Colette

What to do when taste and body don’t match?

62

{image above: gorgeous 1920s dress from Dear Golden Vintage}

What do you do when the clothes you love don’t match your body type?

I’ve always been a curvy girl. I’m absolutely fine with this. I decided long ago that, given that I only have one body in this life, it’s sort of tragic to go through life hating it or wishing it were different. I try to keep it healthy and strong and celebrate all of its positive qualities rather than lamenting that it’s not movie star perfect.

But there’s one point on which I get a little hung up. I still love skinny-girl clothes.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things I love to wear that look great on a curvaceous figure. In fact, most of the things I like to wear are things I enjoy for that reason: I think I look good in them, so I feel comfortable in them.

But two of my favorite fashion eras, the 1920s and the 1960s, are known for glorifying the thin, small-chested, youthful, and boyish silhouette. These styles weren’t designed with my body in mind. But I love them, nevertheless.

What do you do in this situation? Wear them anyway because you love them? Worship them from afar?

I think knowing how to sew can be so helpful in this case. One thing I’ve found that works is reinterpreting the styles I love in a more flattering way. That can mean adding a bit more waist definition to a cute 60s style shift dress. Or maybe cutting a loose flapper-style dress so that it skims your curves. There are lots of ways to take a style that isn’t inherently flattering on me and make it work.

Do you stay away from styles that you know aren’t ideally flattering for you? Or try to make them work?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 62

Juliette from Sewing And Style Den sewingandstyle.blogspot.com

The story of my life…. well, since I hit thirties anyway…. I learned to go with the body type requirements. If I can alter the adorable gorgeousness – It is great, but mostly, it is not very likely, so I sigh… and move on. Or find a similar fabric and make something better suited.

Jacqui hazelnutgirl.blogspot.com

Oh you read my mind! I adore skinny girl clothes but I’m curvy and many of my clothing disasters have been because I listened to my heart instead of my head. Like you, it’s not that I dislike the kinds of clothes that flatter me, but sometimes I just want a little variation and to wear the really edgy cool clothes! The grass is always greener I guess. I’m about to try making a tunic dress which I know is dangerous territory when you have a bust, but I just can’t resist!

Paige P mylife.luxperdiem.com

I’m under the mantra right now of, “I’ve only got one body, so I’m going to wear whatever I want. “

LadyD stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk

I too love the 20’s fashion, but don’t have the shape to carry it off….but I’ve learned how to change the straight drop waist silhouette by illusion. I have found if the drop waist isn’t too ‘dropped’ but the skirt is knee length or above I can get away with it.
see http://stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/butterick-5229-20s-inspired-dress.html
Plus my next step is to do a ‘V’ neck to minimize the all one size frump effect and add more pleats in the skirt for a tennis dress effect.

Torrilin

People often say that 1920s clothes were cut for a boyish body type. Yet when you find magazine articles detailing a movie star’s perfect measurements, she’s a pear shape with full hips compared to her bust. And the bust is rarely an A cup. Somewhere in the 30D range for bras would be about right based on the illustrations and photos. I see a lot of modern sources insisting that women in the 1920s all tried to flatten their chests, but I’ve not once seen a period ad that remotely implied that was desirable. (and I’ve spent a lot of hours with the New York Times and a microfiche reader going through 1920s articles, so it’s not like I could flip past the ads)

And when you look at the clothes, they’re all about showcasing a women’s hips. The 1920s clothing ideal was all about made to measure clothes, and while illustrations may show bodies that aren’t the slightest bit natural, actual clothes generally wouldn’t look out of place or outlandish with the hip hugging styles in favor today. In fact, a lot of the time they look more on trend than the dresses I see in stores.

Another detail to watch when you look at original 1920s dresses… are there two waists? I’ve noticed that a lot of the dresses with a very dropped waist use the same exact trick that got used in the 1980s with very dropped waists. There’s the waist seam, but there’s also princess lines to define the natural waist. In the 1920s, the fit is more floating over the body than sprayed on like the 1980s, but the aesthetic isn’t a whole lot different. And floating over the body does make more sense with all that silk chiffon.

LadyD stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk

at about 1.28 on this film mentions about the 20’s fashions and shows a reel from the time
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/women-of-fashion-reel-2/query/history+women+fashion
where the flattening underwear is mentioned.

