Check out my latest charity shop bargain. It ain’t silk, but it looks like it, and I love the pattern. Isn’t it lovely?
When I first saw this pretty thing on the rail, I assumed it was vintage. Turns out it is one of the dresses designed by Trinny and Susannah. For those of you who aren’t aware of this bossy pair of stylists, T+S have have produced several books and TV programmes, all with the focus on dressing ‘real women’. Programmes usually began with them making a woman stand in front of a mirror in her underwear, pointing out her flaws but getting her to admit if she has “great tits” or a “good arse”. Brutal, yet popular. Their key message was to ‘dress for your shape’, highlighting your best features and de-emphasising the less attractive ones. They went on to design a range of dresses:
Their most recent book, ‘The Body Shape Bible‘, categorises women into 12 shapes; going beyond hourglass/pear/apple etc. (though they feature) to include ‘column’, ‘lollipop’, ‘goblet’…and the flatteringly-named ‘brick’. They then tell you how to dress for that shape, with emphasis on creating curves where there aren’t any, or enhancing the ones that are hidden under baggy clothing.
Looking at the dress, it was definitely designed to emphasise the waist, widen the hips and display the breasts (when I tried it on my mum rolled her eyes and said, “your boobs…”). I’d love to know which of their shapes it was intended for – I suspect someone a little straighter than me…
I’m always ambivalent about the idea of ‘dressing for your shape’ – on the one hand I want to feel good in what I wear, and on the other hand I resent being limited by a neckline or sleeve length. Watching some of their programmes, though – rightly or wrongly – I realise I have absorbed quite a few of their ‘rules’, eg:
1. v-neck/wrap tops minimise big breasts – avoid polonecks and crew necks at all costs!
2. large rings make fingers appear more dainty
3. ankle straps truncate your legs
4. 3/4 length sleeves show off the wrist, the slimmest part of the arm
5. baggy clothes make curvy women look like sacks of potatoes
Some of us like dressing by the rules more than others, but prescriptive or not, T+S seem to have helped women rediscover a happiness with their bodies. Many of us feel horrified when we look at photographs of ourselves, but their philosophy takes this one step further; you may feel knocked down, but you then have to build yourself up again – and this is a crucial step that many body-conscious types miss out.
What do you think about this?
Should we dress to flatter our shapes?
What rules do you abide by?
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