Sensible Sundays – For the Ultra Thin

With our modern obsession for thinness, many of us may want to scoff at the idea of being too thin.  Oh, such a problem to be too thin, right?  But being “too thin”  has it’s own bag of troubles just like all of the other shapes and sizes we come in.  Among other things I have seen some of my too thin friends accused, almost viciously, of having eating disorders or of purposely losing weight to get attention.

At one point in time I was probably one of those snide accusers of the ultra skinny.  My dear daughter has changed my perspective on that forever, though.  She is among the ultra skinny and though I have tried every trick in the book, short of hooking her up to a butter I.V. to get her to gain weight, she remains a lean mean, skinny machine.  She has been tested for every metabolic, digestive, and genetic disorder under the sun.  Final diagnosis?  She was just born to be skinny.  Tell that to all of the well meaning Grandma’s who come up and try to pinch my cute toddler.  The look of horror on their face at her bird thin arms and legs makes me cringe every time.  No explanation I give is good enough, I assure you.  While we may like our adults slim and trim we like our babies ad toddlers FAT!  If only I could get the same reaction for my 40 year old rolls as we give the rolly-polly 2 year olds :-/

So have mercy on your too skinny friends that can’t change their genetics any more than you or I can change ours.  Whether you are too much of this or not enough of that, it never feels nice to be made to feel not good enough.  Here are Ms. Conover’s thoughts on the subject.

I am thinking of women who describe themselves painfully thin.  Some people are naturally thin and have to face their clothes problems just the same as the stout woman has to face hers. You can’t always cover yourself up to your chin, down to waist, and down to heels.  Fashion won’t let you do that every season.  However, you can adapt the fashions.

This is good advice for all of us, of courseSlimYoungGirl.


Suppose we consider fabrics first.  Has it occurred to you that crisp,, hard-finished fabrics are trying?  Take organdie, for instance.  It will accentuate your thinness.  On the other hand mull or batiste, or even voile will give a soft effect that is very becoming.

Taffeta is another material you want to avoid.  Crepe silks or charmeuse are really better.

I think these fabric suggestions are very good ones.  The problem with stiff, crisp fabrics for the ultra this is that they will make your silhouette very sharp and angular.  Because you do not have any extra fluff or padding to round things out, stiff fabric will form very harsh lines against your body.

High collars, of course, are very becoming but they are not always in style.  If you are wearing a low neck, try dding a fold of cream color or white chiffon, batiste, or net beyond the edge of the dress.  It will soften the effect.  You will also find neck frills or jabots very becoming.

On the other hand, a collarless neckline is severe.  If the bones show a little in your neck it will make the shadows under them deeper.  If you are making a tailored cloth or silk dress, hunt out the styles with vest fronts.  They give you the chance to add the becoming frill or two of net, batiste, or lace.

One of the best styles or the thin woman is the surplice waist.

I would say that in general fitting issues, the neckline is one of the greatest challenges I have in dressing my daughter.  In regard to height and shoulder width she is right on track with her peers.  So she needs the length and shoulder width of clothing in the same sizes as her peers, but problems become rapidly apparent when we slip on any kind of wide scoop neck or V neck shirt.  Necklines gaping to the navel are not attractive at any age 😦  She just does not have the added circumference in her arms, neck, and chest to fill out her tops to take up the gap in the neckline.  Circumference wise she could easily still wear 18-24 month tops but length and shoulder wise she needs a girls 7-8.  So we do a lot of layering which is great with Wisconsin winters.  Summers are more challenging however.  We are not even going to talk about swim suit shopping!

After all, no matter what the latest fad is, the stylish thing to do is to dress becomingly.

Next week help for the “Older Woman”.

I am writing these articles from my own personal collection of Ms. Conover’s dressmaking series, but this series is available to any of you that would like to read the complete work (or part of, not all 12 lessons are available).  This series was originally published in 1921 and is now in the public domain.  If you would like to study this more in depth you can read directly from the source yourself without my commentary :-)   My version was released in 1922 so it may be slightly different from what you find here, but it should be very similar.  You can download the entire first lesson in either Adobe or PDF format.  You can also download the 1922 version here, but I am not entirely sure if it includes all 12 lessons or not.


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