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Jour 34: Lessons from Bea Danville: How to dress (for every body type)



Copyright 1956 by Wilfred Funk, Inc. 

[When I was a teenager, my fabulous mother gifted me with this genius vintage book: Dress Well on $1 a Day by Bea Danville. I can't believe I left it behind when I moved, but my mother graciously sent it along to me so that I could remind myself of this wisdom. And now, I share this wisdom with all of you.


I opened the book randomly and I love this section. It's all about embracing whatever size you are, dressing your best, and creating optical illusions with your outfits. Screw you, exercise and diet! I'm going to lose 10 lbs by dressing smarter.]


Fortunately for those of us who are not perfectly proportioned, nothing is easier to lead up the garden path than the eye. The fact that we do not see things as they really are, but as the eye is able to see them.

The eye will always travel by preference along straight lines. It takes quite an effort of will to make it go against this natural inclination. Hence, you will automatically look up a straight garden path first, and then at the shrubs beside it.

Consequently, it is what you appear to be, not what you actually are, that will register when people look at you. In other words, if your hips look in proportion, even though they may be an inch or so more than they should be, it won't occur to the most observant that you lack the proportions of a sylph.


If you are tall


Role model for tall girls: Cyd Charisse and her long, long legs


There is nothing as graceful as the length of waist, length of leg, and swanlike neck that make up the height of a tall girl. It is all the more disturbing, therefore, to see such elegance slipping into bad posture and rounded shoulders, thereby destroying the very statuesque impression that makes this type of figure so charming.

- Wear clothes with horizontal lines in the design
- Wear wide belts
- Buy all your accessories on the large side. Big, exciting handbags are designed for you.
- Keep your hemline as short as you can within the dictates of the current silhouette

If you are petite


Your role model is the sexy little pixie, Kylie Minogue


The fragility of the petite of 5'4" and under has been immortalized many times through the ages. The lovely ladies of Fragonard's paintings are as dainty and elegant as pieces of Dresden china in their panniered dresses of delicate pinks and blues.

- Wear clothes with vertical lines
- Keep the focal point of interest as near to the shoulder as possible
- If you must wear a belt, make it a narrow and inconspicuous one
- Keep your accessories small

If you are willowy


Audrey Hepburn is here to represent the willowy ladies of the world


Short or tall, you are the perfect clothes hanger, as a national magazine once described the famous high-fashion model, Lisa Fonssagrieves. If you cover up the angles and accentuate the curves, you can always be the envy of your not-so-slender friends.

- Don't forget your slim waistline is everybody's envy. Accentuate it with belts or by the line of the dress.
- Large, interesting pockets are good for you
- You can indulge in dainty ruffles or lacy collars and cuffs. This is a feminine fashion that you will find extremely effective.
- Dress your hair in a soft, fluffy style.

If you haven't quite the fashion figure


You lucky ducks get Christina Hendricks as your role model/fashion icon!
She's only the sexiest woman EVER.


The day of the pear-shaped beauty, so beloved by artist Peter Paul Rubens, is gone, as is that of her over-bosomy sister. Straight and svelte is the order of the day, and if you aren't that way naturally, you must wear clothes that will make you seem to be.

- if you have surplus inches at the hip-line, always wear pleated, flared, or gathered skirts if you can. Your extra inches will disappear within the folds and your figure take on the proportions of your slimmer upper half.
- wear your waistline at its smallest point

- if you have surplus inches at the bustline, wear loose-fitting, but not sloppy, blouses and bodices. Your bosom will tend to disappear in the cut.
- slightly flaring or bell-shaped skirts will help balance up the top-heavy look.

- if you have surplus inches everywhere, for the svelte look, streamline yourself with a good all-in-one corset
- wear a belt, especially a contour one
- if your legs are slender, wear high heels. If not, you will look daintier with a medium heel.

2 comments:

Jenifesto said...

Thats's so awesome. As I was reading through it, I wondered if I could be considered tall, since I love horizontals, big bags, and short skirts (and of course, my incredible likeness to Cyd Charisse - ha), but then I got to my beloved Joanie. I'll take the "an extra inch everywhere" option and her fabulously fitted wardrobe, please!

Annabelle said...

It seems like the advice for everybody is just to wear a good belt to emphasize your proportions. Joan is my fave, too OBVS

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