SOMETHING FOR THE "STRAIGHTS"

How to give the illusion of a waist when you don't have one.

This article is not for curvies who fear their waist has gone.  It hasn't!  This is for people who have a naturally straight shape and never had a clearly defined waist even when they carried not an ounce of extra weight.  It is inspired by my visit to Kensington Palace and the exhibition of some dresses from Princess Diana's wardrobe.  At 5' 10.5" she was tall and slim and did not have a pronounced waist.  It was fascinating to see how her designers - from the Emanuels to Catherine Walker - gave her the illusion of a waist.  With dresses they used anything from ruching, empire line (a seam under the bust) with a lighter colour on top and darker underneath, an asymmetric waist - i.e. falling to a point at the side, a drop waist (her wedding dress) or a fitted shift (princess line!) shown in the image for the exhibition Diana - Her Fashion Story.  (NB the wide neckline.)  In suits, her jackets often were often fitted to the top of the hips and with straight skirts.  The wide 1980's shoulders helped in her early days too.  To sum up, the interest was around the bust/shoulder line and/or the hips.  She avoided obviously waisted clothes and dresses or skirts gathered at the waist. 

If you have a straight body, you too can give the illusion of a waist with these ideas.  Fashions may have changed but the basic style ideas remain the same.  Of course, you may not be bothered about suggesting you have a waist and if you are a real straight, you will look good in shifts and shirt dresses which fall - you've guessed it - straight!

 

The drop waist and interest at the shoulders

The drop waist and interest at the shoulders

The Asymmetrical waist

The Asymmetrical waist

Interest at the shoulders; fitted to below the waist; straight skirt in a different fabric.   

Interest at the shoulders; fitted to below the waist; straight skirt in a different fabric.

 

POWER DRESSING 1

As you may have realised by now I like going to the movies.  The latest was "Miss Sloane" starring Jessica Chastain who wore, almost exclusively throughout the film, black and white.  Jessica Chastain is a redhead with green eyes.  As such she is a candidate for "warm" colours like brick red, olive green etc.  She was dressed in black and white in the film for a very good reason - she plays an apparently super-confident hard-nosed lobbyist, striding about in stratospheric stilettos, totally in charge of herself and her material, with no room for showing a softer side to herself because winning is everything to her.  Greater contrasts give off authority and she needed that to the maximum. She brings it off because she wears very red lipstick and lots of black eye makeup so there is plenty of contrast created in her face.   In the final scene - and I won't spoil it for you - she appears, apparently without makeup, in a muted buff/yellow.  This is the only time we see the real person.

Sometimes we need a bit of "armour" and if we don't have lots of natural contrast in our faces, we need to create it with makeup so as not to be overpowered by strong contrast in our clothes.  So the decision is, are you dressing a persona or the real you?  There is no right and wrong - it is just a choice.

Oh, and it is a great film!

Couture for Plus Sizes in Barnes

In my March newsletter I told you about one exciting fabric experience.  Another has been to discover Carolyn de la Drapiere  (is this a made up name?  Reminds me of Bob Flowerdew on Gardeners' Question Time) in Barnes. Carolyn designs dresses.  She began designing for plus size ladies but now designs for ladies of any size. The dresses or outfits are then made by the three ladies of Barnes Sewing Company.  I went recently with a client who wanted "the perfect dress".  Not something for best (most of Carolyn's clients are after a Mother-of-the-Bride outfit or a ballgown) but a dress she would feel fabulous in every day. This seemed a great idea to me and to Carolyn. On a "pay per wear" basis, my client would get much more value from her dress(es) than if it were a ballgown. We were ushered in to what I can only imagine one of the French couture houses would be like.  Rows of dresses, rolls of fabrics, dummies with sample outfits on them and a velvet sofa for me!   Carolyn will make up fabric you take to her but she carries a lot -  all exquisite -  herself.  Some of them are ends of designer rolls - Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Armani. My client was thrilled to find all the dresses hanging up were size 16 or larger.  She arrived with a clear plan of two dresses she wanted and then was utterly seduced by three off-the-peg dresses which were, to her delight, taken IN, to fit perfectly!

None of this comes cheap.  If you want a dress made it will cost £400 for the making.  (Having made dresses myself, I know this is not over-priced. It takes many hours to make a dress or a jacket and if it is going to fit perfectly,  be lined and finished to a high standard as these are, it is actually reasonable.)  Off-the-peg is less expensive and Carolyn has designed styles which particularly flatter a more generous figure.

My client was thrilled with her dresses and said she felt pampered throughout the experience - something she had never felt before. Now all she needs is some nice weather to wear them!

 

Rows of dresses and a chaise longue for me!

Rows of dresses and a chaise longue for me!

A snap taken before Carolyn's signature wrap dress was shortened and taken in to fit perfectly

A snap taken before Carolyn's signature wrap dress was shortened and taken in to fit perfectly