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The Wardrobe Architect Week 3: Exploring shapes


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The Wardrobe Architect is a popular series that ran in early 2014. It’s currently being expanded (with help and feedback from you) into a comprehensive toolkit. You can read all the posts here. If you want to give feedback and get first access when the toolkit is finished, enter your email:

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)
  • Length
  • Neckline
  • Waistline position
  • Sleeve length
  • Fullness

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!

{images: All street style images via Vanessa Jackman: 1, 2, 3, 4}

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 82


Hi Sarai,

I’m really looking forward to breaking this down. However, I can’t find the worksheet on today’s post – is there a new place to find it?


Sorry, it should be there now.


Oops, the worksheet attachment is from last week…


Nevermind, I got the correct worksheet now. Boy my computer is moving like a snail today!!


Your mentioning the bootcut jeans made me think about something I’ve been pondering about for a while now. I’ve often thought that when it comes to sewing, the consensus seems to be that whatever your body shape and size is, you look best when sewing and wearing clothes that fit you. On the other hand, now and then you get the advice that if you have wide hips, sew yourself a pair of bootcut jeans, not tight fitted ones (I often see such kind of advice in Burda magazines). The way I feel about this: what is this magical body shape that I’m supposed to aim at? I just want to be and look the way I am, a bit above average in one place and a bit below average in another. I don’t feel the need to decieve anyone about my looks. Or should I?


This is such a great point, Esta. Who says we all want to look the same?


The first issue is that the body shape descriptions are generalizations. For example, there are many different types of “triangle,” “rectangle,” etc. shapes. The next is that height, coloring, and hair make a big difference. Those descriptions are starting points.

Guides don’t usually say that clothes should fit, but that they should fit and FLATTER, which is a bit different. That means creating an illusion of a line by wearing clothes that draw attention to the parts we like and de-emphasizing the parts we don’t. That’s not deception. I once read a book on dressing for short women that suggested they wear four inch heels with very long pants. To me, that was deception, as well as idiocy.


BTW, I don’t like myself in jeans, so I don’t wear them. But bootcut styles are the best trouser cut for me. If you have a body shape that works best with a limited range of styles it’s best to find clothes within that range of shapes.

Most style guides are trying to create an illusion of an hourglass silhouette: two triangles whose apexes meet in the center (the waist). That may not be everyone’s ideal.


That’s funny! Bootcut jeans are my favorite because I do fill great in them and it actually makes me look the way I want to look. On the contrary, I am sick of the actual trend of “carot”/slim pants! I have one pair of peach slim pants because I needed a new pair and could not find the shape I like. They’re OK but I wish I could transform them ;-)
I like that I can see my waist. Straight dresses are very nice on some but not on me. That is why I bought the Peony pattern (this will be my first handmade dress). I like wearing my pair of vintage Blue velvet Dr Martens made in England cause they’re so comfy. But I also like a pair of nice and feminine boots with some heels (not the spiky types though, I like to feel the ground with my shoes and I have a 4 year-old to deal with as well) :-)


I came here to post basically the same thing as you. I love bootcut jeans. They hug my thighs just right, and give a nice small flare below the knee. I look horrible (well, I think I do) in skinny jeans, which have been all over the place the last few years.

Different body types indeed! ;)


I feel the same way about boot cut and skinny jeans. I have thick thighs which just look lumpy in skinny jeans, not to mention it’s difficult to get them on in the first place.

Emma Jayne

It’s all falling into place for me… I gave a number based on quick reaction, not too much thinking. Then I referred back to my Pinterest board from last week… everything I’d pinned matched my favorite shapes (but not necessarily my current pattern stash!).

This week I also discovered what a ‘jewel neckline’ was and that I’ve never worn a full circle skirt… do I get to sew one just so that I can decide how it makes me feel?!?!

Isaboe Renoir

You’re not alone in not knowing what a jewel neckline was; I myself will have to look up most of the terms used on this week’s worksheet; I’ve always had trouble with fashion terms even before sewing. (Learning to sew just seems to have made it worse!)

