I've got two theories about how to minimize the appearance of a thick middle. One is Divide-and-Conquer, where a line off-center from the biggest part breaks up the bulk and the two parts seem smaller than the whole. The other is Switcheroo, where the line is at a smaller part drawing attention there instead. These theories kind of contradict each other, which means that I don't really understand what's going on.
My first set of examples are of the Switcheroo with empire waistlines, the first of which is lovely and the other of which emphasizes the opulent belly, it seems to me.