Character Dressing

As published in Grapevine (Ongerup-Gnowangerup), The Williams (Williams) & Wagin Argus (Wagin)

I am loving the TV series “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”, currently showing on the ABC.  It is based on the books written by Alexander McCall Smith.

I am completely puzzled over the body shape of Jill Scott, who plays the star of the show, Mma Precious Ramotswe.  Now, this is not a good thing to be admitting!

When wearing a fitted dress (and possibly shape wear) she looks like a curvaceous hourglass. In other outfits, she could be a voluptuous rectangle.

But, what I do know, they style her extremely well.

There are many lessons we can learn from the outfits that customer designer Jo Katsara has created.

Mma Precious Ramotswe wears simple shaped A-line dresses that skim her body. This highlights her torso as the slimmest part of her body. The dresses finish just below her knees, another slim part of the body.  

Her necklines are wide, creating length through her neck and highlighting her lovely shoulder line. Generally, necklines are the classic V, a gentle sweetheart or wide scoops.

Jo likes to frame Mma Precious’ face by making a feature of the neckline; using trims, a complementing colour or clever use of patterns. This draws the eye up the body towards the face.  A necklace within the neckline has the same effect.

Her sleeves are kept soft and mostly short. The flutter sleeve is widely used to create softness, width across the upper body and shoulder line, while hiding her fuller arms.  Sleeves that finish between a cap and bust point all help to balance hips or full thighs.

Jo loves using patterns in her designs. There are often strong vertical influences in the pattern placement or trims. This helps to create an illusion of height and slimming the area. 

With the current trend of mixing patterns, we can learn from Jo who uses colour to link the pieces together. Mma Precious’ outfits use colours that either complement (eg camel/blue) or tone (eg browns) together. In other characters clothing, a common colour, complementing textures, neat tailoring and a balanced silhouette, create a unified look.

Pattern size is generally medium, meaning the pattern and its repeat fit into your hand-span. Where the pattern is large, it often contains fist-sized portions. If a smaller pattern is used, the colours are of similar depth or tonal, so the eye moves over without stopping.  A medium pattern is flattering to all.

Jo Katsara believes that “costume design is bringing characters to life.”  Does your wardrobe show the real you?