In your teens and twenties you were a small lady with a nice round bottom. As the years have advanced so has your butt. What happens to you is the quintessential, hateful middle age spread. Your lower half becomes disproportionately large. It’s a bugger but it’s also a fact of many petite women’s life. To combat this reality you might well take on the I-don’t-care about-clothes attitude to hide your inner voice telling you that your clothes are decidedly old before their time. Your life slides into tapered-trousers-with-elasticated-waists-old lady-dom way before your time. Your former sexiness will have declined with your wardrobe as you have no idea how to combat what you believe is a body not worth the bother.
Whoa there lady! You know that Trinny and Susannah don’t counter such negative self-image – otherwise you wouldn’t even bother to be reading this post. Your attitude is born out of despair, rather than genuine disdain for all thinks girly. You are still a petite, pretty woman who with a little guidance can dust off those skirts and dresses, that fun and froth and quickly regain some femininity back into your life.
Like your sister, the Skittle, your shoulders are narrow and your breasts petite. This creates a marked imbalance between your neat torso and, shall we say, a more expansive region below. So the trick is to restore harmony by throwing attention onto your top half.
There are several ways to achieve this: high, button-up shirt fronts and Peter Pan collars are a good trick.
This navy dress is near perfection. Its sleeves jut seamlessly outwards, extending your shoulder line. The high waistline makes your torso longer and that makes you appear taller. To walk with a feminine movement you need to look out for dresses that create a volume of fabric swishing around your thighs but without adding any extra bulk to your haunches. The gored construction of the skirt is gentle enough to skim over your bottom without creating so much volume that you end up looking like a giant bell.
The mention of a Summer wedding is enough to give you the cold sweats. Your dreams become haunted by images of frothy, floaty chiffon clad damsels gliding across manicured lawns as effortlessly as a herd of flamingos, their tinkling laughter breaking icily above your head as you fossick through the undergrowth like a lost Heffalump… and all because that cursed woman in the ‘formalwear’ department told you that ‘this is the perfect thing for a smart occasion madam”. Well let’s get one thing straight: cut-on-the-bias chiffon dresses are your biggest mistake. Teaming them with your old black shoes and a few beads to cheer up the look is indicative of the fact that you don’t really want to engage with style at all.
This ensemble displays some great principles for the Bell body shape: the top is cut so that it sits just above your derrière; the small keyhole at the neck draws our eye upwards whilst the panelling lengthens your waist. Kick pleats in the skirt are an ideal way of creating feminine movement without extra heft. Always make sure that the pleats begin to open out at the level of your hip or thigh, not your waist.
Another foolproof strategy is to bulk up your top half with gilts, waistcoats, shrugs and cowl neck jumpers. If you are thinking of going strapless or sleeveless to a party, always add a decorative, cropped evening jacket.
We think it has been established that chiffon, cut-on-the-bias, spaghetti-strap party dresses are not your bag. In fact, you have so much trouble finding dresses of any description that fit both on your top and bottom that it probably doesn’t even occur to you to look on the dress rails. It really is time to re-evaluate that prejudice. Finding the one, fabulous, right dress will change how you feel about yourself. Make sure that it fits you flatteringly on top and that the skirt of the dress is full enough to flow around your nether regions without clinging as you walk.
Inspired? Here are some dresses, jackets and necklaces that will flatter your Bell body shape no matter what.
Do you have a Bell body? Please tell us about your style trials and triumphs.