Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wardrobe Essentials Series: Silhouettes

Before we move forward into building a wardrobe, let's talk shapes. Silhouettes are an important part of fashion and style. Knowing what shape fits your body helps you elevate your style. Every chic woman knows her most flattering silhouette and uses it to her advantage. There are 4 basic shapes in design: triangle, bell, slim and rectangle.


Triangle silhouettes fit narrow in one area and flare out towards the garment hemline. The Dior Trapeze line by St. Laurent is a famous example. The mermaid dress, possibly the most extreme looking example, is a combination of slim and triangle silhouettes. A line and full skirts create a triangle shape that focuses on the waist line as the most narrow part of the body. The ability to wear a line skirts at any waist line, natural or stylized, makes them flattering on anyone. In this picture, I moved the waist above my natural waistline to hide some leftover baby bumps.


The bell silhouette is often seen in costumes and wedding dresses. It is a garment full of empty space, such as dresses that require skirt hoops. The bubble skirt is a cute example. Leg of mutton sleeves also have a lot of fullness. When the wind blows, you can really see the empty space in this dress. The bell silhouette is a tricky one Everyone can wear this shape somewhere on their body, but for everyday dress, it can seem fussy or costumey: i.e. the Lolita/Dolly look. I enjoy wearing full skirts when I'm bored or need a change.


Kim Kardashians pre Kanye style is the slim silhouette: clothing that fits close to the body. Leggings are the only example I own of a slim silhouette. The 2 most common slim silhouettes are bodycon and pencil skirts. Anyone can wear a pencil skirt, it is so basic yet has so many interesting variations. I like the juxtaposition of a bodycon top and a full skirt, they balance without putting it all out there.

The final basic shape is the rectangle. The rectangle silhouette is the same width from top to bottom and is often pulled in somewhere in the middle. This dress is pulled in by an elastic waist. Another rectangle dress, the shift, is pulled in by darts and princess seams. Those stylized lines keep the rectangle from becoming boxy and unflattering. If you look at the top I wore with the leggings above, it is a rectangle without any style lines. That could become frumpy, but because I paired it with a slim shape, it works.

Sticking with a signature silhouette and knowing how to diversify the look will help you buy garments that fit well together. At one point, I found myself with a bunch of a line skirts and long flowing tops that didn't pair well at all. Most of the tops hemlines stopped at the widest part of my body, thus making me too self conscious to wear them with shorts or jeans, and they were too full to tuck into skirts. They also couldn't sit over the skirts because the skirts were too full, which resulted a fabric bunching and causing the garments to appear ill fitting. Building that wardrobe was a waste of money and time. Determining what you want to accentuate will help you see which basic signature silhouette you should focus on. Learning to celebrate and fit your body is the absolute best way to dress well. Don't attempt to hide or change it, find what you love about yourself and highlight it.

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