Friday, January 23, 2009

BRIDE MAIL: Body Types

Mira Zwillinger
Most mornings I confront an email box with questions from brides allover the world. The most common has to do with wanting to know what gown is best for a particular body type. Knowing your figure liabilities as well as best features will empower you to formulate fashion decisions in the right direction. In your search, always keep in mind those gowns that make you linger and look a little longer than the rest—the ones that really grip your attention. Do you love that dropped waist because the model in the editorial looks great in it? Or do you go for it because you instinctively know it would look great on you? My best advise here is this: learn to really accept and cherish the body you have then train your eye and thinking to embrace styles that compliment your particular assets. Pass up any looks you could wear if only you were taller, bustier, lost twenty pounds, etc.? Target your flaws then minimize or camouflage them; always, always heighten your assets. Here are a few of the most common body-type questions I get:

THE PETITE BRIDE

Bride Mail@Bridechic.com
I’m 5’ and very small boned. Most gowns I’ve tried on are for women that are 5’6’’. This means whenever I get in front of the mirror I’m swimming in the dress. Almost any sleeve, belt, print or lace looks magnified on me. What are my options?

One of the most important things for the vertically challenged to remember is scale. If you’re petite and in shape, you can wear just about any gown as long as you scale down to the right proportion. Also thinking vertically (up, up, up) it will be easier to figure out which treatments suit you best. For instance, choose a bodice and neckline that draw the eye up to your decolletage. Here’s some more to consider:
Amy-Jo Tatum
GO FOR
* A Panel. A gown with a panel or seam(s) running up the front. The unbroken lines give you height.
*Empire waists are one of your best options considering you go floor length. You want to keep that vertical line going.
* A V or U-neck, it gives the impression of a longer neck.
*A Mermaid. If you’re slim and petite consider this style. It’s fitted like an evening gown up top and has all the bounce and swirl of a ball gown below.
*An A-line. Think of it as your very own scaled down version of a ball gown.
*Sheath and evening gown silhouettes, long and columnar; they will flatter you.
* length over volume in your skirt
*Sleeves that are long and straight.
* Best proportion is a floor length gown with veil or train of the same length.
*prints and laces as well as any motifs should be scaled down and worn on the upper portions of the body. Busy designs below the waist (even small ones) draw all eyes downward.
*Soft and sheer fabrics like crepe and chiffon that drape to the body.


Moonlight
Think of the A-line above as your very own scaled down version of ball gown.


PASS UP:
*any ball gown.
The volume in the skirts will consume you.
*heavy, elaborate fabrics like brocade or any print or design that is large.
*Wide belts, sashes and cummerbunds interrupt the vertical lines you want to create. If you do wear a sash or belt go thin (1-1 ½ inches) and as close to the shade of your gown as you can get.
*any design with big puffy sleeves or shoulder pads.
*Any train longer than a sweep.

THE TALL BRIDE

BrideMail@Bridechic.com
I’ve spent most of my life in blue jeans so I have no idea what to look for in a wedding dress. I like the idea of wearing a long, white dress on my wedding day but I’m finding it confusing to know what I’m going to look good in. I’m 5’9” and slender. Can you help?

How lucky can you get? You’re going to hear it again and again—tall women look best in any style (well, just about) whether it be ball gown, A-line or sheath. Some words of caution though: There have been some tall, svelte, otherwise lovely brides of late who went way over Niagara with the frou-frou and piled on drapery. Yes, you certainly can carry around more weight and bulk than most but still need to keep scale and proportion in mind even if you are tall.

Atelier Aimée
Lusan Mandongus



GO FOR:
*Sheaths and evening gown silhouettes. They really compliment your body if you’re in shape.
*Two-piece dressing like a floor-length suit or coat and dress combo. It’s original and takes someone like you to really carry it off.
*Shrugs and boleros. You’re one of the lucky few that can wear them.
* A ball gown. Talk about drama! You’ll look like Giselle!
*You can go all out and carry off all those beautiful back details: florals, bows, big and intricate bustles, etc.
*Heavier fabrics like brocade and velvet, you can carry them..
*a wide belt or sash in a contrasting shade or color if you want to appear shorter.

PASS UP
*Bouffant hair-dos and high headpieces. Unless, that is, your groom has the proportions of Wilt Chamberlin.
*Victorian gowns with high necks and long tight sleeves. All that elongation puts you over the top.
*Long panel trains. You’ll come off even thinner.
*Flats or ballerina slippers if your hem is above the floor and your feet are long and narrow. You’ll come off looking like Olive Oil.

THE FULL-FIGURED BRIDE
BrideMail@Bridechic.com
I’m a size 20 and want to make my wedding day the one day of my life I really look gorgeous. Because of my size it’s hard to find stylish options out there so I’ve decided to go custom. So far I have this ivory taffeta A-line in my head. Could this work for me?

