Have you wondered if you look better in cropped jeans or full length ones? What about the hem lengths of your dresses and skirts? Which looks best on you? And maybe you’ve also wondered why empire waist dresses look slimming and striking on some women, but when you put one on your legs actually look shorter.
Today as we consider how to dress your body proportions, you may find some of the answers to those questions and more.
DRESSED FOR MY DAY…MY WAY CONTINUES
Today we’re continuing our series I’ve called Dressed for My Day…My Way. We’re learning how to discover our body shapes, proportions and variations, as well as how to factor in coloring, personality and lifestyle when determining our personal style. We began our series here, in case you’d like to go back and catch up on all the information I’ve provided thus far. And you can find all the articles in this series here.
Also, I’ve been providing some worksheets to help you calculate the specifics about your own body, but you need to subscribe to my emails for free in order to receive those. You can find out more about the benefits of being an email subscriber here. If you subscribe during the series and would like to receive the previous worksheets, just email me and tell me the email address under which you have subscribed; then I’ll send you the password to all the subscriber freebies. Easy peasy!
What are body proportions?
Honestly, it’s been a while since I wrote the post about discovering your body proportions. So I wouldn’t mind at all if you went back and reviewed it and then jumped back in here. That’s what I had to do as I was writing this, for sure!
But I’ll sum up body proportions for us quickly. Your body proportions could be considered your vertical body shape. When we talk body proportions we’re talking about your “measurements” from head to toe. Predominantly, we’re looking at the length of your torso in comparison to the length of your legs. To assess our proportions we learned to measure and compare 8 different portions of our body from head to toe. Really, if you’re lost at this point, you just need to read discovering your body proportions and then rejoin us right here.
A very few of us (proportionately) may be fairly equal in all eight measurements, meaning our bodies are pretty balanced. But in fact, the three dominant body types are:
- Short torso with longer legs
- Balanced upper and lower body with a short middle body
- Long torso with shorter legs
What can I do with this information?
If you by chance have balanced body proportions, then you have fewer restrictions or guidelines when it comes to hemlines and other lengths. But again, very few people are completely balanced. So don’t let that throw you. Your body proportions are not right or wrong; they just are what they are. And knowing them will help you dress in a way that creates that beautiful and aesthetically desirable Golden Ratio.
Remember, the Golden Ratio says that we find a 2 to 3 ratio most aesthetically pleasing. We like photos that are broken up into 2/3 and 1/3. We like shelf compositions that are 2/3 and 1/3. And we find it beautiful when a body is adorned to achieve a 2/3 and 1/3 ration as well. This is why it really doesn’t matter if your body is completely balanced with the same length of torso and legs. We’re not trying to dress our body in halves anyhow! We just need to know what kind of canvas we’re working with so that we can dress in a way that achieves the 2/3 and 1/3 Golden Ratio.
Alright, enough science and math. Let’s get to what you really came here for! Let’s find out how to dress each of the above body proportions.
***I’ve created special shopping cards for each body proportion! All you have to do is either print yours out or, better yet, save it as a photo on your phone. That way you can just bring it up on your phone when you’re out shopping! Yay! You can find them here, but you’ll need your subscriber code. Those come in the emails I send to you. You’ll need to subscribe to receive these. ***
Honestly, I suggest you only read the information below that matches your body type. Otherwise, it’s all very confusing!
How to Dress the Balanced Upper and Lower Body with a Shorter Mid-Section
You want to create balance between your longer and shorter portions of your torso. To do this, you’ll want to elongate your shorter section (your upper torso) by using solids and vertical lines while staying clear of horizontal lines. Then you’ll want to accentuate and draw attention to your longer portions with accessories and prints.
- Keep your shorter mid-body clear of detail. Avoid wide belts and don’t tuck in your shirts in a way that exposes the line of your waist band. If you do tuck in your top – and sometimes you just must – then blouse it out over your waist band or do a sloppy partial tuck.
- Wear empire waist tops and dresses to create the illusion of a longer waist.
- Use vertical detailing through your body to elongate. For instance, wear an open jacket or cardigan which creates long vertical lines through your torso.
- Wear kimonos, long cardigans and jackets with a column of color inside. You create a column of color when you wear a top and bottom piece in very similar or identical colors. That way you don’t have a line across your midsection, further shortening it.
- End skirts and dresses at your knee, no longer than just below your knee. This will create the illusion of longer thighs. The exception would be the maxi skirt, which you may wear.
- Wear a mid-rise jean or pant, achieving balance. You’re in luck! While high rise jeans are making a comeback, mid-rise jeans and pants are still available and fashionable. Stay away from the high rise jeans!
- Because you have longer calves, draw attention to this area with fabulous shoes with lots of detail and/or color. Also you can add detail like embroidery to the bottom of your jeans, fringe at the hem of your skirt or an interesting hemline on your jeans, which also draw attention to your longer calves.
- Because you tend to have a longer decolletage, draw interest there with jewelry and interesting necklines.
How to Dress the Shorter Torso and Longer Legs
You want to achieve balance in your body proportions, but not at the expense of shortening your legs. Long legs are always an asset, so don’t go too far and make them look short. Here are some shopping and styling tips for you.
