Our guest model today is Maria, a student at the Arthur Murray Dance Center in Temecula, California.
Recently, I had the privilege of meeting her at the Arthur Murray Studio in Phoenix, Arizona where she performed a 6-dance show with her instructor, Tavio Morales, as part of the Arthur Awards for the Phoenix studio.
Afterwards, when Maria finished her 6-dance show, I chased her down and talked her into modeling her Latin dress with long, lean lines for this video.
She had no idea what she was getting into, but she was fabulous on camera!
Maria is a wife and a grandmother, but loves competitive ballroom dancing for the challenge as well as the chance to dress up and get “in character”.
She competes in American Rhythm and Smooth. Additionally, she’s been dancing 6 1/2 years and braved her first competition after only six months!
Maria is much shorter than her teacher Tavio. Like me, she needs all the help she can get adding visual height.
Fortunately, Maria is fashion-conscious, has a designer’s eye, and knows how to create long, lean lines that look good on her body.
As a result, her dress, made by LeNique but partially designed by Maria, has eight effective design elements that help her look longer and leaner than her petite frame.
5 Key design elements for long lean lines
- To begin with, there is an asymmetrical neckline that begins on the shoulder.
- Next, vertical lace detailing in a bright accent color that really pops against the dark dress.
- Dangling handkerchief that adds verticality and movement.
- A steep asymmetrical line for the skirt hem.
- Finally, lots of fringe – which always adds visual height and creates long, lean lines.
If you’re not a fan of black and white, be creative. For example, change out the white lace and fringe with a color: hot or pale pink, blue zircon, aqua or pretty much any color that suits your personality will work. However, the only caveat is to make sure the color you choose is rich and saturated so it shows up nicely against the black.
3 additional design elements that are fabulous on Maria’s body shape and size, making her look taller and thinner
- Asymmetrical back neckline with a graceful drape that softens the look and camouflages her fleshy back.
- One sleeve that gives her more visual height and covers her upper arms (which she prefers to have covered whenever possible.)
- Lastly, a loose bodice (attached to a built-in leotard) with gathers at the shoulder, tummy and hip. This soft, feminine look disguises her classic female tummy and gives her plenty of breathing room while keeping her slim-looking.
On a personal note: The aspect of this dress that most surprised me is how well the white fringe works on this dress.
Maria said this was an alteration she had LeNique make to the dress after purchase. So, excellent decision, Maria!
In truth, if I was designing this dress for a client, my immediate reaction would be to make the fringe match the dress, thinking that would create the longest lines for her. How boring that would have been!
Above all, the reason the white fringe works fabulously here is because:
- It is a strong contrast color
- Additionally, the angle of the skirt is very steep, creating a long line all by itself.
However, the accent color fringe would not look nearly as good if the colors were not a strong, bold contrast or if the angle of the skirt was more shallow.
In other words, the dress would look great on her without the fringe because the dress has long, lean lines.
Design tip: If you want to create a similar effect without using fringe, check out my blog on a ballgown that uses an accent-colored godet to create height.
Note: If you make your own dress, be extra careful to cut the angle of the skirt very straight so the fringe attachment line is stick straight and doesn’t have small curves.
However, this can be mighty difficult if the skirt fabric is really stretchy. Therefore, you may have to pin and re-pin (or baste, rip and re-baste) the fringe to achieve a nice, straight stitch line. For another example of using angled fringe to create long, lean lines, check out a stretch velvet Latin dress made by Tammy, a Sew Like a Pro™ member.
Watch the video for more dress details and to hear Maria’s thoughts on how much a great dress instills confidence so she performs her best.
What is your favorite feature on Maria’s dress?
Of all the dresses you’ve worn, what design element looks best on your body and why?
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Thanks again to Maria for modeling – as well as to her teacher, Tavio Morales.
Also, many thanks to Holly Udy-Meekin for inviting me to attend her studio’s Arthur Awards event and for letting me take over her studio with lights and cameras.
Would you like more ways to look taller or slimmer?
Check out these videos.