This Haunts Me: The Empire Waist Dresses in "Bridgerton"
Please, any other silhouette, any at all.
Much has been written about Bridgerton, the dramatic period romance created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes.
The show is many things: It's aesthetically pleasing escapism, it's a gift for anglophiles, it's insanely hot, and...it features more Empire waist gowns than I've ever seen in my life.
Every. Single. Dress. featured on the show has the same cursed silhouette.
if you aren't familiar with the term, Wikipedia defines an Empire waist dress this way: "Empire silhouette, Empire line, Empire waist or just Empire is a style in clothing in which the dress has a fitted bodice ending just below the bust, giving a high-waisted appearance, and a gathered skirt which is long and loosely fitting but skims the body rather than being supported by voluminous petticoats."
While that description may sound harmless enough, at best, Empire waist dresses make you look like a young child on your way to your first communion, and at worst, you look like a haunted porcelain doll.
There is nothing good about a dress that is tight around your chest and then loose everywhere else. It not only hides your waist, it somehow seems to suggest that your waist is a secret.
This dress silhouette suggests that you have something wholly scandalous under your billowing skirts, like an unwanted pregnancy or a black hole that threatens to dissolve the time-space continuum or perhaps a whole bunch of candy you're trying to sneak into the movies.
Admittedly, Bridgerton is set in Regency London in the early 19th century, right when Empire line dresses were coming into fashion in England after originating in France in the court of emperor Napoleon. So while no one is criticizing the historical accuracy of the show's costuming (despite other historical inaccuracies, like the way the show suggests women were climaxing multiple times, moments after losing their virginities...), by the third episode I couldn't help but wish for—no, crave— any other dress silhouette.
The problem was heavily exacerbated by the fact that Phoebe Dynever, who plays protagonist Daphne Bridgerton, looks like an actual porcelain doll.
Dynever is a beautiful 25-year-old woman, and when you look at red carpet photos of the actress, her youthful face is offset by her feminine figure, making her look her age. But you put her in a dress that is essentially a bra with 4 feet of fabric hanging from it? You've got yourself a convincing 14-year-old. Given the many, many sex scenes involving Daphne Bridgerton, you can see how I would find this a little unsettling.
By the fifth episode I was begging for even just a whisper of the outline of a ribcage under a dress. I was so desperate I would have settled for a drop-waist if it meant I could go a full minute without seeing that dreaded bodice on screen.
I was certain that I couldn't be the only one having this existential crisis, but when I googled the matter, I was met with distressing news. According to Huffington Post, one fashion store reports that searches for Empire line dresses jumped 93% following Bridgerton's premiere on Christmas day. That means that fans were not only enduring the visual abomination of the endless Empire waist dresses Bridgerton offers, they were enjoying them and seeking to emulate them.
It was then that I realized I could not stay silent any longer.
Listen to me, heed my warning.
At best, empire waist dresses make you look like the ghost of a little girl who died during Queen Elizabeth's reign but now haunts the walls of your great aunt's decrepit mansion. No exceptions. This dress type does not look good on anyone.
Do not fall for the myth that it creates a lengthening effect. If you think you're pulling it off, you will still look like a decorative lamp or an old timey christmas caroler.
I get it, you want to be Daphne Bridgerton. But ask yourself: At what cost?