Terri

Love that film. I think the running commentary was hilarious. May have to share that. Actually, I love the 20’s era. I, too, have too much in the bust area to wear the look as intended, however, I am an old movie fan and have seen many a “matronly” figure wearing the styles. The more matronly my own figure becomes, the better I get at altering the styles that I love. :)

LadyD stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk

Its definitely a gem. I think there’s another ‘part’ to it too somewhere.
ah here it is http://www.britishpathe.com/video/women-of-fashion-reel-1/query/Women+Of+Fashion+Reel
And there’s another one about changes in hem lengths.

Its interesting that the fabric/pattern choice is just as important as the shape and cut when flattering ‘the fuller figure’. For one thing I can’t wear big prints even in the most flattering styles….it has to be small prints or I look 3 sizes bigger. lol

Francesca

Lady D – I had read that big prints are actually more flattering for larger sizes and small for petites – something to do with how with small prints the eye keeps on moving with them for a long time whereas with big ones it doesn’t. With that in mind I use my beloved prints both big and small – a dress with huge flowers all over, or a mixed print with the smaller print on top and the larger on the bottom – to balance out my larger bottom half – try it, you will be amazed. It’s like stripes – a while back there was a study on teh BBC saying that horizontal stripes are not in fact widening – it inspired me to finally use my treasured wide striped blue and cream linen jersey to make a bat wing dress with an elasticated emprire waist with the stripes across, like the fabric dictates – and hey, it looks great – and flattering! Some of the old adages hang around for too long – like blue and green should never be seen – and a lot of them are actually not true:)

Torrilin

Interesting, because that Pathe clip is from the 1950s, not the 1920s. I wasn’t kidding when I said in period references were rare.

It’s a bit like comparing what a 1989 fashion magazine says about fashion with what a 1999 one says about 1980s fashion. The emphasis even 10 years later is likely on some stuff that wasn’t particularly common.

I will cheerfully believe that a lot of modern 1920s girls did end up with a chest flattening effect. The home ec manuals I’ve read published then emphasize that the “modern” thing to do is to wear bras, slips and panties rather than heavy corsets. But in the 1920s, bra cup sizing hadn’t been invented yet. So most bras were a lot more like what we’d call a bralette. Bra shaped, but not terribly supportive. It’s also clear to me from the ads that basically no one listened to the home ec manuals, and that corsets and what we’d think of as heavy duty shapewear were in fact the underwear moneymakers. And corsets did tend to offer more breast support than a bra at that time.

It’s a tricky thing to research because the words used are all familiar… but often they don’t mean anything remotely like the definition I’d write out. So you might read a dozen ads for a product before you realize they’re selling something entirely unlike what you thought.

sapotesews

I’ve honestly found this with some of those 1960s silhouettes – especially the more tennis-dress shifts with box pleats. A pear silhouette actually can look really good in those styles. (Jackie Kennedy had a smallish (but not supernaturally so) waist and big hips)

Because my measurements say “rectangle” (the reality is more complicated) my mother, who taught me to sew, really really thought I should be able to wear a-line shifts with side darts, but they get hung up on my chest and look marmish. But within every era there are usually adaptations and variations for all kinds of bodies – it’s not like having big/sloping shoulders or big/small hips or long/short legs or what-have-you is a new thing!

Shannon

I wonder if it’s not that women in the 20s flattened their busts, but that women in the 2010s are obsessed with lifting and thrusting them up and forward. Most of us don’t need to flatten much if minimal support-ware is involved!

Nicole biketopus.blogspot.com

Interesting comments! I’ve always wondered if you would get a different perspective if you looked through pictures of people from these eras (such as in newspapers), rather than models from these eras… surely women with non-boyish body types were wearing clothes that were typical of the time period as well, and making them work in some way. Perhaps seeing 20s clothes only in the context of advertisements and modern day reproductions with thin actresses skews our perceptions of who the clothes flatter. I think a similar thing happened for me with skinny jeans… at first, I was so used to seeing them only on tall and thin women that I assumed they would only work for tall and thin women, but now that they’re more popular and my eye is more accustomed to seeing them on many body types, I have a hard time understanding why I thought they were something only thin women could wear well.

