Have you got special plans for New Year’ Eve? Are you one of the lucky people invited to a black tie “do” where you have the chance to dress “to the nines”? If you are wearing a full length ball gown/evening dress what style will suit you best?
Earlier this year I wrote a couple of posts about Michelle Obama as she attends many formal functions and is often photographed wearing a full length dress. It struck me that the shape that looked really good at knee-length (a fitted skirt) looked less good at full length (the teal column dress with corset). A full-skirted dress was nice on her during the day, but for an evening look it had the absolute Wow1 factor. One of the most important things about a floor length dress is that it really alters the proportions here, so some of the old rules many need to be reconsidered.
Another long dress wearer would be Princess Diana. She looks amazing in the sheath dress, but fairly awful in the full skirted number.
Let’s see if we can analyse what is happening here.
Both ladies are tall with toned figures so they both look especially nice, and regal, in evening gowns. But the full length dress is one that strikes the viewer as a complete package – they tend not to have strong horizontals (actually the Herera dress does, but we will come to that in a moment). Therefore the underlying body shape is less easily disguised, or conversely it’s advantages are shown off more directly.
So for evening or maxi dress wear it is best to stick to your very best look. For a straight body (Diana) a straight silhouette is best. For a shaped body (Michelle) a shaped silhouette is best. In both cases follow the lines of the body and create a harmonious line. In terms of the horizontal lines on Michelle’s dress this serves to slightly reduce the impact of her height (at nearly 6″).
Now let’s think about applying this to a 5 5″ woman with a shaped figure (me!).
Over Christmas I cut out this dress. It’s another YSL classic from the Mondrian collection. I used the pattern before to make my Favourite Dress. I have always wanted to make the sequin version of it, since seeing Pattern Vault’s version. When I was looking through fabric for SWAP I thought this pink sheeny silk which I got as a remnant with sticky tape stains from Missan in Berwick Street, might be perfect for my Pucci pant suit. But then I remembered I had bought the fabric to make Vogue 1556. And this Christmas I found the perfect sequin cloth from Simply Fabrics in Brixton. I may include this in my SWAP as I had a little incident with some wax on my other YSL party dress.
When I examined the cloth I discovered I had enough to make the full length version. I thought about proportions. A shift dress is not my best shape. Think this would look better on me (curved bodyline) at knee or floor length? What do you think?