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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mature Fashion: Body Shape, Hour Glass

this blur isn't on me!..hasn't photography improved!!
Courtesy of FanPop
In the tradition of most writing, I have saved the most desirable and easiest to style of all the body types for last. It is also the least common type (It is said that less than 5% of females have an actual "hour glass" shape)  Each figure type, including the hour glass has it challenges.  The woman with this body type should carefully avoid "box like" garments that would conceal her shapely body, and possibly make her look heavier and more matronly than she desires.  She must consider carefully her choices of material and design lines in the garments and accessories she wears.  This body type (Marilyn Monroe, with her reported 36-24-36 measurements) is considered "sexy" by all, and unintended consequences can be attached to her styling choices.  Flimsy, flashy, and poorly designed styles may give the appearance of "cheap".  It is usually in her best interest to provide an instant impression reflecting  "expensive and elegant."  As one long time friend of mine with this body type once said to me, " if I am judged to be a 'hooker', because of my shape, I want to send the message that it would be expensive:" it will cost a thousand dollars a night!".  My friend was not ashamed of her body, but she truly understood the danger of her figure (and its advantages!!  Obviously, the same logic applied to her shoes and other accessories-cheap looking jewelry is never advised for anyone.

One additional challenge can occur with this body type that is often not addressed in much of the style literature.  It is often assumed that because a woman has the perfect proportions for her "horizontal" body type,(triangle, oval, etc.)  she can ignore her "vertical body"(upper and lower body lengths) .  I have mentioned before that each body type must be multiplied by two based on a long upper body or a long lower body.  If she has a short upper body, she will usually have minimal difficulties unless she has unique upper body features that of of concern.  If, however, she has a short lower body, she must consider the same design and styling options as for any of the other body types. (over time I will post a lot more about this-my lower body is shorter than my upper, so I try and master all the tips and tricks of master camouflage-these usually are only necessary for the shorter lower body).

Mature Fashion: Body Shape, Oval

We are going to spend a little more time and space on this body shape than on the others because there are more things to consider and greater styling challenges to face for this body type..

A woman with an oval shaped body is more likely to be body conscious than any other type and is more likely to not like her body very much. By definition, an oval body type has her largest vertical width right where she does not want it; at the mid-section.  The general guideline for this body type is to avoid belts or anything else that focuses on that area and to choose tops that are large enough to skim over the midriff and narrow at the hipline.  I point out this guideline  because it is a perfect example of adapting the guidelines to suit your personal body.  I have learned to wear belts very successfully, providing (1) the material is thick enough to drape attractively over the belt,(2) is thin enough to not add bulk to the waist (3) the belt is the proper width to match the styling lines of the garment.  I can almost always also wear a belt providing I have layered the ensemble  with a top that is open in the front and gives the illusion of a narrow midriff.

 Clothing details that draw the eye to your upper body and face or on your lower body below the hips is usually your most effective strategy. Within the oval body type who usually has somewhat heavy arms can be a buried "barrel" , shape.  If the arms are large but well tone, the oval shaped woman can bare her arms very successfully, offering a few more more styling possibilities.  The more common example, however, is the mature "apple" who has heavy and rather flabby arms. (I relate to this example very well-I am between a an inverted triangle who is almost a rectangle or an oval at the waist -depending upon my weight-or as I call myself, a "fat carrot".) 

Finding flattering clothing can be very challenging. Finding tops that fit my shoulders are all too often too tight around the midsection or upper arms.  Tops that fit the midsection are too large at the shoulder and can make  me look frumpy, especially because I have a short neck and short arms!. Fussy details around the neck can make me look too much like a clown, clingy or bulky materials of any sort emphasize the midsection. Unless we are able to find a suitable shift (no seams or darts in the front) one piece garments are very hard to find  because the waist will be too tight. Even if we do, the dress is likely to be sleeveless. In addition, unless we have long legs,(I don't) tunic designs make us look top heavy, and an empire waist designs too often make us look pregnant! ......As I said, "  challenging."........but we can do it!!

