Illusion Dressing: The “Dad Bod” (How to Reduce a Stomach and Create a Leaner Physique, No Gym Required)

Recently I was asked in a TV interview to discuss ways to style a “dad bod”. Now I have to be honest, I don’t like labels but I also get that a lot of men can relate to the term “dad bod”, essentially it refers to someone with a softly rounded figure through the stomach and middle, while the shoulders, arms and legs remain toned. I believe that everyone can look great in the body and shape they have now, dad bod or no dad bod. And minimising the appearance of a stomach is a question I get asked a lot, by both men and women, which is all done through clothing and the power of illusion dressing. Illusion Dressing is using clothing to trick the eye into thinking something looks different than what it actually is, and through illusion dressing there are a whole bunch of tricks we can use to minimise the appearance of a stomach or if you prefer a “dad bod”.

I have 4 simple illusion dressing tricks you can implement today with items already in your wardrobe to slim down your physique (no crazy diets, hard work at the gym or strenuous shopping time required!)

Choose Dark Colours

We’ve all heard the saying “black is slimming” and there is some truth in that. Darker colours absorb light and don’t reflect light, therefore they can be more slimming as they easily hide bumps, puckers, wrinkles and pulls. It is this very reason that they help hide width around the body, such as the stomach. Choose dark colours like black, navy, dark greys, chocolate brown to create that slimming effect.

Dark colours also don’t draw too much visual attention unlike light and bright colours (or patterns). Therefore use dark colours in areas that you want to minimise and to counterbalance use light or bright colours in areas you want to highlight (such as toned legs) to draw further attention away from your stomach and midline (think a simple outfit of a dark t-shirt paired with tan chinos).These two aspects together will create an overall flattering and slimming effect.

Focus on Fit Over Size

No matter how much you pay for an item whether it was $20, $200 or $2000, it will look less expensive than what you paid for if the fit isn’t correct. A poor fit as well can often make someone look bigger than they actually are. There is no “standard sizing” when it comes to clothing so rather than focus on the number on the tag (a tag that nobody can see) focus on how the garment fits on your shoulders, across your body (especially your chest, waist, stomach, bottom and thighs) as well as where the hems sit.

That being said, because there isn’t such as thing as “standard sizing” it is very rare to pull an item off the rack and have it fit your body proportions exactly (especially because no two bodies are alike). Therefore to get a correct fit over the entire body it is worth having items tailored, especially those items you’ll wear frequently such as jeans, chinos, shirts and suits. Spending an extra $20 or $30 on tailor can mean the difference to the clothes wearing you or you wearing the clothes. That extra small investment will highlight your body in all the right ways therefore doing your body justice and in fact in turn creating the appearance of a slimmer, fitter physique.

For items that you may not want to tailor such a t-shirts, focus on the fit around your shoulders, waist and stomach and choose a size that doesn’t pull uncomfortably in these areas.

Slim Fit

There’s this perception that to hide bulk you must wear wide and oversized clothing. However what people often don’t understand is that by adding more width to the widest part of your body you are actually causing yourself to look bigger than what you are, the complete opposite effect of what we are trying to achieve. Instead it’s all about creating balance within a body’s proportions as this will in turn create a slimmer looking physique.

To do this opt for slim fit clothing. Choose tshirts and shirts that with a slim fit that sits over your body line, they shouldn’t pull across your stomach or under your arms, rather they skim your frame. Once again as previously mentioned, it’s focusing on the fit of your clothing rather than size on the tag.

While a slim fit pant (not skinny) creates shape in the lower half of your body which balances out a heavier mid-section and in turn creates a slimming effect to the rest of the body.

Add Layers

Add layers/panels to create a vertical panel that draws the eye up & down. By forcing the eye to move in a vertical plain it tricks the eye into bringing the outer edges of your physique inwards, thus creating a slimmer appearance.

Adding layers that finish at different hem lengths also creates added interest which can distract from the stomach area as the eye is drawn to the layered details instead.

That’s it, 4 easy steps to create outfits with clothing already in your wardrobe to help minimise width around the stomach and create the illusion of a leaner, slimmer figure.

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