Plus Size Proportions: Tips for Petites

If you’re a petite (under 5’4” tall) and plus size woman, this post is for you! To really look our absolute best, there’s a few extra tricks us short n’ curvy girls need to know.

First and foremost, it’s so so so important to wear clothes that fit. Not too loose or full, and not too tight either. Loose shapes—especially in stiff fabric—will make you look like a tent! And clothes that are too tight, well, let’s just not go there… A big part of finding clothes that fit your body properly is understanding what body shape you have, and clothes that fit well will make you look slimmer and taller. To find out your body shape, refer to my post on plus size proportions, and then add these important tips to look your best!

 Once in a while someone will ask me why I don’t model my clothes, to which I usually retort, “Because I’m too short, that’s why!” But for this post, who better to model petite plus than moi? Little ol’ me. At 5’2 and size 16-18 or 1X (I’m a perfect 1X in diane kennedy—fancy that!), I know a thing or two about dressing the petite plus body. And I’d like to share a little of my style secrets with you!

My designs are often sold as monochromatic sets, such as a jacket, cami, and bottom all in the same colour. This is so simple, and it’s really an excellent way to look both taller and slimmer, as no choppy lines or blocks of colour will break up your height. Another option is wearing a darker colour on the bottom and a lighter or brighter one on top. Look also for vertical lines, V necks and single breasted jackets—all will help elongate your frame.

It’s very important to remember to draw the eye upward. While it’s totally ‘in’ to accent your outfit with a bright shoe, do keep in mind that it will draw attention down to your feet, which is the opposite effect to what you want. So, draw the eye upward by keeping the eye-catching/colourful details near your face. A pretty piece of jewelry is a great way to accent your face. More

Barbie and Fashion: From the Beginning

Easily my favorite toy as a little girl was Barbie. I look back now and ponder the effect she had on ‘shaping’ my life. I had several dolls and many more ‘Barbie’ suitcases used as portable closets for all her clothes. And man did I have clothes! Endless dresses—styles for day wear and for evening wear—play clothes and SHOES galore. I would sit in the middle of the floor and surround myself with my Barbie world, which was, essentially, an endless closet. One of my earliest memories was of being babysat by my cousin and having her leave the room only to come back with Barbie in a new bathing suit that she had whipped up in a matters of minutes on her sewing machine. I was three. By age 4 I had my own miniature but fully working sewing machine. It’s not too difficult to imagine where my love for fashion came from.

But Barbie’s influence didn’t stop there. All through my teens I always thought I was fat. Funny, now I look back and realize that the size 3 that I wore was hardly ‘fat’. Nevertheless I had this perception that I was not the ideal size. Back then, nobody ever talked about different types of bodies, shapes and heights being acceptable. I don’t even remember how old I was when I first went on a diet. But I can tell you I did it often. Grapefruit with cottage cheese and the like; I remember the low fat craze… then the Atkins ‘lots of fat’ diet, and so on.

Perhaps I thought I needed to look like Barbie, which would be totally impossible in real life.  6′ 0″ tall, weighing 100 lbs, and a size 4. Her measurements would be 39″/19″/33″. She would probably have had to have back surgery from being so top heavy.  (By the way, the average woman is 5′ 4″, weighs 145 lbs., and wears between a size 11-14. Her measurements are approximately 36″/30″/41″.   There’s also a fifty-fifty chance that she is on a diet right now.)

After spending my childhood playing with Barbie, I moved on to fashion magazines featuring models and actresses who stand 5′ 11″ and weight 117 lbs. It’s no wonder I had a complex…  Barbie did, however, instill the idea of having a career and independence. Along with that came the need for material wealth and consumerism. After all, she did have the perfect wardrobe, convertible car, dream house, etc.

“Advertisements targeting children in the 1950s and 1960s sought to lay the groundwork for a lifetime of consumption… Mattel’s teenage Barbie with her closets full of fashionable outfits and accessories taught the importance of how you dressed and what you owned.”

Reflecting on my past, I probably spent a little too much money collecting ‘things’.

Let’s talk for a minute about shoes. Man do I love shoes! Barbie’s feet are permanently formed to wear high heels. I remember getting my first pair of high heels in grade seven—they were at least 3 1/2 ” inches high. All my adult life I’ve worn stilettos…until recently when my shortened Achilles tendon gave out (surgery and flat shoes ever since). I remember when I started wearing make-up too. Blue eyeshadow. Where ever did I get that idea??

It’s really quite astonishing to sit here and think the effect that a little plastic doll has had on my life. How has Barbie shaped yours?

Plus Size Proportions: A Four Part Series on Dressing for your Body Shape

Whether you wear a size 2 or a size 24, your body type affects your clothing successes. Proportions are even more important for women with curvy figures. Once you hit size 12, the number of stores carrying—much less catering to—what is deemed “plus size” clothing dwindles rapidly. This seems oddly skewed considering that more than half of Canadians are over a size 12, and 62 percent of Americans are over a size 14.

Babs Lucas, owner of Babs Studio Boutique on South Granville in Vancouver, has made it her mission to cater to women of all sizes and shapes. Babs has a great understanding of how to dress a myriad of bodies to their best advantage, and chooses styles for her boutique with this in mind. The store also provides exceptional personalized service. What every woman, plus size or not, should always remember when shopping is to take cues from your body type and choose clothing with the right proportions to balance and play off your curves.

Pear, apple, hourglass, and rectangle; these are fashion’s most common body type classifications… what does it all mean for me you ask? We’ve spent the month of January compiling tips, tricks, and eco friendly clothing options for every curvy figure!  Find your body type below and read on to rock your shape for the New Year.



