Proportions and the Visually Saggy Bustline

One of the best ways to assess how a particular style may work for you is to see it on someone with similar proportions. My post today concerns the portion of your body from the top of your head to your waist.

Classic proportions are based upon the length, top to bottom, of your head. From the bottom of your head to your waist should measure two head-lengths for perfect classic proportions. If that length is shorter, you are “high-waisted” or “short-waisted”; if that length is longer, you are “long-waisted.”

The lovely model pictured in these photographs from the February 2013 issue of Lucky magazine is younger than my typical reader, to be sure, but she is a great example of a long-waisted figure. It appears that she is about two and one-half head lengths from the bottom of her chin to her waist. She looks great in printed pants with a scoop neck top and a jeans jacket, as she is tall and her entire frame is elongated. The long proportions of her legs balance her long-waisted figure.

But put the model in a strapless bustier, and she looks as though her breasts are sagging, much too low and close to her waist. Moreover, it appears the bustier is about to create a wardrobe malfunction of the most embarrassing kind. What further detracts from the look is that the bustier has a bit of a peplum which in this case extends the visual length of the model’s waist down even lower than it is. The look is thoroughly unflattering.

Here’s the same model wearing a garment designed with what is a high waist relative to her long-waisted figure, balancing out her proportions for an eye-pleasing effect. The multiple sheer layers of her ensemble provide horizontal lines that visually cut across the portions of her body that are proportionately long, making the entire ensemble harmonious.

If you are long-waisted, choose garments that do not visually lengthen your torso, and be mindful that a low-cut or strapless garment may make your bosom appear low on your body. Add interesting detail above your bustline to break up that proportionately long space. A statement necklace or double-wrapped scarf is a great accessory for you. It goes without saying that a good bra is essential. A saggy bustline is never a flattering look.

Over-Accessorization: The Making of a Look Memorable for the Wrong Reasons

In my last post, I assessed an ensemble that combines a number of the season’s trends flawlessly, resulting in a comfortable, chic look.

Sampling the latest trends is fun, and more than that, it shows the world that you are current with what’s fresh in fashion. Choosing shoes and a bag that are reasonably current, and always necessarily in impeccable condition, is a credit to your personal and professional image. Adding jewelry and other accessories to an ensemble requires a sense of discretion and restraint. Today’s post presents an example of a look of over-accessorization, where that sense of discretion is lacking.

From the September 2012 issue of Lucky, here is a lovely $1200 lace dress from Burberry London accented with “whimsical accessories” piled on with no rhyme or reason. The elaborate collar from a silk top peeks out from the vee neckline of the dress, a necklace with a huge pendant in the shape of grapes accenting the center. A belt accented with an animal head visually clashes with the cluster of grapes above. To confuse the eye even more, a pair of elaborate and colorful cuffs completes the ensemble. The eye doesn’t know where to look. There is no coherence to the ensemble. This is a case of accessories turning the potential for a lovely look into the sad look of a fashion victim.

A silk top with an interesting collar from Maison Murasaki might be spectacular on its own, but worn under the dress gives it a prissy look and seems to turn it into a form-fitting choir robe or judge’s robe. Moreover, it bulks up the figure under the dress. Wear this type of layered look judiciously.

All of the other accessories – the necklace from Thea Grant, the cuffs from R.J. Graziano worn singly or as a pair, and the belt from Burberry Prorsum, are lovely on their own, but they do not work together cohesively. The animal head belt in particular is too casual a motif to do credit to the lace dress.

As between the pendant necklace and the cuffs, the necklace is the better choice for several reasons. It draws the eye up to the face. It has fine detail that complements the elaborate lace of the dress. And it does not present the potential for snagging the dress that might occur wearing a bracelet crafted of elaborate metalwork.

I do not subscribe to the old saw that, once dressed,  you should remove one accessory before leaving the house. In this case, however, I recommend removing at least three out of four. Imagine how stunning the dress would look on its own, accented with an elegant pair of earrings.

Oh No! Seeing Red

I cringe when I read an article, such as that in the February 2012 issue of Redbook entitled “Why you’ll be happy to get scarlet fever,” which makes the following statement:

“Studies prove: Red looks good on everyone. (Okay, we made the studies up. But it’s true!) No matter what your skin tone, you’ll positively glow.”

Does red look good on everyone?  Absolutely not. As an image consultant, I assess the best shade of red for each of my clients. For many women, their best red is actually coral or pink or burgundy. If you’ve never warmed to bright red, you may instinctively sense that that bright hue does you no favors. Bright red may actually make you look tired and washed out.

Redbook adds: “Men see you in red and the reasoning part of their brain blinks out. All they can think is, She’s so SEXY. And hey, nobody’s ever written a song about a lady in orange. . .”

I’m not sure where Redbook is finding these men, but my honey and other guy friends tell me that they “cannot stand” bright red on a woman. There are no absolutes, especially when trying to figure out personal preferences. Don’t fall for the hype.