There is no such thing as the perfect shape. Society tries to push us to all conform to one way of looking, and that ideal has changed through the years. It will change again. There is a very ugly history to what we find fashionable at any given time that I will not even get into, but the point is, your body is unique and society can get fucked with telling you how you should look. Do what makes you happy.

Dress by Collectif
Jewellery by Splendette

I'm not going to tell you how to get the perfect shape or that there is any one particular look and style that is better or worse than any other. What I can tell you is how I like my silhouette to appear, which aspects of myself I like to enhance, and how I use clothes to do that.

Apples and Pears

My basic shape is petite, I'm fairly short and have slightly wider hips than chest. When it comes to finding clothes, this means my pants are typically about two sizes larger than my tshirts and blouses. I have a low and natural waist with a fairly high waist - to - hip ratio. Although my chest is smaller than my hips, my shoulders are similar in width.

Dress by Miss Candyfloss
Accessories by Splendette


Because of this difference in sizes, finding clothes that fit me well has always been very difficult, especially around my waist. Items will fit on top but be too small on the bottom, fit on the bottom and be too big on top, fit well otherwise but be just too long, fit in shoulders and hip but be too big in the waist. This is a big part of why I started dressing in vintage inspired clothes in the first place, which you can read more about here.

Baby Penny with a horrible at home attempt at haircolour and an oversized coat
Coat that actually fits
From Collectif



In short, vintage inspired clothes, especially those from the 40s and 50s fit me well because they center around the waist, and accommodates a wide array of waist sizes, small and big.

Dress by Collectif
Jewellery by Splendette

Balance

For my particular style, I like seeing a shape that is balanced between my shoulders and hips, that also lengthens me. Perhaps because I'm used to being the shortest person in the room, I like styles that make me feel taller and lengthens me. To achieve this, I have a few guidelines when it comes to my personal style, to help me pick up things I know will work. Clothes, and the shape of them, will often dictate where your eyes go and which shape you see, which makes fashion really fun to play around with!

Dress by the Pretty Dress Company

Shoulders to Hips

In traditional terms I am what you would call a pear shape, my lower body is wider than my upper body. Because I am also rather short, this means a large amount of my body mass is centered on the lower parts of me, which draws the eye down and makes me appear even shorter.

By Emmy Design Sweden


To make my silhouette look more balanced, I try to use my shoulders to balance out my hips more than my chest can do. Because shoulders are farther up and farther away from the hips, this can also make my whole silhouette appear taller and more lengthened.

Ways to do this is first of all, be careful wearing sleeveless clothes, and instead wear clothes where the sleeves are far out on the shoulders, pointing outwards, or have some extra puff.

Long sleeves with a puffy shoulder also helps elongate and create balance
By Emmy Design Sweden
Dress by Collectif
Jewellery by Splendette

Below you will see a badly facetuned "with and without sleeves" photo. As you can see with the original dress, the line of the shoulders hit the same place as the hips, making it a more balanced look. Without sleeves, the dress appears larger at the bottom, and the shoulders become more prominent. Making both the shoulders and the hips appear bigger, but not in balance.

Dress by Stop Staring

Silhuettes that I try to avoid are any type of halterneck styles where the fabric would pull the eye in towards the center, like this old one.

The neckline I try to avoid
High neckline with narrow shoulders make me look shorter and wider

While I do have some sleeves items, most of what I wear will have some kind of puffy sleeve.

My typical neckline. Low with wide shoulders, make me look taller
Dress by Collectif

Waist

A defined waist can give structure and flow to a silhouette, it gives some illusion of where the center is and it can breaks up a look. This is personally something I enjoy emphasising on myself, because I like the way it can create interesting shapes. Again, it's not something you need to do or focus on, and there are just as many fantastic garments and shapes without a waist emphasis as there are with.

Blouse by Miss Candyfloss
Skirt by Emmy Design Sweden



Although the yellow dress below is beautiful, it is very loose in the waist for me. That combined with the low shoulders make the whole dress appear as a singular block without much shape, and can therefor appear small and boxy.