Drawing attention to the lower body or upper chest is often effective as I have demonstrated  A perfect fit in the shoulders and arms is a must, and frankly, you must kiss a lot of toads before you find the prince; been there, done that!!

Skirts that drape smoothly over the hips usually work well, but rarely a zip front.  Flat front pants are usually the most flattering, especially ones with a smooth, wide ELASTIC waist. Avoid zippers except side zippers, often the hardest to find.  Choose tops that come just to the area where the belly bulge appears and no longer.  Remember, every woman's body is a bit different; you need to identify the "sweet spot" for blouse length.  Hem the bottoms if necessary.  (after writing this, I find I have some altering to do, myself-I know a few of my tops should be shortened.)

If you are a mature woman who also sews, designing and altering your own garments is a blessing.!! For you, it is simply a matter of mastering the design elements and adapting the clothing to get your perfect fit.  If you can do this, you are one lucky woman!!  I have attempted sewing in the past to create my ideal garments and am in fact, sewing a skirt as we speak. (I created this blog in part to keep me on track with my own personal styling, and it is working!.... I found I had become much too complaisant about my own wardrobe.)

I have the shoulders and upper arms of an apple, the waistline, shoulders, and hip line of a rectangle, and the small legs of an inverted triangle; as I said before, a "fat carrot", and I dress accordingly. (one of the greatest advantages to me in writing these blogs is the ability to refine my own styling by viewing the many pictures I have produced.  I have viewed myself in the mirror over the years, but I find I can use the pictures to greater advantage for improvement and analysis-I have become more knowledgeable about my own styling techniques and the realization of what I have been doing-and can improve upon)

I love the fact that my design lines, color, proportions, textures, patterns, and balance have been used to make the most of my physical assets. I also love the fact that I can see future improvements (for instance, what about a black and silvery "bug" or witty pin right where my shoulder and neckline meet?-or the new neck ornament I just made for this coming fall? (pix on ) ?...or maybe not...I'll have to try it to find out.

So far we have addressed issues that deal with fashion styling and design. One of the frustrations for the oval shape is the health considerations that must be dealt with; not just for wearing the latest fashions; people with our  figure types are at far greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.  Basically, both fashion wise and health wise, it is "wise" for us to keep that "oval" as close to a rectangle as possible.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mature Fashion: Body Shape, Rectangle

The definition of the  "rectangle" body type is where the shoulders, hips, and waist are about the same. Although I am not technically a rectangle, the outfit I am wearing gives the illusion I might be. (the texture of the material of my pants and the busy pattern add bulk to my legs all the way to my ankles, and my waist is almost as thick as my hip width) so I have used it as an example) The picture below does show a truly rectangular figure.

If the dimensions are somewhat narrow, the only illusion you may wish to define is a more narrow waistline, giving the impression of an hour glass (the inverted triangle over a triangle, to speak in geometric terms).  It is, however, not necessary.  Unless you are very tall or very short, the straight up and down appearance gives the impression of a trim and balanced shape for a mature woman. Most sporty or "preppy" looks have a lot of rectangular silhouettes.  Unisex looks and boyfriend looks love this type of figure.  It is also marvelous for the more aged mature woman who often loses some of her youthful body mass.  The hour glass look is desired more by women who love the romantic and dramatic fashion styles. The rectangle almost always portrays a youthful vibe. 

Many dresses sold currently actually create an hour glass shape using color and lines to draw a curved shape narrowing the midriff and waist. The dress must leave enough room in that area so it skims the body. In the picture on your lower left (Thank you Butterick, I have taken the liberty to modify the sketch of pattern B5998 to show a model with a larger midriff and longer sleeves than in their original pattern sketch)

I am actively looking for a dress similar to the drawing for my own wear-(I may have to make it-hence the pattern) I would have to make it with longer sleeves because I wish to disguise my own upper arms as well as the midriff: Note: (that is why I have shown the sleeves longer; the shorter sleeves hem ends right at the point on my midriff where I am creating the curve.  I want the horizontal line to be drawn at the hip area, not the midriff.

