Hi! I just wanted to say how much I love your blog - and as a result have bought a dress I would never even thought of from a shop I never go into - Wallis!! Everyone says how good it is - so thank you very much! If you need a new challenge for those of us with non standard bodies, wondered if you could advise me on what I should buy next - am an odd shape! I am 5'8" with really short and fat legs - that are made even shorter by the presence of a long and huge bum... I have a waist that is two sizes smaller than my hips, and quite a flat stomach - 32DD top half - so find it hard to find things that fit, never mind look good... My legs are really bad - I can only wear the dress with tights and boots to hide the lack of leg. What would you suggest? Thanks Sharon
Ok - so first I must apologise to this lovely lady, because I've been sitting on this email since 16th March - quite forgotten in all my wedding self-obsession.
Right, secondly- to the task in hand. This really is quite straightforward: almost everyone can identify themselves as either having a short body and long legs (can be hard to find a waist) or having what I seem to recall someone from my childhood calling 'duck's disease' - where your bum's too close to the floor. As a fellow short-legger I sympathise with Sharon - although she's five inches of height on me - so perhaps not that much!
The silhouette we're looking for is empire line - cinched in under the bust, with a more free-flowing skirt part and then straight-legged trousers worn underneath. This picture is a good representation of what I mean, but sadly it's a back view - couldn't find the front shot - but you should get the idea. Look at the overall silhouette - don't her legs look lonnnnnnng?
Firstly: play to your strengths. Nice boobs and a small waist / back, plus flat tummy. Not all empire lines follow the body in their underbust tailoring, and can look smocky - that's fine if you have flabby abs: I can look pregnant if I wear too close-fitting an empire-line, but if you don't have my problem, then show off that difference between boob and ribcage. If you don't want your boobs to look too big, remember to go for a deep V or kimono neckline, modesty preserved with a vest underneath.
We don't want to fit all the way down to the waist, though, small as it may be. The reasoning here is we want to give the impression of longer legs. With a fitted empire line we get the impression of a trim waist, but without giving away where that waist actually is. It's also very hard to fit to the whole underbust-to-waist area without drawing attention to that bottom.
To length. You don't want a dress that's too long, or the trousers underneath will look like you've thrown the frock on over your pyjamas. Pink here is committing a second error in having two shades of black - this look can work with jeans, but I think you'd want a patterned dress to make the jeans look tied-in. The shorter the top layer, though - the harder it is to sustain the optical illusion of legs that go on forever. Once we start to see the shape of the leg, the game's up - and even with straight leg trousers, that becomes evident not far above the knee. So we're probably not looking for tunics. The other thing that will give the game away is a sheer fabric. diminutive 'Madmen' actress, Maggie Siff nearly gets it right, but due to the sheer fabric you can see that she too, is a duck's disease sufferer. Those flares don't help, either.
These by Wallis would be a good purchase at £35, but I'd stick to no longer than knee length frocks. The right hand pair are more streamlined - don't be afraid of the snug fit, you'll be covering everything from the waist to below the knee with a loose dress. Marks and Sparks, £29.50. Both pairs are black, but you have to start somewhere, and true black trousers (as opposed to jeans) should work under other colours too, so long as they're vivid or have black in the pattern.
jersey dress (above left) - £35 from Evans (see what I was saying?) It doesn't photograph well, because it's black - but if you follow the link you can see it on a model, and get a better idea. It is, of course, just like those frocks Dotty P's were doing so well last season - but a little longer it seems. The dress on the right is available in black, but I think is just gorgeous in the pale pink and black print. It's £50 at French Connection.
This dress would go perfectly with straight-cut jeans, and those full sleeves will help to balance out your boobs and any fullness over the bum. It's by Great Plains (£45) and is also available in green. Which means you'll need some jeans to wear under it. Leave skinny straight jeans to the kids - besides which the wrinkled ankle look will not work for this silhouette. I adore these jeans from Monsoon, because they have such elegant lines. They're relatively pricey for jeans at £45, but worth it, I think.