A very wise seamstress and fellow blogger recently gave me some simple, yet powerful, advice. She said that I need to embrace what looks best on me, regardless of my attraction to other styles. For example, I am drawn to the New Look shape of the 1950's. I love a tiny waist and full hips enveloped in an even fuller skirt. Yet my own shape is much more decidedly the inverted triangle shape. I have a poorly defined waist, and narrow hips. It seems obvious, I know, that 1950's patterns are therefore a poor choice for my sewing aspirations. However, up until this point I have ignored that reality and tried to create the New Look silhouettes in my wardrobe.
But this advice - dress for what looks best on YOU - is wise and true. And with this advice I am choosing to release my stubborn attraction to the New Look and instead embrace the styles that look best on me. It turns out these style are largely looks from the 1930's. And, as it also turns out, these styles are beautiful.
I did a bit of research into the fashion of the 1930's in hopes of identifying exactly what about these shapes and silhouettes suits my own shape and silhouette. The more I can pinpoint what works for me, the better able I will be to adapt my tastes to my figure reality, and ultimately sew things I like to wear.
And here is what I found. The most characteristic fashion trend from the 1930s to the end of World War II is attention at the shoulder, including butterfly sleeves and banjo sleeves. Patterns were designed with broad, rounded shoulders cut in one piece with the yoke.Feminine curves were highlighted in the 1930s through the use of the bias-cut in dresses.
It was in the 1930's that the "Sweater Girl" image emerged, modeled after Lana Turner. The "sweater" look become an informal look for young women that relied on large breasts pushed up and out by brassieres. This look continued to be influential into the 1950s.
The strong shoulders of the 1930s is expressed through wide lapels, shawls, capes, boat necklines, and accents of feathers or frothy scarves. Short bolero jackets, capelets, and dresses cut with fitted midriffs or seams below the bust increased the focus on breadth at the shoulder. Short hair remained fashionable in the early 1930s, but gradually hair was worn longer in soft or hard curls.
Darts were replaced by soft gathers. Necklines received dramatic attention, often with wide scallop-edged or ruffled collars. Fabric flowers might be placed at the neckline, on one shoulder, or at the center waist or center neckline. Bows were another popular accent.
I have broad shoulders, a prominent bust, and short curly hair! I feel like a model image of 1930's fashion, and it is so empowering. Let the sewing commence.