Your Name… *sandy

The day before yesterday, I came across a blogger who had posted a catalog ad for 1920’s bustflatteners, as part of a blog on the history of corset-shaping – I cannot for the life of me find the post, now, but they had names like Boyshapr (!)
I don’t know how popular or commonly-worn they were, but these garments did exist. I think such a thing would have been horribly uncomfortable for anyone who “needed” one – give me my underwire!! Or at least an athletic bra.

LadyD stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk

It recalls to mind the beginning of the film ‘thoroughly modern millie’.

Charlotte tuppencehapennyvintage.blogspot.com

I actually blogged the topic of the changing shape of decolletage a while back, and found in the 1920s Sears catalogues loads of brassieres promising to flatten – with names like “STA-FLAT” and “BOYSHFORM” – so they really did wear undergarments designed to flatten the bust (as well as longline corsets to attempt to slim the hips).

You only need to look at fashion illustrations to see the “ideal” – long and lean in the 20s, tiny-waisted in the 50s, etc.

That said, although most 20s flapper fashions are pretty much out for the curvaceous figure, something bias cut with enough beading to make it heavy enough to cling can work – see Marilyn’s dresses in Some Like It Hot…

xx Charlotte
Tuppence Ha’penny Vintage

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Charlotte, I was totally thinking of Marilyn’s outfits in that movie (one of my all-time favorites). Definitely not period correct, but it got the point across and she looked incredible.

I think I heard in the film commentary that the costume designer actually tied a string under her butt in one of the dresses to show off her ample derriere. Ha!

Casey elegantmusings.com

Rather than avoid eras that don’t work with my figure, I like to take details and incorporate them into silhouettes that do work. For instance, I love the softer, romantic look of the early 1920s. But that boxy look just doesn’t work for me! ;) So I like to take bits and pieces like collar designs and pockets and use them on dresses and blouses from other eras. Adaptation is always the best course, imho! :)

Amanda Bimble bimbleandpimble.blogspot.com

I must admit at this point I tend to avoid the eras that just don’t fit my figure. I’ve started to really appreciate the 50s look because once I began finding/sewing pieces with this vibe I realised how much it worked with me and wanted more. It’s turned out rather well for the moment but I am sure I’ll return to my love of the 60s again soon and hopefully with stringer sewing skills to tailor things to work.

Leah strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

I personally avoid 20’s and 60’s styles like the plague, but to be fair, I don’t really feel any string because I’m not in love with the fashions of either of those eras. I’ve been re-watching House of Elliot and all I can think is, god, these styles are so unflattering on everyone. But I do think a true empire waist can look really nice, just not on me. Maybe I’m just extremely selfish because I base my fashion opinions on what would look good on my body!

Shannon

I think I do some avoidance and some modification. I’m built very similarly to you, and I do love 60s clothes, so it’s finding the pieces that work and making adjustments. Luckily I have comparatively slim hips (I’m an hour glass, but more hour on top than on bottom), so the slim pants and what not work for me. I’m also surprised sometimes about the dissonance between what I find attractive and what’s actually my style. I’m often draw to fussier clothing than I’d actually wear. When I buy vintage patterns, for instance, the 50s dresses may look awesome but then I have to reel myself in and think, alright, would you actually ever wear that? Then I buy some 60s patterns that look overly simple on the pattern cover but are actually the kinds of things I enjoy wearing. Some things, though, like drop waists, I just have to admire from afar.

Lavender threadsquare.wordpress.com

I’ve really had to reevaluate over the years, as I’m also a curvy girl in love with the 20s and 60s. I remember being a flapper for Halloween one year when I was a young teen. Totally rocked the costume, but it was the first time I realized that style decades played up different “ideal” figures. Same thing happened a couple years later, when I was mad for mod. Now, I just try to incorporate what I can, and have learned to appreciate eras I don’t actually lean toward. That said, I still sigh longingly at modern easy, breezy styles. A balance between flattering styles and confidence in wearing what you like goes a long way, I think.

Shannon

Your comment about different styles accentuating different figures made me think of Ren Fair– if there is anything that Renaissance festivals have taught me, it’s that corsets look best on full figured and large women. Slight women, so valorized by the contemporary fashion industry, just disappear in a corset. Which is why I think sewing and fashion subcultures are so important– there is a style out there that looks good for everyone!

