Hello Everyone

Today we are going to talk about proportions.  “What is the ideal figure type?” was a question I asked Mary McFadden, the famous American designer, during an interview.

         “Having an ideal figure has nothing to do with being a size 8 or 16, but not paying attention to proportions causes the most trouble” was her answer.

          Now before you think of your figure and its proportions let me assure you that Ms. McFadden was not only referring to the body but also to the clothes we choose.  Because – and fortunately so – clothes can help us correct any figure flaw and create the illusion of a perfect silhouette. However, you have to be aware of how important the right proportions are and how they work. Furthermore, you must know your body well. But don’t get too critical with yourself. Remember ‘It is not what you have but what you do with it that counts.’

          Using clothes to give your figure a well proportioned image is not as difficult as you might think. It is a question of balance, a visual exercise. Look at yourself. Are your hips broader than your shoulders? If they are you must select a garment that makes the shoulders look equally broad, namely a style with shoulder pads. And if you wish to make your hips look smaller, choose slightly extended shoulders.

         Shoulders are really the most influential part of our body. They can be compared with a coat hanger. How well the garment hangs on them is how good you will look. Here are some tips how to compensate for:


– shirts with set in sleeves, with the seam extending 1/2″ beyond the natural shoulder line

– padded shoulders

– puff sleeves

– cap sleeves


– Raglan sleeves

– drop shoulders

– dolmen sleeves

– halter tops

– straples gowns and tops

         Being short-or-long waisted is another problem many women struggle with –  for those women my advice is:


 – don’t wear WIDE belts, they make the top part of your body look shorter

– don’t cinch a belt into your waist, wear it loose, letting it hang slightly below the waist

– don’t pull your blouse or sweater tightly into your skirt or pants. Instead pull it our, blouson style – it will let your torso appear longer.


– use wide belts to reduce the length of the torso

– when wearing a belt with a skirt or pants match it in colour to the bottom (black pants, black belt)

– stay away from low-rise pants or skirts. A high-rise pair of trousers, or anything with a high waist will make the torso look shorter.

 Other suggestions that will let a full figure appear well-balanced and in proportion are:

– don’t have your hair cut too short. It makes your head look smaller and your body appears larger. If you want your hair short, compensate with a style that has volume on the top or lots of curls.

– don’t be too size conscious. Wear a 14 skirt and a l6 jacket if that is what look best.

– don’t wear too voluminous garments – like a lot of pleats. A garment that just grazes your body is more slimming.

– don’t wear tapered, narrow pants if you don’t want to emphasize your hips. Stay with a straight leg cut.

– check the length of your skirts. Is it in proportion with your legs and upper body? (A skirt that does not show enough leg gives the impression of the person standing in a hole). Exception, floor length skirts. But otherwise, if the length is wrong it can make you look shorter and heavier. For a full figure the most becoming length is 1″ to 2″ below the knee.

Short necks can also be the cause of an unbalanced look. The most becoming necklines are open shirts or v-necks. No mandarin collars, or close to the neck round necklines. By the way do you know how to determine if you have a long or short neck? Pin your hair up, away from your ears. Now feel the bone behind your earlobe and place a tape measure there. Stretching it down alongside your throat until it touches your clavicle. If it measures less than 5″ you have a short neck. Up to 6 1/2″ is medium, and up to 8″ is a long neck.

          You might wonder why designers and manufacturers don’t give us clothes that have perfect proportions. Well, they do. But as we are not all the same – having different shapes and figures – we need to use our own judgement and decide what is best for us.

         Learning about YOUR proportions is not impossible. Actually it is rather easy. Start by following these tips. Soon your eye will be trained. You will see when one part of your body does not balance another. You will be able to correct this by choosing clothes that give you the shape you want – and don’t forget that your overall image has nothing to do with what size you are, but how well you balance your proportions.

Until the next time





– remember for a FREE Consultation contact me at bbnnic@gmail.com



Author: Brigitte Nioche

Author of Getting Over Growing Older Other titles - Dress to Impress, The Sensual Dresser, What Turns Men On.


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