Friday, November 22, 2013

Back to Basics: Creating Proportion

Today I want to talk about dressing for proportionality. As we mentioned when discussing body type, proportionality is pleasing to the eye, and it draws the eyes of the beholder to the face (because no one part is "sticking out" so to speak). The only problem with proportionality is... most of us aren't! What's a girl to do? Why, create the illusion of proportionality, of course! 

This is actually easier than it sounds. The first step is knowing your measurements and your body type. This info is power. You need to know where your volume naturally occurs in order to balance it out. For example, if you are a pear shape, your natural volume is in your lower body. To create the illusion of proportionality you want to minimize your lower body's appearance while creating artificial volume on top. If you are an apple shape, the opposite is true. If you are an hourglass or a box, you can also use these principles to maintain proportionality and create the illusion of a more feminine figure (by "creating" a waist). 

The second step, creating volume, can be done actually (such as in the fabric and construction of a garment) or merely visually. Consider these easy pointers:

Manipulate the placement of COLOR in your ensembles.

          - Light colors add artificial volume and draw the eye

          - Sheen adds volume

          - Dark colors de-emphasize or streamline (because they recede)

          - Monochromatic dressing streamlines

          - The eye is drawn to the point where contrasting colors meet. Avoid meeting contrasting colors 

            at your widest points.

Manipulate the placement of LINE in your ensembles

          - Horizontal lines (stripes, zippers, etc) can add artificial volume, but....
          - One strong horizontal line across the narrowest point of the waist can be flattering

          - A hemline draws attention, so think about where they fall. Unless you want legs to look wider, 

            avoid skirts that cut across the widest part of the calf or thigh (!) and long tops / jackets that hit the      widest part of the hips

          - Vertical and diagonal lines streamline

Manipulate the placement of PATTERN in your ensembles

          - Pattern adds artificial volume, especially high contrast patterns (i.e. black on white versus charcoal on light grey)

          - Solids (relative to pattern) streamline

Manipulate the placement of TEXTURE and STRUCTURE in your ensembles

          - Thicker naps can add artificial volume

          - Cowls and collars can add volume, so do pleats and some pockets - place accordingly!

Dress by Body Type
image created via

And now for a few examples. The first dress in this image would work well for a Pear body type because the bottom is sleek, while the top adds volume via the garment's structure, i.e. the draped fabric. Going monochromatic is also slimming in general.

The second dress would work well for an Apple body type, someone who carries their weight in their upper body. The garment's upper body is slim and sleek while providing enough bosom coverage, and the bottom uses structure (the pleats), pattern (contrasting lines), and color (the brightest line at the widest point) to create a sense of volume.

The third dress would work well for a Box body type, because the contrasting color and pattern placement create the illusion of curves, and most especially a defined waist.

And finally, the fourth dress would work well for an Hourglass figure. The contrasting belt draws in the fabric to accentuate the waist, and to create a focal point that highlights the silhouette's proportionality.


  1. Proportionality is a concept I'm still trying to get a grip on. This has helped. Thanks!

  2. Do you have a type-of-jeans-for-your-body-shape post? :) love these, Mary!


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