Style = Fit + Attitude

To really be in STYLE - Listen to your Mother. - Stand up straight, shoulders back and head high. Your style is evident in the carriage of your body and the expression on your face. Look people in the eye and they will look at your smile and not your middle. Confidence is an attitude that means you are comfortable with yourself. Graciousness means that you are courteous, kind and pleasant toward others. These traits will be remembered long after people have forgotten what your dress looked like.

Volumes have been written about what you should wear to look thinner. Optical illusions can only go so far. While these ideas may be some what effective when applied to a tailored business suit, on a full skirted square dance dress with a 60 yard petticoat they don't work as well. Exactly how much 'smaller' can black really make a person appear? Besides, everyone knows that you are wearing black to look smaller. Do you want to look a tiny bit smaller in a dull dark dress? Or, do you want to a dress in your favorite bright color that brings out the sparkle in your eyes?


It is much better to have one ensemble in a great color, that fits perfectly than a closet full of stuff that is not quite right. European women have much smaller closets than we do. They choose each item carefully for fit and color. Be very selective about what you allow to take up space in your closet. A blouse that 'almost' fits doesn't fit. Buttons that gape or a neck line too low will make you feel uncomfortable. Remove any items that do not fit from your closet. Toss them out right now. Letting them hang in the back for several years will not improve their fit or their looks.

The first thing to do to make your blouses and bodices look and fit better is - buy a fitted bra. - A properly fitted bra will not only make you look better, you will also be more comfortable. Some women think that bras don't show because they are foundation garments, but a beautiful house can not be built without a proper foundation. Go to a store that has a corsetier. They are fitters that are specially trained to fit undergarments. Better stores have a larger range of sizes so you don't have to settle for an 'almost' fit. Size does not matter, it is fit that counts.

a. The bra must touch the breast bone in the center of the chest

b. A loss or gain of 10 pounds will change the bra size

c. The need for a bra band extender means the bra does not fit properly.

d. Elastic does not last forever. If there is no stretch left, toss the bra.

e. The bra cups should not hang over the chest band. Tighten the straps. If the straps won't stay tight then sew them in place.

f. If the band rides up in the back go down a chest size and up a cup size. 

g. Under wires - Saying that all under wire bras are uncomfortable is like saying all shoes are uncomfortable. Just like shoes, bras must be properly fitted. ‘C’ and larger cup sizes look and fit better in under wires.

When you are trying on a garment you must always have on the same bra that you will be wearing with that garment. Think of the difference between sports bras and bustiers. Changing bras will change the fit of the garment. The bust line should be as far as possible from the waist line.

Wearing anything around the waist, except a belt, widens the middle. Cell phones, pagers, cameras and belt purses cause a lumpy tool belt look. A gadget could get knocked off the belt in the middle of a square and be damaged or someone could step on it and fall. Make a 'Concealed Pocket' to wear under the skirt or put an 'Invisible Pocket' in a side seam. Reduce the amount of stuff that you carry around and your skirt will hang more evenly.

To make a skirt the right length don't roll the waist band, that will add extra inches to your middle. The roll can come undone during the dance and result in a droopy hem line. It is usually easier to shorten a skirt by cutting off the waist band, removing excess length and making a new waist band. 

All of your skirts should be the same length. There are many ideas of the 'perfect' skirt length. One guide line is to use the back-waist length. Have a friend measure from the back bone at the base of your neck to the waist line. For a short skirt the formula is 1½ times your back-waist length for a prairie length it is 2 times your back-waist length. These are guide lines, the actual perfect skirt length is the one that makes you feel the most comfortable. Skirt lengths have gone up and down through out history, and square dance skirts have mirrored the fashion trends.

Your style should reflect your personality. Fit and comfort are the first factors to be considered when picking out a new ensemble. Color and design are important but they will not make up for proper fit. If you are comfortable in your clothes it will show in your face and your attitude.

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Diana made this skirt and added a purchased blouse. Isn’t it great? Wouldn’t you be proud to wear it? The belt is stunning, classy and exactly right. The trim on the bottom edge outlines the ruffle.  

Miss Mannerly says, “When someone complements you on your clothing the proper response is a demure ‘Thank-you’ followed by a slightly smug ‘I made it myself’."

 As one of my very wise friends said - sew the easy stuff, buy the hard stuff. When I make an ensemble, I always sew the skirt first. It becomes my inspiration to get the blouse done.  The top is always harder for me.