Thursday, November 27, 2014

10 Biggest Body Shape Mistakes

Knowledge is power

Not knowing with 100% certainty what their horizontal body shape is.
Different stylists may have different categories and different names for them, but at the core of it, are five, hourglass, pear, apple, rectangle and busty.

The internet is a fabulous tool & you can work this out yourself.
If you pay a professional, they will not just tell you your shape, but how to dress for it and be at your side when you try pieces on, to demonstrate why something works (or doesn’t).

Vertical body shape is important too

Once you have worked out your horizontal body shape, it’s time to work out your vertical shape. Most stylists agree there are three options:

Long in body/short in legs
Short in body/long in legs
Balanced (similar body length to leg length)

The weakest link 

The measurements you use are crucial in working out your shape
You need to make sure you are measuring your bust, waist & hips correctly.

***Every second person I see measures their waist incorrectly.  

***Every fifth person I see is also getting at least one of the other two wrong.

You cannot measure your bust size if you are not wearing a supportive bra which represents what you would normally wear day to day. If you haven’t been fitted for a bra in the last two years, do it now.

Also check your tape measure back to a ruler every year or so.

Technical flattery isnt everything

Body shape analysis is about figuring out your shape & then dressing to flatter it. Typically, this involves balancing out your body. So if you are a pear, you try to use accessories, colours, trims & shapes to enhance your upper body & minimise your lower body. If you are a rectangle you emphasise upper & lower & minimise your waist area. I call this technical flattery.

A few hundred years ago, we would probably be trying to pad ourselves out. 

You need to decide how much you want to conform to technical flattery & how much you don't. Irrespective of the journey you decide to take, you have to know your starting point. That's called your body shape.   

It’s not a set & forget.

Horizontal body shapes vary over time.
Eg: Life changes like having a baby, surgery, changes in medication, weight loss will all cause those measurements to move around and your shape to change.

There is no best body shape

I see women skewing their measurements so they can be an hourglass.
I see women get depressed because they turn out not to be an hourglass.
I see young women wanting to be skinny rectangles.  

This is not a judgement process.

In fact, the hourglass shape is the easiest to get wrong because it is the easiest to unbalance, just by adding Balmain shoulder pads or palazzo pants. 

Trust me when I say that most people don’t care about your shape – they are too busy obsessing about their own.

And I certainly dont care whether you are an apple, a pear or a cream puff donut. In fact, I prefer donuts! 

It’s better to know your shape & dress it flatteringly than dress yourself like a shape which isnt yours. 

Look forward, not backward

I don’t care what your body shape was nor that you were an hourglass prom queen in your hey day. Assess who you are today and dress for it today. Forward counts, backwards confuses both you & me.

Size isn’t relevant

I don’t want nor need to know your size to dress you so you look amazing.

The only things I need to know are your colouring, your height, whether you are plus size and your body shape. Your actual size is irrelevant, but the ratio of your bust, waist & hips is vital.  Don’t waste time on what’s irrelevant.

The link between shape & size is that FIRST you identify shape, then you eliminate the styles that don’t suit that shape. THEN when you decide to pick some of what remains, you need to flip through each garment in that style to find your size.

Each body shape category is a range of numbers

Each body shape category is a range of numbers. Sometimes you will be close to the border of two categories.  

Firstly, no one will be right on the border because this is subjective & that fence line can never be precisely drawn, let alone identified. 

Secondly, I promise you that no one will be able to dress using the principles of both those categories AND look equally flattered. You will look better on one side of the fence than the other. Spend the time or the money to understand which one as this will make or break your look.

One tool in the toolkit

Style is about much more than understanding & dressing for your body shape. However if you get this wrong consistently, it’s unlikely that you will have personal style.  Body shape is one tool. 

You know the other tools - individuality, grooming, etiquette, hair, make up, skincare, accessories (these tend to work in with body shape), health, emotional, spiritual & mental well being etc. 

Go to it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Georgie Gardner - flattering a rectangle body shape

Please note that this post is not about the presenter Georgie nor about the brands of the clothes she wears.

It's about how to flatter (or not flatter) a particular body shape with the lines and details of your clothes. 

Georgie is the model, not the object of the post.  

Georgie's body shape

Georgie Gardner has a rectangular body shape. Some may argue she is an hourglass & certainly that would be my second choice - but I believe she has too thick a torso compared to the rest of her body to be a true hourglass. 

I also have a feeling she has a broad upper body which adds to a chunky upper half. 

She also has a large head compared to her body & that makes the body stand out as a stick like shape. Think more rectangle. 

