In my recent review of the style evolution book, one of my ‘complaints’ was that the book concentrates a lot on dressing to flatter and it pretty much seems to be the focus of the book, rather than learning how to mix and match and have fun with fashion. But if I’m really honest, in most cases I actually do that myself. For example, even though I don’t have a big tummy I will never wear something that highlights it.
On one of my recent shopping trips I tried on a tight polkadot skirt. Combined with a polkadot top in a different colour, it was a great look from the front and back. But the sideways profile was abysmal. It showed my really flat bum, which is much lower than it should be and also highlighted my tummy. Not flattering at all, so I decided not to buy it.
But I HAVE bought an asymmetrical Calvin Klein dress in the sales recently, that has a strange silhouette and makes one of my hips appear large and out of proportion. As this dress is meant to do that and it’s a quirky design, I decided to buy it. (you all know how I love asymmetry!) I thought that the overall look was flattering enough and it didn’t highlight any of my ‘problem’ areas.
The reason I don’t buy clothes that highlight those parts of my body I’m least happiest with, is because it makes me feel too self conscious. I don’t feel I look my best and therefore I don’t feel my best. Overall, I’m very happy with my body and appearance, but I think all of us will have some parts of our bodies that, although (hopefully) we accept them, we would rather not highlight. It’s always better to emphasize your strengths, rather than drawing attention to parts that you are less happy with.
The same goes for creating a nice silhouette. As I explained before, I like to create a nice 1/3 – 2/3 silhouette, which keeps your body in proportion. It’s nice to create the illusion of longer legs shorter torso for example or to create the illusion of longer height.
This is also the reason why I find dressing for your body type so important and why I have written several articles on the subject(see my articles on the rectangle, pear, apple, invertered triangle and hourglass shape and dressing for your vertical body type). I also pay a lot of attention to it in my style course.
But I can also appreciate those that interpret the ‘rules’ loosely sometimes. It’s not ALWAYS necessery to have the perfect silhouette, but instead be a bit edgier with a different shape or style or just dress for fashion. Some even ignore the principle of dressing in a flattering way altogether (Tavi Gavinson mentioned that in a recent interview for example) and just dress for fashion and edginess.
But for the most part I personally will dress in a flattering way, which is also why I love drape dresses that drape over the tummy area and prefer to wear trousers that are less tight and touch the ground. Even though I love to wear asymmetry and different shapes, I will always aim to create a nice silhouette in the end.
I would love to know what your position is on this. Will you always dress to flatter your body and create a nice silhouette? Or is fashion, edginess and looking ‘different’ important to you too?
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flattering over form every time.:)
I used to buy things I loved and they would sit in the closer simply becuase they never sat quite right, or looked quite the right colour or…something!
Now, if it doesn’t look FABULOUS on first try on, I don’t buy it.
So, it’s looking at shoulders to ankles, and either the amount of clothes you see vs skin, “knee length dress, then it usually creates a nice 2/3 – 1/3 silhouette” . or clothes vs clothes, “if you have very long legs and you wear a short top tucked in, it may create a 1/4 – 3/4 silhouette” Is that more or less right? 🙂
Yes, you want to create a 2/3 – 1/3 ratio with your clothes. Of course this rule is not set in stone but it often leads to a very pleasing silhouette (it’s also used in photographs and referred to as the golden ratio).
Would you please be able to explain futher the 2/3 – 1/3 rule? I am not sure I understand what it means.
It’s about creating the nicest silhouette. For example if you wear a knee length dress, then it usually creates a nice 2/3 – 1/3 silhouette. If you have very long legs and you wear a short top tucked in, it may create a 1/4 – 3/4 silhouette which is not always flattering. If you wear trousers and the top you are wearing is just a long as the trousers part that you can still see, you create a 1/2 – 1/2 silhouette which breaks your body in 2 and is not flattering. I will write an article about this shortly, so stay tuned.
Interesting as always, Sylvia. I dress to flatter my body, much like you describe, but it hasn’t been a conscious thought process. More by instinct and how I feel in the outfit. I let the mirror do the talking and if I don’t feel confident, I don’t wear it.
Thanks Judith. Yes that is pretty much how I usually select clothes too…
I try to buy clothes that flatter me and that’s not easy to do because I have the hips of a hippo and a bust to match. I’ve actually stayed away from jeans for years now because I hat that they’re so low waisted and don’t look good on me. Fitted t-shirts on the other hand look good so I buy them all the time.
Great that you have found what works well for you. There are some jeans now that are higher waisted so you may want to try those out as well in a straight or boot cut…
Interesting post and question, Sylvia.
Nevertheless I guess my point of view is quite simplistic;-): Assuming that we are not talking about museal, artsy clothes, more meant as art then as wearable fashion, then why on earth would anyone choose for something not-flattering?!!! Ever….!!!
I think you can choose for comfy AND flattering, edgy AND flattering, casual AND flattering, haute couture AND…well, you catch my drift….
I am not saying that I always LOOK flattering, since I will paint my walls or work in my garden in whatever is practical, instead of flattering, but that does not mean that I will deliberately choose/buy something not-flattering. NO! 😉
Great reply Anja. I wonder what you will think of my red dress. And whether you find it flattering or not!
Sylvia your figure is beautiful and you always look in proportion. I on the other hand am a definite ‘pear’ shape and can’t seem to find the right shapes to suit me either in skirts or dresses.
Dresses and skirts make me look fat if they are knee length and longer skirts, mid way between the knee and ankle make me look like an old hippy. So I am stuck with trousers and normally try to balance out my wide hips with bootleg cuts. But I want to update my wardrobe so bought straight legged trousers recently.
I love longer skirts with boots but feel the unbroken width across my behind makes me look too wide.
Jackets are a great help though and give width to narrow shoulders for ‘pear’ shapes.
It sounds like you really know what you are doing when it comes to finding the best silhouette for you. Finding the right clothes to create a nice silhouette is definitely harder when you have a very defined pear or apple shape, but I also think it becomes even more important to do so. I’d love to see some pictures of how you dress. Perhaps you want to upload some in our style forum?
What a good idea. I’ll have a think about that and get back to you. It might take a bit of time and organising, so don’t expect anything soon 🙂
I totally agree with your point of view. I had never thought of the reason behind it, but yes, it is because I would feel too conscious. I don’t have too many problem areas but like nearly everybody there are some. And I want to create “a perfect picture in the style of the day” every day. Which means taking into account that I want to “hide” areas that spoil the perfect picture. Needless to say I fail sometimes.
Interesting thought Greetje of creating the perfect picture. I guess perfect would be too big a word for me, but I get what you mean. It’s like you say: I don’t want to spoil my creation by drawing attention to something I don’t want… Doing something with your clothes that is very unflattering can be very distracting.
ALWAYS dress to flatter my body. I get more confident (= the clothes become more beautiful) etc
Very clear Ulla-Marie! Thanks for your feedback.
Oh gosh, this is a hard one for me to answer. I’m really on the fence. Of course like you I try to hide my least favorite areas, or at least camouflage them,But I can’t always do that and wear the fun trendy stuff I want. It’s a balancing act I think. You can’t get too caught up in just flattering, on the other hand you don’t want to ignore it either.
Can’t wait to see your new dress!
Thanks for your input Heather. I will have to find a new occasion to wear my red dress. I wonder what you all will think!