Nyssa Jayne shoesandblues.com

I always remember the first time I saw this image of Kate Moss hanging out at Glastonbury or something, wearing as you put it, “skinny girl clothes” and thinking THAT’s what I want to dress like. I’m not shaped like Kate Moss (I’m an hourglass), but I have found that because I sew, if I can’t make a similar garment to fit me, then I know how to “fake it”.

Otherwise, like many others, I go for what I know works. I love a cinched, belted waist.

LadyD stitchintimeandspace.blogspot.co.uk

An impulse buy has actually made me re-evaluate the early 60’s look. I thought the shift dress sillouette was out. But then I bought a ‘stretch’ shift dress that slightly tapers in at the hem. And suddenly it works as my curves aren’t hidden and at the same time not being emphasized either.

Torrilin

A lot of style guidelines say that sheath dresses are great on hourglasses, and shift dresses are terrible.

I am an hourglass, and a rather full figured one at that… but sheath dresses pretty invariably make me look more round than I really am, or like I’m a stuffed sausage. A shift dress that actually fits tends to make me look amazing. But I don’t look “mod” at all, I look the way people say hourglasses are supposed to look in sheath dresses. And a lot of people will tell me I’m wearing a sheath if I’m wearing a shift. It’s pretty amusing.

Amanda symondezyn.wordpress.com

I totally relate to this!! Part of my problem growing up was not being able to grasp why clothes that looked so graceful and elegant on someone skinny looked so frumpy on me – now obviously I know it’s because I have curves – in particular, a large bust; which makes loose, shapeless clothing hang away from my body, making me look either massive or preggers LOL

As I’m learning more and more about sewing and fitting, I am learning to accept and even like my own body because while before, I was limited to what I could buy, and had to settle with admiring from afar, now I can tailor clothes to fit my figure and feel beautiful :)

Angela

I tend to go towards the 50s and early 60’s styles. I like the wiggle dresses and more slim fitting styles, but if it’s too gathered at the waist it makes me look poochy in the belly area?? Why I don’t know. I have some patterns that remind me of maybe 60’s shift dresses…I think for myself I make them one size smaller on top than is actually written on the pattern envelope, and two sizes for the waist down. I’m big busted and no hips…it seems to balance it out where the design skims more over my figure than just hanging there looking sack ish on me…..sometimes I’d gladly flatten my chest a little to get a smoother look! LOL Wonder where I can get one of those slips as seen in that video?

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I feel the same way. I can’t deal with too much fabric around my waist. I call it “fluffiness,” because it makes me feel big and fluffy.

Tracey Wirth swellsewing.wordpress.com

Unfortunately, I stay away from those types of styles that I know won’t be flattering on my body type. I have spent a lifetime, trying to keep up with the trends of fashion only to be disappointed in the end, with my body. Now at 40 something (I’m not telling) I feel as though I am starting to figure out what works for Tracey. Sarai, I love your thoughts on keeping your body fit and healthy- I wish I would have learned this a long time ago and actually believed it. It would have saved me a lot of depressed moments! I do believe this now, accept when I am in a bathing suit, which seems to be my most dreaded and unconfident moment! I think as you stated, if you take those elements from eras which created those fashions you love you CAN have it all. Skinny jeans, may be not so much for me….. anyway I don’t have the thin thighs for those- but sewing, say a pair of Clovers can achieve a similar look that I feel I look great in as well as comfortable.

thezenofmaking thezenofmaking.com

I’m also a fan of the 20s and 60s silhouette, but I’m petite, short, and busty, so I look way better in cuts from the 50s. To balance style vs. body, I generally make small pattern adjustments–expanding the bust, defining the waist, and adjusting the hem–to create a more flattering silhouette while still maintaining the style of a garment with less shape. I can usually find a happy medium where the era that inspired me is still apparent, but I don’t look like I wrapped a bolt of fabric around me and called it a day!

Amber

I’m actually a skinny girl with a boyish/pear shape figure and dresses with a 1920s vibe actually don’t look good on me. Clothes that “create” a more defined waist look better. I bought a dress a little while ago that didn’t really have a shape to it, but the embroidery on it was cool. I was so disappointed with the fit, and I gave it to someone who was petite and curvy and it looked so cute on her. So, like you, I really love 1920s fashion, but it sure doesn’t like me :)

Rachel

I know exactly what you mean! I love my body, and so does my husband…no body hatred here. But I have a very large chest, and I’m very tall. What this means is that the almost shapeless, drapy shirts that are so in style right now just don’t look right on me (they get kind of tent-like), and a lot of the adorable mid-thigh stuff is completely inappropriate on me. I’m still learning to sew, so though I’ve sewn myself some things, I can’t yet make everything work for me. Mostly I wear what looks good on me (and I love that stuff too!)…basically anything that shows off the waist and has a very feminine silhouette. I admire the other stuff, and think about making it for gifts; for instance, my cousin is the very straight type, and she looks great in those flowy tops!