Plus Size Proportions: Rectangle Shape

Jewellery, chocolates, shoes… So many great things come in rectangle packages! Are you one of them? You most likely have a Rectangle body shape if:

o Your bust and shoulders are approximately the same width as your hips

o Your waist is not very defined, and is less than 8” smaller than your bust and hips

o You may have a broad back and a full neck, and your bust is small to medium in size

o You have proportionally slim legs and arms, and generally a flatter behind

With a straighter torso, your biggest challenge is creating a more defined waistline. The Rectangle figure is a common body type, especially as women age, give birth, or gain weight. Our goal is to enhance your femininity and showcase your gorgeous arms and legs by creating a curvier waist.  Because Rectangle body shapes are already well-balanced, you can have a lot of fun and be more adventurous when playing with volume in your clothing.

Consider yourself blessed with the ability to pull off just about any style of pant. Take advantage of the myriad of bottom silhouettes in fashion right now, from straight & narrow to wide and flowing—bottoms up! As everyone’s body is unique, choose details that work best for you. Have a flatter bottom? Look for styles with pockets, especially ones with flaps. Wide legged pants that have a slight flare at the hem add curves to your hips. Two pairs that accomplish this in high style (and comfort!) are the ‘Serene Pant’ and ‘Rhythm Gaucho’.


Plus Size Proportions: Hourglass Shape

Probably the most coveted of curvy shapes is the hourglass. It’s never too late to show off your classic curves! You are an Hourglass shape if:

o Your bust and hips are curvy, and similarly proportioned

o You waist is defined, approximately 8-12” smaller than your bust and hips

o If you gain weight, it is generally distributed evenly throughout your body

My oh my, aren’t you a lucky lady!  The Hourglass shape is considered the most ideal body shape in women, and is also the least common. Only 8% of women have a true hourglass shape; however, the curves you have can easily be enhanced with the right clothing. No, this doesn’t mean squeezing into a restrictive corset (we’ll gladly leave this daily torture to the Victorians)—unless you’d like an updated version to imitate those burlesque beauties!

First, start your wardrobe off right with one key element: a properly fitting bra. Just like a clear, even complexion is the perfect base for your daily makeup routine, a good bra is the foundation of your wardrobe—especially for Hourglass shapes who tend to have medium to large busts. Just say no to lumps and bumps! Many specialty lingerie stores have trained staff to help you find the best fit; this is an indispensable service that will most likely improve how your tops look and fit your body.

Now that “the girls” are sitting pretty, don’t hide out in baggy or oversized clothes! Another must-have for hourglass shapes is a top with either a v-neck or scoop neckline. Both styles slim the neck and chest and will make you appear slimmer and taller. If you are showing cleavage and feel uncomfortable, you can wear a body-hugging cami under the top, giving you coverage without distracting from the lengthening effect of the neckline. Try the ‘Smooth Cami’ as a layering piece or pair the ‘Starburst Tee’ with your favorite boot cut pants.


Plus Size Proportions: Apple Shape

Are you the Apple of my eye?

If your waist or upper hip measurements are greater than your lower hip measurement (the widest part of your butt), you most likely have an Apple body shape. Apple shapes usually have:

o A top heavy shape

o Thinner legs and a flatter bottom

o Wider, defined shoulders

o A more generous bust and especially a larger waistline and stomach.

Celebrities Queen Latifah and Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) are both confident Apple shapes that know how to dress for their bodies. Once again, it comes down to a balancing act—in this case balancing your upper and middle portion. The proportions of a garment and the way it fits your body are so much more important than following the latest trend or fitting into a certain size. However, when you want to try a trend, it’s a good idea to adapt it to your body type. Liz Ayerle, founder of Fresh Ayer boutique for sizes 12-24 in Philadelphia comments on how to wear skinny jeans and leggings:

“Leggings and slim fit jeans are great when worn with oversized tunics and flats. It is key to balance out the figure-hugging bottom with an oversized top.  As a rule jeggings are better on women with apple shaped, straight or hourglass figures. If you have an apple shape or straight body, take more risk and show off the booty hugging aspect of this style with a shorter top!”

Many Apples inherently possess something that all North American women covet: great gams! With your shape, it’s great to show off your legs in a shorter dress or long tunic over leggings. More

Plus Size Proportions: Pear Shapes

Attention all Pears, this one’s for you!

If your hip measurement is quite a bit greater than your bust measurement, consider yourself a Pear shape!  Pear shapes usually have:

o A bottom heavy shape

o A thin and slender neck

o Narrow or sloping shoulders

o Larger and more generous lower hips and thighs

The shape that you have is a natural woman’s body shape. It’s beautiful and I bet you’ve gotten plenty of appreciative stares. Men have been forever hardwired to choose a mate based on her ability to bear offspring, and—dating further back than ancient Mesopotamia—curves symbolize fertility. Follow in the footsteps of celebrities like Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez who have popularized this feminine body shape and celebrate your curves!

To quote Barb and Lorna, owners of Bodacious —a haven for the full-figured fashionista here in Vancouver:

“We encourage women to love their bodies, curves and all! At Bodacious we discourage phrases like, ‘My butt’s too big for this skirt’, and turn it around to ‘This skirt is just too small for my bodacious butt!’

The most important tip for dressing a Pear shape body is to focus on adding width to your shoulders and volume to your bust. This doesn’t mean you have to pull out the shoulder pads and padded bras! Instead, look for tops with a few ruffles, details or draping at the neck, or gathers at the shoulder. The extra fabric will widen your shoulders and create more of an hourglass silhouette. By creating more width and volume through your shoulders and chest, you not only minimize and balance your hips, you also frame your lovely face. Tops like the “Divine Cowl”, “Ruffle Tee”, and “Tribeca Tunic” do just that!


Previous Older Entries