One of the hardest parts of professional dressmaking is quoting a price for a project. One looks at a pattern and figures it will be fairly simple; four seams, 2 darts and a zipper, fully lined – what could possibly go wrong? Should be able to finish it in 2 days or 10 hours, right? Not so much. First, I made a muslin to see if it fits and discovered that the design isn’t quite what I wanted and I spent a day figuring out how to re-make the pattern into the shape I want. Second, it is cut on the bias requiring a cutting surface 60” wide, so I stripped my bed and used that as the cutting table – brutal on the back, but doable. Third, the fabric choice was burnout silk which is a very delicate fabric that sifts easily and rebels at being sewn by a regular sewing machine. Enter the life saver called the Coverstitch Machine. With its differential feed it handles the vagaries of the silk beautifully. Of course it’s a new machine, so I have had to learn how it works while dealing with the burn-out silk. This is exhausting, but I still believe the new machine has not increased the time needed to get this far as it definitely makes the job easier. I have just finished day 3 on this dress. There is still another day’s work left. If I had quoted this for a customer I would have had to double the estimate to make any money on this project. Fortunately, I am making it for myself – this time.
So when you call a dressmaker for a quote on a dress and she says “It depends…” perhaps you will recall this story and understand.
Have you heard the term “you are what you wear”? There has actually been a study done recently that has determined that this is actually true and not just your mother trying to convince you to get out of your jeans. It was reported in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology by Dr. Adam D. Galinsky that our thought processes are based on physical experiences, including the clothes we wear. (New York Times, April 2, 2012 by Sandra Blakeslee) I think it is fair to say that all of us have encountered the feeling that our clothes affect our moods and the way we carry ourselves and I find it interesting to find they actually affect the way we think.
Dance teachers tell us we dance better in the right outfit. They can feel it in the way we move and see it in the way we approach the dance. I hadn’t thought of it before but the children’s ballet schools always insist that the children are in the correct attire for the simplest practice. Those teachers know that their students focus on the dance when dressed as a dancer. Ballroom instructors are pleased when their lady students come to class in a practice skirt that moves with them. They say the student stands taller, moves more gracefully and achieves more in the lesson. It shows in the men when they wear dress pants instead of jeans. You can see them stand straighter and hold their frame better when they have a good shirt on instead of a t-shirt. So, our thought processes and not just our moods are affected, hmmm.
An interview always goes better when you’re wearing your “power suit” that fits well and suits your figure. You feel more prepared to answer the tough questions and show how capable you are. That special event you were dreading becomes somewhat entertaining when you find just the right outfit to wear. Conversely, the event can be worse than anticipated when you wear an outfit that makes you uncomfortable. I become withdrawn and discover I have trouble with conversation when I’m dressed inappropriately for the occasion. It appears that Mother was right when she told us to put out our clothes for morning before we went to bed. If we plan what we wear, we can even plan how we think!
As always, your comments and questions are welcomed.
The woman whose hips are larger than her bust has many ways of describing her body type – the triangle, pear-shaped, hippy, and many other less flattering – but my favourite is Bottom Dominant. I’m not sure who first coined the phrase, but the first I heard it was from Nancy Nix-Rice http://www.nancynixrice.com in a seminar at the ASDP Conference http://www.paccprofessionals.org. The biggest struggle for bottom dominant women is to get an outfit that fits both her hips and her shoulders and flatters her. Fitted dresses and suits are truly difficult to purchase and this figure type can really benefit from some custom made pieces in her wardrobe. For some patterns designed by a local Vancouver designer with your figure in mind check out http://www.sewaholic.net .
In this blog we are going to explore some style options that will flatter the bottom dominant figure.
The idea is to draw attention to your face and shoulders and away from the hips, so patterns or horizontal stripes should be placed above the waist. Jackets and sweaters that end right at the widest part of your body should be avoided as much as possible. If your favourite sweater ends at your hips try pushing up the sleeves to just below the elbow to break the visual line. A suit jacket with a shaped lapel that ends less than 6 inches below your waist will look better than a longer one with no collar. Blazers and blouses should be of a lighter or brighter colour than the pants or skirt. Straight or tapered skirts are particularly flattering, whereas a flare will emphasize the triangle. Try straight leg slim pants, you’ll be pleased with the way they look. Your pants and skirts should start at or just below the waist. Hip-huggers are not a good choice.
You should avoid halter style tops as they simply emphasize the triangle and are better suited to women with broader upper bodies. Try a wide v-neck with cap sleeve for summer or evening wear. A boat neck or wide draped cowl are also good choices. Shirt-dresses are being shown this year and this style can work well for you if you choose a wide lapel and narrow belt over a full skirt – very ‘50s and fun to wear.
Remember to always draw the eye up!
As always, your comments and questions are welcomed.