30 Jun 2010

Style vs Taste

Having a friend who trained as a make-up artist is fabulous for night's out ... if I ever actually had any I mean. But I haven't. At least, not recently anyway.

So instead, we had a girlie afternoon of make-up and silliness as AnnaP made me over and we had lots of fun and giggles playing in my back garden with a variety of outfits and poses and props (namely the wolf). The purpose was to find me a profile picture I wouldn't cringe at every time I saw it. Mission accomplished I feel!

But it threw something to light that I've been pondering on and off for a while. How do you pick a style that works for you?

I'm terrible at choosing a style. I see so many people and their outfits online that I absolutely adore (I'm talking about you Ulrika!) and I have clothes and patterns that fit those styles because, let's face it, I like the silhouette they create, the shapes and drape of the fabric. But there's one thing I forgot to take into consideration. My shape.

I've blogged about this before; I don't have the curves that Ulrika, Solanah or Gertie have and am almost straight up and down with a thick waist. My face, at 34, still has an awful lot of puppy fat that I'm slowly coming to terms with the idea is not going to change for the better. My hair does not like to be perfect and will find a way out of most styles. The styles of the 50's probably aren't for me. For prosperity I offer the evidence below:

Now, don't get me wrong. I think I look okay in the above outfits, I can get away with both of them but without the hourglass figure that the styles require I don't look great.

In comparison, here's a couple of pictures in a style more suited to my looks:

How do you reconcile to a style that isn't really to your taste but suits you instead of the style you love but don't quite fit? And how do you come to terms with the idea that you're cute and 34 years old? I love my hair, it's naturally wavy but it doesn't lend itself to grown up styles. At least, not the grown up vintage styles I love so much. So it's back to the drawing board I think, with more of the romantic and cute and less of the coiffed. Something more original to me and not others. Watch this space!

Oh, and here's a couple of snaps with the wolf because he's just so pretty:

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. Grrr ... I wrote a long comment and then my computer went all gooey. I'll try to recap:

    I love this post and have been thinking about it since I read it yesterday. I absolutely agree that it's frustrating to reconcile a style you love with a body that doesn't flatter it. I've had the same problem. I read somewhere that if you're going for vintage styling, you should pick an era by your body shape first above all else, and for us square-ish shaped gals that's likely the 20s (and 30s?), mid to late 60s and 70s. I actually like junior patterns as well. Funny, I thought I adored the 50s but when looking through a gazillion vintage patterns online, found myself drawn to the late 60s, early 70s, mostly because I could see myself in them -- the clothes are more youthful and slim fitting without being figure-hugging (which show off what I don't have), and, in the 70s, flowly and lovely, as your dresses above. Plus there are things that are timeless -- a shirt dress, etc., it's all about the particulars, no? The type of skirt, the neckline, etc etc.

    You know I've been grappling with this "flatter your figure" question, too, and I think the dresses above look wonderful because they drape the body, something I find so elegant and hope to incorporate more of into my wardrobe. :) And btw, I'd kill for wavy hair. (Really.;)

  2. Don't you find, though, that the 20's in particular just make you look more square? My measurements lean more towards the 40's and if I lost an inch off my waist I could even fit some of my 50's patterns but I'm high waisted and despite walking almost 2 hours a day with the wolf my waist just seems to be getting bigger so I don't think that's going to happen! I find it really difficult to visualise the patterns in anything other than the illustrations and, more importantly, how they'd look on me. I am blind to my real shape and assume I'll look like the pictures of everyone else wearing the same pattern. Ha! Am I wrong!

    I have to agree that the 70's are actually becoming more appealing, I forgot how nice some of the styles actually are. I think my main concern is work clothes and I'm stumped over what to sew.

    In response to the wavy hair comment; do you know, until a couple of years ago I had no idea I had wavy hair. Seriously. My waves occur because I don't brush my hair, I let it dry naturally and it tends to stay where it's left whilst drying. I just take off the towel I wrapped it up in for the duration of the walk from the bathroom to the bedroom, no shaking, no playing, just leave it. I have a natural kink but I'm not sure it's really that wavy. Maybe you'll get lucky and discover the same thing ;)

  3. I've never actually worn anything 20s-ish and all the patterns do tend to be squarish on the cover -- I'd hope, in reality, that they'd drape the body, give a hint of curves. One day I'll give a whirl :)

    And because of my obsessing with my waist, I've just discovered I have a high waist as well -- how does this change the way you dress? Sometimes I think the vintage looks may put us at a disadvantage here, which all emphasize the natural (and our high) waist.

    The 40s are stunning. I'd love to see you whip up something from that era. And I'm playing with making my hair more lively -- if I braid it and let it dry that way I get a bit of wave. Sigh.

  4. I think I'm going to have to post about this because my reply was getting ridiculously long!

  5. This post and subsequent comments were really interesting, thanks both of you! You've made me realise that I naturally gravitate towards retro styles that I'll probably look better in. I love early 1950's through to mid 1970's but I'm pretty curvy (and high-waisted I've realised since reading Ali's post) so I think I've unconsciously made myself blind to the cute shift dresses of the late 60's which I LOVE but know are going to make me look very wide. But I only agree with these theories to a certain extent. In general I believe they are true (curvier girls tend to look better in 1950's, straighter figures better in late 60's-70's) but I also think 'f&ck it' and as the photos of you in more 1950's styles above indicate, you can rock those styles and have fun doing it too. I really hope sewers don't get too fixated by their figure 'types', and take these things as indicators rather than strict rules, know what I'm saying? There's so much fun to be had with style and clothes, it would be a shame to restrict ourselves to a limited list of options.

  6. I've decided to just experiment with all the different eras and see what happens. It's much more fun that way ;)

    But you're absolutely right, Zo, sometimes you just have to wear what makes you happy and sod everything (and everyone) else!

  7. actually with your hair down, i think you look awesomely bohemian and sultry. it suits you and is gorgeous :) i also agree with zoe's sometimes you just need to say eff it philosophy. i LOVE the 20s and 30s styles, but i'm curvy with a short, high-waisted body and they make me look like a big blob and not like an extra from the movie Chicago, like i imagine. sigh. but i also gravitate towards making or buying more new look styles (or simply 40s. 50s styled clothes).

    but back to styling, have you tried playing with the 50's style proportions? maybe move the waist a bit higher (more empire, less centered?) perhaps a belt that's wider on the sides and narrows in the center (like a twist waistband?) to visually create the curvy silhouette you want?

    just some thoughts from a lurker :)

  8. Well, Blogger ate my reply! Not impressed!

    It never occurred to me that you could move things like waist lines (oh if only that were true in the real world!), I think that I should maybe learn to sew first without playing around with the pattern as it's hard enough as it is ... then again the words easy and beginner don't seem to be sinking in so maybe I won't wait!

    Thank you for de-lurking and leaving some fab comments for me to think about, please don't re-lurk I need all the help I can get! ;)

  9. Check out this post of Adonising


    You learn to see your body as it really is

  10. Really interesting post! The pics are gorgeous, and your dog is amazing, so cute. I agree with Zoe, wear what make you happy, usually by default you find the style that suits you best. I have a equal hip and bust ratio but I don't have the 10 inches that dictate the 'perfect' hour glass, so I need all the waist definition I can get. I think your right about experimenting to find your signature style/era. Your hair looks like it would make a fantastic Veronica Lake style, its almost there on its own with those lovely waves!

  11. Thank you! :)

    I'd never thought about a Veronica Lake cut, hmmmmm, intriguing thought, I'm going to have to ponder on that some more!


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