The magic of proportion

Looking pulled together isn’t just about figuring out which colours go together, or how to wear a scarf. Proportion is the secret sauce to looking great – no matter your shape or size.

Proportion is about how your body parts work together in balance. Whether you have a long torso but short legs, or wide hips but narrow shoulders – there are ways to bring balance back.

Some easy ways to play with proportion so that it works for you:st-john-knits-r16_lookbook_15_b

  • Balance long and short. Wear a long coat or vest over a knee-length skirt. Or, wear a cropped jacket over a long skirt. Either provides balance and proportion to your look.
  • Fit fits. Make sure your clothes fit properly – not baggy, which just looks sloppy, and not too tight, which can actually make you look heavy. Your buttons should not pull on tops, your trousers should pull into a line across your hips.
  • Wear pleats carefully. Pleats can be a lovely detail, however, can quickly add bulk to your shape. If you are apple-shaped, pleats are never your friend since they add visual weight exactly where you don’t want it.

L-R: long, average, short waists

  • Short waisted? Consider getting tops and jackets in the petite department, no matter how tall you are. Women who are short-waisted often have to get sleeves hemmed and shoulders adjusted. Regular tops are often too long. The petite department might just be an easy answer for you.
  • Long waisted? Avoid cropped pants or low-rise jeans since each makes your torso longer and your legs shorter.
  • Pear-shaped? Wear tops and jackets with shoulder pads, or add small shoulder pads. Not 80s football pads, but just small, structured pads to add height to your torso.
  • Apple-shaped? Wear unstructured tops and skinny pants, or slim tunics over leggings. Keep fabrics sleek (i.e. no velvet or bulky knits).

When thinking about proportion, always ask yourself what can bring balance to my look? Simple tricks can make a big difference.


It’s on sale!

End of July/early August means summer sales are in full swing. It’s sad that we’re only mid way through the summer, but in the retail world, it’s already fall. You’ve no doubt seen back to school sales on as well. Every kid’s nightmare…every parent’s dreamEileen Fisher white tee.

Summer sales are a great time to pick up seasonal classics. Look for white tees that are well-made and designed to last. This Eileen Fisher white tee is on sale at Nordstrom‘s famous anniversary sale, priced at about $108, down from $162. Now, you may think that a hundred bucks is a lot to pay for a t-shirt – but quality makes the difference. I have Marc Cain Sport t-shirts that are 8 or 10 years old, but still look like new. Regular price is about $120 each. But if you calculate cost-per-wear, it’s pennies.  I love a quality tee because of its versatility under suit jackets or paired with jeans on the weekend. And, for the record, no one should ever buy a $9.99 t-shirt! Not only is the quality completely lacking, just think about the impacts on the environment, and more importantly, the workers in emerging countries who make pennies a day in order to keep the selling price so low. Usually these tees only last a couple of wears, too!

Marc Cain navy blazerAnother great basic to pick up is a navy blazer. Many designers create a lightweight navy blazer for summer – but this is a fantastic basic that works year-round. Look for a classic style, understated and made of quality fabrics and construction. It will last you for years. The blazer at right is by Marc Cain.

I love a navy blazer for both work and casual looks. Dress it up with a chic blouse and skirt, or a sheath dress. Dress it down with a Breton striped tee and jeans.

Look for fine finishing, a well-executed cut, smooth lining and quality buttons. Warning signs are rumpled hems, loose threads, loose buttons, and a puckered fit.

Some things to avoid on sale, no matter how deeply discounted, are this year’s trends. They won’t be in style next year, meaning you’ll only have a couple of weeks to wear them this summer before they hit the donation pile next year. Also, remember to shop for your style personality. This year, boho or “festival” tops are all the rage – but if you’re a Classic or Sporty style type, these will not look right on you. Save your money and buy items that fit your style and your lifestyle.

Happy sale-ing!