Living with Crohn’s disease, colitis or even IBS means there are days when you don’t feel like getting dressed. Nausea, bloating, cramps and other uncomfortable symptoms can make it difficult to put your best foot forward fashion-wise. But looking good and presenting a polished demeanour can actually help you feel a bit better. Feeling and looking good in a comfortable yet stylish ensemble can be a much-needed boost for your self-esteem.

The comfort factor is especially important – being uncomfortable can cause you to walk around with stress and tension, big no-nos for those whose condition is aggravated by stress.

It’s not about making a killer fashion statement (but by all means, if you want to – go for it!), it’s about dressing to feel at ease and confident, so you can get on with your day with a minimum of fuss. So the next time you’re having an off day tummy-wise, consider trying some of these figure-flattering tricks. Bloating? What bloating?!

Ruching is your friend – embrace it!

Ruching, draping or gathers around the tummy or waistline can create an elegant silhouette that hides a multitude of bulges. Go for items in dark colours that skim over your middle and distract the eye with their ruched or draped detail – an outfit that features unusual angles, pleats, drapes or tucks serves as a distraction so that people focus on your outfit and not your bloated tummy underneath.

Layer it up

Layers, especially of different lengths and angles, are a great way to create texture and interest when dressing. The busyness of a layered outfit focuses the eye on the clothes rather than putting the body under scrutiny. Get creative by combining jackets, knits, coats, shirts, dresses – the more layers, angles and shapes the better.

Observe the three-piece rule>

People look more ‘dressed’ when they’re wearing three pieces of clothing or more, it’s often the difference between a full outfit and just a dress or top and pants. This is why winter dressing is so appealing – people tend to look more polished once you add a scarf and coat to the mix. Finishing a basic outfit like jeans and a tee or a simple black dress with a coat and scarf provides more to look at and, so long as your coat is comfortable, you’ll look finished and done, all the while disguising your tummy. This even works for warmer days – try opting for a light cotton or silk scarf and jacket in soft linen or silk. The breathable natural fibres will keep you cool while looking hot.

Stretchy can be stylish

When you think stretchy, it can be hard to avoid mental images of 80s-style elastic waistbands and ‘mum’ pants. But stretchy can be stylish – sexy even – for guys and girls.

Girls – give matte jersey fabrics or stretch ponte a go. A jersey wrap dress drapes beautifully and can skim over all the right bits. Ponte trousers and jackets give the illusion of structured suiting but with a forgiving stretch to the fabric that’s a comfortable haven on days where you feel bloated, crampy or out of sorts.

Guys – a stretch cotton blend in shirts as well as chinos is that little bit more forgiving on the body, helping to make you feel comfortable and accommodate a fuller belly.

And remember, confidence is the best accessory – get out there, put your game face on and get ready to own the day, tummy troubles notwithstanding.