If you're looking for stylish dresses to hide a tummy, you're in luck, as the shops are literally packed with options, for those who are self-conscious about their stomach. Many people find it hard to shift weight from around their middle and if you're looking to discreetly skim over your midriff, learning some styling hints and tricks of what to look for when shopping will help make things easier, and ensure you pick a winning style every time.
Whatever your body type, we can all have moments of self-consciousness and if you're struggling to feel good while dressing for your shape, learning some styling tricks will help you feel better in your clothes.
Feeling self-conscious is enough to put you off shopping so we've packed this feature full of expert's top tips for how to pick the best dresses to hide a tummy so that you can get dressed with confidence. Rather than just focusing on disguising or 'hiding' your stomach, consider how to draw attention to your best assets. Apple body shapes tend to have a generous bust, a small bottom, and slender arms and legs. So far, so gorgeous. In fact, the only difference between apples and the much-coveted hourglass body shape is a less defined waist, and we have plenty of ideas to help with that.
But most importantly, remember, a stubborn midsection (or any other body hang-up for that matter) shouldn’t affect your style - get dressed for you and most importantly learn to enjoy your wardrobe, accept your body, and celebrate yourself. Keeping that in mind will improve your confidence.
The best styles of dresses to hide a tummy
- Wrap: Flattering on all body shapes, a wrap dress is a capsule wardrobe staple, not to mention a shape Kate Middleton turns to on the regular. A well-cut one will fit and flatter up top, before skimming over your middle. The deep V neckline makes them well suited to larger busts, but they'll provide a boost to smaller cup sizes too. For added coverage, look for wrap dresses with a soft ruffle across the front or some soft draping detailing.
- Empire line: When it comes to hiding your stomach, empire line styles are always a good bet. Drawing the eye to the smallest part of your torso by nipping you in directly under the bust, they give the illusion of a higher waistline. The rest of the dress should have a flared or A-line fit that floats over the stomach.
- Trapeze: Don't be put off by the name, trapeze dresses don't have to be tent-like. Opt for a style that flutes out once it has past your armpit (so you get a little bit of bustline definition before it fills out. This shape is a good dress silhouette to hide a tummy because it doesn't cling to your shape, making it a particularly comfortable one too. For petite frames, opt for a shorter style, no longer than knee length, while taller shoppers can afford to go for a midi trapeze dress. Length is important in this style so that you don't end up overwhelmed.
- Ruching: Ruched details and gathering swooping across a midsection of a dress is an ingenious way to hide a tummy. Subtle puckering and soft drapery is a really flattering way to disguise your middle and when it starts from the side of the waist it can also help to create the illusion of a narrower waistline.
- Printed: Don’t shy away from patterns and prints. A busy print acts as sartorial camouflage and helps to hide a multitude of insecurities, including helping to disguise a tummy. Wearing print is also an easy way to inject vibrant colours into your wardrobe.
- Illusion panelling: Illusion dresses are a super sleek way to not only hide a tummy but also create hourglass curves. Using block colouring, illusion dresses revolve around having a central panel through the front centre (and sometimes also back centre) of the dress. Cutting through you vertically, the centre block panel creates the illusion of a narrower silhouette and more slender waistline, adding curves and disguising a tummy in the process.
- Higher waistlines: It can be tempting to opt for dresses that have little shape in a bid to hide your stomach, but actually when it comes to dressing to hide a tummy, having an element of shaping and tailoring is really important. While you should avoid horizontal detailing right across your stomach, do invest in tailored dresses, including shift dresses that have a slightly higher waistline. This again narrows you at a smaller part of your frame and a well-tailored dress will still skim the areas that make you feel self-conscious.
Gorgeous dresses to hide a tummy, chosen by our fashion experts
1. Yumi Ombre Sequin Dress
Superbly festive, this ombre sequin dress goes from forest green to silver for the ultimate dancefloor number. With a V-neckline and wrap front, this dress is universally flattering, creating a naturally nipped in waist and curved hourglass silhouette, thanks to the fuller skirt, this dress oozes glamour. The ombre fade over the midriff further emphasises this and helps to skim over stomachs and lengthen your overall silhouette in the process.