Personally I’d love to know what “sportswear” is and why it’s called that/ where does it come from (I know it has nothing to do with actual sports). In fact I’d love to know what any of those “style” terms mean; anyone know a good reference book with pictures?


Sportswear actually did originally have to do with sports (thinking back about 100+ years). The types of clothes we associate with sportswear today was what well-heeled people wore to do things like golf, tennis and yachting. Designers like Chanel started adapting these types of clothing for day wear.

Isaboe Renoir

Oh so you mean “sports” as in ladies’ can still lunch afterwards… I wonder what they would have thought of the clothing tennis stars and yachters wear today. I guess golf hasn’t changed much though… even I like freaking people out by wearing a skirt to the driving range!

Thanks for the info Jenny!


When I started thinking about my style I felt realy confuesed. I didn’t have a clue. But when I changed to starting thinking about witch clothes I have loved most in my life I did realize that I do have a style. I just like a lot of other things to and make them and I do love them but never wear them.

I think I should stop getting patterns and sew garments if they’re not in the shilouette I like to wear too.


Haha, I´m also collecting pattern most of the time and don´t dare to sew for real.
We have to start making our dream wardrobe come true!


Bootcuts are my favorite too–both because I’ve always felt that the flare balances my hips better than other cuts, and because I really do wear a lot of boots!

Just ran through the exercise, and wasn’t really surprised at all by my results, because I tend to gravitate towards my favorite lengths/necklines/etc in my sewing anyway. What amused me more than anything was the multiple things I didn’t like for musical reasons–I’m a classically-trained flutist by trade, and do teach and occasionally perform on a professional level, so my gut instinct for things like off-shoulder tops and high-waisted anything was disliking it because it makes it harder to hold my instrument and/or breathe effectively! (Which is probably also why I don’t own anything that fits either of those guidelines.)


Hi Sarai, thank you so much for taking the time and effort to create this series, I am finding it so helpful!

I have found the last 2 exercises difficult to do, but well worth it. After years of not knowing what my style is I have now discovered that I like classic and boho – is that wierd to like 2 different styles? Is there a way I can bring them both together to create a look that is truly me?

I am now looking forward to doing the shape worksheet, I think I will find it a lot easier as I have a fairly good idea of what shapes suit me. I am really enjoying how it is unfolding and I am discovering new things about myself each week!

Jennifer Lachman

I am happiest in a maxi dress even though I am literally 4′ 11″ tall. Long lengths are not supposed to flatter me, but I feel so uncomfortable in shorter dresses.


Jennifer, that’s funny – I am 4’10” and feel that maxi dresses drown me! I feel happiest in jeans and a nice top! It must goes to show that it can be more about how you feel yourself rather than specific ‘rules’!

Fiona M

I love wide leg jeans and trousers, but they are really very difficult to find. Boot cut is not too bad, but heavens, Id look a rare old mess in skinnies! I must have jeans with a ‘high rise’ too, I loathed that trend for low rise with a whale tail showing, horrors!
Shoulders and cleavage must be covered for me, for no reason other than I feel undressed if not. I like my skirts below the knee too. I’ve never been elegant in heels, so kitten heels is the best I can manage for glamour, but really I love boots of every sort, and ballerina flats.


Sounds quite familiar to me…. I ordered some jeans and they arrived today. I´ll keep the bootcut…. immediatly feeling comfy and well dressed, but I had a long thought about the straight ones. Finally I´m sending them back, because they don´t fit perfectly and my thights are looking way fuller than they are.

High-waisted trousers are the only ones to go! Luckily I found a brand that still sales high waist…. lately I had to buy my jeans in the man section, because all women jeans were low! Yiieeeks!


What is a mini length top?


I think that’s an error. We’re fixing it now.


Thank you so much for putting this together for us! I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what looks good on me. Now, I’ll know which things I can skip trying. Looking forward to learning what my style really is!

Louisa S.

This was a great exercise! It made me realize that I have some conflicting tastes in where I like waistlines to fall in my garments. I’m fairly short waisted, but I still like my skirts and dress pants to come close to my natural waist- however, I tend to gravitate towards dresses that don’t emphasize a waistline, and towards denim waistlines around or just above the hip (never low rise, horrors indeed!).

