Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Pear shaped women with bad legs are in fashion (with a caveat)

in days of yore

The 70s maxi-dress is definitively back, according to the Telegraph, which says that the iron rule that economic austerity goes with long skirts cannot be overturned, and this is not even a recession but a Depression.
According to designer Sonia Rykiel, the new longer lengths are there to lift us up above the mundanities of daily life, and on to more ethereal planes. "The thing about the long silhouette is that it is an intelligent way of dressing – light and powerful, hiding what needs to be hidden, and showing what needs to be shown," Rykiel tells me. "But long dresses this autumn and winter should be worn in different, cheery, colours: bright and pale."
Excellent. Avsh Alom Gur at Ossie Clark (see following) told me it was fine to wear my Booker dress at a lunchtime event as long as it was styled differently.

The new long dresses are best suited to pear shaped women who will not mourn being unable to show off their knees. But of course only tall pear-shaped women.
For pear-shaped British women the look may be heaven-sent, but there is one body type ill-suited to the drowning pull of drapery. "If you're short, this style will only shorten you further," says celebrity stylist Hannah Bhuiya. "So the best thing to do is wear a very well cut panelled long dress, say by the newly relaunched Ossie Clark label, one that accentuates your waist, Pierre Hardy clunky shoes and a large winter hat which will help you alter your proportions."

Can anyone explain what are the styles which make pear-shaped women's hips look smaller and which simultaneously elongate them? Stylists are strangely silent on this topic. I am 5 feet five inches, which I would describe as average height and always looking to make myself seem taller and slimmer. Perhaps it cannot be done (except, of course, by becoming slimmer, but that's a subject for new year's resolutions.)


justarabbit said...

Thank you so much for asking this question! I'm about the same size and wonder it myself.

Though strangely, people often think that I'm taller than I really am. I attribute this to my love of the platform shoe. Even my everyday walking shoes: Danskos and Naots actually have quite a bit of lift in them. My Clarks heels are also platforms. Lily Cole was in line ahead of me once when I was wearing my heels. She was the same height as me, but then she was in plimsoles.

miss cavendish said...

I'd say to choose a solid color, as well as a waist seam that sits just above the natural waist--not quite empire, but a place that allows the skirt to flow rather than poof. And heels, of course!

Anonymous said...

I agree with cavendish about the higher waist and would also like to add that low slung styles can work also. For pears its that tricky mid section and where you cut it, and where you want the eye to go ie: leg bust, face.

StyleSpy said...

The a-line is a friend to the pear-shaped woman, the gathered or dirndl skirt is not. (And I'm sorry -- the dress in that photo is a friend to no one, unless you're going to a costume party dressed as Marcia Brady.) The trick to a great skirt for a pear is cutting the skirt as closely to the widest part of the hip as possible without making it so snug it pulls. I agree with miss cavendish about the waist -- a little higher than natural is better, to elongate the torso a bit. And, depending on degree of pear-itude, resist the impulse to highlight a tiny waist. This sounds counter-intuitive because we all want to focus on our good points, but an itty-bitty cinched-in waist just makes the hips seem wider in comparison. Draw the eye up with your neckline.

Linda Grant said...

I agree with all of the above except that I think the skirt should not touch the hips but should skim over them.

desertwind said...

Would a little bit of shoulder help?

desertwind said...

I meant to say: shoulder on the garment!

Duchesse said...

Diane Fres here we come.

And I wonder what so wrong about a pear shaped body, that it is approached with such dread? Some women do not have the V-shaped body proportions of 14 year old boys- are they required to disguise that?

plumbob said...

If the long dress is bad for the short woman with heavy legs, what then will I wear to my upcoming wedding? Narrow waist, smallish hips, thighs tragically wider than my hips, and 5'1". I have been worrying that no wedding dress will suit.

Gaby said...

I am tallish (5'8"), and have grown wary of the higher waistline dresses. I really want them to work, but I feel they make me look like a weasel. It must have something to do with length of torso--I have comparatively long legs and a high waist--but I can't seem to get it right.

Tellicherry said...

plumbob, I feel your pain! 5'1" and hourglass myself. The fashion world would prefer that my type crawl off into the woods and die, but I refuse to let it ruin my love of pretty stuff.

Sometimes, if the cut and proportions are just right and not too full, I find that an empire waist can work with a long skirt. You have to keep the sleeves short and the earrings fabulous, but it can work.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding - I hope you find a dress that makes you feel beautiful.

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