Good morning, fellow curvy sewists! Today, I’m sharing our next post with you on sewing for Trinny and Susannah’s 12 body shapes, which focuses on the “Brick” body type.
Brick Shape: Identifying Features
According to Trinny and Susannah, the tag of a Brick is “I know I have a shape somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it.” (p.183) The Brick is also called a square or rectangle in other shape systems. Distinguishing features include broad shoulders and a general chunkiness throughout the whole body—no waist and thick thighs and calves.
Trinny and Susannah write that Bricks can have a hard time feeling feminine and sexy because of their “boyish flat butts,” lack of curves, and overall powerful muscularity (p.164).
Here, I’d like to include a criticism before I go on about the shape and suggestions. Trinny and Susannah have a limited view of women’s bodies. Most of their suggestions focus on creating or emphasizing a stereotypical feminine hourglass shape and featuring (or creating) breasts, and the default mode for many style options is sexy—tight fitting, revealing breasts, and emphasizing the backside. Let’s look at the Best Looks Casual and Party:
Both of these looks expose a fair amount of breast tissue, which is not comfortable for many women, regardless of shape or size. To paraphrase, “some Bricks (or any other women) may enjoy revealing a bit of bust because that may help them feel sexy, particularly if people treat them as less than sexy because of a lack of curves or for looking muscular and powerful” (and PLEASE! Can we stop demonizing muscularity and scaring women away from looking powerful? Why must our dominant cultural view of a female body be one that is sexy, slim, and toned without looking strong—which is a fine body type and many women have it—while treating strength and muscularity as unwomanly and masculine?) But Bricks also have breasts as part of their body shape. It isn’t hard to imagine that many Bricks developed young and were treated as their breasts as teen girls and young women. Some Bricks may be among those women who are tired of being seen as Breasts, so showing them off may not be the best way for these women to find balance and proportion for their bodies. Having got that off my chest, let’s go on with the style and pattern suggestions.
Style and Pattern Suggestions for Brick
Because the Brick is a square/ rectangular shape to begin, Trinny and Susannah advise Bricks against wearing anything that is boxy. Doing so just emphasizes the shape. The “Never Wear” items are: boxy jackets; double breasted coats; mini skirts (especially ones that stop mid-thigh); box pleats; trousers in stiff fabrics, and heavy solid wedge shoes. All of these styles create more bulk and squareness. For shoes, select heels that are sturdy with some shape and avoid anything wedge-like or platformed. Wedges and platforms have a blocky shape. Bricks need a sturdy shoe, but a shaped one to break up the rectangular visual.
Bricks and Apples have a different challenge from other shapes because they don’t have a waist to emphasize; they should create it. Bricks can reduce the brickiness of their shape by using open necklines, like deep Vs and scoops to feature the bustline. Jersey tops with gentle gathers and drapes at the bust or around a high waistline create a waist, skim the torso, and frame the bustline. Contrast fabrics or accents at the bust can create dimension and move the eye without using a waist seam.
They suggest using stripes of varying widths or with blocks with no stripes to create contrast. Check out the Best Look Casual above to note how the stripes create a waist. Using some of their ideas, here are a few patterns that could work for a Brick:
Lekala 4358 has the low neckline they suggest with gathers to create drape and a waist. A modesty panel is there for, well, modesty, but it can also effectively be used as a contrast piece to create more dimension. The inset could also be used as contrast or for decoration to frame the bustline and emphasize the seam, while the V creates an arrow to the face.
In a similar vein, the Muse Natalie has a V-neck, shaped inset, and diagonal seams. Those diagonals create linear eye movement, and the gathers help frame and accent the bust. All of these features work to reduce the squareness of the body, especially in the top version of this pattern.
Here are the suggestions they make for Bricks for tops:
Now I’m going to make 2 suggestions that may seem out there:
The Hot Patterns tank top has a generous scoop neck. The crossover pieces create dimension at the bust, and the ties can be used to draw in the waist. If you don’t like the ties on your front, lengthen to the back or set them where you’d like and sew into the seams.
Lekala 5768 has features the authors suggest to Bricks for balance and femininity. The V-neck with slight ruffle frames the bust and face and a contrast waist inset can visually create shape. I’d remove some of the ruffles, but that’s the way I roll.
Trinny and Susannah (hereinafter T&S, I am tired of writing their whole names) note that the hardest garment for Bricks to wear is a jacket because most are too stiff and square. For jackets, find one in a soft drapey fabric with a tie closure or a single button and open neckline. Think about long lapels.
I’ll be posting this Hot Pattern jacket again because it will work very well for any number of shapes, but I wanted to put it here because it could work well for a Brick as long as it sewn without too much ease. The soft long lapel, tie closure, and three-quarter sleeves (highly suggested for a Brick) are all attributes Bricks should look for in a jacket.
T&S suggest a “flop” in pants and avoiding anything with zips and buttons. They note a drapey jersey track style pant is best in a dark color and loose cut with full legs that drop as low as possible.
Best skirts styles include straight or A-lines with panels or interesting seams that create movement and flow at the bottom. Skirts should be at the bottom of the knee. When not, as the Best Look Party, use a bottom to cover the knee (that’s their suggestion. To me the pants sticking out looks like someone forget how long her Spanx are versus how short her dress is).
The dress they picked is almost dead-on as a match for the OOP McCall 6024 from Laura Ashley. The pattern only goes up to 20, but the Brick who knows how to adjust for her size could probably pick up a copy at any number of online sources (or default—it is still available from McCall as of September, 2015), if she likes this style. If you like a good vibrant print, this type of dress may be a good choice for it. The Brick is one of the few shapes T&S have put in full body print as a Best Look or Key Shape (the others are Hourglass, Cornet, Cello, Column). Looking at the list, all those shapes have broad shoulders and strong backs. Those Olympian proportions in the shoulders provide options for dramatic prints! Prints also keep eyes moving, breaking up the size and shape of the body.
If you can’t find this dress, it isn’t your style, or you don’t feel like figuring out how to fit it above the size range, look for dresses with open necklines and a high waist to hit at and draw in at the narrowest part of your torso. Playing with asymmetry and small frills can also help frame your neckline and breasts and create the impression of curves.
I’ll post more pattern suggestions in the section on patterns that work for many types. Many of the skirts and tops that will work for Bricks will also suit Skittles, Bells, Apples, Pears, and Cellos so stay tuned with your pincushions.
Inspiration Bricks: Dame Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, and Kim Cattrall.
T&S’s key advice for Bricks:
Let’s move on to the APPLE, the body shape T&S say has the hardest time developing self-confidence (p. 112).