How small changes can have big impact on your overall silhouette!

by Sylvia

Creating a perfect silhouette for your body type -

One of the most popular topics during the recent style challenge was the lesson on silhouette.

Creating a pleasing silhouette that works with your horizontal and vertical body type is one of the most important things you can do to look good.

Here is another good example that illustrates this point.

When I saw this yellow skirt at Cos, I loved the color and A-line cut.

It just had one major issue. I found the skirt too short.

I remedied this by buying a size up and then let a tailor adjust some of the wider parts. The end result was a skirt at knee-length, which is my preferred length for skirts.

The only downside was that the skirt would rest on my hip. Considering that my vertical body type is long torso – short legs, this is not ideal for me, as it lengthens my torso even more.

You can easily correct this fact by combining the skirt with the right tops though. For this particular skirt, that means not tucking in the tops.

Although the outfit on the left with a white skirt tucked in is not bad per se, I would say that the outfit on the right creates a much nicer silhouette for me. The waist is much higher, which creates the illusion of longer legs and an overall taller and slimmer appearance. Even though I’m wearing a similar outfit (yellow skirt with white blouse) a small change can make all the difference.

Creating a nicer silhouette with a higher waist -

I paired the outfit with my brown Balenciaga bag on this occasion but a bag in pink, orange or red would have looked equally good.

colorful and textured Chie Mihara shoes |

The outfit gets its pizazz and an element of fun with my Chie Mihara shoes. I love wearing these shoes with an otherwise minimal outfit. They add both color AND texture! I bookmarked the shoes with a necklace in similar colors.

Have you been playing with silhouette lately? Which of your outfits would look better with a small change?


1 Rita A.

I actually think both blouses look great…just different styles. Nice you can mix up the skirt with different tops for different looks. Oh, and I just LOVE Chie Mihara shoes!! Every pair I see I love…the styles are so cute. I only own one pair, but if I still dressed up, I’d definitely invest in one or two more.

As far as sillouette, my main requirement for clothing has always been “nothing that clings”. One change I have been making is in my jeans/trousers. I’ve always subscribed to the advice that you should dress the widest part of you and if you are a pear-shaped (I’m pear or spoon, depending on what test I take), you should buy trousers and jeans that make a straight line from your hip to the floor. Well, I’ve discovered, with the help of a friend/personal shopper at Nordstrom, that it seems that wider-legged trousers only makes me look wider, and that tapered trousers/jeans seem to look better. I’m still getting used to the idea, but it is nice to be able to fit my jeans inside my boots for a change. 🙂

2 Sylvia

Great discovery Rita and good to read that you are playing with new silhouettes!

3 Lorraine

I see on the forum that you got some Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, Rita. Is the fit worth the money? I don’t usually pay much for jeans.

4 Rita A.

Hi Lorraine! I really like them. I have found it hard to buy comfortable, well-fitting jeans ever since “low-rise” became popular. I don’t usually fuss with a belt wearing jeans, and the low-rise just always slide down, requiring constant “hitching”. Plus, sitting down is quite drafty, as well as risking way too much exposure! Even the so-called mid-rise haven’t really fit me right. The NYD jeans have a little higher rise, but still sit below the natural waist, so they look modern, but are a bit mroe modest. They claim that they make you look a size or two smaller and you are supposed to buy one size smaller. I don’t go in for all that. I just buy what seems to fit nicely when I try them on, which is usually my regular size, and that’s worked for me. At 5′ 3 1/2″, the length that works best for me is petite, but I prefer the rise of the regular, so I buy the regular “ankle” length and they give me a nice fit in the torso, while being the right length. If they have them in the stores in your area, it’s worth it to try them on to see if you like them, for sure. Or, order a pair in your regular size and maybe a size smaller so you can compare.

5 Lorraine

Thanks! I always seem to be hoiking mine up and a belt is bulky under other clothes.
I was in Harrod’s yesterday (my spiritual home ha! ha!) so should have looked for them. From the time I spent in the store, I can confirm that cobalt blue, coral and an acid lemon colour seem to be ‘in’ colours this year.

