Lots of vintage dresses can inspire a tea length wedding dress. But here is the challenge: a style detail you might find very interesting may not be the one that most flatters the curvy gal.
Know the rules first, then decide if you want to break them. But don’t break them unknowingly, and settle on a tea length wedding dress with a style you may like but that may not make YOU look your best. A dress that may fit well but- perhaps- you could look even better without losing a pound! It’s all about proportions and the flow of the eye.
First let’s be clear: nobody needs to be a certain, cookie cutter size and everyone can look beautiful! But there are details and lines that make the eye travel in a pleasing manner which can be used to advantage, and the reverse is certainly true (yipes!)
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.
Illustration of the point. Doesn’t this tea length wedding dress below looks super cute, and what a great way to add the personal touch of your favorite color, right?
Answer: Only if you are 5’10” and a string bean. 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 place you want to “curve in”:
Above, the eye stops at the strong horizontal and moves from side to side, which makes the waist appear larger than it is.
Below is a style with lots of horizontal lines at the waist and midriff- even when the fabric matches (which is better than contrasting), the multiple horizontal lines at the midriff make the midriff, waist and stomach look bigger:
Here’s what we do for our curvy brides:
This style, above, has every possible horizontal detail eliminated, especially from the waist and midriff. This keeps the eye going up and down the body and eliminates 15 pounds with out a peep at the gym. Forsaking that waist or midriff horizontal detailing will make the waist appear much smaller and attract the eye to the bust and shoulder, the hem of the dress and shoes and -of course- your beautiful face. 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.
(You can see 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.)
The horizontal line rule can be applies to the colored petticoat: to help the eye flow up and down, let your colored petticoat 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.
Rule #2: Bring the eye to the center of the body with an accent.
First of all, the flow of the lines in the bodice below are diagonal, not horizontal, which keeps the eye moving and flowing. A narrow, non-contrasting belt doesn’t create a strong horizontal- it matches and is narrow and flat, so it is okay. Then the eye is quickly attracted to focal point of the mother of pearl buckle, pulling the eye toward the center of the body. This will be slimming and accomplishes what the curvy gal wants, which is to make the waist look small in comparison tho the hips and bust and shoulders= APPEALING CURVES!
Your look doesn’t have to be boring! A vintage broach (like the golden dress above) or feather-and-fabric flower can be added at the waist to create a focal point that brings the eye to the center of the body
Bouquets are great for this! The splash of color right at your waist created by your bouquet is a wonderfully slimming effect!
Rule #3: Don’t create BULK in the form of a clump 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 the hourglass line 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 volume there. Note the explosion of fullness at the hips where the skirt attaches to the bodice in the first tea length wedding dress photo in this blog post. That fullness will not flatter anyone who doesn’t want to make their hips look larger.
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