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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To Find Your Own Style (Part I)

I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little... [M]aybe that's the day she has a date with destiny[, a]nd it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.
It is undeniable that Coco Chanel was, is, and will continue to be a fashion icon.  I am especially inspired by this quote above, and I try to live by it.  It is always so easy to just put on any old thing on a lazy day or when we're just rushing out of the house, but who knows if you were supposed to meet that special someone on that day.  You probably wouldn't want to look like a slob in front of some hottie right? ^_^

With that said, what about those of us who can use some help in the style department?  Perhaps you're young, and you're just starting to figure out who you are and how you want to dress the part.  Or, perhaps you're another Madonna and you would like to reinvent yourself every few decades.  Whatever the case may be there's always a starting point. 

PART I:   Measure.

Take out a tape measure, and measure around your bust, waist, hips, and from your head down to your hips, your hips to your toes, and from your head to your toes (your total height).  People's measurements change all the time (I'm sure every child and female knows that.), so it is important to know your current measurements.  Take accurate measurements!  Don't suck in, and don't slouch.

A.   Determine Your Horizontal Body Type

To take your bust measurements, take the tape measure and loop it under your arms across your bust.  The tape measure should be covering your nipples.  To take your waist measurements, measure the smallest part of your body that is usually located a few inches above your belly button.  To take your hip measurements, measure around your where your butt is fullest.
  • Apple:  Your waist is bigger than your bust and hips, and you have little to no waist definition.  There is at least a 6 inch difference between your waist and bust/hip.
  • Pear:  Your bust is smaller than your waist and hips, and you have waist definition.  There is at least a 6 inch difference between your waist and hip.
  • Hourglass:  Your bust and waist are the same or similar in width, and you have waist definition.  There is at least a 6 inch difference in your bust/hip and waist, and less than 3 inch difference between your bust and hip.
  • Rectangle:  Your bust, waist, and hips are the same or similar in width, and you have little to no waist definition.  The difference between your bust, waist, and hip measurements should be less than 5 inches.
 A lot of people fall between these shapes, such as in the picture below:

So it is my personal opinion that you should look at tips for the shapes you think you are in between of, and depending on your personal style, decide which tips to follow and which ones that work best for you.

Apples should aim for V-neck or low necklines to draw attention to that fabulous bust line (if you have it, flaunt it!).  Wear loose or semi-fitted clothes that skims over your stomach.  Empire dresses are your best friend here, and pants with a high waist will hide any tummy trouble .  Wear earrings and/or necklaces that draw attention to your face.  Stick with monochromatic, solid colors.

Pears should wear skirts/dress and pants/jeans that are slightly flared.  Put on a belt to emphasize your waist, and earrings/necklaces to emphasize your face.  Wear medium to high necklines, such as a turtleneck.  Short sleeved tops also work for this body type.

Hourglass shapes should wear fitted to semi-fitted clothes that flaunts your curves.  Stick with monochromatic, solid colors.  Wear belts and dress that define your waistline.  A low neckline will also draw attention to your bust.  Flared pants will also work well for you.

Rectangle shapes should wear semi-fitted clothes.  If you have nice arms, aim for short sleeved or sleeveless tops.  You can wear prints, lace, bows, and frills to draw attention to any part of your body, such as your bust, with medium to high necklines.  Wear a belt to fake a waist.

B.   Determine Your Vertical Body Type

With the width measurements out of the way, let's move on to the length measurements, which I feel is often neglected in fashion magazines, or that it's clumped together with the width measurements.  That just doesn't make any sense.
  • Petite: less than 5 feet 4 inches in total height
  • Average: between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 8 inches
  • Tall: 5 feet 9 inches or more

It is my opinion that it matters less whether or not you're petite, average, or tall.  While most clothing stores will use your total height to determine how long your clothes should be, what really matters is what type of vertical body shape you have.

You have a balanced body if your upper body (from your hips up), or torso, is the same length as your lower body (from your hips down).  You can wear low rise, flared, or straight pants that hit you at the hips.  Since you have a balanced body, it will cut you at exactly the right place.  Wearing a single, solid color will make you appear taller than you seem.

You have short legs and a long torso if your measurements from the top of your head to your hips is greater than your hip to toe.  You want to make your legs appear longer, so wear heels.  If you're new to wearing heels start off with a kitten heel or 1-2 inches.  Tuck in your tops, or go for cropped tops or shorter jackets.  Wear straight line skirts and pants.

You have long legs and a short torso when your head to hip is less than your hip to toe.  You can wear longer tops or a deep V-neckline.  Cropped pants will shorten your legs and draw your eyes downward.  Low-rise and hipster pants will also work well.  Wear longer tops, and don't tuck your tops in.  Wear skinny belts.

C.   Putting It All Together

Some of this advice probably conflicts with one another.  What if you have an apple horizontal body type but a balanced body for your vertical body type?  I just told you to put on pants with a high waist for your horizontal body type advice but wear low rise pants for your vertical body type.  Remember that despite all this advice, wear what you feel most comfortable in, and what you think looks beautiful on you.  Each person is different (that's what makes us special), and to quote Chanel again:
 Fashion fades, only style remains the same.

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