3/6 What Fashion Tells You - an Interview with Christian Dior: for the Tall Lady


Here's the third in the series of styling advice from the Christian Dior, today focusing on the tall ladies!  Dior has talked to short ladies, curvy ladies, and now he's got some great tips to emphasize the "grace and dignity that must go with height."  
At the end I'd love to hear your thoughts on his advice and if you've found any of it useful for your own looks.  Without further ado...

What Fashion Tells You: an Interview with Christian Dior

If you're a tall woman, you also start out by taking an objective view of yourself in the mirror.  Now let us get down to the details. Remember, manner is all-important. You can be elegant, gracious, dignified; the only thing you cannot do is play the little girl, in the vague hope of looking smaller.  Avoid anything that could be called a schoolgirl trick, like bows in the hair or wearing pale blues and pale pinks.


A childish hairdressing, little white collars to look like a giant doll are a great mistake.


Silhouettes

But avoid also dresses which are too sever or classical draperies which make you look old.  Briefly, a clean and youthful line but not too childish.  Do not be afraid, if you have a small waist, to wear full skirts.


Well-fitting suits are becoming to tall women, as they are to short ones, but height is diminished by wearing a belt.  The horizontal line cuts the height.  Both dresses and topcoats should be of controlled fullness; too much material from head to toe will give a tall figure the air of a monument!


Although too much fullness across the body is not advisable, the tall woman, whether she is large or slender, can carry off such things as important-looking high collars, large sleeves or muffs.  In point of fact, tall women must keep a sharp eye on a sense of proportion.  They must carry fairly large handbags and long slender umbrellas.  Costume jewelry should be bold and heavy looking; slender strings of pearls and beads, tiny brooches or clips will be uninteresting and almost invisible on a large person.


Evening Wear & Suits

The tunics and peplums so wrong for little women are ideal now.  When you have height, flowing scarves and stores are graceful and becoming.  But--and this is an important but--they can be worn only if you know how to manage them.  Above all, never wear a stole if it embarrasses you, for the very meaning of elegance is an effect of casual ease.


Incidentally, the best way to discover how to wear a stole is simply to practice in front of a mirror and wear one of the simple wool variety for evenings at home until you get used to handling it.


Three-quarter box jackets over slim skirts are good for both slim and not-so-slim figures.  If they are in different colors, such as red jacket over black, the height-cutting effect is even greater.


Skirts for daytime should not be too long but, rather surprisingly, long evening dresses are much better than short ones.  Some how the latter lack the grace and dignity which must go with height.




(From photo above)
The Tall Woman Can Wear These:
These cut down her height (left to right): a dress with a plastron curving down below the waist; side drapery and a huge stole; costume with contrasting skirt and jacket and full silhouette; a suit with a wide belt

The Tall Woman Should Never Wear These:
- A dress that has a little-girl look, too childish a hairdo, rob her of the sophisticated grace that is her great asset.
- Vertical stripes, however smart they may be, make her look too much like a New York skyscraper.

Fabrics

Heavier materials and country tweeds will be becoming.  Colors, on the whole, should be quiet, brightened up by accessories.  Avoid too sweet colors.  As for colors, above everything the eyes and hair shades and the complexion should be your guide.


Tulle, with a few real exceptions, is not for the tall girls, but satins, brocades, and all rich materials are theirs to display to the best advantage.  The general silhouette should be rather tidy.


If you are tall and thin, then you can wear soft loose blouses and loose tops to dresses.  But the large full-busted woman should be careful to have well-fitting bodices which, she may find it hard to believe, are much more flattering to her. 


Believe it or not, a rather large figure will look better in clothes which are slightly too small than in those that are too large.  After all, nobody wants to look like a sack of potatoes!


Accessorizing

Tall women must pay special attention to their hair, which must always be smooth and tidy.  They have the advantage of being able to wear large hats and must of course be careful not to have any trimmings which stick up in the air and add to their height.


Personally, I do not like very flat heels for anybody with town clothes.  They are all right of course int he country, but I think the ideal for tall women, for almost all women, is a medium-heeled shoe.


I have not said anything specific about necklines for tall women but really they are much the same for everyone regardless of height.  A becoming neckline depends on the length of the neck and shape of face.  As always, a round face and short neck will be flattered by a deep V and small thin faces look better with wide boat-shape or broad d√©collet√© necklines.


That is all.  Once the tall woman has grasped the essentials needed to make the best of herself, she will find that each season's fashions have something new and interesting to meet her own particular needs.


So do you think Dior's got some good insight here?  Personally, I especially love that he still recommends a medium-heeled shoe for tall ladies!  What was your favorite advice?

7 comments

  1. I agree with you about the advice to wear heels. It's really refreshing, particularly for the time period, for him to tell tall women to embrace their height.

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    1. It is lovely! I have liked his viewpoint of dressing yourself as you are, not as you were or even may wish to be.

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  2. Very interesting advice. I'm am 6' tall personally and so I'm very conscious of what I can and cannot wear. It seems though that I have messed up a bit with my wardrobe choices lol! I love light blue (one of my fav 40s dresses is that colour) and one of my fav hats has a giant feather sticking straight up in the air! Lol! I also wear almost all the time flats as well (as a swing dancer I always want to be prepared for a dance and I can only do so in flats). I love the advice about trying a dramatic stole, this does makes sense when your tall. Fabric choices not sure if they really matter in regards to height. I do love tweed but I think tweed looks great on everyone. I also wear small brooches so that I don't agree with BUT I do agree with watching proportions I just think it has to do more with what you are wearing as opposed to your body type.

    I love that Dior wants us to embrace our height by wearing heels. I may not wear them that often but they do make an outfit.

    Fantastic post with many tips I could use (aka that stole...I need a stole!).

    Thanks so much for sharing. High fives to tall women everywhere :)

    Liz

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    1. Liz, we can stand in solidarity as tall women who like wearing light colours -- prescriptive fashion rules are silly! Though I admit this series of posts has been very interesting, if mostly in a historical views sense, rather than an "I'm going to follow these rules to the letter" sense. I love my vintage pastel sundresses. And that light blue dress (if it's the one I'm thinking of), looks smashing on you!

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  3. This is a great write up! Thanks for sharing again. I am not tall, but nevertheless I was able to find a pearl of wisdom, "Above all, never wear a stole if it embarrasses you, for the very meaning of elegance is an effect of casual ease." I definitely think that this advice could apply to many other aspects of dressing. Above all, you must be comfortable in what you wear, not nervous! Then, you will truly be eye catching :)
    Also, I love that he encouraged tall women to wear heeled shoes. I know so many tall women who are embarrassed by their height, and only wear flat shoes, but I think they definitely should wear heels if they want to, as it is so elegant!
    The Artyologist

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  4. At 5'7", I so agree with keeping lines pretty clean! I also feel better 'tucked in', and lie fitted shirts, belts, tight pants. I also almost always go with a-line or pencil skirts, and even though I love full skirts, I usually fell really costume-y in them.

    Also love the embracing your height part! As a single person granted I never worry about being taller than my guy, but their is so much confidence in being the tall, well dressed lady. It IS elegant and feels vaguely powerful. Dior knew what he was talking about!

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    1. Gillian, never be afraid of being taller than your partner! Any prospective partner who is shorter should be eliminated if they gripe about you wearing heels -- if they aren't confident enough to handle a tall, elegant woman, they don't deserve to date one. Case in point, the height difference between myself and my partner: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203150986129672&l=0841caa26f

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