A while ago, I ordered a cheap used copy of Jan Larkey’s Flatter Your Figure on a whim. Someone somewhere mentioned that it was helpful to her and I just loved the perfectly trashy 80s styling on the cover, so I decided to give it a try.

Flatter Your Figure book cover

It took me months (?) to get my boyfriend to help me with the exercises—not because he wasn’t willing to, he agreed right away, but because we just never got around to it. But today we finally tried out the fun curtain-rod-and-string “proportional tests” and I figured I’d note down our findings.

Overall, my figure seems to be pretty average and/or “balanced”, and the issues (she calls them “figure problems”, but I’m not sure that’s the best term if you’re trying to make people feel better about their bodies) we found mostly didn’t surprise us.

  • I was a little surprised about my shoulders. I was convinced that I had sloping shoulders and it turns out that I was wrong about that. I do have rounded shoulders, which I always somehow connected with sloping shoulders—though obviously they aren’t the same thing at all. My boyfriend and I don’t agree on whether the issue is major or minor (I think major, he thinks not quite)—but in any case my shoulders are definitely rounded.

  • I probably have thin arms, but it’s definitely a minor issue if it’s an issue at all.

  • No question about the major small bust. (I find that an amusing phrase, “major small bust”.)

  • I probably have a minor protruding derrière. (That’s one of my favourite euphemistic fitting terms, by the way, “derrière”.)

  • I definitely have a major swayback, which might be contributing to the “protruding derrière” look. Those two seem to have similar solutions anyway, so I’m not sure I need to know how much of the issue is the derrière and how much the swayback.

That seems to be it, really.

I thought that I had narrow shoulders, but they seem to be pretty balanced in relation to my hips, which surprised me. But then my hips aren’t really that wide, I just have a “derrière”—which doesn’t make the hips any wider even though it increases the “hip” measurement out of proportion to my other measurements.

My upper torso seems to be slightly longer than my lower torso, which is classed as “average”—so I seem to be neither short- nor long-waisted.

I don’t think that I’m going to follow Mrs. Larkey’s advice and “wear shoulder pads under everything” (thank you, 80s!)—but I do think that knowing what my “figure problems” are called might help me figure out the fit adjustments I need. I haven’t really studied the rest of the book yet, so there might be some helpful advice there about which silhouettes should/would flatter my figure. I will definitely look at those sections more closely as well—if only for the amusement of the lovely 80s styling tips.