Jan 10, 2017

Create Your Own Style Series - Principle No. 2 - Waistline for Women, Shoulders for Men

20 Ways to Create Your Own Style Series No.2

Principle No. 2 - Waistline for Women, Shoulders for Men

In this column, we will look at visual methods to enhance your silhouette. The silhouette is an ever changing and capricious style element, often seen in the changes in the skirt hemlines! But in actuality, there is a general guideline that works for everyone that will enhance your silhouette, depending on your gender.

Let's examine the women's silhouette first. For her, the most critical line in the entire body is the curves in the waist. Chanel may have succeeded in creating a modern suit for women in her boxy ensembles, but in most cases, enhancing and taking advantage of your feminine curves in the waist even if it is a subtle one benefits a woman's figure. Playing with this principle will help you decide the appropriate outfit for the roles you play. For instance, if you are going out on a special date night or meeting your in-laws fort he first time, you may opt for a dress or skirt suit with a distinct but controlled waistline. On the other hand, if you need a sharper look with a bit of toughness for your career advancement, you will want to forgo the exaggerated Coca-Cola bottle silhouette... How much you emphasize your waistline creates different impressions and attracts different types of attention as a woman.

As women get older, different parts of the body begin to soften and add weight. Of course, there are a few perfectly fit and trim women, but for most of us, our bodies are not how they looked in our 20s! So for most of us, the easiest visual trick in the bag to look svelte or more svelte without exercising so much is to purchase clothes that maximize our waistline! Jackets are a key player for us women, post 30s! So unless you are petite or very fit, lose those boxy unwaisted jackets. Then, take time to study your figure intently. Stand now, in front of your full length mirror. Then trace your figure noting the ins and outs, the slopes and transitions. How much of a curvature do you have. Can you distinguish your ribcage, hipbones, your flesh, and various body lines that connect these elements?

Many fashion books and magazines talk about body shapes and as a loose guideline, there is an agreement in the following categories. An exaggerated horizontal line is called an X-figure, the opposites being a straight boyish one called the I-figure, or an O-figure. With respect to your shoulders, if your hips are either larger or smaller, you would be a Y-figure or an Inverted-Triangle-figure. The important fact is, whether your waistline is very visible or not, there is rarely a human without a waist! That means, as human bodies, we are always moving and bending, and as we do so, our waistline is always there! The waistline is there to be played with, visually!

So, ever since this discovery, I spent money on dresses and jackets with a nipped waist that fit my body line. I chose my cardigan also carefully. And without extreme dieting and fitness regime, I could wear the most suitable silhouettes. I have found that for cardigans, opting for a ribbed waistline made a huge difference in the visual presentation of my figure. So, please consider this aspect when you next shop!

For men, shoulders exude masculine force. Sloping or narrow shoulders instantly benefit from moderate alterations. These shoulders need to avoid the baseball blazers type shoulders as well as raglan shoulders, as they will exaggerate the roundness and downward sloping of the shoulders. When you choose your jacket, go for a slightly padded, slightly edged, and moderately extended shoulderline. This will create an attractive effect whether it is for work or for courting women. Men also, please take a moment to appreciate your own figure in front of a mirror. Note how wide your shoulders look, but also how it looks in relation to your overall height. Then, compare how big your face is in proportion to your shoulders. These visual elements combined become your 'signature stance' and 'signature scale' as an orchestrated masculine whole. The spatial relationship between your face and shoulders will determine pretty accurately, what kind of tie looks best on you.

Every aspect surrounding your face and head matter greatly, as humans are conditioned to fix their eyes upwards rather than downwards in their interaction with others. Therefore, the upper half of your face and head being framed by your hair and hairline create an important visual symbol, while your jawline and neckline form the bottom half, leading towards the tie area which completes the 'Crown' position of your uppermost silhouette.

Test to see how far your can exaggerate your shoulderline. If you go too far, the looseness of the fabric on your body will create a reverse effect of making your body look skinnier and smaller than it actually is, so shoulder extensions must be done with moderation and discernment. For men that have ripped bodies from worktouts, you may opt for tighter fitting tops and outerwear to show off your masculinity through your sculpted muscles and curvatures. If you are average in build and bulk, padded or slightly angled shoulderlines can easily give you that regal and manly air.

As mentioned above, a tie is a great element for playing with men's silhouette. First workout your outer line via your well fitted jacket, then experiment with various ties that coordinates best with this jacket. Judging based on your face and shoulder widths, what tie creates the most effective visual? The answer could be found in two camps, one where you repeat your overall impression based on your face and shoulderline, or where you opt to balance the head and shoulders. For example, if you look like Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, with dark features and exaggerated triangular lines in the face and shoulders, where the forehead is wide and the chin is pointed, contrasted against very big shoulders and a thinnish waist, then, by repeating this symmetry in a wide shouldered jacket with a nipped waist, and big collars-lapels with pointed triangles, a tie that has a big body in the knot with a nipped middle will continue the gorgeous exaggerated X shape nicely. If you are the quieter, gentlemanly guy, like Keanu Reeves or Edward Norton, you might like to complement your smoother lines, to up play your elegant image. Your jacket might sit only a tad bigger than your actual shoulderline, contouring your figure in an elegant gentle curve towards the waist, matched with a lapel that is sans edges and points, with a tie that is slimmer than the average tie. A slimmer tie in the right scale will actually make your head appear larger, and your shoulder appear visibly wider!

May you ladies and gentlemen enjoy a stylish 2017!

Jessica Ahn

Instagram ::: Hepburn School