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Do you remember when bootcut jeans were all the rage several years back?
It was impossible to find jeans that were not bootcut. The magazines talked about how flattering this style was on ALL women, how it made you look slimmer and “balanced” your proportions. This, you may recall, was the new age of designer jeans.
I hated bootcut jeans. Let me amend that, I hated them on ME. I felt like they made my thighs look weirdly large (and being an apple shape, I don’t even think my thighs are very big). Whenever I tried them on at the urging of some fashion advice column or other, I was perplexed. Why didn’t I feel as good in them as I was apparently supposed to?
Your relationship with your body is a complex one. You can follow all the rules and advice you want, but in the end, it’s all about how you feel.
And that is the big question for today: how does the shape of your clothing change how you feel?
Beginning with shape
Last week, we talked about putting your core style into words and images and I shared my own explorations. This was really about establishing moods and themes that you are drawn to.
This week, we’re going to start breaking it down into nuts and bolts.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk about shape, proportions, color, textures, details, beauty, and style signatures. Today, we’ll start with the first in the series, shape.
What is shape?
When I say shape, I’m referring to the actual shape of the individual garments you wear. Designers often refer to these as style lines.
Imagine you are designing an outfit. You begin with an empty croquis (fashion figure) as your base. You then begin adding lines to represent the overall shape and fit of the garments before adding color, texture, or details. That’s where we’re starting.
Each piece you wear has a distinct shape, and figuring out which ones make you feel good will go a long way toward helping you make more practical and satisfying choices.
Here are some of the main elements that contribute to a garment’s shape:
- Ease (tight or loose)
- Waistline position
- Sleeve length
Let’s rate some shapes!
Of course, thinking about these elements in the abstract is not terribly helpful. Most of us like to wear loose things sometimes, fitted things at others. Or we like fitted tops, but not tight pants.
What’s more helpful is thinking about these elements in terms of real garments.
Do you feel great in tight sweaters and low necklines, but self-conscious in a mini skirt? Do you hate high heels or love them? Do you feel best when your arms or covered or do you like to show off your shoulders?
Today’s worksheet asks you to examine various garments in different shapes, and rate how happy you feel when you wear them.
Some things might make you feel fantastic, others might make you feel horribly self-conscious. If you feel bad in something, don’t wear it. If another item makes you feel great, it’s probably something you want to incorporate more of.
And there will inevitably be many types of garments that are in the middle. These are most likely your “it depends” shapes. Don’t rule these out! When in the right context, worn with the right other pieces, they could still make you feel happy.
Obviously, this list is not 100% complete, given the variety of garments in the world. But I hope that it touches on many of the major differences in shape and gets your gears turning about what shapes you actually love to wear.
Next week, we’ll dive a little deeper into this subject by combining shapes together into proportions. That is, we’ll think about ways of pairing shapes we like together to create silhouettes. These will become the building blocks for complete outfits later on.
- Download the worksheet. This week, instead of answering a lot of introspective questions, we’ll be rating the shapes of various garments according to how happy we feel while wearing them. This is really just an exercise to get you thinking for next week, when we work on putting garment types together into silhouettes.
What garment types do you feel happiest in and why? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!