It's time for another installment of #UnconditionalBodyBeautiful!  This month, the other participants and I are discussing our bellies.
Skirt:  Eloquii (Available here)
I've mentioned on the blog a few times before that my tummy is my least favorite body part.  Even at my smallest weight of 97 pounds, I never had a completely flat stomach, and it always had a touch of cellulite. 

For those reasons, it's never really been a favorite part of my body, but my confidence in my belly definitely took a nosedive after the birth of my daughter. 

Top:  ASOS Curve (Available here)
Boots:  Target
In 2004, I had my first C-section with my son.  My stomach was affected, but I was 26 and I bounced back relatively quickly.  I now had a scar right above the bikini line, and I saw that as a badge of honor rather than something negative. 

In 2008, I had an emergency C-section with my daughter.  The cut wasn't quite as neat as the first go-round and added to the existing scar.  While the scar itself continued to be viewed positively (or at least neutrally) by me, it did affect how skin and fat developed around it.

Jacket:  Torrid (Available here)
Clutch:  The Limited
Bracelet:  The Limited
I wasn't exercising, and the effects of abdominal surgery became more problematic.  After losing a lot of weight post-baby, I quickly gained the weight back until I was back up to my highest pregnancy weight.  I never lost this weight, and it seems the majority of it settled in my abdomen.

My belly became shameful and hideous to me.  My side profile showing my belly bulge was hidden at all costs through looser and longer tops, and even to this day, I still prefer to disguise it through strategic dressing.

A couple of years ago, my body confidence started to grow.  Some of this confidence was built through deliberate efforts to love myself more.  Some of it came from the love and affection and total acceptance of my body from my S.O.  A lot of it came from blogging.  Seeing photos of myself on the regular sort of desensitized me to my flaws, real or perceived.

Ring:  LOFT
Back in June 2013, I posted a swimsuit photo
Adventures in Traveling:  Cape Cod
I wore a one-piece, and it was one photo in a series of other more-clothed pictures, but posting that swimsuit photo was a big deal to me.  I was nervous about showing my thigh cellulite but more anxiety-inducing than that was that my belly bulge showed. 

In July of that same year, I posted my first crop top photo. 

The Dark Side of the Sun
I had been super nervous about posting this photo.  Then, my fiance had a major motorcycle accident that nearly took his life.  Being scared to wear a crop top in front of other people now seemed much more trivial, so I went for it. 

Since then, I've posted the occasional crop top look, but in general, I've preferred not to show my belly.  I'm still not 100% comfortable with it, and I don't feel the need to always show off my belly just because it may be the trend to do so. 

At the same time, I am learning to embrace the soft belly more.  I purchased my first two piece swimsuit since childhood recently, and I plan to rock it both on the blog and out in public as soon as possible. 
I've had a recent weight gain which made my stomach a bit bigger.  I'm not happy about the changes (for various reasons), and I plan to lose a little weight this summer.  That said, I'm learning to separate the love I have for myself and my body from the desire to change my body in some way.  I am learning to not base my self-worth on the size of my stomach.  I am better than that.  No matter my weight ups and downs, I'm learning more and more to see my body and myself as beautiful and as worthy of love.
Besides, there are lots of reasons to love my belly just the way it is!  And when I forget to love my belly, when I think I'm alone in this struggle for self-acceptance, I will re-read this piece.
Do you have a good relationship with your belly? 

Don't forget to check out this month's segments by the other amazing bloggers participating in the Unconditional Body Beautiful series:

Zadry Ferrer-Geddes, Curves a la Mode


Katherine Hayward, My Life With Cerebral Palsy



To catch up with the first three installments of Unconditional Body Beautiful, go here, here, and here.

For the skirt in another look, see here.
For the top in other looks, see here and here.
For the jacket in other looks, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


As I Like It

I hope you have enjoyed the seven dress looks I've featured over the last week and a half.  If you've missed any, links are at the end of this post.  I had planned an 8th look for the series, but the dress required alterations before I could wear it.

Instead, I decided to do a round-up of some of my previous favorite dress looks, along with some before and after photos on pieces I've had tailored.