Most rectangles look good in narrow pants and skinny jeans, depending upon the shape of ones legs.  Pockets on pants, especially ones that curve toward the waist give the illusion of a waistline; boxy pants usually give the illusion that one is hefty and should be avoided, unless one has very slim legs. Most rectangles want to avoid short tops whose hemline end right at the waist as it draws attention to a somewhat thick looking waist unless the woman is very thin.  As usually recommended, each woman needs to take stock of her assets and determine what body parts she wants to accentuate. 

A rectangle shape must avoid too much bulk unless you are very tall.  Generally, she also wants to avoid heavily textured or large patterns in her fabric choices.  The vision to keep in mind one wants is a trim "up and down" appearance; a longer rectangle, not that of a square.  A rectangle also needs to be wary of too much monochrome dressing or too many vertical stripes if she is very tall. She also does not want to look like a pencil. 

Mature Fashion:Body Shape, Inverted Triangle

These pictures demonstrate a figure that is a classic inverted triangle; a body shape where the shoulder width is wider than the width of the hips.  I have used these as demonstrations before on "rule breaking".  I know the pants do not flatter my lower body as much as pants that were not quite as form fitting, but for other reasons (household uniforms that offer comfort and a greater degree of safety in performing certain chores) I have chosen to do so. I also do not mind the shape or appearance of the narrow bottom and wider shoulders. You will see many pictures as demonstration because this is my body type.  I do not have women models who are willing to have their body types photographed.

In each of these pictures to the left I have demonstrated types of silhouettes and inside lines that balance this body shape.

A woman who has a larger shoulder width than the width of her hips is called an inverted triangle.  This person frequently wears a smaller size on a bottom garment than the size she will wear on the top.  It is considered by many stylists to be very desirable because it usually gives an appearance of power and strength.(if only I were TALLER!)  It also allows many design details to be attractively displayed on the lower half of the body.  This is the woman who can often wear bright colored pants with attention drawing buttons, zippers, pockets, etc.  She also usually looks great in wide legged pants if she has long enough legs.(I DO NOT) If she has short legs,(I DO), it is usually wise to use monochrome dressing in her footwear. (matching hem, hose, and shoes as much as possible).  Although I am technically an Inverted TriangIe, I call myself a "fat carrot" because I am thick around the waist; my waist is almost the same size as my hips and I frequently follow the guidelines of a rectangular figure. I am not alone in this figure difficulty because many women over 40 have a waist that has thickened significantly during our "golden years". Although the picture is not clear enough to display the belled hemline of narrow knife pleats.

I recently read a post by another blogger stylist who suggested balancing the width of the lower body to the shoulders by wearing either full or pleated skirts. I strongly disagree.  One would think that the goal to achieve ideal proportions, one would want to make hips look as wide as the shoulder area; this works only if one has a smaller and more defined waist.  If a woman has a thick rib cage and waist size that is nearly the same size as shoulders, the woman could succeed in looking wide all over; (I know, that is one of my figure challenges-The only reason balancing the hips with line works in this display is because of the wide stripes and where they fall on the garment on the left)  I would never wear a pleated skirt unless the pleats were sewn tightly to the hips, or as in the first picture with the black skirt, at the hemline.  I would rarely, if ever,  use a heavy texture or pattern at the waistline.

In general, note: I say in general, this body type would wish to minimize neckline, shoulder and upper body details and bring focus to the lower body or skip over the body top and focus on the face or hair. Usually, wearing narrow lapels on jackets, v shaped necklines are flattering because they draw the eye to the center of the body rather than the wide horizontal line of the shoulders. The same logic applies in reverse;  no puffed sleeves or details that broaden the shoulder.  Raglan sleeves usually flatter this body type as it gives the illusion of sloping shoulders if not too thick at the waistline.  Too much detail on top, especially if worn with high heels can make a woman look "top heavy", and give an illusion that she could "topple."

Remember, all of the above are guidelines only!!  You must look at your own unique body to see how the details all fit together and how they apply to YOU!!  There are dozens of differences within the body types that need to be considered before they can be applied to individuals bodies as concrete statements of fashion law.  Remember, that every body type has at least three variations in leg length alone (short legs, long legs, and average).  the guidelines for lengthening the body are the same as for all the body shapes.  At best, the above "rules" are generalities and must be measured against the realities of today and the freedom of individualized fashion choices. 

One example I can use on my own body (unfortunately, I no longer have the blazer, so I can't show it).  Usually, epaulets are never suggested for the wide shouldered gal. I have a wide shoulder AREA, the actual shoulder caps are unusually small (causing two rotator cuff surgeries!, thank you very much!).  This distortion makes my medium sized upper arm look larger than it should; I also have a rather thick short neck and a broad back.  When I extended my shoulder just a bit with the epaulettes,in the same color as the jacket, I had the illusion of the wider shoulder, but my upper arms, etc. looked much slimmer.  Of course, the correct shoulder pad works also.  Unfortunately, any blazer I purchase with shoulder pads must be altered because the pads are not positioned correctly for my shoulder caps.  My arm length is also an inch shorter than the median.  As I continuously state, every body is different and you must identify the "rules" that apply to you, and ignore those that do not.

Inverted triangles, especially tall ones, can really rock the fashion stage.  If you are this style shape, check to make sure you are taking advantage of your trendy fashion options! You can wear garments and usually look like a fashion model if you walk with tall and with authority!!

One other tip; quite often this woman may have "chicken legs".  She is the lucky woman who can wear a textured, patterned and/or white hosiery and not  look like she has heavy legs. (white, patterned tights on even well shaped legs all too often are not flattering to the wearer).  Once again, let your mirror be your guide.  I have posted a picture so you can see what I mean.(look at my legs in the neutral or plain dark hosiery above and then at the patterned hose at the left.)

Mature Fashion: Body Shape, Triangle

Styling for any woman begins with truly understanding her body in its entirety, and that usually BEGINS with recognizing her body type.  I emphasized "begins" because all too often much of the styling literature (or video) begin and end with body type being the only criteria as to what silhouettes and lines flatter her body. My crudely drawn picture will (I hope) demonstrate why more information is needed.

In order for a woman to be a "triangle," the shoulders must be more narrow than the width of the hip; it is only a matter of degree (literally, the degree of the angle) that will determine her personal "rules". Because the lower body may appear larger than the upper body, the entire shape may appear somewhat out of balance. The discrepancy in balance may be so little that she can follow the guidelines of an "hourglass", or so extreme she may need to spend a significant amount of time to
find the perfect silhouettes, lines, etc. in garments that will most flatter her particular body.  Often, these are women who need separates or custom designed garments to provide them with the desired effect. Notice the two pictures to your left; we have a slender rather tall long legged woman in the upper left hand corner. The woman to the left is much shorter, has a shorter neck, heavier upper arms, shorter and heavier legs, and a sharper degree of angle to the sides of her triangle. Even though these women have the same "body type" they could not successfully wear many of the same garments.   For purposes of illustration, I have made them about 40 years old and both of the bodies are relatively toned.  Should either factor be significantly different, there would be a larger difference in the most flattering choice of garments.  I cannot stress how important it is for every body to be treated individually; body types can  only, at best, be a generalization.

Using the accepted design principles to balance this body type, the gal in the upper left would treat her body shape as an "hourglass" body type.  The difference between hip and shoulder width is so slight it is insignificant based on her height and weight (the slender gal is six heads high, the heavier, about five high) Additionally, the slender woman has long legs.  

The woman below would want to accentuate the upper part of the body and draw less attention to the lower, unless she WANTS to emphasize the lower body. In general, most women would feel self conscious about their butt, thighs, or legs, (or all). Many women, especially those under 40.  are blessed with small waists; many do not have heavy arms. Today, JLO and Kim Kardashian (sp?) have made big butts almost desirable, but usually only when they are young,the waists are small, legs are long, and the body is toned. 

