I'm small-busted, short- and thick-waisted, and slim-hipped, which can usually be summed up as a "rectangular" body shape. And I'm not alone. According to research, 46%(!) of women are rectangular, too.
"Designers and manufacturers still insist on making clothes that fit the traditional hourglass figure, when women's shapes are more likely to be top-heavy, rectangular or pear-shaped," according to this article. "The research found that although only 8 per cent of women now had the sort of hourglass figure flaunted by curvaceous 1950s film stars such as Sophia Loren, designers and manufacturers continued to make clothes to fit a slim-line version of that figure."
When I try on RTW clothes, I often feel childlike with a bust that I can't fill out and plump around a midsection I can't button or zip.
With sewing patterns, I spend so much time taking in the bust and hips and increasing the waist. Colette Patterns, which I love, seems to be particularly agonizing for me to fit and yet look beautiful on curvy women. Sewaholic serves pear-shaped women. But what about us rectangular gals?
The problem, for me, is not just that I have to make pattern adjustments but that some silhouettes are really are not flattering on a rectangular frame. I've been thinking about this since Tanit-Isis mentioned her issues with waist-seams and drindls -- it was an aha moment for me. She says:
I always end up feeling cut in half, emphasizing both the width of my waist (2-3 sizes larger than the rest of me) and the shortness of my upper body. ... Unfortunately for me, this describes roughly 90% of the dress patterns out there, and (even worse) a large percentage of the ones I’m dyingtomakerightnowdammit!Fantasy Dresses for Rectangle Gals
So not all rectangles are short-waisted like Tanit-Isis and I and I'm sure there's a great deal to be said about personal style and preference here, but can we imagine for a second what a great dress for rectangles might be?
I think dresses are a great place to start because, despite how inherently feminine they are, I initially felt more boyish in them. The wrong dress has a way of hiding the little curves I had and so I felt a lot more bootylicious in a tee that curved around my torso and jeans that cupped my derriere. Still, I think the right dress can be stunning on a rectangle gal.
The Drapey, Flowy Wonder
There's nothing that will make me feel more Marilyn-like than a drapey number.
- Bare clavicles and shoulders and arms and v-necks bring attention to the top half of me and define the bust, while a full skirt swishes around my knees.
- A modest neckline doesn't take away from the femininity of this number.
- The waist is either empire, curved toward the back, or de-emphasized with belts and sashes in the same color that provide definition but not contrast.
- The body's not being cut in half, nor do I look like a stuffed sausage with an over-emphasized midsection.
The A-Line, Shifty Cool
The opposite of drape is structure and yet I find a crisp A-line works equally well. Less indication of curve, more imagining of it. More leggy-Twiggy-ness.
Despite my love for the former type of dress, I find this much more versatile year-round amid gusts and inclement weather.
- Easy to layer with tights and, depending on the sleeve, with sweaters and coats.
- Ideally there's still bust definition, but it's the sweep of the A-line skirt that makes the body look curvier than it might naturally be.
- Without a waist seam, it's so comfortable.
- With a slim bust, I can usually make these without a zipper and it pulls right over my head.
- A great way to show off print and color.
What I'm Weary Of
I'll wear a knit dress in any shape because I love them so much, but I'm generally weary of a straight sheath, drindl, blouson, or super tight dress. Again, they could all work depending on the details, but I usually feel childlike and out of sorts in any of these dresses.
That's my budding perspective and I'm sure it'll evolve as I get more of these shapes into my closet.
There's a good chance you might be a rectangle too, what does your perfect dress silhouette look like?