"Feel bad" is of course borrowed from Nora Ephron, who grieved her crêpey neck, and "feel bad" is an overstatement, but past 50, even thin women can discover that unsettling spread, and not one prays for it.
Upright, I have a midriff, seated, it stretches wider than a beauty queen's smile. The region just above my waist has acquired a second, pillowy life.
For those of you thinking, Just buy some shapewear: we both hate ugly elasticated nylon. I'd prefer an actual Scarlett O'Hara boned and laced corset to Spanx sausage casing. Lou won't consider underwear like Spanx' Shape My Day camisole because she spends a great deal of time in the tropics.
Trousers are muffin magnets unless well-cut and high-waisted (what used to be the natural waist height till the advent of low-rise jeans.) I buy NYDJ and Talbot's jeans and will pay nearly anything for trousers with a fluid leg and that body-accurate waist. Lou reminds me that skirts always reach the natural waist, and adds, Size up—we try to fit into a size that flatters our vanity, but not our body.
As for tops, sweaters and shirts need some mid-torso ease to accommodate the body shift when you're seated, but a 'big shirt' looks as if the muffin's in its paper bag. Tip: when shopping, try on anything to see how it performs sitting down, and forego thin or clingy fabrics. Our dream shirt has a shaped yet forgiving fit provided by darts, ruching, or a peplum.
From autumn through spring, Lou and I wear Eric Bompard sweaters; I like the classic v-neck cardigan, which I wear as shown, buttoned like a top; Lou wears the v-neck sweater. Their extra-fine cashmere, though, is dicey—dreamy, but less forgiving.
In warmer weather, I often wear an LL Bean sailor shirt. The stripes, which women are typically told to shun because of their widening effect, work like a patterned swimsuit: they give the eye somewhere to go besides wondering if that's blueberry or bran under there.
What else works? Jackets—as any portly man knows—are deft disguises. I wear them as outerwear; Lou wears indoor ones, and just bought this washable Betty Barclay cotton/nylon/viscose ecru to for a spring trip to Australia.
A definitely curvy 5'4", Lou chooses pieces like this Madewell/daryl k mixed-print dress, which she wears over capris or leggings. Blouse-length tunics hit her at the widest point of her hips, which she doesn't like, so she wears a dress (or, what is sold as a dress to those who wear them short) that ends mid-thigh instead.
She also wears vests, zipped over a long-sleeve t-shirt or blouse, and looks for feminine versions like Eddie Bauer's StormDown print:
She is eyeing Belgian designer Sara Pacini's crochet linen poncho, which she will try in the Montréal boutique. "Could go either way, dressed up or down", she says, and sees it worn over her fine white tee, which these days is not being worn on its own.
And then there's the simple, pragmatic tactic of Muffin Acceptance. Why hate any body part, especially in one's grownup years? That doesn't mean you're going to see either of us in cropped tees or low-slung trousers. But minimal camouflage is all we're willing to muster, and then meet for a café au lait.
It's spring! We don't want to feel bad about anything, let alone that midsection brioche!
PS. Speaking of spring, I want to be sure to alert you to Kojima Company and Pacific Pearl's spring sale, 20% off all items on either site with the magic word SUPEARLATIVE (use in the discount code box at checkout) until April 27!