and off your torso, creating more space between your breasts and belly. Then add the belt just above your real waist — a half inch to an inch higher on the ribcage (a crucial move with a large chest and short torso!) — to fake an immediate hourglass silhouette. Try it with any dress, from fit-and-flare styles to free-flowing shifts or sheaths. Go wide like Carolina Herrera (left) or narrow like Mary Steenburgen; the belt width doesn't make a difference, thanks to the bra. 

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spinner image Christie Brinkley in navy high waist pants, Mary McCormack in leopard blouse, Sylvia Pasquel in black and white striped high waist pants
Getty Images (3), Raymond Hall/GC Images; Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic; Jc Olivera

2. Go high-rise ASAP

Switch to pants and jeans with a higher rise to prevent spillage at the sides or belly and cultivate the illusion of a narrow waist. Going even a half inch higher can make a visible difference. Tuck in your top so the waistline is visible like (from left) Christie Brinkley, Mary McCormack and Sylvia Pasquel. Women with full busts, short torsos and waist issues need a rise that leaves enough torso space, but not too high.

spinner image Oprah Winfrey in navy fitted V neck top, Sharon Lawrence in pink blouse
JB Lacroix/WireImage/Getty Images; Tibrina Hobson/WireImage/Getty Images

3. Tuck in your top

Slipping your top inside your waistband is a waist-maker whether you choose a fitted look like Oprah Winfrey (left) or a softer blouse like Sharon Lawrence. For a sleek effect and no bulk or bulges, try black opaque bodysuits with a snap crotch closure such as the H&M Long Sleeved Bodysuit ($10,, Gap Factory Three-Quarter Sleeve Bodysuit ($15, and Forever 21 Plus-Size Ribbed V-Neck Bodysuit ($15, Wearing a lightweight silky blouse or top is another option, but there's a trick to it. After tucking in the blouse, raise your arms over your head and twist side to side. This loosens things up just enough so you're left with a subtle blouson for a little extra camouflage right at that muffin top. If your blouses are too long, have a tailor crop the excess.

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spinner image Salma Hayek in black blazer, April Hawkins wears a narrow black belt,  Wanda Sykes wears a fuchsia pantsuit jacket
Getty Images (3), Dave Benett for Eco-Age; Jim Spellman; Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

4. Trim your middle with an open jacket

Go for a tailored hip-length blazer like (from left) Salma Hayek, April Hawkins and Wanda Sykes and wear it unbuttoned to frame your shape. It will trim your body at the sides in a camouflaging frame. Your width front and center is instantly diminished, like cropping a photo on your phone. 

spinner image Octavia Spencer in navy peplum jacket, Lynda Carter in black peplum jacket, Isabel Wilkerson in purple sleeveless peplum top
Getty Images (3), Frederick M. Brown; Mark Sagliocco/WireImage; John Lamparski

5. Reshape with a peplum

Peplum blouses, sweaters and jackets are fitted to the waist but have a flared bottom — like a mini version of a fit-and-flare dress. The tailored lines and seam at the waist or just above it defines your shape while the flare hides your belly. It's one of the most popular solutions and though the style has gone in and out in the past, it is now a staple. Peplums look best over a slim bottom such as narrow flat-front pants or pencil skirts, the way (from left) Octavia Spencer, Lynda Carter and Isabel Wilkerson do it.

spinner image Carmen Ruby Floyd in leopard wrap dress, Loni Love in black faux leather wrap dress, Bevy Smith in lurex wrap dress
Getty Images (3). Walter McBride; Jerritt Clark; Roy Rochlin 

6. Invent a waist with a wrap dress

This no-diet-necessary solution is one you can depend on day or night as (from left) Carmen Ruby Floyd, Loni Love and Bev Smith clearly prove. It's that 24/7 wardrobe item that never misses. The crisscross design and self-belt whittle your middle back to a waistline. While faux wraps work, too, an adjustable self-tie on a real wrap is preferable and makes the dress ideal for women whose weight fluctuates. For extra control, slip it over a high-waist Spanx body shaper.

spinner image Kris Jenner in white nipped waist jacket, Leslie Jones in  pantsuit
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

7. Cheat in a contoured blazer

Take all your current or old straight, boxy tailored jackets (and suit jackets) to the tailor for a nip and tuck. A fitted jacket with an indented waist, like those on Kris Jenner (left) and Leslie Jones, will always shrink your waist and make your legs appear longer, too. No time for tailoring? Just add a belt over any jacket to cinch the middle.

spinner image Holland Taylor in orange tailored jumpsuit, Susan Sarandon in a white jumpsuit, Lea Thompson in black jumpsuit
Getty Images (3), Dia Dipasupil; Don Arnold/WireImage; Amanda Edwards

8. Wear a jumpsuit

This one-piece, one-stop, head-to-toe solution lets you control middle definition as needed with a self-belt or drawstring waist.  Choose a tailored version like Holland Taylor (left), a more casual mechanic's type like Susan Sarandon (center) that can be dressed up or down with booties or sneakers, or go dressy in black like Lea Thompson (right). The key to making this work is to keep the legs loose and relaxed and opt for sleeves that can be rolled and cuffed to display bracelets or worn down to make a jacket unnecessary.

spinner image Shirley Bovshow in gray shirred dress, Cher in cropped biker jacket, Yvette Nicole Brown in turquoise and orange print fit
Getty Images (3), Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic; Neil Mockford/GC Images; Matt Winkelmeyer

9. Expand your neckline

The wider and more open your neckline the narrower your waist seems — even if you wear a T-shirt or top out. This means favoring wide V-necks like Shirley Bovshow (left) or ballet scoops like Cher (center) and Yvette Nicole Brown, or boatnecks, cowls and unbuttoning your blouse to just above your bra (yank the neckline at the top to emphasize the V). Don't be tempted to fill in your neckline with scarves or big statement necklaces either. Let the open wide space do its job to balance your extra inches below.

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