6 Ann

Really good demonstration on how to lengthen your figure. I love the shoes, seriously love the shoes! Pumps do lengthen the leg. I never wore them before blogging, now I see that they do look great. Beautiful yellow skirt and jewelry.

blue hue wonderland

7 Sylvia

Thanks Ann. Yes, it’s a great example for shoes also. You can clearly see that the pumps elongate my legs more!

8 Sue @ A Colourful Canvas

Great example Sylvia. Like Ann, I am swooning on those shoes!

9 Sylvia

yes, they are a lot of fun! I hesitated when I was in the shop as I was not sure how much I would wear them. But they are a big success and always give me so much pleasure. You cannot help be feel happy when you wear these shoes!

10 Paula

I am in love with those shoes! and I wouldnt be able to tell about your long torso, etc., but I do like the belted version!
I always play with proportion–actually this week I did a short top and a long midi–which works pretty well. xoxo

11 Sylvia

Thanks Paula!

12 Suzanne

Those shoes are FANTASTIC!


13 Rita A.

Hi Suzanne! I have been a bit distracted from being online on the forum much these past few months, but it’s good to “see” you here oogling shoes, too! I hope you’re well and surviving the cold. It’s been one of the coldest winters in DC in a long time, so I’m sure it’s much worse for you. Take good care!


14 Suzanne

Hi Rita! The Suzanne you replied to is from Canada but this is Michigan Suzanne and I wanted to say hi to you. 🙂 I have missed you! Every time I see a pair of Sperry Topsiders I think of you! LOL! This year the Frat boys gave up deck shoes and wore Clark’s desert boots. I bought J navy suede. You would approve.
It is so cold here that it is life threatening. Since the middle of December it has been a struggle. The worst is the power outages caused by ice and high winds. I have lost a TV and my laptop! But those things are easily replaced. My son lost a fellow classmate in a car accident the day after Christmas. It was horrible. On Sunday we tried to meet up with our son in what should have been a one hour trip. We never made it. We had to give up and return home – 2&1/2 hours to get nowhere. It is so frustrating! This morning the regular temp is 10 below and the wind chill is between 25 and 35 below. UofM canceled classes for the first time in 36 years. The kids love it but it is scary that it is that cold. And our public schools will hold classes until July to make up for all of the days they have had to cancel due to weather. I can only imagine how difficult it is to get around in DC. It is crazy there under the best of conditions! You take care too.

15 Rita A.

Hi Michigan Suzanne!!! Oh noes…no more deck shoes??!!!! LOL!!! Well, it sounds like boots are a better option in your horrid weather. I’m so sorry about the loss of your son’s classmate. What a terrible tragedy on top of the bone-chilly cold and storms you’ve had. It is 13 degrees F here in DC today, but should rebound finally to above freezing on Friday. My in-laws in North Carolina are supposed to get record snow today or tomorrow. Records breaking everywhere! You’re right…it is nuts to get around DC. If someone spills a soda on the road people freak out and cars pile up. A couple of inches of snow and single digit temps send everyone into a tizzy. Be safe!!

16 Nicole Molders

I have done that too

17 Alice - Happiness at Mid Life

I think both outfits look great! Personally, I like the first outfit more…it’s something about the belt that I just love. The 2nd pair of shoes are just gorgeous!


18 Sylvia

Thanks Alice. Yes, I agree that the first outfit has its merits too, but in terms of flattering silhouette, the second one is better. I guess it proves that you don’t ALWAYS have to go for the best silhouette for an outfit to work. You can play with different silhouettes, perhaps break some ‘rules’ and make the outfits work anyway.

19 Mrs C

Maybe it is just me but I love both look. The first has that slouchy casual feel to it and the second is more tapered and elegant. I can surely see me wearing the first look 🙂

Mrs Jack Of All Trades
Dubai UAE

20 Melanie

I like the mod look of your first outfit and the summery vibe of the second, and of course those shoes. Great tips. I usually don’t shy away from clothes that are too big and rest on my hips, I like the swingy feel.