Pair with silver strappy sandals, or a pair of suede black heels and a coordinating clutch for a Christmas party or New Year's Eve outfit that is sure to win in the style stakes.
2. Marks and Spencer Floral Midaxi Tea Dress
Marks and Spencer's is a one-stop-shop for fashion, homeware and food. With something for everyone (whatever your age), it's no surprise it also has stylish dresses to hide a tummy.
With a smocked silhouette, this dress is ideal for a boho capsule wardrobe, with the dark floral print adding a romantic edge to the dress and helping it to tie into this season's autumn/winter dress trends for 2023. The A-line skirt will naturally skim the midriff area, while the midi length draws the eye down the body. The more fitted top half will help to highlight a curvy silhouette. Ideal for casual or occasion wear this autumn, team with a pair of the best ballet pumps for a chic twist on dressy flats, or give it a more directional feel with a pair of the best new in boots.
Save on your next M&S purchase with woman&home's latest M&S discount codes.
3. H&M Off The Shoulder Dress
H&M is one of the best Scandinavian clothing brands, and covers a huge range of categories both online and instore. A brilliant option for all occasions this season, from plus size wedding guest dresses, to everyday styles, you'll be spoil the choice.
This bold red dress is perfect for the festive season and ideal for the evening, with a midi length hemline, the shoulder baring cut balances out the longer length. Easily wearable with trainers or heels, depending on the occasion. Wearable two ways, you can pull the shoulders up, giving a wide, prairie neckline for cooler temperatures, or slip on a chunky cardigan over the top to cover up bare shoulders. A shining example of how to wear red, add black velvet accessories for a seasonal feel.
Available up to a XXL this dress is ideal for skimming over a midriff, as it features an empire line cut. The off the shoulder design highlights shoulders, balancing out your lower torso by creating a shoulder focal point and drawing the eye up and away from your middle.
4. Lauren Curve Floral Ruffle Trim Georgette Dress
American clothing brand, Ralph Lauren has a pretty extensive plus size section, labelled Lauren Curve. With true to the brand styles, expect a mix of preppy aesthetics, cute cable knits, classic shirting, alongside gorgeous outerwear and some easy, everyday dresses.
This floral frock is one of the best autumn dresses, that will work through into winter, with a figure lengthening V-neckline, and ruffle detailing that's ideal for adding fullness to a bust line. In a layered sheer fabric, this dress offers graceful movement, ideal as one of the best wedding guest dresses.
5. Hobbs Mariella Dress
Knots, twists, ruching and folds are secret weapons when it comes to stylish dresses to hide a tummy, as is gathering or angled drapery across the midriff as these will skim your belly and glide over the areas you're most self-conscious about.
While wrap dresses and side ruching is fairly common place, we're loving the knot detailing used here to both hide a tummy and add detail to the dress. The gorgeous bold leaf print adds eye catching detail, taking eyes away from your middle, while the V-neck line and empire cut elongates your figure.
Ideal if you're looking to jet off and escape the plummeting temperatures, when you're travelling out of season, snapping up some last minute styles can be tricky, so add this alfresco-dining-ready dress to your shopping list stat.
6. Anthropologie Somerset Burnout Midi Dress
The reason we love dresses is because there are one and done styling solution. With no need to team up separates, a dress adds instant polish and guarantees you'll look and feel put together on any given day. This gorgeous velvet burnout midi dress is a fantastic investment piece. The coloring and styling makes it a great piece to add to your autumn capsule wardrobe, that can be worn right into winter too.
With a V-notched neckline and empire line cut, this dress automatically skims over midriffs and hips thanks to the A-line shape that begins from under the bust. The longer lower part of the dress helps to elongate the upper torso for a figure lengthening finish. An elegant style. the short sleeves add generous upper arm coverage without compromising on breathability.
Perfect for upcoming Christmas parties and festive activities, we love the nod to the latest gothic fashion trends that come through on this piece.
And this dress is popular at woman&home too. Head of Ecommerce, Millie Fender explains why she loves the Somerset dress: "My Somerset dress is a failsafe option in my wardrobe for those events where I want to look my best without too much effort. I've dressed it up to wear to weddings, but it also looks great with boots and a jacket when I'm heading out for dinner or a date night. The tiered design skims over my stomach while the shirred waist emphasises my narrowest point, and I also love the sleeves which are capped, loose and comfortable. It's one of those rare finds which work on virtually every shape. My mum is five sizes smaller than me and finds it just as flattering." A real winner all round.
Millie Fender is Head of Ecommerce at Woman&Home and was formerly Head of Reviews across a number of Future Plc's leading Homes titles such as Ideal Home and Homes&Gardens.
As our head of all things shopping, Millie is committed to giving readers honest, expert advice when it comes to spending their hard-earned cash.
7. Karen Millen Plus Size Structured Crepe Dress
If you're looking for the best plus size dresses this season then check out Karen Millen's extensive range of directional styles. Thanks to some of the best fashion bloggers, there is a lot of great curve inspiration around and brands have risen to the challenge of delivering more fashion-forward styles to match.
This tailored dress is ideal for work or play and the structured and shapely bust panelling, mimicking the best shapewear, coupled with the high cut waist line will help to lengthen and contour your silhouette. Wearable for your 9-5 it would also make an excellent black wedding guest dress this summer.
8. East Embroidered Dress
An embroidered dress with a bibbed panel is a great choice when it comes to stylish dresses to hide a tummy. Answering the question of what is boho style, this relaxed fit dress offers a gorgeous texture and tassel detailing that will work all year through. Featuring a V-neck and short stand up collar, this dress should sit across the upper chest and shoulder before taking on an A-line silhouette from the bibbed panel. The tiered skirt helps to further enhance the fuller silhouette and will glide over your shape.
Wear now with your best white trainers for a relaxed look, and come the latest autumn/winter shoe trends 2023, nail how to style knee-high boots, by pairing your favourite leather boots with this versatile frock for an autumn outfit idea.
The magenta hue is also one of the hottest fashion colour trends, taking the crown as the Pantone Color of the Year 2023, making this a dress you can wear all year.
9. LK Bennett Elowen Purple Midi Dress
This beautiful midi dress is from LK Bennett, one of our favourite British clothing brands. Excelling at classic elegance, this is one dress you can reach for time and time again.
In a timely purple hue, reflecting some of this year's hottest colour trends, we love the subtle leopard print for a directional feel.
The curved empire line is an elegant silhouette for those looking for stylish dresses to hide a tummy, as it creates a high, nipped in waistline, sculpting you at your smallest part, before gently A-lining over the rest of your frame.
10. Me+Em Digital Dot Print Short Swing Dress
Looking to the season ahead, this digital polka dot print dress has a figure-skimming swinging shape. Crafted in three tiers, in an A-line silhouette, this dress won't cling to midriffs, hips or bums, making it an ideal dress to skim over your shape. While the dress has a laid back silhouette, the luxe, silky fabrication means this dress can be worn for work or smarter dinner dates, pairing well as part of brown boot outfits, or with heels or trainers.
With deep, '70s-inspired cuffs and gathered sleeve detailing, this modern, yet retro-leaning dress has a delightfully bohemian feel that is ideal for this seasons autumn/winter fashion trends.
11. River Island T-Shirt Dress
Keep it simple in a black t-shirt dress with a twist, literally.This is an updated autumn/winter version of the short sleeve iteration that dominated over the summer. This cooler weather friendly design is an ideal casual piece but with added detail. The front twist works in a similar way to gathering, or ruching, by creating a puckering effect that will skim your middle. The central knot detail also cleverly draws the eye in, narrowing your waist line, while the fabric will keep you comfy all season long.
12. Boden Tiered Dress with Belt
Boden make some of the best dresses and this tiered dress with self-tie belt is ideal for skimming past your midriff. The gentle A-line silhouette is emphasised with the use of tiered levels, that force a fuller shape, making your waist look naturally smaller. The denim hue gives this a relaxed feel, while the front ruffle detail offers a pretty and feminine finish.
A well-tailored top half ensures this dress looks and feels neat, and this stops it adding additional bulk to your frame. A fairly classic silhouette for the British brand, this dress can be worn year through, layered in winter and paired with boots, before switching to sandals or trainers in the summer.
13. Simply Be Spot Print Tiered Plisse Maxi Dress
Simply Be is a great place to shop for plus size clothing that follows the trends, and this spot print dress will work no matter the season. The empire line silhouette, thanks to the knotted front, is a flattering shape for hiding a tummy, with the front V-neckline drawing the eye down, elongating your torso. The long sleeve adds arm coverage but still feels super feminine. Monochromatic black and white hues in a polka dot, or spot print are always in style, so you can guarantee this dress will be around in your wardrobe for a long time.
14. FatFace Annie Painterly Floral Dress
This pretty bloom print dress is the piece to invest in to get you ready for the new season. The ruched and draped front gently skims a midriff for discreet tummy coverage, while the bold base hue and vibrant print add further interest to this every day wardrobe staple.
With a knee length hem line you can team this dress with all shoes, from the best Chelsea boots to a pair of trainers, adding tights for cold weather. The bright purple base to the floral print automatically renders this dress autumn/winter ready. An ideal candidate for teaming with your best black boots, the long sleeve makes it cold weather ready. To finish this look, sling on your best leather jacket and you're good to go.
15. Zara Black T-Shirt Dress
This simple t-shirt dress, by Spanish clothing brand Zara, will gently skim your shape thanks to the oversized, relaxed fit. Available in three neutral colourways, grey, antique rose and black, this t-shirt dress can easily be dressed up or down, making it ideal for AM to PM wear.
To render it office ready, simply add a tailored blazer and a smart leather tote. To make it ready for a bar or dinner date, add a statement necklace, clutch bag and jewelled shoes or sandals, to make this blank canvas into something truly special.
16. Massimo Dutti Side Kont Dress
If you're looking for brands like Zara, Massimo Dutti is part of the same family of brands but with a more grown up and sophisticated feel. Concentrating on good-quality and timeless pieces, its an ideal place for more formal attire.
This elegant piece is the perfect stylish dress to hide a tummy. With a wrap dress-like silhouette, this midi dress is an elegant buy for day to evening wear, particularly thanks to the dopamine dressing hue. With a lovely handle, the V-neckline helps to lengthen your silhouette, but the real magic is in the knot design detail. Tied at the side, the knot detailing creates a soft drape across the middle of the dress which gently skims over tummies for a smoothing effect.
17. Rixo Zadie Red Poppy Jacquard Dress
A red dress is a classic and a piece, like a black dress that will never truly go out of style. This jacquard iteration from fashion brand Rixo utilizes a empire line to create a dress will elongate your torso and skim over your silhouette with ease. The V-neckline creates a flattering finish across the bust, while the empire cut creates the illusion of a higher and narrower waistline, for a gentle finish.
In a silky look fabric, this dress can easily be dressed up for spring and summer event season, pairing beautifully with new season heels. Or it can be dressed down with directional chunky trainers and a leather jacket for a night out with friends.
18. Farm Rio Off White Chita Woodcut Dress
One of our favourite dress brands, Farm Rio's frock collection is packed full of happy prints and flattering, feminine cuts. Made from 100% cotton, this printed dress has a plunging V-neck, but if you want a little less on show, simply slip a camisole underneath for extra coverage. The bold black and white print is sure to turn heads, with the floral design and colour choices both rendering this look utterly timeless.
The full floaty sleeves add a directional element which is emphasised by the cut out detail at the shoulder, offering upper arm coverage, but still showing a little slither of skin. The angled empire line will help to lengthen your silhouette as well as skim over midriff, hips and thighs.
Sign up to our free daily email for the latest royal and entertainment news, interesting opinion, expert advice on styling and beauty trends, and no-nonsense guides to the health and wellness questions you want answered.
Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is a former Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.
The new 'Kitschen' trend is taking over 'as people look to elevate retro style' reports a Pinterest expert
Step aside minimalism, retro 'Kitschens' are the new interior trend on the block and it's all about the retro pastels
By Emily Smith Published
Kate Middleton's cosy khaki St David's Day outfit proved skinny jeans and turtlenecks are a style fail-safe
We're still inspired by the Princess of Wales's St David's Day outfit from 2022 and this is a combination that's so easy to recreate
By Emma Shacklock Published