A dress could look ethereal on one person and terrible on another even with a skilled designer. Body type matters more than we think, and that is why women should learn to put it into consideration when making fashion choices…
By Ijeoma Anastasia Ntada
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on the #whatiorderedvswhatigot trend on Instagram. The hashtag had over thirty thousand posts. Most of them were embittered posts made by women who got dresses that were shockingly different from their expectations, or how it looked on the models who advertised the designs. Some were the faults of designers who interpreted the designs poorly. Others were well done designs that did not look good on the wearer because they simply did not have the right body type for the said dress.
In the words of the famous French fashion designer, Coco Chanel, fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions. I couldn’t agree more with these words. Most of the time, when people think fashion, they think of wearing the newest designs, irrespective of how it fits on their bodies. Just like different varieties of flowers make up a garden and make it beautiful, so is the world made beautiful by women with different physiques, beauty and styles.
However, the definition of “fashion” and “fashionable” is subject to a lot of misconstructions, especially in the media where everyone wants to identify with the trendiest designs. Fashion icons are the ones who dare and make fashion choices that stand out and bring out their best features while creatively covering the unflattering ones.
While it is true that it is the designer’s place to make gorgeous dresses that may highlight the beauty of the wearer, it should also be said that the expertise of the designer is not all that is needed to ensure a perfect fitting of the dress. Women’s bodies come in a lot of forms, and these forms play major roles on how dresses look on them. There are many types of body shapes, but the most prominent ones are the rectangle, pear, apple, spoon and the hourglass shapes.
The rectangle body shape is also referred to as the athletic body shape. This body shape is often characterised by a slim waist and evenly distributed body fat. It is quite akin to the hourglass, but the major distinction between the two is that the hourglass shape has a more defined waist. Women with the rectangle shape look splendid in outfits like peplum tops and well-pleated skirts because they tend to add a fuller look to the waist region.
The pear or triangle body shape is characterised by a thick lower frame, a relatively small waist and a slim upper body. Women with this body shape look resplendent in simple bottoms and fitted tops, tops that balance up the fullness of the lower body. A good use of accessory can also make the woman with the pear body shape look as great as ever.
The apple shape is an almost direct opposite of the pear shape. The apple body is characterised by a full upper body and a slimmer lower frame. Apple-bodied women look great in vertical stripes and monochromatic outfits because they help them achieve a slimmer and more balanced look.
The hourglass body shape is the most balanced of all the body shapes, all thanks to a small waist, a proportional bust and lower frame. The legs of hourglass-shaped women are also proportional to the upper body. Women with this body shape look perfect in clingy dresses as they draw attention to the small waist which is one of the most flattering features of the hour glass shape.
A dress could look ethereal on one person and terrible on another even with a skilled designer. Body type matters more than we think, and that is why we should learn to put it into consideration when making fashion choices.
There’s hardly a day that passes without people sharing photographs of what they wanted from their designers versus photographs of what they eventually got. In some cases, it is evident that the designer did a bad job with poorly represented designs. In other cases, it is apparent that the designer did an excellent job, but the woman couldn’t rock the dress because it simply wasn’t suitable for her body type.
As funny as it sounds, people sometimes expect an impossible magnificence from dresses while they ignore the body types they have. They forget about the extra folds of fat on their belly which the model who wore the dress didn’t have. This raises the question: “why do bespoke dresses not always fit?”
A lot of factors go into ensuring that clothes fit. The dexterity of the designer surely covers a lot of flaws, but there are some things that dexterity cannot truly cover no matter how hard the designer tries. One of such things is body shape. In our quest to stay abreast with current fashion trends, we sometimes go for outfits that do not complement our body shape.
Yes, fashion should be fluid enough to allow people don whatever they love and feel comfortable in. But fluidity in fashion doesn’t shut out taking a good consideration of one’s body shape before settling for designs. I’m sure you would agree with me that while considering comfort and the fashion raves of the moment, we need to also care about our body types in picking up our designs if we do not want our picks to end up otiose.
To paraphrase the quote by Coco Chanel, you must consider your proportions while choosing your dress designs. After getting a good designer, you must also take your time to consider your body and compare it to the design you picked. Then go ahead and ask yourself questions, primary of which should be, “Can I rock this design?”
Sometime ago, a close friend needed to make a dress for an event. This friend, who had a slender physique, chose a style that didn’t go well with her body type. I tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted on going with the style. At the end of the day, she got a well-sewn dress that didn’t look as great on her as it did on the model. It was an obvious fact, but this friend eventually blamed the designer. A lot of women are like my friend. They tend to overlook their body types when choosing dresses, only for them to get their dresses and see that body types do play a role in how clothes fit.
One mistake a lot of women make in fashion is assuming every clothing that looks flawless on other people would look flawless on them, too. A woman with an hourglass body shape may not have to put in so much effort in looking gorgeous in dresses that flatter the bust or hips because of the balance in her body shape.
Conversely, a woman with the apple body shape may not have the same ease blending into the same dress because her bust, which happens to be the fullest part of her body, may end up overly pronounced. For such women, a dress that accentuates the hips or allows the hips to be well defined would do a lot of good as it would draw attention to the hips and create an amazing and balanced look.
A lot of people think they can’t make bodacious fashion statements because they do not have the “perfect” bodies for that. That may sound like a good excuse, but it isn’t because you do not need a perfect body to style yourself to perfection.
The hourglass body shape which is considered the best of all body shapes is one of the least common body shapes there is. But does this stop fashion icons with other body types from springing up in multitudes?
The media entrepreneur, Oprah Winfrey, who has an apple body shape still makes impressive fashion statements with her fashion choices. What does this tell us? That knowing and understanding your body type is one of the key factors to dressing like you run the world.
If you have an hourglass body shape like Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, rock it to perfection. Still, if you aren’t, there’s no problem. Former First Lady of the United States of America, and fashion icon, Michelle Obama, is another proof that one doesn’t necessarily need the hourglass body to look perfect. She knows how to rock her pear body shape to perfection. It’s evident in her flare skirt choices and pretty gowns.
Naomi Campbell is another fashion icon that makes heads turn with her fashion choices. Campbell, who has an inverted triangle body shape, learnt the magic of wearing clothes that do nothing but express all the great features of her body. She wears clothes that give balance to her broad shoulders and keeps you hooked on the gorgeousness of her legs.
Every day, designers come up with new ways to adjust designs to suit the body shape of women. One of such ways is the corset. The corset which originated from the western world has gained traction in Nigerian fashion as well. With the corset, designers are able to create an illusion of an hourglass body type where balance is attained for clients. This is welcome development as it would enable more people to wear outfits that they desire easily, and look great on it.
In designs where corsets are not feasible, women are encouraged to take some time to consider their body shape to the dress before embarking on the designs. Not only does it save one the stress of having to deal with poorly-fitted clothes, it also saves money.
Ijeoma Anastasia Ntada writes and reads poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She has a couple of poems published in the Love Anthology, The Ducor Review, Visual Verse, Praxis Review and other places. Ijeoma is also a photography enthusiast. She takes beautiful photographs and makes them art. When Ijeoma isn’t studying to become a Laboratory Scientist, you’ll find her talking about Afro Hair, femininity, and embracing all of her girlhood.