“The Lucky shopping manual” – advice for the pear shaped

An attractive and interesting book, but sadly the advice about what’s best for the pear shaped or small busted is the opposite of what works for me.

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Note : Butterick-McCall’s-Vogue has changed their websites. My BMV links now only get you to a page where you can search for a pattern number.
I apologise that I haven’t changed to the new individual URLs, but it would be a lot of work.

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In the section on Jackets , they suggest a classic blazer for the pear shaped. Oh dear. Have they never noticed how ridiculous someone looks when the top of their jacket is too large and floppy with nothing inside to fill it, while the hip area is bursting and straining at the buttons. Not an attractive look.

ReadyToWear jackets are not made with enough fabric in the seam allowances at the hip level. So it isn’t possible to let them out to increase the hip area by 2 or 3 sizes.

Here’s where we sewers who can make our own clothes have such strengths and advantages. Though a fitted lined jacket is definitely not a beginners’ project. It’s wondrous the way a well fitted garment makes someone look as if they have no figure flaws.

Here are some of the alternatives to blazers that I like :

Fitted above the waist and fuller below the waist, such as McCalls 5594, McCalls 5766, or McCalls 5936 :


or simply released pleats without a waist seam, such as Butterick 5393, or Vogue 8600 :


or a flared or tucked style that doesn’t fit to the waist, such as McCalls 5638, or McCalls 5762 :


(The smock-like version would need to be longer and without the strong horizontal trim line to look good on me.)

Notice most of these examples have large collars – a good way of drawing attention up to the face, and giving more visual ‘weight’ to the upper body.

And for Tops to enhance a small bust, the Lucky book suggests a stretchy top with gathering at the bust. Well, what could emphasise the smallness of my bust more than wearing a stretched fabric, making it obvious there isn’t anything there to stretch it. Definitely best not.

In her Spring/ Summer Newsletter 2009, Pati Palmer talks about ‘essence of waistline’. My personal preference for disguising my small bust is to use woven fabrics for tops, with darts to give ‘essence of bosom’.

Jeans and pants : To minimise your butt, this book suggests large centred pockets on jeans. Goodness, perhaps people with large butts emblazoned with large centred pockets never appear in New York City, or these authors might change their minds.

The best advice I’ve seen on back pockets for large backs was, I think, in Burda WOF magazine. Oddly enough, it suggested what the Lucky manual says for pants : use high welt pockets just under the yoke. (Sorry I can’t find the drawing.). Not classic jeans style, but at least it doesn’t put a large square on a large round, and so draw attention to a large blodge. Well, a large square is better than a small one 😀

For front pockets, they suggest curved pockets for pear shapes. Perhaps these work well for people with a silhouette which tapers out gradually from waist to widest part. But below my indented waist and high hips, this sort of curved pocket just points outwards, saying ‘look here’. I prefer slanted pockets.

Here are the alternatives, McCalls 5394, and McCalls 5239 :


Sorry these images aren’t perfectly size matched. But I think they show how you can use curved horizontal pockets if you want more curves, and straight slanted pockets if you want less 😀

I do agree that in-side-seam pockets are not good in a fitted garment over curvy hips. Particularly with my high hips, it’s almost impossible to make them lie flat without gaping. Sad, as this is the easiest type of pocket to make.

Dresses : There I was, thinking how lucky I was to be a teenager in the 50s (though only because of this feature of the clothes), when the dresses had tiny tops which emphasised my neatness above the waist, and voluminous skirts which disguised where my hips were. But these Lucky editors strongly tell everyone not to wear them. Perhaps that’s true if you’re a size 0 rectangle shape. But I think 50s style dresses are a good idea if you’re a 14 on top and 18 below (sewing pattern sizes) and want to look size 14 overall. Though I admit you do look better with a trim waist (achieved by most people in the 50s by wearing the obligatory corset).

Here are a couple of examples, Butterick 5350, and Butterick 5320 :


I’m sure I have a lot more to learn about the best styling for my shape, but these are what I’ve found flattering so far from personal experience.

This Lucky book includes much that is useful and food for thought. It gives good advice on looking trendy and stylish. There are some things that work immediately for me, plus inspiration for a lot of thought about how to take the essence of their styling suggestions and adapt them from ‘wouldn’t be seen dead in’ to ‘looking good’. But I don’t think the authors have ever actually looked at someone pear-shaped.

Patterns available August 09.

Explore posts in the same categories: body shape

2 Comments on ““The Lucky shopping manual” – advice for the pear shaped”

  1. Shannon Says:

    I just found your blog and I have been reading all your posts with interest.

    I am a member of the pear shape club as well and I wholeheartedly agree with all your pattern suggestions. Many of the styles you show here are staples of my wardrobe, especially the 50s style full skirted dress.

  2. MaryPat Says:

    I agree with you. I am a plus size pear, but have always been 2-3 sizes larger below. I think for many books the “pear shaped” section is full of academic musings, filler that they have never actually tested. Many of the suggestions are things I have tried and discarded because they really don’t work.

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