21 Sylvia

Yes, I’m the same. From a comfort point of view I like my skirts on my hips, which is why I decided to buy the skirt also. From a flattery point of view, waisted skirts are definitely better, but comfort often wins and I then I work around the silhouette issue….

22 Lorraine

It’s great to see an illustration of how the silhouette can change like this! Please do more on this topic! I like the yellow skirt and the shoes are sooooo cute!

23 Sylvia

I will Lorraine 🙂

24 Adele

Very helpful to see those examples side by side. I appreciate the extra guidance on silhouette as it was something quite new to me during the style challenge and I need a bit more practice. As Lorraine suggests above… More on this would be wonderful… Illustrations like today’s post help so much. Thanks Sylvia!

25 Lisa

I also am trying to work on my vertical silhouette, but with the opposite situation — short torso, long legs.

And like everyone else, I love the shoes!

26 Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

Great idea, buying for your skirt length. And the result is beautiful! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, xo.

27 denton

Yes the outfit on the right looks MUCH better! Altho the photog in me would have liked to see the two outfits in identical poses to better judge. But the bean counter in me wonders about the cost of tailoring, which somehow i suspect might be cheaper in Singapore than NYC. It’s always an issue when buying something you love (new, used, or vintage) that doesn’t quite fit right but you really want it!

28 Sylvia

It’s really not that expensive here, but of course it depends on how complicated the altering is. This was just a simple tuck at the seams which cost me about $10

29 Trina

Sylvia, what a prime example of what a simple change of blouse can do to an entire outfit. I much prefer the option with the white blouse untucked. And, those Chie Mihara shoes, WOW, how fun and vibrant are those.

30 Nanne

Hi Sylvia,

Great illustration, I totally get your point. I like the first outfit better, but that’s just my personal aestethic. I think the belted blouse would look smashing paired with a narrow skirt, though 🙂

31 Greetje Kamminga

Terrific example of proportions… Keep these examples coming please. This is what I need to learn.
Question: what would have happened if you would put a little brown belt around the right outfit?
Lovely Chie Mihara slingbacks by the way.

32 Sylvia

I would have preferred a light belt so as not to have a too big contrast but that would have still worked. See also the example with the black skirt that you love so much.

33 MyEmptyBag

good advice! In love with your shoes!!!


34 Suzanne

You know the 1/3 – 2/3s “rule” is one of the best lessons I have learned from 40+Style. As a small person dressing for my vertical body has proven to be more valuable than worrying about the horizontal body. By keeping my clothing in proportion I look longer and leaner. I saw an illustration of this – a body was divided into 1/3s. Top of head to waist was 1, waist to knees was 2, and knees to feet was 3. It was so simple but made it easy to see where to work with the length of clothing items. I agree with Lorraine – we need to see more on this topic!

35 Dawn Lucy

OMG! Those shoes … in love!!!! Great idea about buying a size up in the skirt. I like my skirts knee length as well so sometimes I’ll buy the tall size, though I’m only 5’7″!

36 Jan Graham-McMillen

Yes, been thinking a lot about it since your 40+ Challenge. (Thank you again for that!) Such an important element for a short woman like me, and I some times just ignore it out of stubbornness or exhaustion or lack of inspiration to correct it. But, I know more about it now and every little improvement helps.
You’re looking lovely, and frankly, I often like your before as much as your afters. In this case you look great to me in both iterations!

37 Petra

I prefer the first outfit Sylvia but I can certainly see that the second makes your legs look longer 🙂 I think silhouettes are very important and can make or break an outfit. Being bigger on top and slimmer legs/hips I tend to wear a larger more floppy top and tight skirt or leggings, especially in the hot weather; I like tops to be “flowy”. An empire dress looks good on me too and it’s the only time I will wear something more fitted around my bust 🙂

38 SusanH68

Love it! It is nice to see the detail of what goes into building a great outfit, since it’s not as easy as it looks.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: