Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Analysis: Strapless Dresses

This is a post I've been wanting to discuss on another one of my blogs but I'm doing it on this one because there is a purpose for it.  I'm going to refer back to this when I do an upcoming dress review.

I have an issue with the fit of strapless dresses.  Over the past three years I've been looking at prom gowns, prom dress photos, have gone to several prom-picture taking opportunities, and I see the same thing popping up time and time again.  It's when women of various ages wear a strapless dress that isn't quite right.  It's off in proportion to their upper body as if it's pulling down their boobs or the dress just look low and not in a flattering way.  Often this look is paired with (what I dub) "chicken wings".  I tell girls when I alter their prom dresses about "chicken wings".  This is when the strapless dress they love so much feels like it's falling down, and they are constantly using their hands to pull up the side/upper top edges of the strapless dress.  You can spot these girls instantly because they pull their dresses up every minute.  I've even seen prom videos of girls doing chicken wings while standing in line for whatever or dancing on the floor. 

Of course, chicken wings are also due to the interior construction of the dress.  When a strapless dress isn't properly anchored at the waist, there are going to be issues like this.  Many a dress is altered with no thought to a waist stay and the top edge isn't designed to hold up the entire dress.  The anchoring is at our mid sections.  This I can't help them with if I'm not the one altering their dresses.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about with a strapless dress edge that is too low:


This dress appears to be pulling her boobs down.  It's simply pulling everything that's in its way south, and I just want to run over and pull it up myself.

Here's another one, take notice of the pink dress:


Miss Pink is not standing up straight either.  However, it's not entirely her fault.  I guarantee you though, if she was standing up straight the dress would be even lower on her body.  I later learned her zipper broke the day of the prom and the back was held together with pins.  Of all the things my daughter used to volunteer me for, why did she not ask me to help this poor girl!  She had a terrible case of the "chicken wings" that day.  However, I noticed right away that the dress just didn't look right.  Too much length in the chest area with a strapless dress that falls too low on her torso.  It simply looks..off, as if the proportion isn't quite right.  And IMO, it's not.

Now look at the girl in the grey.  It's acceptable.  And the girl in the green, she's got it right.  I watched these girls.  Watched them move and go about their business for almost an hour in these dresses.  Now look at them 45 minutes later in front of their limo bus.  Miss Pink is still noticeably low but her shoulders are rolled forward which is actually de-emphasizing the visual issue.  Miss Grey is amost ready to pop out of her dress (other pictures of her looked like she was going to experience dangerous exposure), and Miss Green is still perfect.


You could argue the point and say it's just me.  Perhaps.  But I've asked my daughters and they concur with my assessments of various strapless dresses on a number of girls.  Some do it right, some are so so, and some just are way off.

What I think is working here is the top edge in relation to the armpit and chest.  Miss Green and Miss Grey get it right.  The top edge is not only closer to their armpit crease, the cup edges come up higher to encase the entire breast.  It's makes a noticeable visual difference. Miss Grey's problem is she's got good, ample assets which works 20% of the time in this dress.  If she could stay still, more specifically if boobs could stay still the other 80% of the time, the dress would be more flattering on her.  (What some of us would do to be that well endowed though :) .

Miss Green really got it right.  I have other pics of her and her strapless dress looks good in every shot.  It's in good proportion, it's fitted with good support, and the top edges are close, but not cutting into her arm crease.  The dress simply is not moving her body parts south.

I leave you with one of my fave fashion icons.  Usually good 'ol Grace gets it right.  But here are two pics one of which I feel is done right, the other is just...off.  

Done right:

And pulling everything south.  Gosh it makes her torso look abnormally long.  But darn!  She's still so beautiful. 


Till next time when I come back to readdress this post in a pattern review!

3 comments:

EmmaC said...

Hi Phat Chick Designs I think you make a valid point, but its probably because that type of dress requires a tailored fit which is what we will be offering here at Wag World for all items in our Red Carpet collection. The issue for us as retailers is that generally dresses come in certain sizes like Small, Medium or Large but you can have a good who fits into a Size Small but has a large bust size and believe me if a girl like that was wearing a prom dress 'chicken wings' would look much better!

Keep up the blogging!

Tee said...

Whenever I make a strapless gown, I add a foundation piece which the gown itself hangs from. That foundation puppy isn't going anywhere and my clients feel secure! Something I learned from Kenneth King!

Lauren jonczak said...

Great post. I never buy strapless dresses or strapless shirts because they always fall down and I feel like I am always pulling them up. I always thought that is just the way strapless was. I am going to have to find one that fits perfectly around my waste. Thanks so much for sharing, this is very helpful.