In contrast, a high collar, wide sleeves that carry on over the shoulder, and a belt to hug the waist. Elongates and creates shape. This is overall one of my favourite shape of dresses.

Dress by Unique Vintage

Dress by Unique Vintage


Remember, your waist contains a lot of important organs you need to function, so having as small of a waist as possible is not a goal. What I instead try to do is use the waist I have, emphasize that, and create shapes around it. By having a shape that goes in at the waist and back out at the hips and shoulders, with space in between, it creates an interesting shape.

Hemlines and Cirlcleskirts

Pencilskirts or circleskirts? That seems to be the eternal question in the pinup world. From a silhuette perspective, I like both equally. My hips are already the widest part of me, so as long as the garment I'm wearing nipps in at the waist I like both varieties. If you prefer to add emphasis and volume around the hips, a circle skirt is the way to go. A peplum can also be fun.

Miss Candyfloss (left), Pretty Kitty (right)



To get maximum lengthening, I prefer my skirts and dresses to hit just below the knee, to get a good fabric-to-not-fabric balance. To keep the lines of the legs clean, and lengthened, I tend to go for open or fairly open shoes if I'm wearing bare legs or nylons. You will typically only see me in closed shoes if I'm wearing tights in a similar colour. This is again because I am shorter than most people, so the chances of someone looking at me from a slightly downwards angle is big. Similarly, if I wear a petticoat and have extra volume around my knees, I tend to be extra careful to wear open shoes, and high heels if I can.



Note: By open shoe I mean an open top or a T-strap, not an open toe. I like the way they look but I can't stand wearing them, it always feels like someone is trying to cut into my toes.

Shapewear


The wearing of shapewear is something I do occasionally because I think it's fun. It should not be worn in an attempt to "fix" something you wish was different about yourself, and for some it can be triggering. Shapewear will not change the way your body looks or works without it on. Please don't go to the gym in a waist trainer (unless specifically told to by your doctor) and don't wear corsets if they make you feel bad about yourself.

Your waist holds your internal organs, and having it be as small as possible should not be a goal.

Dress by Stop Staring

Now...

There are essentially two ways to wilfully change the way your overall shape appears. You can weight train and build muscles and volume in specific areas (there is no way to wilfully go up or down in volume in specific areas, you can go up or down in volume in general but not targeted). This takes time, effort, money, and energy. Being able to work out regularly has health benefits for most people, but it is also a luxury and a privilege that isn't an option for and to everyone.

Two slips, one loose and one smoothing
Same measurements in both


The easiest and quickest way to wilfully change the appearance of your overall shape, is with shapewear. A garment that will either pull it, smooth, or add to whatever you put on.

I am by no means an expert on shapewear, and I wear it very very seldom. I think it looks really nice and interesting, but it is not something I want to wear every day.

Sometime last year I did do an overview of all my items of shapewear, what they do and how they wear, as you can see below.  With most of these pictures, the waist measurements remains nearly the same. The circumference is merely distributed differently, so that the appearance is altered. For a lot of corsets for instance, what is removed from the sides will be added to the front.

What Katie Did overbust corset, 24", laced completely
No change to measurements
What Katie Did Luna Waspie, 20", 3" gap
Very slight difference in measurements
Rago and Kiss Me Deadly shapewear
Added 2cm to waist and chest measurements
Smooths
What Katie Did Nouveau Glamour Waspie (UK 8)
Slightly smaller waist measurement
With and without the Waspie
Creates a more severe waist indentation
With and without shapewear, under gown

I use shapewear mostly to enhance a silhouette, or to which can be a lot of fun! I'm still fairly new though, and shapewear isn't something I wear on the regular.

Here are two bloggers and instagrammers that wear and/or review a lot more shapewear than I do, so check them out:
Curve Creation
Fuller Figure Fuller Bust