Understanding and empowering the body you have is the key to finding clothes that fit and flatter. Using the power of illusion is the second. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a perfectly proportioned body, but David Blaine might be pretty impressed with the tricks in my closet and the principles are not as complicated: Emphasize your best features and de-emphasize the not-so-good ones are about as tricky as it gets. Here they are:
- Silhouette- the overall shape of the garment in relation to your own silhouette. Clothing should align with, not fight, your natural shape. Have great curves? Wear an A-line skirt. Have a wider waist or small hips? A pencil skirt might work better. To balance hips, wear cap-sleeve instead of a sleeveless top or balance the hips with a pant that is proportionate to the hip-width. See proportion…
- Proportion- the relation of the size and “scale” of the items to each other and on you. You might also call this balance… Avoid dividing your silhouette in half when dressing. Visualize yourself as thirds from shoulders to toes. This is either one-third on top and two-thirds on bottom (as in a shirt or pants) or two-thirds on top and one-third on bottom (as in a dress). Overall height does not indicate your proportions. For example; you may actually be “Petite” on top and have long legs (or inseam) even if you aren’t a “true” Petite. This can make it more of a challenge to find a dress that fits. Tops and blazers might be long in the sleeve… or you may have the opposite problem. Shop accordingly. Consider two-piece dresses (coordinating top and bottom). A great option for different sizes on top and bottom-
- Fit– wearing clothing that fits is possibly the easiest way to ruin a great outfit. Oversizing as a way to “camouflage” is a myth. The more volume your clothes have, the more you’ll appear to have. Squeezing into a size 6 when you’re a size 10 will only make you look as though you’re going to explode. Clothing label means little or nothing to sizing today. Try on several “sizes” and buy what fits best. If you really must, take the label out! Purchase quality apparel and buy it to fit it to the largest part of your body. Find a great tailor or seamstress and invest in tailoring those pieces to fit your body to perfection.
Make clothing work for you. If it doesn’t, it isn’t you. It’s just not the right clothing for you. Like the ideal hairstyle, accessories and color choices; consider how the details of your clothing best emphasis or mitigate the illusion you desire. For example, a fussy collar may not be the best choice to deemphasize a larger bust. Consider a jacket with no collar. Use color combinations and print size in strategic locations. Use accessories to balance the eye Clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer. Done wrong, well, we’ve all seen what that looks like.
With thanks to Tim Gunn.
By Tamara Lynas, Creative Director at THEO