Here’s How I Sartorially Navigate My Impossibly Bloated IBS Belly

I have written extensively and graphically about my ongoing fisticuffs with IBS. For those of you blessed with a perfectly functioning digestive system (#jels) and unaware of what the fuck I’m talking about, IBS – A.K.A. irritable bowel syndrome – is (to paraphrase NHS.uk) a common digestive condition with symptoms including diarrhoea, bloating, constipation and cramping. A delightful smorgasbord of shit-based goodies, I think we can all agree.

This debilitating little faeces fiend and I have been bound to one another, like Frodo and that piece o’ gold, for well over 10 years now and, much like Frodo’s quest, my experience with IBS usually results in a fiery ring. (My boyfriend gagged when reading that sentence, and not in the good way.) The journey towards Mount Doom, however, is laden with bloating. A single piece of pasta? Bloat! A crumb of bread? Bloat! A minstrel? Bloat! A morsel of chicken? Bloat! Air? Bloat! At this point, the uncomfortable globular protrusion around my middle is to my body what my nose is to my face. It’s immovable. It’s here to stay. It’s surprisingly hairy. It also proves tricky to navigate when getting dressed.

That being said, here are some not-so-life-changing tips on the art of dressing a sore and swollen stomach without raining on the parade that is your exemplary style. After all I’m just a girl, standing in front of a bloat, asking it not to fuck with her outfit.

Disclaimer: a bloated belly of any kind is not an unsightly thing, nor is it something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. Although it is, in my experience, uncomfortable as fuck. IBS kinda, sorta, definitely dictates my life and being achingly bloated is an inevitability. The aim of the game here is nothing but comfort, people.

Joggers are your best friend. Diamonds who?

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I did tell you that this wasn’t going to be life-changing, didn’t I? Joggers are a mainstay of every human’s closet, from the young to the elderly and everything in-between, so I’m not going to sit here and school you on the pros of this unifying item. I know that, like me, your drawers are currently crammed full with near-identical tracky bottoms that you justified purchasing by convincing yourself that they were slightly different greys. (Spoiler alert: they weren’t.)

I am going to tell you that joggers are for life, not just for slothful Sundays, and an elasticated waistband doesn’t mean that you have to forego the fun in any other department. My sartorial happy place is mixing high and low – joggers with a dressy top, feather skirts with a cropped sweat – and this approach to dressing works perfectly when you’ve got an inflating stomach that you want to accommodate. Who said you can’t wear an embellished cami and a fluffy jacket with joggers and kicks? Literally no one. Who said you can? MEEEEE!

Don’t disregard all your itty bitty items of clothing

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I’ve enjoyed more than my fair share of dalliances with all things bodycon during my time on this planet and – full disclosure – I love it. Itty bitty mini dresses with towering heels? Ugh, I LIVE! I DIE! I REINCARNATE! But one dip of a chip and one sip of a tip(ple) into a night out and I’m painfully aware of the gaseous rumble in my tum. Literally. It’s painful.

In order to sidestep the restrictive nature of a bodycon ‘fit but still feel ✨ glam ✨ with my gams out, I whack on a skirt that looks mini but allows for maximum growth – usually furry, feathery, tutu, tulle or puffball in nature – and balance it out with a tight top. Shortly after this photo was taken, I smashed four pieces of salmon sashimi, six California rolls and two pieces of salmon nigiri (I like salmon, OK?) in the same manner I used to down jägerbomb’s. My stomach was bulbous AF after the first grain of rice but my ensemble remained comfy AF after the fiftieth and, most importantly, I didn’t waste precious time feeling self-conscious. I wasted it on Instagram.

Go big or go home*

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*It should be noted that in every other scenario known to mankind, I go home. Home is where the toilet is. Home is where my toilet is. Still, before I make a mad dash for the exit and rue the moment I ever thought a cheese soufflé was a good idea, I turn up in something larger than life. When in doubt, get the Big Bird jacket out.

Do you have any idea how bloated I am in this ‘ere photograph? Can you detect that I am beginning to expand at an alarming rate, a la Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? No? Precisely. Unrestricted belly bliss.

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