Devi Style: Hips Don't Lie

Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Many of us are taking the current economic climate to get creative in the "style" department. I recently "shopped my closet" and came up not only with a bunch of clothes I forgot I owned but also three bags of donations for Salvation Army. The majority of these cast-offs were what I call "aspirational clothing"--clothing I wanted to wear and rock, but that never really worked quite right on me. Everyone knows that you have to dress for your body, not for trends--but sometimes its hard not to buy that drop-waist flapper-style dress that eyes you from the window every morning on your way to work (okay sometimes it's hard for ME not to buy the drop-waist flapper-style dress). You know you and your hips look a little ridiculous in the dress, but somehow you convince yourself otherwise.

Conventional wisdom dictates that there are 4 categories of "body type":

(1) Wide on the bottom (the "pear")
(2) Wide on the top (the "apple")
(3) Hourglass (the one we all wish we were--aka the "my sister in law"...!)
(4) Straight throughout ("boyshaped")

Now this is all fine and dandy and there is definite utility in knowing your body type. But, truly, the vast majority of Devi women have a fifth type of body type I like to call the "H&B"--hips and breasts. This is a good thing, or so my husband tells me. JCrew and all its tucked-in shirts beg to differ (if I tuck in a shirt I look quite literally like I escaped from an institution...and left my abdomen inside). Devis avec babies also usually have a little more stomach than they used to and while we are all SUPER confident and don't care AT ALL about that extra flab (ha) it certainly does take dressing and shopping to new corners (I know more about Spanx than I care to admit).

There are three clothing BFFs that anybody with an H&B body-type needs to know about (are you keeping up with all the acronyms?):

(1) Empire Waists--in shirts, sweaters, dresses. Empire waists sit right below your bust and are universally flattering. By bringing the eye up from your natural waist, an empire waist elongates your figure and detracts away from hips. It also skims over the thickest areas of many Devi bodys--tummys and thighs. Now--word to the wise--to avoid looking pregnant, make sure the garment isn't overly voluminous and don't buy empire waist garments that tie in the back--those scream Mimi Maternity. Instead, stick to fitted, tailored styles, that happen to have a higher waist.

In the image to the right, the model created an "empire" waist by belting her sweater right below her bust line--thus accentuating the smallest part of her rib cage. Without that artificial waist, she wouldn't look nearly as svelte.

(2) A-lines--in skirts and dresses. The A-line silhouette is narrower at the waist and flares gently towards the hemline, thus resembling the letter "A." The flared hem provides balance to the shoulders and creates the illusion of an hourglass figure, all the while hiding any lumps you may want to hide that lie between your waist and your knees. Make sure that the waist of the A-line garment fits well--too tight and you will just create more lumps at your waistline, and too loose and you will look sloppy. Also, length is very important--the most flattering skirts and dresses hit right above, at, or below the knee.

(3) Flares--in pants. Like the A-line dresses and skirts, a slightly flared pant provides balance to a figure that is heavy in the breasts and the hips. It is a rare rare Devi that can pull off pleated or tapered pants. And, seriously, even if you can, you would probably look even better in non-pleated, non-tapered pants. Taperality (it should be a word) creates a "balloon effect" around your ankles, making your hips and thighs seem even bigger than they are. It is evil. Flares, bootlegs, and straight pants are the way to go.

And now--drumroll please--allow me to introduce you to the queen bee of your new BFF circle: All hail Shopstyle trolls most of the major web stores for you and has the most amazing search function I have ever seen. For instance, you can type "empire waist dress" in the search bar and--voila--3787 choices pop up. You can then narrow down the selection by brand, price, store, or size. This tool is truly a miracle. Say you are looking for a pair of Seven jeans after Monica's post about how good they will make your butt look--throw "Seven jeans" into the search bar and see the vast selection (and different prices) the web has to offer.

There is so much more to discuss. What to do to disguise short-waistedness; how a few bucks to a tailor can completely change an outfit; the best jackets and blazers for all body types; how to look taller (this could be the topic of a book for me--I am actually 3 feet 5 inches tall and almost NOBODY knows the truth). But all great journeys begin with a single (well-heeled) step, no??
Mira said...

whoa. shopstyle is my new obsession! thank you!

Ayesha said...

this is great. Can you give us some more pm the short torso topic? What ate you supposed to do when you never want to tuck in a shirt?

Anu said...

wow, that was fantastic. i feel like i just went to style school.

KJP said...

this is really great! i would love some more tips and also what sorts of things do you have tailors do? i always hear and read that a tailor can really make your clothes look fitted but i don't know what to ask to have done?

deepa said...

Hey ladies. More tips to come (including advice on how to find your perfect match--in a tailor), and look out for our weekly feature on how to dress for your body type!

parutron said...

it's not extra flab on devis with babies - it's a BABY!!

by the way - empire waist, spanx, shopstyle or not - you look fabulous. and i'm your sister and i'm more than ready to tell you when you don't. readers that haven't seen deepa will have to trust me that's she's gorgeous (with and without child), or just ask paul.

oh and from someone with little or no torso that got asked "do all girls wear their pants that high" the (first and last) time i wore a body suit......DON'T even think about tucking in that shirt. odds are you've probably got long legs - play them up; wear shirts with slim (not pouffy) arms; wear shirts that go past your natural waist line, just above your hips; think lo-rise, bootcut, babydoll/empire, princess seams and rouching and avoid high waists, horizontal stripes on top, big belts, and anything that normally belongs at your middle.

sg said...

this is awesome. I would love some before and after photos? Preferably on an indian and with real clothes?

Anonymous said...

You guys have some great content here, but it is really difficult to navigate and it would be great if we could choose what to read by subject. Like, I would love to read more of the style tips but don't want to scroll through the whole thing. Hope you will consider adding some sort of search function.

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