And no we're not suggesting a Barbie body shape!
Clothes styling is a little like being a magician - creating the illusion of what you want people to see. The idea is to highlight your assets, the great parts of your body. Have people focus on these, simultaneously playing down or disguising the parts you'd rather they didn't notice. Colours, fabrics, styles and accessories can all be used to achieve a flattering look.
Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
MINIMISE the larger part of your body
- It's best to keep attention-grabbing clothing and accessories to a minimum in these areas. We want to draw the eye away from this area.
- Dark colours are slimming.
- If you're thinking about wearing darker colours on your top half, ensure you suit them. Check out your colours. If dark colours do not suit you, then add an accessory in a colour from your palette, e.g. a yellow scarf or jewellery.
- Dark colours in matt fabrics, i.e. no sheen or shine, are good.
- Fabrics that work particularly well are those that drape and skim over the body.
- Avoid clingy/figure-hugging or shiny fabrics.
- Also avoid heavily structured and textured fabrics because they don't mould to the body shape. These tend to stick out and make you look bigger than you really are.
- Also be careful with patterned fabrics, e.g. florals, checks, etc. - they generally attract attention because they're so fab!
- Go for plain styling, and styling that gives you shape. A straight dress or top for example, with no curves, might make you look big.
- Don't add bulk
- Avoid anything that adds volume or bulk like pleats, ruffles, gathers, flaps or pleated pockets, etc.
- If you have a large bottom, hips and/or thighs, wearing a skirt with a gathered or pleated waist adds a lot of unnecessary volume to this area.
- The same with a larger top half - if you wear a shirt with puffy sleeves and/or ruffles, etc, you're just adding more bulk.
- Stripes - vertical or diagonal stripes can create a narrower look. But it also depends on the style of the garment. Generally avoid horizontal stripes as they can make you look wider than you really are.
This outfit works well - the striped top is broken up with the diagonal mesh overlay that helps to disguise her bigger middle area and is teamed with flattering dark coloured trousers.
- If your bottom area is big, whatever you do don't wear big long tops to cover it - this can make you look bigger. Having said that, open-front long cardigans, vests and jackets can work well.
- Big bust - please don't wear shapeless tops that just hang from your bust-line, you'll appear bigger than you are.
BALANCE up a smaller area with a larger one
There are two parts to this:
- making your smaller area look a little more balanced with your other areas that may be larger; and
- drawing the eye to this smaller area because that's your asset.
The following will help create more impact on the smaller area/s:
- Wear lighter or brighter colours for the smaller area/s. Just make sure you suit the colour - you can always add an accessory or another item of clothing that does.
- Add detailing to your smaller area: accessories, ruffles, frills, gathers, pleats, ruching, etc.
- You can wear shiny and/or patterned fabrics.
- To add width to your shoulders - create some detailing or decoration on the shoulder e.g. epaulets, braiding. Wide-collared jackets or tops are good for this too.
- Layered clothing (including different colours, textures and patterns) can work well to help balance up the body shape, just so long as you don't add extra volume where you don't need it.
- Horizontal stripes can create width.
ACCENTUATE your waist
- Belts (and long scarves) are great for this. Just make sure the width of the belt is in proportion with your body scale. A narrow belt, for example, will work for smaller frames but will get lost on larger frames.
- Wide waistbands and belts are great if you're long-waisted - they help to lift the appearance of where your waist sits.
- Tailored jackets or tops that nip in at the waist are great for waist definition.
- If you've got straight or box-like shaped tops or dresses, have them taken in at the side-seams.
- If you've got a long or baggy top or t-shirt, tie a knot in one corner.
- Wear a different colour on your top from bottom, though be careful about tucking tops into trousers/skirts if you're short or long-waisted.
We hope that's given you some ideas. Next lesson we'll focus on specific areas of the body that you may wish to disguise or minimise, e.g. bloated tummy.
Go work your magic x
QUICK POLLWhich shape are you?
Images: Barbie - thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/tracheotomy_bob/6594382997/sizes/m/in/photostream/
OTHER LESSONS IN THE SERIES:
In case you missed the others:
Do you have any tips that you'd like to share with others?