18 October 2007

What a difference a different dress can make

I was fully prepared to craft a comprehensive, specific-to-their-frame, should've-worn-this assessment for each Jennifer, Natalie, Julianne, Kristen, Sheryl, Marley and Sara, but just as I was about to put fingertip to keyboard, it struck me -- all of these women, even Jennifer "Loves Mom Jeans" Hewitt, have done their bodies red carpet good at least once - and in Natalie and Julianne's cases, many times - in past appearances.

And after a quick Google search for each of these ladies, it turns out I found the proof I needed to demonstrate to you how vast an improvement a scintilla of cinching, a shade of shoulder-baring and a hair of hemline-raising can bring to the hippy, the bony, the petite and the muscular-calved.

On better days, the women from this morning:

Why she looks better:
(1) instead of a fitted-'round-the-hips cut, a petite woman with disproportionately large hips like Jennifer really should stick to styles that skim - not cling - to her midsection.
(2) because her chest is disproportionately large for her upper body, it was wise of her to lengthen her torso with a thinner waist-cinch that didn't sit right below the girls and to draw attention to her thin legs with a higher hemline.

Why she looks better:
(1) much like the shirt-dress in the previous post, this bubble-mini gives no hint of under-the-covers curvaceousness (because there is none), but at least this cut offers Natalie the opportunity to showcase her defined shoulders and back, which makes all the difference in identifying that she is not, in fact, a 13 year old boy.

Why she looks better:
(1) she's defined her waist, a decision that takes at least 10 pounds off her frame
(2) she's raised her hemline and in doing so allowed us to see a very attractive thin-thigh-into-muscular-calf transition. I know well the necessity of showing that peek of knee and upper-thigh.

Why she looks better:
(1) a woman as petite as Kristen (5'1"), no matter how high her heels or how slim her skirt, can not get away with the exaggeratedly voluminous ruffled neckline. Frankly, anything would look better.
(2) this deep-V halter dress with nary a hint of extraneous volume flatters everything on KBell from her small, perky chest to her thin waist to her toned arms and back.

Why she looks better:
(1) I'm just gonna come out and say it -- if your breasts aren't perky and you want to wear a dress that doesn't allow for a bra, make sure you're cleavage-free
(2) as much as I love an athletic frame like Sheryl's, there's something unsettling about seeing veiny, muscular legs in a formal dress. It was a wise choice for her to wear a floor-length gown, especially one with a curve-enhancing empire waist.

Why she looks better:
(1) aside from the fact this is a much more beautiful dress than the shapeless grey sheath from the previous post, she looks miles better because she's able to showcase her two best assets: her shoulders and her legs. Much like Julianne's, Marley's legs require an above-the-knee cut to avoid looking thicker than they actually are.
(2) like the last dress, this one cinches at the actual waist and then skims over the hips. The difference, however, is in the fabric -- the wool in the previous dress looks "puffed out" over her hips while here, the multi-layered satin - yellow satin, a very difficult combination to pull off well - glides over the area in a much more flattering way.

Why she looks better:

(1) it's a universally accepted truth: dresses with empire waistlines and flowy skirts make curvy women look fatter than they actually are. Unless you're tall, lithe and proportionate, step away from this style...

(2) because Sara doesn't have a very defined upper-body, this deep-V neckline is much more flattering (hello perfect cleavage!) than the one her spaghetti-strapped counterpart created (goodbye armpit potatoes!)


denver fan said...

Wow, night and day. Especially that last woman. Great post.

brown rowergirl said...

Julianne gets my vote for most improved. If I cared about Jennifer Love, I probably would pick her, but I don't.

tellin' it like it is said...

Just come out and say it already, you think a size 2/4 is always better looking than a size 10/12. You've skated around this issue for too long and it's getting on my (gorgeously voluptuous) nerves.

Anonymous said...

Eh, other than Jennifer Love Hewitt, the rest look pretty much the same to me.

Johanna said...

tellin' it like it is-

I haven't meant to skate around anything, but if you'd like me to make a declarative statement as to what body type I find most beautiful, then fine - I will.

A woman with a small waist, breasts proportionate to her frame, visible muscle tone in her legs, defined shoulders and back with a flat stomach and discernible waist-to-hip contour has, in my opinion, the ideal female body.

Not Natalie Portman, not Kim Kardashian, not America Ferrera, but someone like...well, even though I can't stand her, someone like Jennifer Connelly.

there it is. that's the kind of body I aim for every time I hit the gym and pass on bread at Cosi.


bff in chicago said...

So essentially, you're saying YOU have your ideal body, yes?

couldn't help myself, sorry ;-)

I don't agree said...

If that is what Johanna' saying (and I tend to agree with you, bff), then she's the only one who thinks that. A woman with some meat on her is always more attractive in my book than a woman who looks like she could run 26.2 miles.

lila m. said...

I'm with "i don't agree" on this one. Give me Liv Tyler or Katherine Heigl over someone like Sheryl Crow any day of the week.

brown bride to be said...

the armit potatoes are the worst! I'm a size 2 with not a whole lot to speak of up top and I STILL get them!

Marley's whole look here is stunning.

tom h said...

Looking at the pics Johanna has posted of herself she has a great body and worked very hard to get it and works very hard to keep it so if her description of the ideal female body happens to fit her then what is wrong with that???? I bet some women would die for her figure.

Suz said...

