I’m pretty much a maverick – not a fan of rules at all – especially when it comes to styling my clients and myself. I seldom even use the word, preferring to think in terms of “guidelines” instead. Even so, when this dress violated every principle I usually follow, I wanted to identify the loopholes that made it work …
I sewed this dress myself, but the “rules violations” apply equally to ready-made clothes. In fact, the project was inspired by this ready-to-wear garment (Cabionline.com) that broke my two most basic guidelines: fit (waistline hit 2″ too low on my body) and color (way too warm for me). I love it on my friend Sheila, but no way would it work for me.
I had this print fabric on hand – a gift from a friend who works in garment manufacturing. The scale of those giant flowers is technically too large for my 5’3″ frame. But it has 3 off-setting factors:
- The royal blue doesn’t have too much light/dark contrast against the black background, so the big blossoms don’t really pop.
- The lighter stems and leaves are deep cream instead of bright white, so they don’t create excessive contrast either.
- The semi-sheer fabric and it’s crepe-like texture further softened the contrast of the print.
- The skirt falls in soft folds, breaking up the oversized motifs.
I wouldn’t normally choose a fuller skirt style either. If you don’t already know my stance on flare vs tapered, you can read those guidelines HERE. But again, there were mitigating factors at work:
- The fabric is soft, so it falls in against the body rather than standing away and emphasizing width.
- The skirt is cut in wedge-shaped panels, with much more fullness at the hem than at the waist, so it doesn’t get too bulky.
- The shaped hemline – higher in front, lower in back – doesn’t cut the look (and shorten my frame) as abruptly as a straight hemline would. My simplistic attempt to re-create a straight hemline/hi-lo hem comparison gives you the idea.
- Then I tried it with the top unbuttoned over a royal blue tank. That formed an elongating deep “V” of contrast color over my short torso, providing or elongation.
- And finally I tried it un-buttoned all the way down, worn as a duster over black leggings. Suddenly there was color continuity head-to-toe and I looked amazingly taller/trimmer. Popping the shirt collar up in back adds to the illusion of height too.
- Although that duster effect was the styling that drew me to the red inspiration dress in the first place, I was afraid that look would be too out-of-the-box for me. But turns out it’s my favorite of the three. In fact, I think I’ll wait to wear the other versions until Fall when I can add black tights to extend the visual line of those as well.
Hope you can take some of your extra at-home time this week to play around with some of your own clothes and find more flattering ways to wear them – especially those that break some of your usual style “rules”. We’d love to hear about your results!