J Nevels

I generally stay away from things that don’t flatter – of course I can always “channel” an inspiration by using fabrics that are reminiscent of …… I don’t have enough time to try to fit a square peg in a round hole (in a manner of speaking).

Tiffany amazonsews.blogspot.com

Great post! I’m VERY familiar with this issue (5’10” size 20/22). I generally make what I want to wear work for me (thank God I’m 5’10”–curse and a blessing). You’re 100% right that being able to sew helps the cause. All the fun in fashion is making it yours to interpret how you see fit–it’s what makes fashion as a whole a timeless thing (“old” fashions become new again, etc.). :)

-Amazon

Tiffany amazonsews.blogspot.com

p.s. being a shapely girl helps too. Hooray for Curves of all sizes!

TessaMelissa misstessamelissa.com

LadyD- Thank you for that awesome reel! I loved how it was basically lamenting and confused by why women would want to be skinnier.

I am curvy. My sense of style was formed when I started buying my own clothes at the thrift shop down the street, and altering them to my taste. That was around middle school. Since then, I have made some SERIOUS style missteps in regards to flattering my figure/coloring. However, I have found a few basic things that work for me that I can avoid or seek out in any era. Boat necklines, cap sleeves, defined waists, just below knee length hems, and such I can find or replace on a garment from any era. Turtlenecks, mid-upper arm length sleeves, heavy polyesters, and anything that makes the bust look wonky needs to be avoided completely or fixed before wearing in public. That is the great thing about being able to sew! Also, we are living in an era where practically every fashion era is accepted. There is still a high fashion trend specific to this time, but I live in Austin and I can find people dressed from 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and up just at the grocery store! Just pick some favorite aspects and make them work for you. :)

Megan

Story of my (fashion) life! I only recently realized I was buying stuff because of how it looked on mannequins/models, and not account for the fact that I’ve got a booty, hips, and muscular (though lovely) shoulders. Learning to sew (it’s been a month or two) has definitely made me think about fit and style and how to adapt these things to MY body! (But it can still be frustrating, I know!)

Linda bathtubfabric.blogspot.com

Interesting that when we think of an era’s styles, we often go immediately to silhouette.

Jen mommymadebyjen.blogspot.com

I, too, am a curvy woman who has trouble with the standard 20’s silhouette but I still love it. I’m finding this to be true in some more mod-type clothing. I think the biggest problem is that the soft fabrics like chiffon get hung up on the breasts when you have a larger bust, so my waist gets lost in the fabric, which hangs down straight in that typical 20’s cut. I didn’t realize this until last week when I took a hard look at a garment on my dress form and saw it. Actually, my husband had to point it out to me because I wasn’t really seeing it.

The good thing about this is that I had started to make a dress from some beautiful burn-out silk velvet a while back, but I got frustrated with the fit and never finished it. I didn’t have my dress form at the time, so it was difficult to step back and see the garment as it would look on, when I wasn’t wearing it. Now I think I know how to tweak it to make the dress work for me, and that makes me happy, since I love the fabric and got it for a song.

Juliet crazygypsychronicles.blogspot.co.nz

Oh, I know this problem. I’m a short curvy girl and adore the look of clothes with loose, flowing drapes. Batwings, kimono sleeves in particular make me swoon. And to complicate this adoration, my clothing must always be fitted, particularly around my waist. So I’m stuck. I now just have to worship drapes from afar and have settled with fitted, tailored clothing. I often fool my eye with gathers, which is probably the best compromise I can have for my current skill set.

Elle busyellebee.wordpress.com

I adore 1920’s and 1960’s fashion. OK so these clothes may have been designed for the ‘skinny’ gal, but I’m sure that there were plenty of curvy women in the 20s and 60s! If they managed to make flapper style dresses work for them, then I see no reason why they can’t work for curvy women today.