A woman with a small waist, breasts proportionate to her frame, visible muscle tone in her legs, defined shoulders and back with a flat stomach and discernible waist-to-hip contour has, in my opinion, the ideal female body.

... someone like Jennifer Connelly.

Huh, I thought your ideal was Monica Bellucci.

Johanna said...


Ah-hah, I knew *someone* would bring this up!

You see, I have two ideals - one that describes what I want *my body* to look like (Jennifer Connelly's) and one that describes what I find most physically alluring in another woman, were I to swing both ways. Monica, Scarlett and Kim Kardashian fall into this latter category.


Teek said...

Jo - Do you figure you've settled on the aesthetic you want for your own body as what works with your own genetics? I mean, surgery can fix somethings, and excessive squats can fix others, but some things are just what we have to work with so you might as well make them the best they can be.

I'd definitely rather be a Monica than a Jennifer. Which is good, as my natural inclination is to eat the bread every damn time - used to be a 2, it's not worth it to me.

m street admirer said...

I can't wait to hear your answer to Teek's question, Jo...

Johanna said...


"some things are just what we have to work with"

Even though what you write here may be true, I've found that like anything else - learning a language, shaving time off a run, fostering good friendships - getting the body you want is largely reliant upon an investment/return relationship. If I take a week off from exercise or indulge at a few holiday parties, I know my body is going to rebel by not looking as toned and not fitting as nicely into my clothes as it usually does. With age, I'm sure the amount of effort I'll have to put forth to maintain my figure will increase, but you know, that's just the brakes.

You say you love bread too much to give it up to be a size 2, which is a perfectly reasonable value judgment. For me, though, I love *clothes* too much to eat that bread or to skip that workout, and by that I mean, I want a figure that on any given day can wear any given trend I happen to like. *That's* my goal.

I want the legs to be able to rock skinny jeans and a mini-dress; I want the arms to flatter a dress with fitted cap-sleeves; I want an upper-body that could go strapless, deep-V and backless; I want a midsection that looks great in a high-waisted skirt and a fitted sweater dress.

To some, giving up carbs, sugar and an exercise-free lifestyle is too much to ask. For me, giving up the chance to wear a look I love is too much to ask.

And, to be honest, I really do love running.


Anonymous said...


Johanna said...

anonymous 6:33-

Ah, thanks.


knew you as hannie said...

I wish I had your discipline, that's all I have to say (as I stuff another Hershey kiss into my hungry mouth!)

Anonymous said...

Not to be terribly rude, but I'd expect your figure to be more "ideal" with all the exercise and giving up of food you claim to do. Maybe if you added another few workouts and banned a few more foods you'd be somewhere close to Jennifer Connelly's level.

dara said...

So...back to the post at hand, I really can't believe how much better Jennifer Love Hewitt looks here. Could it be in part though because she looks a few pounds lighter?

Anonymous said...

What do you mean Sara doesn't have "a very defined upper body"? She looks AMAZING and has a very healthy body.

Maxie said...

Anonymous 8:43--

I think Sara looks great in the second picture, but that doesn't make her upper body "defined."

Someone doesn't have to be "defined" to look attractive, but it helps a lot in certain styles.

sarahsouth said...

that bread at cosi is freakin' amazing. i tried a cosi salad at the dulles airport on the way back to greensboro from SFO (having been inspired by your posts). please mail your reject bread my way, so i can at least become a monica look-alike while you become a JC.

(p.s. i should have called you on my layover because it ended up being SIX HOURS! we could've had a reunion!)

a guy's pov said...

I'm probably going to have my head bitten off for saying this, but...isn't a woman with a size 2/4 frame generally more attractive than a woman with a 10/12 frame? As a guy, I admit I don't really know what size is what size, but if Julianne Moore is a 4 and Sara Ramirez is a 12, then I'm confused why this is even an issue up for debate -- I'd take Julianne any day of the week.

glammy said...

Love the yellow gown with all the gold jewelery. It's such an exotic and beautiful look.

Candid Cool said...

natalie portman looks smashing here

size 6 said...

a guy's POV,
and i would choose a big bowl of pasta over you any day of the week.

georgia said...

Let Johanna's 4:34 PM comment be remembered in the future when people attack her for raggin' on the curvy women. SHE likes to have a certain body for clothes but she finds the curves of more endowed women when it comes to sensuality. This is why models are rail thin - for clothes and pin-ups and sirens (hello, Scarlett, the new Marilyn) have delicious curves.

So, choose which category you fit into and own it. Be a model or be a siren because in the end, both are smokin' hot. Happy Friday, everyone...even you I'm Not Impressed - Hope you have a lovely day. :P

georgia said...

I should finish my coffee before hitting post...what I meant was:

She (J) likes to have a certain body for clothes but she finds the curves of more endowed women attractive when it comes to sensuality.

sorry folks

tom h said...

Size 6 your comment was priceless.............

Teek said...

Jo - I'm glad you took my question in the spirit it was intended, curiosity, not rudeness. I admire your persistence.

I was both gawky looking at a 2/4 and extremely unhealthy. I find having to find clothes that work with the way I am, and are beautiful and stylish to boot, keeps me on my toes and forces me to interact with fashion and make it my own. Also, I'd be completely broke if I could really wear any trend I chose to without any modification. (And I look fab in skinny jeans, strapless tops, deep v's, etc.)

And, best comment ever to "size 6". I'm perfectly happy to only date the many men who'd rather have a woman with fabulous breasts who'll eat chicken wings and drink beer with them without feeling guilty. To each their own.