In ready to wear denim, I’ve always found boot cut jeans more flattering for my short waist/long leg vertical proportions, no matter what size my hips are. Skinny jeans are atrocious on me- I feel like a medieval jester in them. I adore cigarette pants on others, but I’ve never found any that work for me- perhaps it is time to get brave and take on a pants-fitting adventure!


I think every woman has had the experience, “I should look good in this shape, but I don’t.” For my petite frame, oversized is a silhouette all the textbooks, magazine, and blogs say I should stay away from because too much fabric will swallow me whole. But I love and feel great in an oversized maxi dress. The bigger the bottom sweep, the better! I could don a Free People number any day of the week. To church, to dinner, to work, or just hanging out at home.


Interesting excercise, I realise I immediately rule out design details I don’t feel comfortable with. My worksheet was full of 10’s and 0’s. Seems I either love something or I hate it!
I wear dresses more than anything else, I like to throw a dress on and forget about it for the rest of the day. I don’t want to be pulling at waistlines or necklines or hemlines, I want to feel comfortable and feminine. For me that tends to mean, semi fitted, not too low cut (but not high necked!), three quarter/long sleeves, knee length and A line or full skirted.
The worksheet confirmed what I already knew, which I find useful, thank you x


Thanks for this post, lots to think about. One question there are a number of shapes/garments that I really have not worn not because I don’t like them but I just haven’t sewn any of them. I see a number of muslins in my future to try out some of these shapes so I can decide will they work for me. For now I will put them as neutral or should I just leave them blank and fill in as I try out some of these shapes? I live in a small town in Alaska so going to a store to try on is not a good option (Freddies and Walmart are my only options).

Pants are one category I have definite opinions on. Love high waists and full leg pants. I have skinny legs and straight hips and no butt. Also my waist is just above my high hip so either I wear high waist/at waist or my pants feel as if they may fall down my hips are that straight.


Whatever you think will be best for you! Personally, I’d probably just leave them blank and try to keep them in mind for future experiments.


YMMV of course, but where there was a dress line that I hadn’t tried for myself, I based my decision on whether I liked it on other people. I often tend to look at other people’s style through a “would I wear that?” filter, so it didn’t feel weird to me to consider whether I would like wearing a skater dress even though I’ve never actually worn one!


I have two blue linen dresses that I love – one is the Laurel pattern, the other is a simple bodice with a scoop neck and a 1/2 circle skirt. For some reason whenever I wear both of these (although their shapes are quite different) I just feel powerful and feminine. One shows more leg, the other more upper chest.

I developed early so I’ve always been self-conscious about my chest. (A family member offered to pay for a breast reduction when I graduated with my master’s.) I’ve never felt comfortable in strapless dresses, although the closest I’ve come is the Hazel dress. Maybe I believe there’s something indecent about showing that much skin, even though I’m pretty liberal otherwise?

Interested, thought-provoking series! Thanks!


Apparently I hate all sleeve options. All of them. But will begrudgingly wear bracelet-length sleeves, or full length if I must. (Although I have one knit top with bishop sleeves that join a long wristband, and I love it.)

This explains a few things, particularly given my ongoing struggle with my enormous biceps + storebought shirts, but makes summer difficult!


I don’t understand what mini length is for the tops/ jackets/ cardigans bracket.

And what exactly IS outwear?



Please try downloading it again (see Eryn’s comment above).

Outerwear means coats, jackets, basically the stuff you put over your clothes to keep warm but take off once you’re indoors.


Thank you so much for these series. I think your project is really helpful for me. I hate to buy clothes than I never wear finally. So I’m trying to make all your exercices, it’s sometimes quite difficult but I really appreciate the reflexion at all on this subject “wardrobe”.
PS: I’m french so I apologize for my english mistakes


Yay, it’s thursday, which means another installment of the Wardrobe Architect. For the past week I’ve deliberately chosen outfits that match the core style I identified in last week’s excercise, and I love it!

This week will be quite easy, I think. The shapes I love most are slightly body-skimming boat-neck tops with 3/4 sleeves, slim straight leg jeans (but not skinny) and a-line skirts that go to the knee.