Just using the bare bones essentials we discussed in design elements you can see how a receding color (dull black, etc.) would fade from awareness the lower body, and the color of a simple white or bright top would draw attention to your upper body.  Let's further balance the figure by drawing attention to the shoulders of the blouse; arms, too if they are nicely shaped.  A novelty arm bracelet worn above the elbow would further draw attention and balance the upper body if the arms are toned and attractive.  If not, they would use illusion to pull of the eye to direct attention where you want it. If your upper body is slim, use color, pattern, details, jewelry, etc. to accentuate every part you like (not all at once, of course.)  If   If one has a smallish waistline, belts can be one of her best friends. As a stylist, a woman wants to plan these details with every outfit she wears. She also wants to make sure the garments in her wardrobe (each and every one of them!!) meets her standards or is rigidly layered to meet her personal guidelines.  This is accomplished by the use of color, inside lines, silhouettes, texture, and pattern. All styling is works of art; designing oneself takes a bit of practice, and at first, a little extra work. Once a woman really understands her body and what she wants to achieve, she can usually just look at the garment and know if it will suit her or not.

She may want to add interest to her face, hairstyle, attractive accessories to the upper body, etc.  She may consider wearing shoes that are in the same color as the hem of the bottom piece of clothing to keep the eye focused on the top.  Remember, every body is different from every other body, so each woman needs to decide what she wishes to accent.

One additional thing about all body types: Each body type is actually multiplied by two because each body type can be divided into three categories; women with long legs, women with average length,(top and bottom of body are equal)  or women with short legs. 

A woman with short legs has the greatest figure challenge for this body type.  She has the additional challenge of adding length to the lower body.  Wearing shoes of the same color as the bottom garment adds length to the bottom, especially if the shoes have a heel.  It is a generalization that at least one inch of heel is necessary if she has short legs.  She can also add length to the hemline of her skirt by use of matching hosiery or hosiery in receding colors, etc.  Again, each body is unique; trial and error in experimenting will get the right look.

One temptation that should be avoided; many women with larger hips make the mistake of wearing too long a jacket to cover her hips; she may also wear full skirts or bulky pants, believing the disguise of the lower body.  Usually, not true; slimmer pants and skirts are usually more flattering.  The challenge is to get the appropriate fit  for both hips and waist.  It usually requires alterations of the waist to get a good fit at the hips or thighs.  Jackets should rest on the curve of the buttocks, not the widest part, nor cover the hips.  (Of course, as always, each person has a unique figure, and I am sure there are some exceptions.)

Now of course, if you are JLO, or Kim, you might want to draw attention to a large lower body.  If so, use the same logic, only in reverse.  The key point is to use the design elements to focus on the points you want to emphasize.  For most triangles, that would be the upper body.  Draw all the attention you want to whatever part you want; use your mirror to see the effects.  Take pictures of yourself and see how different focal points improve or detract from your image.  Make the most of a lovely "pear" shape.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mature Fashion: Personal Style

If you have been reading my blogs, you already know I abhor blanket 'rules', especially those that obviously should not apply to a large population of women.  Having said that, I do believe in every aspiring stylinista creating for herself a flexibly constructed personal set of styling guidelines.  Guidelines, as opposed to rules, are generalities, and compatible  to (and with) fashion trends, whose "rules" change from year to year, and sometimes, season to season. Significant guidelines would be based on personal body types,(triangle, inverted triangle, oval, rectangle, hour-glass) preferred fashion preferences (dramatic, sophisticated, romantic, sporty, country, boho, etc.), and to a great extent the various roles in one's life.(career gal, retiree, at home Mom, etc.) Fortunately, by the time a woman reaches 40, she knows who she is and what her clothing needs and preferences are.  In other words, before a woman can create her 'rules', she must become totally familiar with herself and her unique fashion style. She must also take a personal inventory of self every few seasons to check her assumptions. 

Most women know what clothing they like when they see it on a model. However, although they often recognize garments that will flatter their body when they wear them, frequently they do not recognize why the certain garment is flattering (or is not).  A common problem is a misconception between a garment whose design is attractive on the hanger or model but whose design elements are not aligned with ones own body type. Another obstacle  is a garment which looks wonderful on her body, but is not in a flattering color for her skin tone.

In any event, all the evaluations mentioned above are determined by the stylist (YOU); not her best friend, her mother, or her "fashion advisor".  Frankly, opinions as to what looks "good" on a woman is strictly in the eye of the beholder. The woman who wears the garment is who must feel great about what she is wearing; if you feel great, are true to yourself in your choices, and let your mirror (or photographs) be your guide, you will get plenty of spontaneous reassurance from others (if you want or need that assurance). This is one of the reasons fashion has been following "street style", rather than the traditional market following the whims of designers.

When a woman really knows herself, the way she wants to present herself to the world, and the garments that work for her, make her look the way SHE wants to look, etc., she has developed her "personal style".  Now, she can develop her own personal set of rules for her wardrobe choices.  She need only update her fashion looks based on what fits her individual style, and not be afraid to experiment with new choices, designs, etc. to keep her look from becoming "dated".

Every outfit a woman wears should be a bit about the way a fashion adds to her own uniqueness and the personal message she chooses to deliver to the world.  If she already is experienced, or if she has just learned how to choose the right design elements to flatter the "me", she knows the right garment silhouettes that might work the best for her body type. She also knows the various roles she needs to play for her lifestyle and what she wants and needs to wear.  Now she becomes the costume designer and stylist for her personal  stage production.

The clothing and accessories and the way they are combined and worn define a woman's personal style.  It is how she expresses her own individuality and personality and to a great extent how she values the opinion of the world around her.  This is true for every woman on earth.

The way we dress sends a message on who we are, how we see ourselves, and how we want to be seen.  Each of my readers know the "Rock My Age motto: if you feel you look good, you will feel good, and be more confident about who you are.  I simply cannot stress this concept strongly enough, especially to the mature age group.  We are the ones who are most often affected by major life changes.

Today, virtually any woman can become her own talented stylist; once she knows what to look for and to avoid in clothing choices for  her body type, her challenge areas and her personally defined physical assets.  She can now choose the fashion styles that she prefers, and she can create perfect outfits that she will love to wear.  She can do this no matter her age, body type, physical attributes, and whatever her budget.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fashion Basics: Flattering Proportion

As I mentioned in the post identifying the five design elements, proportion is somewhat confusing to many women, and the one that is probably the most important to your pocket book.  It is also responsible for many of our styling triumphs or mistakes.  Simply put,  equal proportions are not desirable in a garment; in color or design elements. Uneven proportion; a long top with a short skirt, a short top with a long skirt, etc. are usually the most flattering on your body.  For those of you who were art students, you may remember that as long ago as Greek and Italian craftsmen ruled the art world, proportion was an element of pleasing design. The generally recognized balance of proportions for overall pleasure to the eye was a 3 to 5 ratio, or an easier ratio of one to two, which almost as well.  This art principle still holds true today, tomorrow, and forever more. 

What does this mean?  For those of you who are at least as old as I am, It was  "a rule" that your hat, gloves, shoes, and handbag all were the same color  You might have had a fur collar or other elements of the garment that were the same color as the accessories.  (Most of the time a woman looked like she had been immersed in a dye vat!-that was the "in" trend.)  Many times this look was also enhanced by the addition of eye shadow and nail polish n the same shade!! .. Fortunately, that "trend" passed.  (I must say, my own style does keep a bit of that coordination in mind; I like a bit of the "pulled together" look that some "matchy-matchy" brings to the table-and it is my style personality; although not at all in the current vogue, it is a flattering look for my figure type).

