Friday, October 28, 2011

Not for the Rack: Architectural Draping

We continue with our occasional series on that which one should not don, if one is well endowed.

So far, Fashionable Reader, we have covered avoiding Boxy Tops, Bulky Tops (chunky knits & detail and fuss around the chest) and Backless Tops, none of which particularly distress me. But now we are on to a topic near and dear to my heart. For if I were not a retro girl by body-driven necessity and constant craving for unique outfits, I would be an ultra-modern, Nikita-style, architecturally draped amazon of athletic proportions, rocking chic minimalism. Yeah, yeah, if wishes were horses I'd own a hundred pairs of riding boots.

Bad for the Boobs ~ Architectural Draping

It pains me to report this, my dear ladies of means, but we must avoid with great care the stunning draping that turns women into mere scaffolding for origami structures of cloth fabulousness. I love this style. No, I really do. Sadly, I have to avoid most of it.

1920s dress via Timeless Vixen Vintage.

I had this black skirt in high school, with a kind of pull cord on one side, made out of parachute material. I called it my garbage-bag skirt, because it looked not-unlike I was wearing a black plastic garbage bag. I adored that skirt. This is a terrible confession to make, Fashionable Reader, but on occasion my taste veers in ugly-cool. These days I try to confine it to accessories, but it slips out into a mad passionate affair with architectural draping. Draping I could never wear.

Why no draping, Miss Gail?

Well, I may be a bit extreme here, in vetoing them all (and there are exceptions, see bellow) but, by-in-large, modern architectural style adds volume to a girl (and the girls). Inevitably, there is that little flap of artfully draped material that pokes out over the Rack, making the Rack even larger-looking not to mention longer and wider, right down to the stomach. Extra volume up top adds, well extra volume up top. Wide shoulders flow into big boobs, and huge neck collars draw atention to the face but they also often shift attention down to emphasize the chest area. Ample endowments push the folds and flaps of fabric outwards making me look, frankly, dumpy.

One shoulder styles do not allow a girl to wear a bra, and more often than not my smallest body parts (ribs, waist, hips) get lost in swathes fabric. That said, if you have great legs and a tummy to hide, this may be the style for you.

Filmy material or stiff, jersey or plaid, it's pretty much hopeless. This is one of the many reasons the 1920s are out for me. I just don't look good as a flapper.

Oh but I love this style so much. Every time I am at Max Studio or BCBG (at the outlet mall, mind you) one or two jersey draped dresses get carried hopefully into the changing room with me and then . . . I put them on. And they just look so awful, it's quite upsetting (and I buy a cute knit sweater or pencil skirt to console myself.)

That said, I have had some luck with a few exceptions to this rule. I own one dress from Max Studio in a dark grey jersey that has a kind of drape cut to it (see bellow). It's very body conscious and sexy but it works because the fabric is mainly tight to the torso and the draping is off over one shoulder, rather than on the boob, as if it were a scarf. I haven't yet had a chance to wear it, but I do adore it and I think it looks great. It reamains to be seen how others take it.

And here are a few others that might work with a rack.

And lastly, of course, some lovely fitted draping did come in the early 1950s. That always look stunning, if you ask me!

1950s Jean Dessès dress via Antique Dress

Draping like this can hide a multitude of cellulite sins, so give it a try, but otherwise tread into architectural styling with the greatest of care.


  1. Why do I have the feeling that if you were to go through my closet you'd be throwing out 99% of my stuff?

    Not that it's likely to be a bad thing in the long run, but my Barry Manilow and Star Trek themed t-shirts I wouldn't want to part with.

    Though you're more than welcome to throw out the items my mom bullied me into buying. LOL But hands off my disco dress!

  2. I have a cream dress similar to the last red dress. It's by A.J. Bari, and I got it in the early 90's. It is the only draped thing I can wear.

  3. Lovely victorian bustles! That's about the limit of my draping, but it always looks so nice :) Full victorian is not at all uncommon in my wardrobe.


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