To adequately cover this topic, we will probably break it into a few more posts. Because, as many of you have noted, it is something we all have an overall awareness of, but the application can take a little more than looking in a mirror and squinting at our figures to see if the overall shape is desirable. So, this week’s post will cover the general topic of how to use clothing to get an overall correct proportion. In the following weeks, we will go into more details of how to work on the individual parts (such as bust, waist, hip, etc…) that make up this overall picture and discuss how and what to emphasize and/or minimize.

There are any number of variations you may use to make the overall mass of your figure seem proportionate. We will look at four basics and how they can be used to balance the whole: line, mass, texture, and color. This week we will focus on line.

Line – The most basic lines that break up sections of your body are created by the edges of clothing, color contrasting, texture, style lines and darts.

Let’s start with the vertical lines (up and down). If we use the golden mean or section we would want to break our body into 1/8th sections and then find 3/8ths of our body length.

If you start from the bottom of your foot and measure up 3/8ths of the body length, you should hit near the top of your knee, not usually more than 2” above the knee. This particular clothing edge is important since it is a typical break in our vertical line.

Upper East Side bright blue dress with pleated skirt by Shabby Apple – $72.00

Dresses, shorts, and the typical hem should not come far above it or we will have distorted figures.

If you take this same 3/8ths measurement and measure from your head down, you will find that it should hit right at your waist. This is another point to emphasize in your overall figure. You can use horizontal lines, clothing edges, color, or any other factor you want, to emphasize this point of the vertical line.

Especially when wearing pants or full-length dress, you want to be sure to make your waist an accent on your overall figure. The slight inward curvature of your waist also gives a nice variation to your overall figure, particularly since it falls within the golden section.

Meringue outfit (half and half Meringue tie top and high waisted linen sailor pants) by Ruche – $81.98

What if your figure is not vertically proportionate to match the golden mean? If your waist is too high or too low, here are some tricks you can use:

High Waist
If your waist is too high – you can use line to correct this in three simple ways

  • Use vertical lines starting from your shoulder and carrying down to the desired point. You can add more emphasis by putting these lines on a slight diagonal, starting out from your shoulders and moving in to your waist.

Shimmering Pin-Up Cardigan by Anthropologie – $88.00

Rain Pools Cardigan by Anthropologie – $88.00

  • Use a slight color or pattern break or shading at the desired point. So use monochromatic variations with the darker shades closer to the desired break. Be sure not to use bold or too contrasting of a color or it will break the upper and lower half up more, only emphasizing the problem.

Jaunty Jacket by Silk and More – $25.00

  • Use pin tucks, stylelines, and texture variations at and bellow this point to draw the eye down further.

Spanish Steps Cardigan by Anthropologie – $68.00

Present Paper Cardigan by Anthropologie – $98.00

Low Waist
If your waist is too low: basically apply the above principles but in the opposite direction. For example, use strong, long vertical lines by wearing a dress that flares at the bottom and has strong vertical lines moving to the correct point on the waist.

Double Ruffle Trench by Anthropologie – $168.00

This figure variation is also helped out with a belt or some sort of texture at or above the appropriate point.

Rippling Pond Jacket by Anthropologie – $148.00

Where does your waist fall?

Don’t miss the next installment of the Fashion Friday study of fashion for female proportion!  Subscribe to and/or become our Google Friend (sidebar).