Clothes Make Magic: Masquerading Saddle Bags

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.).

Clothes with lines that accent the width of the shoulders are flattering to Type 3 hips because they balance low hip width and counteract the tendency of this figure to look underslung. ~Emmi Cotten

If you are a woman with a Type 3 figure, you have the double whammy of having “triangular hips” that make them look heavy to begin with but because the width is lower set they give the illusion of having “saddle bags.”

As we did with a Type 1 figure, the goal is to balance out your look by accenting the width of the shoulders to match the hips.  The added component is to move the eye up and away from the hips to counteract the tendency to look bottom heavy.  Click on the image below to enlarge it and print it out.

Figures 1, 9, and 11 demonstrate how an outward thrust of the shoulder line using seam or design details move the eye up and out giving the illusion of balance between the top and bottom halves.

Unfortunately, you can’t always avoid having a line go across the hips, such as the bottom of a jacket, but make sure they hit the upper hip area where you are thinner.  You are also an ideal candidate for garments with a raised waist such as an empire waist dress or a bolero (See Figures 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9).  Horizontal details at the waist and shoulders, if you are slim, or just at the shoulders, if you are not, also help move the eye upward (Figure 9).

A danger, especially with shorter women, is giving the illusion of being “squatty” as shown in Figure 5.  All of the garments detail are in the “problem area.”  The garment in Figure 10 makes the model look squatty because the design lines of the bodice move the eye inward instead of out to balance the line going across the hip. Avoid wearing suit jackets that end at your lower hip with a narrow skirt (Figure 2).  A wider skirt with a slightly shorter jacket (Figure 3) reduces the appearance of being bottom heavy or unusually short legs.

If possible, your jackets and coats should be fitted, contrast with your skirt, and end at your upper hip, as in Figure 4.  If the coat ends at your lower hips, make sure that there is a design element to break up the horizontal line (Figure 12).

Flared skirts that gradually widen from the waist look the best on you.  In fact, they look better on you than on the other figure types.  Long skirts, such as in Figure 11, that follow your hip curves (not cling to them) can be worn but avoid short skirts that have the same silhouette (Figure 10).

Miss Cotten says that Figure 1 works because the garment has a flared tunic that hides the narrow skirt and thus the saddlebags.  I’m not sure I agree.  What do you think?