Does fabric fall into the category of shape? I noticed that I like shapes and fabrics that are crisp rather than flowing. A t-shirt in a medium to heavy cotton-jersey makes me feel far better than the same garment in a soft rayon-jersey.


This could be me! I love the plain, simple styles, so why do I keep buying patterns/clothes that aren’t like this?!

Good point about the fabric weight/thickness, I hadn’t thought of that until you mentioned it, but I do feel happier and more comfortable in a heavier weight fabric.


Just stumbled upon your blog and I think I love you. I lost 89 pounds this past year due to illness and now have no idea what fits and what looks right on me. I will be following closely and hope to make a new wardrobe to wear. Thank you for spending your time to help others.


Thank you so much for this series – I really enjoy reading and contemplating. You have such a wonderful perspective!


Well this week was WAAY easier than the last two- less introspection, more a straightforward numbers game!

I tried to do this one without thinking too much, so that it was more of a visceral response to the questions. I’ve tried to analyse what provoked the strongest responses.
The things I love? A natural waistline, for skirts & dresses, and full or straight/pencil skirts, the in-between fullness not so much; a V or sweetheart neckline and a three-quarter length sleeve.
The things I hate? Crop tops, maxis and anything strapless (I don’t trust anything strapless to stay up safely, with the twins to worry about).

I think what I found most interesting about this week’s exercise was how strongly I felt about some shapes/lines. I hadn’t realised that before.


Yay, week 3 is here!

My favourite garment shapes to wear are skinny jeans (although might not be the most flattering) or turn-up chino trousers, oversized cardigans and boatneck tops underneath, ideally if topped with a scarf. I LOVE skinnies, but since my legs are quite chunky I have avoided them; however, I found that they fit me way better than boyfriend jeans. I also love oversized jackets.

The exercise also made me realise that I really don’t like low waist pants – need to find a good skinny jean pattern that fits that bill!

Thank you again for all the preparation for this Sarai!


Really looking forward to this exercise. My sisters and I glumly joke about our disproportionately large upper arms. The Eastern European peasant stock we come from, I guess. It always made me hate this hideous cap sleeve trend. Actually, if the cap is small enough, the look is un-intuitively complimentary! But my personal suspicion is it’s a function of fast fashion – much like crop tops – manufacturers push a look the hardest that costs them the least in raw materials.

Glad to see a few others comment on the annoying aspects of the fashion and clothing industry. I have to admit, I try to wear what I look best in, as opposed to what makes me happiest to wear. I watch What Not to Wear quite a bit, and find it helpful to remind myself of what are pretty reasonable rules for how to dress in a complimentary and confident manner. But the rules are just guidelines – it doesn’t substitute for all of the hard personal work needed to figure out my personal style, particularly as I age, change body shape and weight, change jobs, etc.


I love this series because it is helping to reinforce most of the things I knew on some level to be true about my style, but had gotten into the habit of ignoring because I couldn’t find what I needed in RTW.

The older I get, the more attractive I feel in body-skimming clothes. I adore full and frilly blouses and skirts (not together,) but find that too much fabric makes my plus-sized body look huge. Slightly, not tightly, boot-leg pants flatter my long legs and help balance out my thick middle and big bust.


Thanks for organizing this Sarai!
I am finding the process very helpful in defining my style. I love the homework every few days! I really enjoyed thinking about the history of my style and why I am attracted to certain looks. I love to wear floral big skirted 50’s dresses and hats, though I have discovered I feel like I take on a more ‘prim and proper’ personality to match and I am not sure why or what to do about it. The clothes make me feel amazing when I am alone but it changes how I interact with others, not in a negative way, just different.


Ha! I feel the same about matchstick jeans! They make my large thighs look completely unbalanced and they highlight my hips instead of my hourglass waist. In fact, I think there are actually very few people flattered by this style, yet it’s the only thing you can buy. It doesn’t make any sense. Thanks for this series, it’s really thoughtful and pertinent!


It’s helpful to have the stuff I already knew in such a quantifiable form. I love fitted tops in almost any neckline and low-waisted longer skirts or pants. And I really love this project.


Sitting in front of my wardrobe with the worksheet and a pencil I realized that I’m a lazy dresser. Even if a sleeveless top in my opinion adds a bit more balance to my figure and even if I own several such tops I rarely wear them because I would have to spend a couple of minutes more to find the right accessory to conceal my really skinny, “let’s name the bones” décolleté. So I don’t do it and tend to choose a quick to wear, proven, reliable style which makes me feel safe. Lukewarm…..
….Wow… instead of being a strict wardrobe thing this starts to turn into a sort of a journey of self discovery for me. Somewhere, some shrink is actively losing money. Oops.


Ah, boatnecks. That’s the only neckline that got a 10. They are just the best, and not easy to find.

And I apparently like the midi length both for skirts and sleeves, middle ease, middle fullness, and mid-waist. But I like my pants looooong. (I have a 36″ inseam, so nice long pants are worth their weight in gold.)

This is a great exercise, as wardrobe building is one of those things I feel I need to do, but have never been able to figure out where to start! Thanks!


This is very interesting, because I realize I would be perfectly satisfied with a wardrobe comprised of only items I marked with a 10. Though I own and sew items in other shapes they really are superfluous.

Amy N

This exercise has lead me to a couple of uncomfortable realizations.

1) Being categorized as an “apple” by women’s magazines has made me view my body in a different light. Being an “apple” means that my bust, waist, and hip measurements are about the same. I never even noticed until I measured! I just thought I was skinny with big boobs and a small butt but this classification made me feel inferior and unfeminine. Who wants to look like an apple?

2) My fear of the male gaze dictates my wardrobe. I, like many women, was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. I’ve worked hard to heal, and rarely think of it on a conscious level, but it affects the way I present myself. I go to great lengths to avoid “negative” attention by wearing loose shirts, lots of layers, and little-to-no makeup. I’m in awe of women who walk around in sun dresses during the summer without a care in the world.

Mostly, I’m just tired of being afraid and pissed about all the time I’ve wasted.


Sending you a virtual hug, Amy.

alice stribling

Hugs from me as well Amy. I did a lot of hiding my curves when I was in my late teens and early 20s. Things can change, good luck to you.


This post makes very interesting thoughts go through my head. Having grown up in an extremely conservative setting, it has been very hard for me to find my own style. I swallowed all the hype about bootcut pants for a long time, until one day I realized I am not dressing for the masses, I am dressing for myself. And that is when my fashion doors swung wide open. Now I find myself wearing a lot of skirts, dresses, and leggings with shorter dresses. I like open lower cut tops, and love a loose layered look. I bought my first pair of skinny jeans a few months ago and am so surprised how much I love them.


I didn’t know what a jewel neckline was until I looked it up. I then realized it is one of my favorite types of necklines and find my closet full of them! I guess I didn’t really have a name for it prior to now.

I echo what Emma Jayne said about the worksheet matching up perfectly with her Pinterest board but not necessiarly her pattern collection. I have patterns that I have yet to do anything with because I bought them thinking it would be easy to make, or maybe it would look good on me when I eventually finish it, etc.

The patterns I’ve used multiple times have been ones that I’ve been excited about and can’t wait to make more or perfect the fit. And guess what? They match my Pinterest board and my worksheet on shape preference!


i blogged my answers. i never realised how obsessed i was with having the right waistline til recently. i think this is the main reason for learning to sew! I also love a boatneck like the commenters above!


this is actually pretty on point with what I’ve been doing lately. See, I love the look of big fluffy dresses, and sometimes they look good on me. But a lot of time I don’t feel that well in them…and lately I’ve been finding what I DO love is a simpler girlishness: short, slightly flared dresses and skirts that don’t POUF. A little layering to keep it interesting, cute patterns mixed with simple solids, all in all a much more streamlined figure that still doesn’t lie flat, but accentuates my curves and makes me feel o so girly and confident. So happy with how my wardrobe is going!


