How can we use our body shapes to learn how to dress?
by Guest Writer: Georgina Kenny
My goal and my suggestion for all my clients is to emphasize their face when getting dressed, and this rule applies no matter what your body shape is. Your face is your most important body part, and if we want people to relate to you, to who you really are, you need to call attention to your face, and not just to other specific body areas.
You might have different goals, and only you can decide which parts of your body you want to highlight. In general besides dressing to call attention to the face, we also strive to emphasize those body parts or characteristics that are assets and try to de-emphasize those that you might not be so "proud" of.
We also have a shared-visual idea of what an "ideal" body should look like, and in our society, that body for women, is usually, full busted, small waisted, with square shoulders, and a perky bottom. It is what our culture has accepted as the "ideal" body.
But we not only look at current magazines or films for reference as to what a women's "ideal" body should look like. We go back in time to great works of art and we take a look at sculptures, paintings and films and photographs of women from other times.
Yes, body ideals are not "permanent", ideals are very long "trends", and as we can see ideals change with time. The ideal woman used to be curvier in the 1950's, squarer in the 1980's, slimmer in the 90's and now we see more diversity and also a more "athletic" body as an ideal for both men and women. The famous six pack is selling more magazines now more than ever! By the way, I don't think women look good with an obvious six-pack, it's too masculine for my taste.
So if ideals are not written in stone, we can also help to change them. For example, I like to focus on values instead of on ideals. "Ideals" are mostly external, they are "dictated" by somebody else. Values can also change but they come from my own internal system. I am the one that sets them up, and they are usually rooted in my own sense of self. I value health, family, community, womanhood. And I strive to show that in the way I treat my body and the way I dress it. So because I value aesthetics, femininity and balance, I have learned a great deal about women's bodies, proportions and visual harmony.
But then again we should learn to come up with our own version of the "ideal" body shape, and the more similar it is to ours, the happier we will be! That is for sure!
These are a few tips and ideas for every body shape to achieve more balance visually:
- Hourglass: Emphasize the waistline, wear clothes that hug the body to show off its curves, but not too tightly.
- Triangle-Pear: Wear items such as jackets with details in the shoulders, such as shoulder pads or studs to help create balance with the bottom half, which is bigger.
- Inverted Triangle: highlight the bottom part of the body through the use of full skirts, pants with pockets to help match the broad top, and visually create balance.
- Rectangle: show off your great arms or legs, add belts to help visually create a waist. Wear pleaded pants and skirts. Avoid wide-leg or very loose trousers, these will create a boxy image rather than a curves.
- Round or Apple: Wear the same color on top and bottom. Emphasize bust line with use of square necklines. An use the empire cut on dresses and shirts to show off the smaller part of your torso, which is right under your bust-line.
Remember these are just a few tips to visually help create balance in your figure overall. The current ideal body should not be what dictates your clothing options. Knowing yourself and dressing for your own body shape is the best tool to feeling confident in your own skin!
About the Author of this post: This post was written and illustrated by Georgina Kenny. B.A. in Advertising and Image Consultant certified by the Fashion Institute of New York City, SUNY, New York City. Georgina is a contributor at New York Fashion Week and she writes for different online media about her favorite subjects: Women's Fashion and Style, Women's Body Image, Women's Emotional Health and Self-Esteem. If you would like to contact Georgina write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch.