The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

ER, II Exhibit of Wardrobe

Yes, it’s THAT queen – THE queen!!!  So what’s so hot about her clothes – and who should care?  It is important, and not for the reason you most think – not cause she’s the queen.  But because she has to look authoritative, but not bossy; legitimate but not frumpy; modern but not weird.  If she doesn’t carry that balance well, she won’t get fired, but at the same time she sure won’t get a thing accomplished.

Here’s what I mean.

This is about as classic as it gets.  That means that this little jewel is not a recent garment, which means it’s lasted through the decades.  That’s what classic is.  But looking at it further there are 4 bust darts. A lot of times sewists think that’s too many.  It’s not.  The queen has a nice bust line, but doesn’t want to look heavy or too busty, hence the nice fitting around the bust line.  Also notice that the garment tapers in at the waist, but not a lot.  As the queen gets older, the less tapering in at the waist, because she’s gained weight but also because it’s not an attractive line for an older silhouette.

So the take away on this garment is that you can do 2 even 3 bust darts per side which makes for a rounder softer line (see the soft shape around the bust, instead of a hard pointed line).  And tapering in too much, when the silhouette is busty, can accentuate and make the bust look even larger, so don’t taper the garment exaggeratedly.

The proportions and shape of this jacket are really remarkable.  Again the nice shaping around the bust line (notice how there are not any of those goofy arm or sleeve wrinkles around and under the bust?  There’s a reason for that.  The seam from the shoulder to the pocket helps shape around the bust so that there is none of that horrible wrinkling you see in so many ill-fitting clothes around the armhole and the bust line.

I love this jacket cause look at the cool 3/4 length sleeve.  Now since London is the home of the Savile Row suit, my bet is that the queen uses those tailors on Savile Row (which is where wealthy men from all over the world go to have suits custom made), and there’s no tailoring lost on this sleeve, even though it’s 3/4.  It still has a nice tailored button, probably working buttonhole, with a nice jacket length.  Notice how the shorter length doesn’t interfere with the length of the sleeve.  These are the little things you can take away when you’re working on your own garments.

OK this is one of my all-time favorites of the royals.  NEVER had Camilla ever looked so good as she did for this day, and the whole look worked.  As opposed to the queen, Camilla is more of a boxy figure.  And because she has no waist, designers have to make her look like she has shape, when she has none, but she looks shapely in this garment.  So how did they do that. They did it by tapering in right under her bust then keeping the waist above the natural waist line.  It gives the illusion of a waist, even though Camilla doesn’t have one.

And in case you think she’s changed shapes…here is when she’s not dressed as well as she might.


Notice when she’s not got a lot of structure (particularly around the shoulder and upper armhole), she looks out of balance.  She doesn’t have sloping shoulders but looks like it next to the other garments that are better designed for her.  The middle is just too drapy and close to the body.  It shows every ripple, as does the blue dress on the right.  OK that’s what’s wrong.

Let’s look at what’s right:


This shows in spades what is right about shaping clothes to fit her:  slight taper under bust, and then flares gently out from there to skim past the no-waist area and the hip area.  The jacket is particularly grand at showing how to accomplish this.  Also notice what strong shoulders she has to balance out her whole figure.

THIS is what we can take away from figures and notables and what they wear, and this is why the queen’s exhibit is so important.

Although the queen was a lot younger here, you can see the seamlines of this garment beautifully.  These are exceptionally great lines to use.  Also notice the little dart from the side front seamline – another nod to the clean look around the armhole and bust area.

As the queen has gotten older, there’s less close fit to the garment, again something we can take away.  As we get older, we can learn this same less from those that dress the queen.  Notice here a clear princess seamline that falls just to the side of the bust point.  This is a classic seam line that means that the garment can be shaped and fitted on the most complicated of figures.  The older we get the more variations we have on the human body and the more individual we become.

But that doesn’t mean we have to look frumpy, old-fashioned or not modern.  The queen has to be up-to-date and so she has to look modern;  she can’t look silly or frivolous or impractical so she has to dress down-to-earth, logical and most of all responsible and legitimate.

Even though you may not be from the UK, would you want this family as royals……




I think not!!!!!





  1. I love it when you do these posts explaining technical design details about fit and how they flatter different figures.

    It makes me think of the royal wedding. The Middleton sisters are both have rather athletic figures with slim hips and broader shoulders. At the wedding everyone couldn’t believe Pippa’s bum in *that dress.* She looked so curvy. The designers had used every trick to coax out feminine curves and play down her shoulders. Discrete raglan sleeves, and a bias cut dress.

  2. I’m from the UK and yes, I support our Royal Family. well, most of them anyway……. I could end up in the Tower Of London for voicing my thoughts on the succession , lol 🙂

    I like the way the Queen dresses. She works hard, at a great age and her wardrobe never looks ‘old ladyish’. It’s very rare that the Duchess of Cambridge makes a mistake with her clothes these days as well.
    The Queen must be very happy and proud of her Grandchildren and the way in which they are representing her, and the U.K.

    • Yes the next generation seems to be carrying in a very respectful way. This position in life requires that these people project a responsible but modern profile and they seem to be doing that very well.

  3. I’m going to give some of these tips a try on my next outfit. Since I am older with a boxy figure I will especially be using the tip on tapering in under the bust to make it seem like I have a waist.

    Thanks Again

    • This is an infalible technique…use the silhouette of Camilla…notice how in reality she has NO WAIST….and she’s really straight up and down, but in the gown she was married in, she has a waist and looks totally natural and very flattering. She wore the same silhouette at Prince William’s wedding and looked smashing. You must use an FBA (Front Bust Alteration or dart) to do this, and fit around the armhole so that there’s none of that wrinkling or gaping fabric. If it’s sloppy, wrinkling or gaping in that area, the look will be off and it won’t work. It must be neat and fitted to work….this is more shaped to your figure rather than what we think of today as a fit which is a knit or stretch fabric stretched across our body – that is not a fit!

      If you feel funny about using an FBA (remember you can use up to three if you like), then you can also use a princess seam (look at the Queen’s dress at the bottom of the post). The Queen requires a good FBA or princess seam cause amazingly enough she’s very busty and yet has a small waist. For a big difference from bust to waist, you must have an FBA (think of Dolly Parton)!

      And lest you think you can do this or that you can never be fit, look at this blog
      from a while back, and you’ll see what happens when a couture designer from Paris designs for movies!

      Good luck!

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