This series of posts has been great in taking some of the “impulsiveness” out of my sewing. There are things I like to sew and things I need. I think I am older than most of you but I still like to be at least slightly stylish even though I am retired. I don’t need the tailored professional wardrobe that I wore for decades but I still tend towards tailoring as it seems to fit my body shape best. My daughter used to call my wardrobe my “little man clothes” except for shoes! The most comfortable clothing is that which fits properly. Also we should invest our time and effort ( which is very valuable), as well as money, in garments that we need as well as want.


Thank you so much for ths series! Even after three weeks I already feel MUCH more focussed about my wardrobe wants/needs, and about my own personal style.

In fact, I went on a very successful shopping trip yesterday, based on the worksheets: I had a catalogue sent from a shop I like, and I went through it very conscientiously, asking if they fulfil my “key words”: sophisticated; well-kept; comfortable; elegant; good investment.

Only once I had circled what I really thought fulfilled that did I actually go to the store (with the catalogue!). I then inspected all the items for quality (two didn’t pass) and tried them on for fit and style (rejected several more).

In the end, I bought a charcoal-coloured ponte dress – my version of an LBD (which I was sorely in need of!); a chiffon blouse in my favourite colour; a leather blazer (my husband said “wow” when I modelled it!); and two long-line cardigans which are comfortable and keep with the long elegant lines that I like in my wardrobe.

That was, without a doubt, the most successful shopping trip I’ve had IN YEARS. Thanks so much!!!


P.S. I am aspiring to sew most of my wardrobe in due course, but for now I’m just a novice sewist, so I need some RTW staples to tide me over!

Stacey Stitch

Really great this week, even though I feel like I have some weird mental block over lengths of things. High waisted pin up shorts – yes… skirt – no. How does that even work?!


I found that I gravitate towards specific shape/ ease combinations (loose on top, tight and tailored bottom, or vice versa), but I always feel the hottest when my waist is defined. Of course, I’m not always going for hot :)

Here’s my post for the week. I also put together some illustrations to help visualize my neckline/ skirt style preferences — feel free to make use of them!


Thanks Jacqui those are really useful illustrations. I have to back now and alter a few ratings, I was a bit off with some of the necklines!

Btw I completely agree, I do so love a defined waistline :)

Isaboe Renoir

I want to post something, say something, not to be antagonistic but because among all the fine things already said on this blog I haven’t really found my own experience represented. I think too I am always hesitant to say this out loud because it is contrary to what I’m “supposed” to say aloud about myself. And this is not to say I see any of the other participants in the people I describe, but I do hope maybe more people feel the way one person did who I discuss towards the end of my post. I don’t know how others will take this but here goes (I wrote this during week 1):

So many of the other ladies are posting online about how they have such bad body image. I can’t really say I’ve ever felt that. Yes, I stuck out as a child (G-cup in Jr. high) and had fellow students tease me; my own mother seemed to have issues with my body compared to hers, and I have had the rare stranger who goes into a diatribe about how fat I am, I should be ashamed, etc. But in general I don’t feel I’ve had the same problems accepting my body as others seem to (accepting their own or mine for that matter). In fact I’ve felt I have the opposite problem, what I call the 5% problem; I seem to be one of the 5% of women that the other 95% love to hate.

Aside from the odd teenager and generally unhappy, miserable adults most people I have ever met have given me nothing but compliments, especially men. This I think is one of the reasons women like to hate me, but I’m not soliciting men’s comments or dressing in an overtly sexual way; I think it’s just that I wear nice clothes and am confident in my skin and clothing so people notice that. When a man and his wife pas by and he says “Oh, what a nice hat; sure is a good idea on such a sunny day” he wife will give me stink eye!

I’m not saying I’m model gorgeous and at 5’4” and 51-37-48 measurements I’ve had times I wanted to lose a little weight because I felt out of shape, but a brief stint during my early 20’s not liking my body is all I can really recall. (Brief being a couple of months not fitting into the same size clothes as other girls in my dorm for trading purposes, but then realizing I was wasting waaay too much time thinking about other people; I was always getting compliments while they were always miserable and trying to diet.)

