Dressing Your Waist

The waist is a loaded topic in our era. To be fashionable, you have to have completely flat abs achieved only through extreme workouts. Do any of you have that, because I sure as hell don't. I also don't want to spend my life in a gym. I have a slightly rounded tummy that disappears in some outfits and stands out in others. I like to call it my Venus tummy. Since the majority of fashion writing pushes us to have Gwen Stafani's abs or Scarlett Johansson's hourglass, for this post I'm going to stick to writing about our various degrees of Venus tummys.

The aforementioned Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli was painted in the late 1400s. Italian fashion of this period emphasized a natural waist, and women were expected to have a little paunch. (Thank you Italy. We do so love your food.) Belts hit at the narrowest part of the body. Cloth above was taut over the breast and below it fell free. To mimic this, buy skirts with a clear waistband and get a fit that hits your narrowest spot. The skirt should be the impact item in the outfit.
If you would rather wear something with more cling, look for a dress or skirt with a peplum which acts to both highlight and camouflage the stomach. A peplum should hit at your natural waist anyway. (The people at Forever 21 don't seen to know this.)
Women in the Regency period would wear extra padding around their stomachs and rumps. This gave them the appearance of being about four months pregnant. (Think about that the next time you watch a Jane Austen movie.) For them, a fashionable stomach was round and covered with lightly draped cloth hanging from and empire waist. You can wear the line free and flowing or cinched with a belt high on your rib cage.
A blouson top would achieve a similar effect.
Jane Austen Update

The 1960s virtually ignored the waist, but the decade also produced a great style of those of us who wish to do the same. The trapeze dress will work on a variety of sizes; just make sure you wear a mini in the style. For a modern take, wear it with killer heels, a clutch and bold lips.
For a more traditional style, wear it with tights and flats.
This is the last post in this series. You can follow the links to read about using the history of body trends for cues on how to dress your breasts and hips. And don't forget to check out the book that kicked off this idea -- Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed.


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