MisconceptionsWe hold so many misconceptions about our own bodies that the image we have of it is sometimes highly unrealistic or, worse, terribly unflattering.
Not only we are bombarded constantly by completely false images (digitally altered) that are impossible to uphold, but there is a lot of attention paid to our (perceived) defects, and the remedies for it, which usually cost us a sizable part of our hard-earned money.
Most women start talking about their bodies pointing at what is wrong with them, and many magazine articles and books like to use those parts as the starting point of any talk about clothes. I don't think that helps.
Know your body typeWhat is always foremost in my mind is something I read in Kendall Farr's 'The Pocket Stylist', a decade ago now, because that it is the beginning of anything to do with individual style:
Your silhouette, the essential frame you are born with, is the beginning of any conversation you have with clothes. Our measurements change (...) but your frame remains the one constant in the equation.Why is this reasoning so important? I think it is the beginning of self acceptance: instead of defining ourselves by the part of our body that makes us feel worse in the changing room, we see ourselves as a whole, accept it and move on. A good understanding of one's body is not only key to feeling happy about oneself, but also to building the successful wardrobe (defined as one that is full of pieces that make you feel good, that help create tons of outfit and that doesn't imply tons of money or time invested in it) that goes with that happy person.
Just A, B, CWhen talking about body types I prefer to follow Kendall Farr's categories of A, B, and C, because I think her idea of our not being pieces of fruit or geometric figures is actually very refreshing. There are no connotations in letters.
- Body Type A. Her shoulders and torso are narrower than her hips. This body shape is usually called "pear" or "triangle".
- Body Type B. Her shoulders and torso are roughly the same width as her hips, and her waist is very clearly defined. This body shape is usually called "hourglass".
- Body Type C. Her shoulders are wider than her hips, with little definition at the waist. This body shape is usually called "apple" or "inverted triangle". They can have a medium or full bust or be slim and boyish.
The ideal and how to achieve itWhat should clothes ALWAYS achieve for ALL body types?
- Strike up a balance between upper body and lower body.
- Create a long unbroken line.
How to achieve it?
- Dress simply what you want to downplay or de-emphasize.
- Reserve embellishment, colour, pattern, and trendy items for what you want to highlight.
Body Type A
|If you're a Body Type A, your shoulders are narrower than your hips*.|
What defines Body Type A?Her shoulders and torso are narrower than her hips. Specifically, she has:
- A small to medium frame (slim torso and narrow rib cage), and small to medium bust.
- Narrow or sloped shoulders.
- A small waist.
- Fuller lower hips and bottom, and full legs.
The advantage Type As share is that they are very "feminine" in the traditional sense, and tons of skirts look great on them (trousers are more tricky, I'm afraid, but then they are for all but the slimmest, and Type Cs). They can also wear most of the bells and whistles of any season on their tops.
What's the ideal?To widen the appearance of her upper body, balancing it with her lower body.
How to achieve it?
- Choosing bottoms in solid colours(or subtle patterns that flatter her silhouette), creating a straight line or an A-line, made of fabrics that are fluid, not stiff.
- Wearing tops with details that make them visually interesting, and that create the widest posible line for her shoulders, either through cut or pattern.
Meet ValerieI have created a series of characters with their own individual styles to suit their lifestyles and best colours. For Type As such character is Valerie, and her style is Urban Tweed. She looks best in a Deep Autumn palette.
If her style is not for you, you can mix and match her best clothes with another character's style in my blog.
Body Type B
|If you are a Body Type B, your shoulders and torso are roughly the same width as your hips, and your waist is very clearly defined*.|
What defines Body Type B?
- The line of their shoulders is in balance with their hips.
- Good legs and bust.
- Defined waist.
What's the ideal?To make the waist the focal point and keep the body line long.
How to achieve it?
- Choosing monochromatic and tonal colour combinations.
- With silhouettes that highlight their waist, worn at knee length, among others.
- Going for soft fabrics with drape that skim over their curves.
- Avoiding hiding their natural contours.
Meet CarolineTo explain Body Type B's I have created a character: Caroline, whose style I have called Modern Classic, who is a Deep Winter.
Body Type C
What defines Body Type C?
- Average to broad shoulders.
- Slim legs.
- Almost no definition at the waist.
- Very often, a flat-tish bottom.
- Often, a short waist.
- Be thin and boyish, with what I mean that they do not have "curves" in the traditional sense, but rather "lines". They may even have problems to actually put on weight...
- Have a fuller middle with a medium bust.
- Have a very full bust, which visually contrasts with their narrow hips.
When Body Type Cs put on weight, it usually starts on their belly and torso. And then it seems it's the last place they lose it.
What's the ideal?To soften the shoulder line, balancing it with their lower body, and to create definition at their waist, elongating their middle.
How to achieve it?
- Choosing tops in solid colours. Pia is Petite, so she needs to create the longest posible line with monochromatic or tonal colour combinations. Jeanne is a tall type C, so she can break up ther silhouette with different colors, although she should use her darkest colours in her tops.
- Not accentuating the width of their shoulders, choosing certain necklines and sleeves, and avoiding wide lapels.
- Avoiding details on the bust completely in the case of Anne, but in Pia and Jeanne's, some could be used, like breast pockets or vertical pleating in light fabrics.
- Layering subtly, with fitted pieces. Anything oversized would accentuate their upper body in relation to their lower body.
- Avoiding using bulky materials on the bust, like chunky knits.
Meet Jeanne, Pia and Anne.I have created a series of characters with their own individual styles to suit their lifestyles and best colours.
- For thin and boyish Type Cs, the character I have created is Jeanne, who is a tall Type C and a Clear Spring. I have called her style On the Run, and Pia, who is a Petite Type C, and a Clear Winter. I have called her style Urban Woman.
- For type Cs with a fuller middle and medium bust, the character is Anne is an average height Type C, and a Warm Autumn. I have called her style Quirky Menswear.