Wardrobe Architect 3: Exploring Shapes

The aim behind this month’s exercise is to figure out – in great detail – what shapes and lines you’re comfortable in, which you wouldn’t be seen dead in, and which are just – meh.

You’ll definitely want the worksheet for this one – pop across to Colette HQ and there it is.

The instructions say to rate everything from 0 (hate!) to 5 (meh) to 10 (love!) but I decided to cheat a bit and have a simpler rating system: A, Y, M, N, HN. Which is to say, Absolutely!, Yes, Meh, No, and Hell No.

The last-mentioned rating I reserved for mid-thigh and mini-length items (yes, mini is shorter than mid-thigh; the mind boggles), tight trousers, cropped tops and dropped-waist trousers. Not Going To Happen.

Unsurprisingly, dresses and skirts rated highly, with ‘somewhat fitted’ my favourite fitting for dresses, and very/somewhat full for skirts (and the skirt part of dresses, naturally). Trousers need to be very loose before I will consider wearing them; indeed, they cannot be too loose.

Riding habit, including jacket, riding skirt and divided skirt, 1900-1910
Covert trousers.
I will wear a tunic-length garment, but only as a top over a full-length skirt – or loose trousers. Otherwise, it’s “very long or maxi length” for me – though I don’t like my dresses to drag on the floor. If I wanted to sweep, I’d use a broom, thank you very much.

For some reason the longest length shown for outerwear (e.g. coats) is tunic length. My coat is more like knee-length and I live in hopes of finding one closer to ankle length. [Side note: it is terrifying how often I can type “length” and make the same spelling mistake every time.]

It never fails to amaze me how so many people seem content to have outer layers that only come down to the very tops of their legs – even rainwear! Do their legs not get cold? Are their trousers magically waterproof? Bizarre.

Jobbról a második Csató Mari manöken. Fortepan 30505
I had to look up some of the necklines (sweetheart? jewel?) and it turns out I’m fairly fussy about necklines. I have the anachronistic belief that a neckline should be somewhere in the vicinity of your neck. After all, it’s not called a sternum-line. Nor (since I have narrowish shoulders) do I like wide necklines which either display my underclothing or slip right off one side or the other.

But, despite all my fussiness about skirt length and necklines, I am apparently pretty laid-back when it comes to sleeves. Spaghetti-straps are ruled out by the neckline clause; sleeveless and three-quarter sleeves I’m not mad keen on, but I’m happy to wear pretty much any other length. [Dangit! Still can’t get that word right first go! Who thought four consonants in a row was a good idea?]

So, judging by my Absolutelys, I should be looking for full-length [right first time!] dresses with somewhat fitted bodices and full skirts. Waistlines high or natural; jewel necklines (I actually quite like a collar, but they weren’t under discussion here) and full-length [gah!] sleeves for choice.

What about you? What are your likes and loathes – and what would your ideal garment look like?

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