Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Vanishing Point

Thank you all for your lovely comments about my new Betsey Johnson prairie skirt!  :D

All 5 foot 3 of me in Betsey J trousers
Linda C left a comment, asking about the proportions of the skirt, and wondering if it "worked" because each of the 3 sections was about the same size?  She went on to say that she had been inspired to try a wider-legged trouser after I talked about the shape of my Betsey Johnson trousers and their unexpected tendency to make me look taller, and wondered if it was a similar phenomenon with the skirt?

Well, that got me thinking.  Me Made May provided me with a substantial "data set" of photos of myself wearing different outfits.  By far the most flattering combinations were "nipped in" with a high waist.  Whether it was a dress, trousers, or skirt, I looked taller and slimmer with this high-level definition.

And I realised that the Betsey Johnson prairie skirt is designed along the same principles.  No, the panels are not all the same size.  The upper section is the shortest and narrowest, the middle section is obviously wider to accommodate the hip, but is also proportionately longer, and the final flounce is by far the widest and longest section.  The result is an optical illusion of sorts:  the eye is drawn upwards to the smallest point, as if to the apex of a pyramid.  What artists would call "the vanishing point".

Llynfi skirt with apex potential

There are so many theories about "apples and pears" and the ideal clothing for different body shapes, most of which I treat with scepticism.  I am pretty straight-up-and-down these days, despite an earlier career as a flat-chested pear.  Nowadays, I have slightly more up top, less waist definition, and slimmer hips.

Potential to look short and dumpy
In the outfit above, the eye is drawn to the width across the shoulder, which is almost the same as the width of the skirt. This could have been "hourglass" with a belt... but without a belt it is a squat rectangle. Ah.
Although an a-line skirt fits the "narrower at the top than the hem" description, it can either make me look slim or chubby depending on where the triangle hits me.  If the waist band hits me round the tummy, I will look a lot chubbier than if it hits me higher up, just below the rib-cage, where I am slimmer.  This also increases the optical illusion that my legs are longer than they are, because the section below the waistband is so much longer than the area above it.  So I can get away with a lower waist if the hem is correspondingly lower and wider.  The most unflattering skirt-shape for me is a low-waisted pencil:  that way leads to a short and dumpy Roo, with more or less equal proportions above and below the waistband.
This is the sort of discovery people make when they draw a croquis.  I never did get round to that!  But it has led me look at pattern illustrations with different criteria in mind. All the pictures in this post are of patterns that I think would suit my shape.  I own a few of them already, but not all.... yet!

It hasn't escaped my attention that they are all from the 1970's.
Maybe this is why I am drawn to that era - I instinctively know that the line will suit me?
Mind you,  there are plenty of 1970's styles which would spell dumpy disaster... and no, you don't need me to show you!  Just think:  blouson, dropped-waists, drawstrings, short smocks with big collars...



trixiebacon said...

In your Me Made pictures, I noticed that the wide-legged trousers and short cardy were flattering on you. The shape put me in mind of Katherine Hepburn.

sulkycat said...

but but but! You are a GIANT! I am just under 5ft,and feel happiest in ankle length empire line dresses with short fitted cardies, plenty of silver necklaces and big earrings. Sort of a punkish-hippy-with-goth-tendencies. The total opposite of what my shape 'should' wear, but who cares. I love your wide trews and the prairie skirt on you.
Yours, Stumpy in Yorkshire.

verykerryberry said...

I find the same, early 70s shapes are the most flattering for a small chested pear shape and shift dresses or pencil skirts are the least flattering by miles

Myrna said...

Interesting observation. I'm short waisted so high waisted anything doesn't look good at all but I find an A-line skirt very fattening and the same shape in an empire waist dress very flattering. LOVE how we keep learning about ourselves.

sewstyled said...

Proportions are so important. The high waists work for you probably because it close to the golden ratio 1.6. From looking at my own MMM photos I figured out I need to be divided 1/3 + 2/3 or 1/3+1/3+1/3.
Realize hip length tops cut me in half and make my short legs even shorter. I look better in tops tucked in the waist of skirt or pants, or ending a few inches below my waist. I've never been able to decide if I am a slight pear or a rectangle.

Emily said...

Interesting observations ... I have come to some similar realizations about my own shape lately and it has led me to doing things I never imagined before - like wearing a belt over a cardigan. It makes a HUGE difference in defining my shape and has totally transformed how I think about my wardrobe. Great tips!

MaryinTN said...

Interesting. I had never really thought about why some styles/ shapes seem to fit me better than others. I am noticing a pattern now in my wardrobe. Thanks for bringing this up and enlightening me. And I love those pants, but that is one of the styles/shapes that will not work for me with my apple shape.

Franca said...

I love those trousers, but I also like the 'unflattering' outfit. I prefer not to think too much about flatteringness.