Many vintage dress style details can be used to inspire a tea length wedding dress design But here is the challenge: a style detail you might find very charming may not be flattering.
Know the rules first. Then decide if you want to break them. You could look 20 pounds slimmer or 2 inches taller without losing a pound! It’s all about proportions and the flow of the eye.
We are all charmed by Audrey Hepburn’s tea length wedding dress in Funny Face. But you may not realize that the design elements in that dress specifically work on a very tall, thin woman.
Nobody needs to be a fashion model size to look ravishing. However, there are details and lines that make the eye travel in a pleasing manner which can be used to your advantage. And watch out, because the reverse is certainly true!
Rule #1: Horizontal lines are not your friend! Don’t “chop” yourself! Help the eye flow up and down. Stop the up-and- down flow of the eye as little as possible with horizontal lines.
To illustrate this point…
Doesn’t the tea length wedding dress below look super cute, and – that pink sash! What a great way to add the personal touch of your favorite color, right? Wrong!
The wide, contrasting horizontal line of the pink sash, placed at the very point you are trying to make look small – the waist- in this very waist-focused style is a disaster for a curvy figure or even for a woman of average height.
Here’s what happens when you create a strong horizontal right at the waist, THE place where you most want to eye to perceive that spot as narrow:
Above, the path of the eye stops at the strong horizontal where it pauses to move from side to side which makes the waist appear even larger than it actually is.
Below is a style with lots of horizontal lines at the waist and midriff and the form of decorative, bunched up sash effect. This would be adorable on a tall stringbean. But even when the fabric at the waist matches the color of the dress, when you add multiple horizontal lines at the midriff, you make the eye travel horizontally there, causing the make the midriff, waist and stomach look bigger than they are!
Here’s a Whirling Turban style, designed to make the waist look small and a bride of any size look more sleeks:
The style above has every possible horizontal detail eliminated, especially from the waist and midriff area. This keeps the eye going up and down the body and takes off pounds without even a peep at the gym. Eliminating all waist and midriff horizontal-line detailing will make the waist appear much smaller. You can have lots of fun accessorizing with a beautiful necklace, a fascinator in your hair or beautiful veil, a colored petticoat, colored shoes, and or your bouquet creating a dot of contrast and splash of color.
The waist pin is a slims as well because it’s it is a focal point and not a horizontal line- see rule #2.
(You can see an example of a Whirling Turban Bride with a curvy figure who is not reed thin or 5’8″ tall but looks amazing in this style in another of our blog posts.)
To look taller, the horizontal line rule can be applied to the use of a colored petticoat. To help the eye flow up and down, let your colored petticoat only just “peep” out from your skirt- don’t create a strong, wide, contrasting horizontal line by having 2 or 3 inches of petticoat showing at the bottom of your skirt. Or have your petticoat match the dress to create a less noticeable horizontal line at the hem
Rule #2: Bring the eye to the center of the body with an accent.
In the Whirling Turban style below, the flow of the lines in the bodice below are diagonal, not horizontal, which keeps the eye moving and flowing from the waist out toward the shoulders, so they move like a “V”, with the point of the V being your waist. That makes your waist look smaller.
A narrow, non-contrasting belt doesn’t create a strong horizontal- it matches the dress fabric and is narrow and flat and therefore a minimal horizontal. Then the eye is quickly attracted to focal point of the mother of pearl buckle, pulling the eye toward the center of the body! Tat eye movement is always slimming and accomplishes what the curvy gal wants, which is to make the waist look small in comparison to the hips, bust and shoulders That’s the combination that makes for EYE-PLEASING CURVES.
Your look doesn’t have to be boring! A vintage broach (like the golden dress above, under Rule #1) or a feather flower can be added at the waist to create a unique focal point that also brings the eye to the center of the body.
Bouquets are also great for this! The splash of color right at your waist created by your bouquet is a wonderfully slimming effect as you walk down the aisle or pose for wedding pictures.
Rule #3: Don’t create BULK in the form of CLUMPS of fabric volume at a place you want to look slim, like this:
Instead, have the top of your skirt absolutely sleek at the waist and free from gathering, so the eye flows in an hourglass shape smoothly at your waist, like this:
This rule about fabric volume in the style applies to ANY place you want to look sleek; don’t add fabric bunchy volume there.
As a designer, I reject the development of new styles that only took good on the tall and thin. Tall, thin customers have lots of style choices. With a few exceptions, at Whirling Turban, I focus on using the tricks of the eye so it moves pleasingly up and down the body, and features that make the waist appear as small as possible in celebration of a delightful, womanly curve.
-Katherine Robinson, Designer for Whirling Turban