Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Long Summer Dress Styles

My friend Skye saw a summery floor length dress she liked but wondered if it was a good idea on her figure which is thin with small chest and large butt. The dress had a bikini style treatment at the top and then about 5oo yards of gathers from directly under the bust to the floor. While I don't often agree with fashion critics about what figures should sport which styles, in this case I thought the style wasn't likely to be the most flattering.

I went through my binders, patterns, and scraps to come up with a few styles that I thought Skye's figure would be flattered by that would feel breezy and summery (she lives in Austin so the motivation is obvious). The first one is a Roberto Cavalli, a designer I have a very strong loathing for most of the time (for the sleaze factor), but I love this one. Just be careful not to take opium while wearing it or you might drown yourself just because your dress would look awfully pretty caught in an eddy.

Liz McClean's long dress styles would be flattering on most figures in my opinion. Especially the dark one. I have no idea what season this is from. I love her understated drapes and the kimono sleeve style. For Austin though, the dark color might make a person combust.

While it's true that I'm not a fan of Jennifer Lopez (or of any of her many many endeavors) when I saw this picture of her in one of her own designs I was smitten. She is the poster girl for the small boobed large derriered figure. She's thin yet curvy and unconventionally NOT busty. A sleeveless empire dress with a band for a bust is normally not a style I would recommend to those with this figure, yet look at her! She looks (in my opinion) stylish and cute as hell.

The other dress is a Derek Lam and I think it would be attractive on anyone who still has a waist (which doesn't, at the moment, include me) and would be a super comfortable style to wear during the hot months. The reason this would work on women with large butts and/or hips is that the fullness increases as the dress lengthens, but if you're thick in the middle, don't do this style.

I never did get around to making this one. Yet. Because I can't bear to sew it for myself and be disappointed. However, this style is a classic and I love it. Drew Barrymore wears a similar style in the movie "Music and Lyrics" and that's my favorite part of the movie aside from a couple of the songs that Hugh Grant sings(!).

This vintage dress is gorgeous. It has enough drape and ease to be a perfect choice for summer. It's a vintage dress so I don't know who made it. Pay attention to the placement of the drapes and how it gathers to a relatively small area at the high waist and is mirrored, though more modestly, in the bodice. This is another dress that would be flattering on large and flat butts alike. Big breasts and small alike can be flattered by this dress. All you need is a waist.


  1. You know what, I have two Lane Bryant dresses that are quite similar to that 4072 one, and everyone says they're very flattering on me. My body: hourglass, but bottom heavy; very plus-sized & very busty, with proportionally small waist.

    Congrats on the new blog! I think I'll quite enjoy it.

  2. It's a fairly universally flattering style. I mean, you could even have almost no curves and it will lend them to you. With curves and it complements. I'm making myself one the second I get my waist back. And to that end I'm off on a bicycle ride! I'm glad you like this blog. It's my playground. DPA is so serious, Stitch is so informational, but this one? Just total fun.

  3. I love Liz McClean's long dress....gorgeous! I'd like to do it in a soft light grey. May I ask what magazine features the dress?

  4. I love all the dresses, they look so flattering and elegant. Once I have grown a couple of feet taller and a couple of stone lighter they are just the sort of wonderful,draping dress I will wear for sipping a glass of wine, on my deck, watching the sea. I wish.
    Looking forward to your posts here.

  5. Ooooh. I love these long dresses. The one at the very top is just the kind of thing I used to wear in my youth (when everyone else was being rebellious by wearing jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts). About 10 years later, I had a deep purple dress with the same draping in the front as the last dress but cut a bit fuller with more gathers in the back. It was great for dancing.

    I really want some light summer dresses. You're making me want to sew again.

    I'm very short waisted so I like a dress gathered below the bust or at the hips. The latter is really the best style for me now as I have narrow hips and thighs, a huge bust and no waist at all. I like 1920s Edwardian style dresses best, I think.

  6. I have just discovered you and found myself reflected in about 85 of the 100 things you list about yourself. Now the fashion blog. Where we DO differ enormously is in the amount of motivation and energy you have despite your emotional state. I am more than a tiny bit envious.

  7. Are you taking requests? If so, flattering styles for big bust/no waist please! I love your style would love to know what you'd recommend.

  8. Thank you anonymous! I have a lot less energy than I appear to have. My mind is over-busy and to relieve the chaos it produces I write a lot and it seems I get tons done but it's at a great cost to ordinary important things like cleaning my house.

    Helen- OK, I take your request! Big bust, no waist- what about derriere and hips? Narrow, medium, or wide? That can make a big difference in what styles might work best. And whatever I come up with isn't a gospel, for a more expert view you might want to turn to the "What not to wear" series (the British one)- I do actually tend to agree with them but I don't view flattery as a question of hiding flaws as much as I like to think of enhancing and highlighting features. For example, some people think that if you have really full breasts you should automatically aim to minimize them- why? Large breasts are a feature (especially when not playboy-style-surgically enhanced).

    When looking for dresses that might work well on Skye's figure (my own too, when not overweight) I didn't search for dresses that would make a small bust appear larger and make a large derriere look smaller. I was looking for dresses that would (in my opinion) say something nice about all those features.

    Anyway, I love such a challenge. I will search my binders and books and patterns and see what I can come up with. What fun!

  9. Oh yay! No derriere, wide hips. I'm kind of stuck in a rut clothing wise. I'll check out the British "What not to wear" too - Thanks!