Before looking at your own shape, it’s worth thinking about society’s ideal. Now, I’m not advocating that we should be striving to be something we are not, I despise the fashion industry’s idealisation of a figure that most of us don’t have. But the fact of the matter is that the reason the fashion industry uses that body type is that it wears clothes well and the image sells. In part we are trying to create the illusion with clever dressing that we have that body shape. In reality, we are all different shapes, we have some areas that wear clothes well and some that don’t. By imagining what shape wears clothes well, we can understand the tricks we need for the illusion, the styles that draw the attention towards your good bits and away from your not-so-good bits. We do ALL have good bits, even if we chose to focus on the bad, so this is an exercise in finding and celebrating your assets as well as being honest with yourself about the parts of your body that aren’t so great.
I’ve spent most of my adult life yo-yo dieting and exercising, trying to achieve my ideal figure. I sometimes wonder if the reason I wasn’t drawn into the fashion industry before was because I never felt I looked right. But actually, the fashion figure I was striving for was unachievable because no amount of exercise is going to make my legs longer or my shoulders more square. The only time I genuinely haven’t worried about my figure was when I was pregnant and as I see my children grow, I realise how very different we all are and how ridiculous the fashion industry is to suggest that we fall into a few size categories.
Ready to wear clothing was introduced in the 1930s but even then manufacturers each had their own arbitrary sizing system and clothes often didn’t fit well, requiring alteration. Sizes were based on inaccurate body data or no data at all! And it was found that garments of widely differing dimensions were labelled the same size! We haven’t learnt much have we?! Some bright spark thought, lets solve this by just using models so thin, it won’t matter! Sizing of women’s clothes continues it’s rocky road to this day but it’s a problem that can’t be solved because the real issue is that every single one of us is a different shape. What bespoke tailoring and dressmaking did was to work with a woman’s best assets and her own individual shape. As the fashion industry has developed, styles and fabrics have become more comfortable and more varied. Clothes should be comfortable but with increasing choice, it’s easier to decide what to wear based on what it feels like than what it looks like.
So looking at the “fashion shape”, it’s all about balance of proportions; shoulders and hips are balanced, legs are longer than the upper body, narrow ankles move into slim calves then toned thighs and the waist is defined between curvaceous hips and bust. A long slender neck accompanies dainty feet and wrists. From the side, there’s a cheeky round bottom and a lovely oval tummy, arms are toned and back is straight.
OK so back to reality for my next post when I will analyse my shape against this vision and pick out some styles that suit and some that I’m going to avoid.