If you feel good in your clothes and ultimately in your own skin, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. We worry far too much about what other people think, at the expense of diminishing our own light. Why ‘look good’ for others, if it makes you feel rotten? If you love a particular style and you can make it work for you – then go ahead and flaunt it :)

wendy blogspot.com.au

I have the same problem, I’m a curvy girl and I love the twenties’ and sixties’ style, my solution is to take inspiration, be it a length, pattern or embellishment and use it on a silhouette which better suits me. Of course I’m lucky I love a good fifties style dress too, because that suits my body perfectly.

Heidilea

The 20s did not glorify thinness like the 60s, not at all–frankly, they don’t look good on any shape to modern eyes. Most of those women were more curvy than the average woman today. The bust was flattened and modified versions of corsets were worn:
http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/blog/golden-age-of-travel-dream-birthday-the-ideal-figure.html

&

http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/blog/golden-age-of-travel-1920s-underwear.html

Chris

So many great comments ! at 58 I am still figuring out what looks good on me. For many years my body image didn’t mesh with my actual body-type, and I wore mostly very loose fitting skirts and jumpers. Now I’ve lost 30lbs and am still, after 4 years, still getting used to my “new “body. So now I try everything…and lately have learned to sew knits and have made straight, above knee skirts that look amazing. I still have a hard time looking at a pattern and imagining it on my body, so learning how to make a muslin has been invaluable..I’ve lost alot of time, but haven’t wasted any fabric, making up patterns that turn out to be awful on my body. Still in that learning phase , but I love it !

mariacollege

I love the 1940’s era and I’m restricted a bit as to what I can flaunt, which is okay because I have learned to adapt to my curves. Which leads me to a specific question about one of your dress patterns, ECLAIR…

http://sew-hip.livejournal.com/2437355.html#comments

What do you recommend I do to reduce the fullness of a circle skirt with 6 panels?

Angela fabricflorafaunafeast.blogspot.com

I do try to find patterns that flatter my shape because I am not slender, but I am more likely to try to alter something a bit if I love the look and make it work if I can that just avoid it altogether. I really don’t like the way fitting books are always telling you if you are pear shaped, wear this and not that and if you are apple shaped wear this, etc. etc. I actually borrowed one from the library the other day that said if you have a large stomach you should wear fancy shoes and jewelry to distract people from looking at your body, and it just seemed so degrading and sad to me. I couldn’t help but feel like, wow, what a sewing kill-joy it is to look in a pattern fitting book and have them advise you that actually nothing looks good on you. It might as well have said, if you have a large stomach, you should hide it a closet!

Pippa @ Beads and Barnacles beadsandbarnacles.blogspot.com

Oh yes… Although Im not realy a fashion era kinda person, but I find it hard to find styles that fit me in RTW clothing as all the stuff I like doesnt take into account that people have curvy bodies…

The Knitting Archaeologist knittingarchaeologist.wordpress.com

I threw a speakeasy party and improvised a 20s era dress. My waist is 32-33″ depending on meals (ahem…) and my hips are 48″ So, yeah, I’m totally not boyish. That said, I loved wearing my dress and I don’t think I looked matronly. I did realize, however, that it wasn’t as flattering as if I had worn a 40s or 50s style dress, so that is the era I stick to now. I could also probably rock some civil war era stuff too :)

Christine

I’ve always dressed to hide my waist and take best advantage of skinny hips. So I never wear anything tucked in , never wear a belt and I love dresses with princess seams or dart shaping to give me curves I don’t much have.
I also love fabrics with a lot of drape and body – swirly kind of clothes which seem to me to create a mental curve.
But recently I have looked at the Beignet skirt in a very wistful kind of a way. We’ll see.

lisa twolooseteeth.com

Things got better for me when I realized that I was looking at an outfit and saying “that’s what I want to wear,” when I really meant, “That’s the body I want to have.” I was drawn to 1960s styles because I wished I looked skinnier. Now I think I choose things that are more flattering, because I’m working with the body I actually have. No matter how many pairs of skinny jeans I try on, they won’t make me have skinny legs. :)

Francesca

Wow Lisa – that is such an astute comment – and probably fits a lot of us!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

Very insightful comment, Lisa. I wonder if there is an element of “the grass is always greener” as well.

