This post is part of a series exploring how to choose flattering clothing styles and colors using the book Clothes Make Magic by Emmi Cotten (1949, E.P. Dutton & Co.).
Waist-slimming lines are generally flattering to your figure, but if your upper hips are pronounced to a marked degree, you should avoid lines that slenderize the waist without breaking into the upper hip area as well. ~Emmi Cotten
A woman with a Type 1 figure has a square hipline and medium (average) proportions. While square hiplines are not problematic in and of themselves, there are ways to reduce their visual prominence and make the figure appear more balanced. Click on the image below to enlarge it and print it out.
If you have square hiplines should avoid clothing with rounded shoulder lines. This “rule” is especially true if you have wide and heavy hips because the roundness of the shoulders will mimic and accentuate the hips in an unflattering way. When we look at Illustrations #1 and #2, the hips look bulkier in #2 because of the rounded shoulders. Additionally, the optical illusion created by the raglan-style sleeves of #2 make the shoulders seem narrower and the hips wider than #1, even though the size has not changed. If the garment has a shoulder line detail, such as in Illustration #8, make sure it is angular and that the shoulders are crisp.
One of the main differences between modern and vintage clothing is in the armhole area. Vintage garments have higher and tighter armholes. Modern garments have a great deal more wearing and design ease (the difference between your body measurements and the garments finished measurements) which can cause a lot of fitting issued. It is much more difficult to find a garment that fits correctly in the armhole area. Really, poor fit across the shoulder and in the armhole area can ruin the look of an otherwise gorgeous garment.
If you have a Type 1 figure, your job will be to find garments that gradually widen out from the waist to the shoulder (see Illustration #3). That means that boxy garments, such as a Chanel-style jacket, will make you look heavier (See Illustration #11). Even if the garment is fitted, as in Illustration #7, the straight up and down illusion will emphasize the hips.
What about garments with dolman sleeves that are popular right now? You can wear them but you have to be careful about where the bottom of the armhole begins/hits you. Compare Illustration #9 with #11A. Number 9 works because of the gradual increase and the sleeve doesn’t begin just above the hip like it does in #11A.
Waistline (Except for those who also checked Figure Types 7, 8, 9. Follow the recommendations for those types when we get there)
Gathered waists can be problematic for you, if you have a Type 1 figure. In Illustration #5, the heavy gathers create bulk above and below the waist. Also note that the amount of gathers takes away from the gradual widening from waist to shoulder. When wearing a garment with a gathered waist, make sure it is only slightly gathered and that the desired waist to shoulder line is retained (Illustration #6). Also, notice how the width of the belt in the two illustrations makes a difference. The narrow belt in #5 gets lost in the bulk whereas the wide belt in #6 emphasizes the waist.
Miss Cotten says that you can wear wide belts if are slender and you are not high waisted. Mrs. Obama has fallen into the high waisted trap and it throws off the balance of her attire and makes her trim and fit figure look heavier than it is. (Note: I am not criticizing Mrs. Obama but because she is photographed so often and, like everyone else, has had an off day here and there fashion-wise, there are images of her that prove the points that Miss Cotten is trying to make.)
Garments without belts and waistline seams (such as a princess line sheath) are an excellent choice for you, if you have a Type 1 figure. Waistlines that dip in center front and back are ideal, too. Raised waistlines are good (see Illustration #10) because they separate the mass of your square hips with the upper torso. Just be careful not to overemphasize a large bosom if you have one.
Horizontal lines that cut across the widest part of your hips–especially if there is a color, pattern, or design change–are your worst nightmare (see Illustration #2A). Vertical or diagonal lines (like in the first photo of Mrs. Obama and Illustrations 1, 3, 3A, 8, and 9) are the most graceful and minimize hip width.
The shape of your skirt matters, too. Avoid flared skirts, such as shown in Illustration 11 and the second photo of Mrs. Obama, because they leave the contour of your body at your upper hips. The most flattering skirt design for you follows your hip line at least to the bottom of your hip, as in Illustration #12 and the first photo of Mrs. Obama. Look for skirts that hang straight from the hips, such as a modified pencil skirt, or begin to flare no higher than the knee, such as a trumpet skirt (Illustrations #9 and #10). The good news is that these skirts look stunning on you and only “meh” on your counterparts with medium or triangular hiplines.
Look for garments that avoid cutting you visually in half, follow the contours of your hips while gradually widening from the waist to the shoulders. And make sure those shoulders are crisp!
Our next lesson will look at Figure Type 2: Medium hipline with medium proportions. Believe it or not, there