This picture #1 is a good one to start off with. Notice how the ruching/draping, the print & the necklace virtually disappear into the background. 

Add to it that it's a soft fabric and all you see is the column shape of the body because there is nothing in the dress that can alter that shape to anything else. She may as well be in a shift dress.  


Next, take a dress with visible diagonal lines and an open neckline, #2. Both these aspects break the rectangle pattern & cause the eye to move side to side. 

Can you see the difference in how this flatters her better than the first photo?

There is no photo #3.

The next two photos #4 & #5, are standard for Georgie. Soft blouses tucked into a dark bottom. 

In this case the soft blouses have a cape like horizontal ruffle which breaks some of the rectangle shape. However it creates almost a top heavy look, without necessarily having big boobs. 

Her upper body walks into the room before she does. The lower body looks boring. It may look nice to alot of people but it's no where near as nice as it could be. The eye doesnt travel upward to her face until late in the piece. The eye travels everywhere else first. That's not a good look. Can you see that? 



The next photo #6 is much better. 
Notice how the top/skirt are the same as before (different colour) but the necklace on the decolletage brings the eye upward immediately? That's what SIA calls good dressing. 

The boring bottom half isnt the focus, nor is her rectangle shape. I repeat, this is good dressing.  


The next photo, #7, is similar to #6 but instead of a blouse, she is wearing a knit tee top & the necklace (or bring detail) sits much higher on the neckline. 

While the colour of #7 is better for her, the grabbiness of #7 shows up her rectangle shape and the breadth of the bling highlights her large head. 


This next photo, #8 is the one which prompted SIA to write this blog. Normally diagonal draping like that is supposed to take the emphasis away from up & down bodies. But this one may be too big (?) and it looks like a sack of potatoes. 

It also looks too heavy in the hemline (it drags the eye down) - let's take it up say 1-2 cm. But the other tragic part is the covered upper body - there is no definition of any curves; its just a straight up & down sack. 

The lesson here is that basic knits really just follow the body at best. Unless they are cut well, if you dont have a waist, a knit will expose that because it doesnt have the body to create a waist for you. In this case, the cut isnt good enough to create a waist for Georgie (& the size may be wrong too). 


Perhaps a solution is to take a woven dress which has its own shape? Witness #9. The break in the colour blue/black brings the eye upward, the indent at the waist gives her an hourglass.

The only crime here is the length. If you take that up by 5 cm, it will be gold. As it is, that large expanse of black swamps her bottom half.  


Have a look at #10
It's woven and has body - it retains its shape. But the black sections give her curves - a waist & hips and the white sections reduce the look of her broad upper body. 

In fact the upper body is broken up beautifully by this dress & the eye travels up to her face. This is what SIA calls good dressing. 

The only issue with this dress is the gold colour - it's not right for her but she is tanned (make up) & gorgeous, so it works. However in a better colour, it would work fantastically.  


The next two photos, #11 & #12, show Georgie with a broken up decolletage. it's a much better look for her rectangle shape than when she wears a high plain neckline. 



Finally, look at some photos where she ditches the high neck line & exposes decolletage. Can you see how that work better to create more harmony with her look? 


The next photo, #14 not only exposes decolletage but also exposes cleavage. SIA is not a fan of cleavage for her day job. 


The next photo #15 looks like the same brand as #14 and is a disaster. Not only is it showing cleavage it looks too small and it makes her torso look like a tree trunk. She almost looks like a lolita. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meet Maureen - Lunching at Macquarie Centre

Style into Action met Maureen at Sydney's Macquarie Centre on the day when the fashion wing was opened.

SIA was checking out Uniqlo and Maureen was waiting for a girlfriend, to have lunch. 

You can't help but notice a lady with her sense of style. 
I knew if I didnt tap her on the shoulder for a photo, I'd regret it. 

What works about this look?  

1. The top & pants are basics in a neutral shade of black - no bells & whistles. They are your foundations.

2. The hero piece is the animal scarf. Nothing competes with this. It provides the joie de vivre. 

3. The bag is Kate Spade - a really sharp tote whose cream stitching nods to the animal print. It's grown up yet youthful. It's in immaculate condition. 

4. Cute patent black flats with a bow. 

5. Fine jewellery (rings, earrings) which complete the look. 

5. A candy pink mani & hair which sits just so. 

Maureen's look is quite easy to replicate at any price. 

If you don't suit black or warm tones, you can tweak it to another dark neutral base and a cool toned scarf. Too easy!