You bet! Any A-line or princess style flatters with their vertical lines moving upward.
Always concentrate on keeping those lines vertical while bringing the rest of your silhouette inward. Consider a curve darted A-line or a princess style with some contrast to the center panel. If you have pleasing curves and/or a full bust, focus on empathizing these attributes the Great Masters have painted for centuries. Think Rubenesque rather than heavy, realizing you can carve out your own special style niche. Consider Minnie Driver. She’s definitely somebody who knows how to ‘rock it’ with her full-figure. Though you won’t find her too often inside the pages of Vogue, she’s definitely tres chic.
Vera Wang
Empire waist
Phillipa Lepley
Low and round neckline

Caroline Parkes
Ball gown with Basque waist
GO FOR:
*An empire waist
. It looks great on you. It plays down a thick midriff and hides big hips and bottom.
*A ball gown. As long as you have full breasts, some tummy, rounded hips and bottom you can wear a ball gown (note: you do need a determined waistline). The voluminous skirts hide the tummy, bottom and hips, focusing on a nipped in waist. .
*Low, wide necklines. Consider the scoop, sweetheart, keyhole and V-neck, all of which empathize your cleavage and decolletage.
*Long and fitted sleeves, preferably in lightweight fabrics to make your arms look slimmer.
*Basque waists atop either an A-line or ball gown slim you out.
*The trapeze or tent style; one of your best options.
PASS UP:
*Any gown with massive embellishment
and go for clean lines and fabrics like crepe, matte satin and shantung; they even your body out. Pass up any weighty fabric like brocade or velvet that add bulk in the folds and seams. Ditto the heavily beaded laces and organzas.
*shiny fabrics like satin. High shine equals volume. .
*Mermaid, evening gown and sheath silhouettes; all too form-fitting for your figure.
Three-quarter length and big puffy sleeves. Don’t even think about shoulder pads!
* Off the shoulder necklines. Full-figures usually have broad shoulders and arms and this neckline adds volume there.

THE SHORT-WAISTED BRIDE
BrideMail@Bridechic.com
My fiancée wants me in a traditional gown with the long train and veil. While I like the idea of going all out traditional, the problem is I’m short-waisted and most every big dress I’ve tried on has some kind of waist issue that leaves me looking boxy. I know that perfect gown is out there, I just haven’t found it.

Sounds like you have the classic undefined, boy waistline. Focus on styles bringing all eyes up to the face, shoulders and bust line while minimizing or hiding your waist. Opt for styles like A-line and princess seams that elongate. Madonna is a fine example of someone who has done well at camouflaging this tricky boy midriff (I’m thinking Evita here not Truth or Dare). Check out her gown in Evita when she does a death waltz with Antonio Banderas—a white A-line shift with a V-neck. Stunning!
· GO FOR:
· Empires waists
. They look great on you. This style hides the natural waist and focuses on the bust and neck area. An empire can have slim or full skirts, take your pick.
· Sweetheart or V-necklines. They lengthen your bodice and extend your neck.
· High necklines like jewel and turtlenecks. They extend the bodice.
· Vertical lace patterns and prints. Make sure the pattern travels upward.
· A-line and princess styles. They flatter for the reason there is no defined waist. Fitted through the bodice, these styles taper down to a full skirt.
· A trapeze or tent style.
· *A suit
if the idea appeals to you. Make sure the jacket fits below your bottom.

Giambattista Valli


Giambattista Valli


PASS UP:
*Any detail that points to the waistline such as, wearing a gown that has a natural waist, a veil that ends there or any gloves or sleeves that are three-quarter length.
*Any lacy, ruffled or tiered designs.

THE PEAR-SHAPED BRIDE
BrideMail@Bridechic.com
The dress I’ve fallen in love with looks better on the hanger than on me. I’m narrow shouldered, small busted and have large hips so getting into a body-hugging, bias-cut halter is out. Do I have other options?

Concentrate on extending shoulders outward while concealing or minimizing hips. The idea is to match hip proportions with shoulders to create an hourglass.

GO FOR:

Off the shoulder empire. Top extends shoulders out while the skirt hides your hips.
Any top that extends the shoulder line like bateau or Sabrina neckline.
Portrait collars. Check out the portrait collar of all portrait collars, Michelle Obama's wedding gown photo. Albeit, a bit dated and she isn't pear-shaped but it's the ultimate in portrait collar.
Consider a tailored look with padded shoulders like a long coat dress. A suit with a full or A-line skirt is another option. Any tailored look with shoulder pads will even out your silhouette.
Dropped or basque-waist ball gown. The skirts hide full hips. Just remember to coordinate the top to your proportions as well . . . Sabrina or off the shoulder.

Amy-Jo Tatum

Manuel Mota

Carolina Herrera

PASS UP

Halter Necklines. Forget these. Especially gowns with clingy or tight skirts.

Natural waistlines. You want to avoid anything that points to the waist.
Anything Straplesses

5 comments:

Our Big Day on the Day of the Dead said...

what about us hourglass brides

or busty brides?

Dani @ Weddings Fresh said...

what a fantastic post! great work. really good info all brides should be aware of!!!

bridechic said...

Day of the Dead:
Hourglass could be full-figured; As for busty, I'm all for flaunting it instead of covering it up so much it looks too old-ladyish. Not everyone agrees with me on this though.
Thanks Dani!

about me said...

Fantastic information!

Wendy said...

I used to have a really hard time with this when I sold gowns. When a bride comes to you with pictures and you see her- Yikes! It takes incredible diplomacy to get a bride to try on a dress that fits her body, but when you do-WOW!