- You may still have a long chin to bust portion even though your torso is shorter than your legs. If so, draw attention there. Use interesting jewelry and necklines to lift the eyes to your decolletage so that the eyes do not drift all over, which is important when dressing any body style. If you get the focus on your neck and face, your shorter waist will be overlooked.
- Sometimes, when you’re short waisted it may almost seem as though your rib cage almost sits on your hip bones. There’s very little space between the two, so you don’t have a very defined waist. Losing weight is not going to create a more defined waist on you. There simply isn’t room for a lot of curve. If this is the case, you’ll need to “skim over” your waistline by not accentuating it. Don’t tuck in, don’t wear horizontal lines here, avoid wide horizontal belts and don’t draw attention to your mid torso with accents of any kind. Instead, wear empire waistlines with detailing just under the bustline.
- Your tops should skim over your waist and should end no higher than your hip bone. Preferably, keep your tops long.
- Avoid wearing multiple layers of tops, which can look great on women with longer torsos. Instead, make sure that if you do have on layers, they both end at the same point, no higher than your hip bone.
- Don’t tuck your shirt in if both the shirt and the pants are fitted. If your shirt is blousy, you can tuck it, but leave it a little blousy over your waistline. If your pants are fuller, you can tuck your shirt. If you use a belt, it might be best to go with a wider one. But play around with belts and see which help to elongate your waist and which ones shorten it. (This tip is for those with a more defined waistline.)
- Avoid high waist pants. But you can wear mid and low-rise pants well.
- You can wear pretty much any hem length because you have longer legs. Still be aware that shorter hem lengths, such as crops or capris will shorten your leg some. Also, if you have slender legs, as many women with long legs do, you can wear pants with visual interest such as wide pockets, cargo pockets or embroidery.
- You can wear shoes with a low or high vamp, unless your ankles are thick. Then you’ll want to stick with low vamp. You can wear flats or low heels as well as high heels.
How to Dress the Longer Torso and Shorter Legs
Your goal for dressing your body proportions is to bring balance to your body by visually elongating your legs. But you may have some additional dilemmas to work with due to your long torso. By the way. Don’t feel odd. This is perhaps the most common body type among women.
- It is common to have a long chin to waist portion in this category. If that is the case, it is imperative to wear a good bra that lifts. Otherwise you will appear to have a very low bustline. Also avoid strapless tops/dresses and spaghetti straps for this reason.
- Wear shorter necklaces, no longer than the peak of your bust.
- Try to keep the visually interesting details on top, and steer clear of prints, florals or patterns on your lower half where you need to elongate with solids.
- If you do choose or need to wear prints on your bottom half, try to go with a brighter, more interesting top to draw attention there.
- If you choose to wear prints on the bottom half, keep them busy and dense so they don’t grab as much interest.
- Avoid empire waist lines as they elongate the torso.
- You can wear ruffles, bows, embellishments and other details up top that others should avoid.
- Avoid low rise pants and jeans. The new trend in high rise jeans is ideal for you, but you can also wear mid rise. The higher the rise the better, really.
- But keep the length of the trouser long. In fact, the lower the rise (and don’t go below mid rise) the longer the pant needs to be. If you want to wear crops, they need to be high rise.
- However, if you are long in the rise (that’s the waist to leg bend measurement) don’t wear pants that hit you at your natural waist. You’ll look unusually long in this area if you do. Instead go with mid rise pants.
- You can layer two tops if one is cropped. In fact, this trend looks best on you.
- To elongate your legs, wear solid pants or pants with a vertical stripe, like pinstripes.
- Match your shoes to your pants if your pants go to your shoes.
- If you wear crop or ankle pants, wear flesh colored shoes, preferably heels with a low vamp.
- Generally choose shoes with a low vamp to elongate the leg.
- If you like heels, wear them. They’ll add length to your legs, but they’re not mandatory. If you do like to wear heels, wedges and platforms elongate the most.
- Hems on skirts and dresses should hit just above the knee, on the knee or no lower than just below. You can also wear maxi length skirts and dresses, but make sure they go to just a half inch or so above the floor, no shorter.
- On pants, avoid cuffs and pocket detailing. Choose pants with minimalist styling and straight or slender lines that elongate.
- You probably look great with belts. Play around with different kinds, but if you have a defined waist definitely use belts to accentuate your waist.
Remember, your body proportions are not right or wrong. They just are. We all are wise to steer clear of a few things, but we also all get to wear some things better than others. The goal here is simply to know what consistently works for our body and what doesn’t. And we can certainly break some of those rules, but we’ll do so knowing the price and making the adjustments.
I hope this post was helpful to you. I think it’s a little overwhelming if you try to take it all in. Instead, just focus on what you need to do for your body proportions. And take those tips with you when you go shopping.
In fact, if you’re a subscriber you have access to shopping cheat sheets I created for each body proportion. Just save your sheet as a photo to your phone. Or you can print out a larger version if you’d prefer. Not a subscriber? We can take care of that right here.
Have a blessed day!
Some of my favorites right now:
Blessed for My Day
Today I pray that you will be filled with a deeper understanding of God. May you discover more fully His goodness, mercy and love for you today. But may you also be in awe of His holiness. And the more you understand, may you realize how much there is yet to discover. So I pray that you would continue to draw close to God each day, seek Him diligently and open your heart to Him. Blessings to you, dear friend!
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints… ~ Ephesians 1:16-18