Another aspect I just thought about: I find it very difficult to play up my curves without feeling sort of overtly sexual. I never wear anything low cut these days, and I often feel wiggle dresses and the like are just too much for me, at least for daywear. I like sexiness that’s subtle, and that can be hard to achieve with a curvy body.

Kay

I totally agree with this. I love form fitting styles, but feel like overtly sexy when I wear them. For example, I’m obsessed with pencil skirts and wiggle dresses right now, but every time I try them on it seems like they just accentuate my curves more than I would like. My boyfriend loves when I wear them, but I’m just not sure how to make them look good on me in a way I feel comfortable with.

Aarika darthpickles.blogspot.com

Thank you for this post! I’m currently struggling with some post-baby weight issues and this really hit home for me! :)

SwingLindy rocktoit.com

Re corsets/underwear and 1920’s fashionI have an almost complete collection of a fashion magazine from the 1900’s onwards. What I noticed is that corsets stopped being advertised when the first world war started – the metal was needed for guns etc and the whale ships went to war. Corsets never came back. The fashions then went from figure defined, due to the corsetry, to rather ugly and blousy – no doubt to protect the modesty of the women who were unused to being free of restrictive undergarments. As they got used to the freedome, the blousiness was trimmed and the straighter silhouettes became popular. Undies advertised and patterns for undies were slip type affairs. I see lots of adds for increasing the bust ( then as today) and for reducing weight. None for bust binding or reducing. The social pages show ladies, expecially the matrons of the day, wearing the 20’s/30’s fashions over ample figures and busts and looking very glamorous. Bottom (& bust) line is,all fashions from all periods were and still can be adapted to suit any figure type – so go for it and enjoy.

Rhia evildressmaker.com

Story of my life you’re talking about. I love 20’s and 30’s style and anything before that, but as a busty and larger in size I haven’t felt that those styles would suit me very well. 20’s requires boobless, boyish body. 30’s hail for slender and tall body. Anything before that prefers tiny waist and moderate size on the bozom. So previously I sort of settled to only dream about them from a distant.
However, now when getting towards my 40th birthday I have started to realize. What was I thinking?! People of those ages, they weren’t all the same figure either and had to adjust to the fashion anyway. It has been done before so why can’t I?! So keeping that in mind I have started to use my skills to match my ideas to my body. At the moment I am working on 20’s styled dress which has some pleats and intakes that makes it match my body better. I’m also planning to create some slim 30’s outfits. So I say all of you hesitating: don’t hesitate anymore! Wear what you want and be proud. Get professional help for the fitting if needed. And yes, sewing skills do help.

Tiffany Jo

I have a rather odd shaped body…I’m three different sizes from top to bottom, and my waist seems to be in my armpits like my grandma. This seems to have been more common 50 or 60 years ago, as vintage patterns fit me so much easier than modern ones. Trying to fit a modern pattern takes me forever on my body! However, I used to wear whatever struck my fancy, until I started looking at pictures of myself and cringing!

I got a hold of a copy of Edith Head’s, “The Dress Doctor”, and it changed everything! Not only does she give fabulous accounts of dressing “the stars”, but she goes in-depth to dressing for your body type. I finally understand how to flatter my body the way it is! According to her, I shouldn’t wear full skirts at all, but since I still have a few, I make sure I consult some of her other suggestions to make them work, such as putting on a bolero jacket with it, instead of a cardigan, or making sure the neck has a nice deep “V” to it, instead of high-necked or rounded!

I AM bitter that I can’t wear anything that is high-necked…I look like a beach ball…and that just won’t do!

Sarai colettepatterns.com

I will have to hunt for that book!

Christine

I think it is interesting how patterns and clothes have changed over the years. I know in the UK there was a huge resizing exercise done about 12 years ago when it was finally accepted that perhaps the 24 inch waist was something of a rarity.

Also that fashion and styles kind of twist our bodies a bit. 20’s flat and boyish, 40’s/50’s curvy curvy, 60’s flat as if we were all some kind of plasticine.

Which is why making your own is outside of fashion – you totally pick what you want and make and reshape for you.

Mind you I would love to have the nerve to wear clothes I like but just don’t suit. For example the dresses with a gathered waist and fitted bodice. I have noticed that women who don’t fit any kind of beauty and shape criteria but wearing clothes and carrying themselves with huge confidence and pleasure look amazing. That this is who I am and I like me. Beth Ditto is a classic example of this.

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