dress & look slender: disguising figure irregularities

Ever thought about clothing as a way to overcome figure irregularities? I sure have!

I’m learning there are basic art principles I can use when choosing patterns, fabrics, colours, and accessories to disguise the bits I wish weren’t there.

Here’s an entire book about applying these principles to dress:

Dress and Look Slender, by Jane Warren Wells (also listed under Mary Brooks Picken), 1924; Personal Arts Company; available on Cornell University’s HEARTH collection.

You might look at the Table of Contents first, to see which chapter(s) you’d like to see. (The examples below are from “Lines that Slenderize and Lines That Don’t,” in the first chapter.)

Hint!  I always re-read the Help section because I forget how to navigate their system. 😉

I wish there were a more up-to-date book to recommend, but they’d be under copyright, and the principles would be the same. Hope you don’t mind the vintage-ness.

click any picture to go directly to the source

page 18

Dress & Look Slender p 18

page 19

Dress & Look Slender p19

page 22

Dress & Look Slender p22

page 23

Dress & Look Slender p23


8 thoughts on “dress & look slender: disguising figure irregularities”

  1. I had to chuckle at this as you may recall the 1920’s vintage pattern I tried, a straight up and down, I looked like a galleon in full sail, not a good look 🙂 They look so elegant in the pictures, I love long straight skirts and my hems are usually skimming ankles or lower calf, so I suppose it is a bit like the modern version 🙂

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  2. There is an art to dressing, isn’t there. I have friends who effortlessly dress and look perfect all the time (one an artist with a most fabulous and unique style). I can stress and worry all day and I look the same all the time. There must be cure in this book for the frumps!


    1. Wonderful comment, thank you!
      Hope you will dive in, do some reading, and it will help. Know I’m learning lots to do with my “irregularities”! 😉


    1. Oh, thank you for your comment! 😍

      From our perspective, it certainly would; however, in their day (1925) it would still have been quite modern to go out without corset, several to-the-ground slips, and blouse and to-the-floor skirt. It’s all comparative… Or should I say proportionate? 😉

      I achieve similar looks today with a maxi skirt, below-knee kimono & boots in winter, and in summer my kimono goes to my dress hem, which is at-or-just-below my knee… and that might be considered very long these days! 😍

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      1. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable wearing a corset must be! My grandmother wore one every day until she passed away (nine years ago) and felt shamefully undressed without it, despite her doctor forbidding her to wear it!

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        1. My grandmother also wore a corset, saying it didn’t bother her and she needed it, or she believed she did. Don’t know how tightly she laced it, but it might not have been too much.

          A lot of singers either have to wear one (part of costume) or prefer to, saying it gives them more breath support. They’re ~ the corsets, not the singers! ~ designed to expand with breathing. 😉

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