First, here are some of my favorites (Links to all original posts are in captions):

White Dresses with Black
I just love white dresses, especially in my favorite monochromatic combo!  White dresses are perfect for spring and summer, but depending on the fabric, they work well all year long!

Left (from top to bottom):  Here and Here
Center: Here
Right (from top to bottom:  Here and Here
Maxi &Midi Length Dresses
I'm such a firm believer that petites can wear whatever styles we want!!  Maxis and midis don't necessarily make us look shorter, and even if they do, who cares?  Celebrate your fun-size self!! :-D
Check out this post I wrote for The Curvy Fashionista for more fashion rules we curvy petites should unabashedly break!!

Left to Right:  Here and Here
Left to Right:  Here and Here
Lots of Color
People always seem surprised when I say that I greatly prefer to wear neutrals because I actually do wear quite a bit of color.  Green is one of my favorite colors to wear, and I'm often attracted to shades of emerald, jade, and forest in prints and solids.

Left to right:  HereHere, and Here
Left to Right:  Here and Here
Quirky Prints
I tend to buy mostly solids, but when I buy prints, I usually seek out fun, quirky, and sometimes unusual prints like these zebra and spectacle prints.  The prints are memorable and graphic but still easy to wear.

Left to Right:  Here and Here
The Little Black Dress
I couldn't have a dress round-up without including the little black dress!  The LBD is a classic because it is so easy to accessorize and change up for many different types of occasions.  I love my LBDs - I go with mini lengths for weekends and evenings, and stick to more conservative silhouettes for work.

Left to Right:  Here, Here, Here, and Here
As I've discussed many times on the blog, I rarely get the right fit off the rack.  Several of the dresses featured in today's post are from eShakti, where I was able to get a custom fit.  When custom fit options are not available, tailoring usually comes into play.
From Planning for Spring
From Neutral Zone
From Modern Fit-and-Flare
From Slip Into Black
From It's Only Rock-N-Roll...
From Twelth Night
This last one's a bit shorter now as shown in the last photo.  If you're not in love with the first round of alterations, don't be afraid to give tailoring another try.  It's always better to err on the side of having something altered too long/large and then whittling down from there!

Hope you've been inspired to rock those spring dresses!!  Whatever you wear, don't forget to make it your own!

For the previous posts from Dress Week 4, see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


Taming of the Shoe

Fun shoes are a great way of adding a little panache to a simple look. 
Dress:  The Limited
I had planned on "taming" these purple faux python heels by styling them with a simple monochromatic look, but everything I was coming up with reminded me too much of this look, and I wanted something that felt fresh.
Heels:  Anne Michelle
Cardigan:  LOFT Petites
So, I went a different direction.  I paired the heels with a zebra print dress and tiger head bangle for a slightly quirkier twist. 
Satchel:  The Limited
Bracelets:  Target and Torrid
Necklace:  Target
The python heels are still balanced by the "gentler" zebra print.  The dress/cardigan combo is simple in shape and color palette, This helps balance out the statement heel while still adding to the visual interest of the look.
Earrings:  trendylittlepieces
Glasses:  Firmoo.com (Available here)
How do you add flair to your simple work outfits?

By the way, I read that zebra prints were "out" this year.  Pshhhh...as if...wear what you want!! :-D

For the dress in other looks, see here and here.
For the cardigan in other looks, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
For more looks from Dress Week 4, see here, here, here, here, here, and here.


To Belt or Not to Belt

I adore trapeze style dresses. They are so super comfortable.  I also love red dresses.  A red dress is inherently bold, but in this easy shape, it still feels very conservative.
Dress:  Eva Mendes for New York & Company (Available in other colors here)
Clutch:  Similar here
I added red heels for a head-to-toe matching look. 

Shoes:  Target (old)
Belt:  Torrid
I debated whether I should add a belt.  While I love the loose shape, a belt that defined my waist seemed a little more polished.

I sit in an office all day, so in the end, I opted for comfort and chose to go without the belt but added a navy military blazer to give the look more structure.  Sorry, I didn't get any photos of that look, but it is similar to this look previously featured.

Necklace:  Ann Taylor
Bracelet:  LOFT
Which styling do you prefer?

For the dress in other looks, see here and here.
For the other looks from Dress Week 4, see here, here, here, here, and here.