Another example I got a lot in my 20’s was this: “It’s not fair, I’m the pretty one! I should have big boobs, long thick hair and green eyes! You’re so fat and ugly why did you get everything!” I kid you not, she told me that at work in front of customers no less! And I’ve heard this type of thing more than once. So these (granted few) women have attacked me for what I later realized was hatred of their own selves.

But I still feel these types of thoughts from other women, an even get some comments along the line of “Why the hell are you so happy? Why are you always so dressed up? Why aren’t you miserable about your body like me?” They may not say this out loud, but veiled as trying to get me to “body-snark” with them, to which I say no thanks – and get stink eye again!

Here’s something someone else told me which made me feel pretty good: she was actually glad that I “dressed up” all the time because it challenged her to think about how she dressed. Once when meeting my husband and me for dinner, her husband told her “ooh, I’m so glad we’re having dinner with them because then you wear dresses and skirts too! I like it when you get dressed up….” Granted it helped that her husband phrased it that way to her, and maybe if all he’d done was compliment me in front of her she may not have taken it so well, but she realized it wasn’t me who was the problem but herself for not dressing the way (it turned out) that she really wanted to.

This is not to say that everyone should dress with my same style, but that maybe we have gotten far too casual and I wonder if a lot of other women decline to “dress up” whatever their style just so they fit into social expectations of not trying to be “fancy” or out-do others.

As I said, most people are very complimentary of my style, especially older women – maybe because they remember dressing like this and appreciate that someone still does? And men – they like seeing a woman in a dress? Or maybe just taking the time to dress? (And I don’t think it’s sexual or sexist on their part, they just think I look nice.) Is it terrible of me to genuinely not understand why so many are so unhappy? I have always tried to have compassion for these women but sometimes they can hurt me too.


This isn’t antagonistic at all, I don’t think! You sound like you have a healthy, resilient mindset. And you raise a good point, because if more women loved themselves, there would surely be a lot less judgement directed at others as well.

Also, when I was young and dressed up with crazy crayola colored hair and wilder clothing, older women always were the first to compliment me! I believe some older women are wise enough to really appreciate a free spirit, and I hope to be that woman someday too.


This is the perfect project for me right now, since I’m too pregnant to make clothes. Going through the mental exercises has been really enlightening. I blogged about it if you want to see my mood board. :)


I realized a couple of things from the exercise.
1. I love wearing the cotton maxi dresses I bought in the late 90’s b/c they are comfortable, femine, and I can wear them in everyday situations.
2. For many things my numbers 5 and above fluctuate over time due to what is in style at the time but under 5, I’m just not going to ever like them.


I feel best in a semi-fitted top, v-neck/scoopneck, and a full skirt. This is because I have a large bust and proportionally small (though by the numbers large) waist, which I like to emphasize, but I have a bubble of a belly that I like to hide. I don’t hate it or anything, I just think tight clothes look weird on it.


I’m a bit behind on this project and have only just now got around to doing this exercise. It was a lot easier to do than the previous exercises!

I now realize I feel best in semi-fitted clothing, because while I like my small waist and want to wear fitted clothes I usually don’t feel free enough in them. Length of bottom-pieces are knee-length or above, or down to the floor. For my top-pieces I very much prefer things that accentuate my waist and fall between waist and hip.

This was very helpful for me to realize, so thank you!


Enjoying the series so far Sarai, it is touching on a lot of things I have been trying to sort out for myself for about a year now, so it’s mighty handy to have someone help me stretch out the ideas and thought process.
I have to say this week was simple for me as I have already made decisions about most of these the fit/length/style options. As soon as I had a clear idea of those which looked good on me and those which didn’t, my opshopping trips become so much more efficient and much easier for me to make decisions. Now, even if i love the print or fabric, I don’t even give a second glance at anything with spaghetti strap/no straps/3/4 sleeves/ boat neck…
maybe i’m very picky!

Sarah O

I found that I’ve definitely started to form a daily uniform with button down shirts or fitted tops, bootcut style jeans and pants, but I also like maxi skirts and skinny pant silhouettes, but have yet to incorporate them.

survey bypass

It’s actually very difficult in this full of ctivity life to listen news onn TV, sso I only use
the web for that purpose, and take thee newest news.

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