From left, colors and detail help slim your stomach in swimwear from Catherines, a belt under the bust helps slim this Pure Energy dress from Target, and a hidden panel helps flatter the tummy in these Capris from Catherines. Photos: Catherines, Target

If you've got curves and know how to use them, we say go ahead and flaunt 'em!

But while your hips don't lie and JLo has nothing on your derriere, that tummy area can always use a little fine tuning. Whatever your size, we all have areas we'd like to look a little leaner, and, for many, that's our waistlines.

"Look for slimming vertical lines created by seam details, print, pattern, color or silhouette," Kate McKee, vice president of product development for Catherines plus size stores, tells StyleList. "Anything that engages the eye in an up-and-down direction will help to elongate the body and camouflage any bulges."

George Kotsiopoulos, fashion expert, stylist and co-host of E's "Fashion Police," says you should always remember to highlight your best feature.

"So, if you have great legs, flaunt them with loose-fitting shorts worn with a loose-fitting jacket worn open to give the illusion of a slimmer middle," he tells StyleList. "A long cardigan over a loose fitting tee will give the appearance of a smaller midsection."

And, Bridgette Raes, style expert and author, adds that styles with some shaping details are key when it comes to disguising a thicker middle.

"I think a big mistake a lot of women make is wearing shapeless tops when they have a tummy," she tells StyleList. "While a tunic is a great shape on a dress or top, people with tummies need to be careful that the tunic isn't too shapeless. Boxy, wide tops and dresses make women look boxy and wide. If the dress or top is roomy in the tummy area, try to at least find styles that also have some shaping in the side seams at the rib cage -- where most women are slimmer."

We asked our style experts for a few strategic slimming tricks for spring.

Smooth it out. "Rule number one is choosing the right undergarments," Kotsiopoulos says. "If you really want to look your best, try a high-waisted Spanx, which will work wonders to smooth out any lumps or bumps. This is a universal rule for every woman, regardless of size, since some fabrics are not forgiving and require an undergarment to provide a clean line."

Distract the eye. "To hide a tummy, ruching on a top, dress or bathing suit works really well because it is hard to tell if it is your stomach or the ruching that is causing the lumps and bumps," Raes says. "Busy prints are also another way to distract the eye."



Perfect pants. "If you're looking for fit solutions, seek out Secret Slimmer capris, shorts, pants and jeans," McKee says. "Secret Slimmer styles feature a built-in mesh panel that firms and flatters your tummy. You can also work with color and proportion to achieve a slimmer look. Monochromatic colors, worn head to toe, work their magic for a longer, leaner silhouette. Or, choose long tunics over lean bottoms for super flattering results."

Long and lean. "An empire waist maxi dress is a great way to conceal a belly and elongate your frame for summer," Kotsiopoulos says. "Look for dresses in soft, flowing fabrics and, to keep on trend for spring, try them in bright color blocks or crazy bold prints. This dress should graze the floor and can be worn with flats or better sky-high platform wedges to really make you look taller."

Wrap it up. "Wraps in tops, bathing suits and dresses are great," Raes says. "The wrap hugs the tummy, but the slight drape found in a wrap does a great job of camouflaging the tummy."

You can do stripes. "Diagonal stripes are great in all styles -- dresses, bathing suits and tops," Raes says. "Stripes and seams that run in a diagonal manner create an illusion of slimness in that area. Vertical strips have a similar effect, but not as strongly as diagonal stripes do."

Watch that waist. "Avoid cutting yourself off right in the middle of the body at the waist with seams, belts or a change in color," Raes says. "Anywhere you place a horizontal line on the body, you create the illusion of width. People with tummies look better in empire, drop waist or monochromatic looks for that reason."


Be swimmingly stylish. "Try a formfitting swimsuit in a dark solid color that has ruching around the middle to help hide your tummy," Kotsiopoulos says. "Stay away from styles that are super tight and flat around your stomach because this will draw attention to flaws, rather than hide them. The best tankini top would be kind of loose, but not flowing. There are also swimsuits with built-in corsets and waist-cinchers which are genius."

"My favorite bathing suit for women with tummies is the Miraclesuit designed to minimize fullness in the tummy area," Raes says.

"It's all about playing up the positive," McKee advises. "Choose a one-piece wonder that uses color and detail to camouflage your waist and accentuate your curves. Ruching, detail and color -- along with power-mesh shaping -- can create the illusion of a smaller waist and a slimmer silhouette. Or go for a swimdress with a skirted bottom for an easy fit as well as extra coverage."
Make the cut. "Choose dress styles that fit close to the bust and fall with a soft drape over the waist and hips," McKee says. "Look for detail at the neckline, which draws the eye upward -- and away from the problem."

Fab fabric. "Matte jersey is a great fabric for women with tummies in either tops or dresses," Raes says. "It has a soft, forgiving drapiness to it which can really sit against the body, but it's not too constricting."

Top talk. "When looking for tops, keep collars and lapels narrow and small, so as not to accentuate a full top," Kotsiopoulos says. "Avoid tops that button which can bulge and pull."