Another look that has always been in the fashion mainstream is the ensemble that is based on two colors such as a white blouse, a black skirt, white tights, and black shoes.  This too much 50-50% too balanced mix is even more pronounced if it is worn with a black hat. that composition (called "patrician" at one time) ALWAYS the proportions of a black skirt, and a white blouse will be enhanced with a black sweater and neutral or black tights and black shoes rather than a white sweater and white tights with the same skirt, blouse, and black shoes.  Too even a distribution of colors does not work as well as the ratio mentioned above. (You see the same effect in gardening when planting vegetation too evenly) 

The "golden mean" as the proportion ratio is called, has been  an artistic visual value since ancient times and is prevalent in all art forms.  (gleaned from six years of art classes as a young woman)  This rule holds true to color proportion, size proportion, etc.  Simply put, if you are wearing a long jacket, it usually looks better over a short skirt; if you are wearing a short jacket, it looks better over a long skirt., and a long skirt almost always looks better tucked in,  HOWEVER,( another one of the big howevers, )the color of your hose, if the same as the color of your skirt, extends the proportion, as does the color of a neck scarf,  your hair if worn around the face etc. to the top garment. 

Anyway, fashion should be a bit of fun, not just scientific arrangement, however, keeping proportion  close to the 1:2 two ratio (actually, 2:3) will make an outfit appear much more "effortless", and is almost always more pleasing to the eye.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fashion Basic: Flatter with Scale

Briefly speaking, scale simply means that if you wear anything that is appropriate to your body size (small, medium, large)-not body shape (triangle, rectangle, etc.)  you can affect an optical illusion of harmony between the size of the pattern and detail worn with your own body size. Inappropriate scale will appear "off" and negatively affect the overall combination.  There is actually a scientific definition in design of "comfortable" scale.  It is called "Phi" .  (For those of you who want to get mathematical on appropriate sizes  in relation to other objects, you can look up the principles-much too detailed for getting the gist of our context here!!) 

For the purpose of this post it is sufficient to say that the size of a pattern on a garment affects the overall "look" of your body; a large pattern on a small body frame is likely to overwhelm the woman wearing it.  A tiny repeating pattern on a large body frame will get lost and visually make the body appear larger.  A gigantic handbag on a petite small framed person is usually not one's best choice. This is also the principle for all accessories. (a gigantic scarf on a small frame, a handkerchief scarf on a large woman, etc. will not flatter the wearer)  Sometimes, you may choose to use large on small as a fashion statement, but unless styled properly, a woman could find "the clothes wearing her" rather than her "wearing the clothes".

In general, there are simply five body sizes; xsmall, small, medium, large, and extra large.  Today, the average woman is about 5'4" tall and weighs about 150-160 lbs. Based on the size of her wrist (6 inc or elbow breadth, this size of the bone in relation to one's height defines the body type (wrist size under 6" on a 5'2" woman is a small frame, wrist size that needs a 7" bracelet, is medium framed. If you need an 8" bracelet, you are probably large framed.  I don't have the measurements for what is considered xsmall or xlarge, but based on the above measurements, one could make a reasonable guess.  A woman can make her own judgement as to which category you believe you belong.

Basic suggestions for small bodies is to keep patterns small , color values about the same, and a dark background as opposed to light when wearing patterns.  The reverse is true is you are a big woman.  You can use these same principles to enhance or detract from individual body parts when wearing patterns.  In the picture above, you will note the white background of the print on the skirt gives both a monochromatic effect and with its small but widely placed print pattern projects width giving greater balance to my somewhat top heavy frame The loose fitting skirt adds to the effect.  (I have mentioned that my bottom size is smaller than my top.

Speaking of scale, when reviewing the picture of my styled ensemble, I did not like the scale of the white handbag.  It is too large for both my body frame, and too large for the scale of the print and accessories.  I substituted the dull gold and cream bag with the pink crystal decor.  You can't tell from the pictures but it is 2/3 of the size of the Fiore cream handbag..  Both the scale and the proportion are a better match for the ensemble. (proportion is the subject of the next post..)