Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fashion 101

Ok girls, this article is for you! I am not a fashionista by any stretch of imagination. In fact, most of the time, I am quite clueless as to what clothes would be flattering on me! There have been plenty of instances where my dress etiquette has been downright sloppy. However, off late, I am more conscious while shopping and make a lot more effort to pick out clothes, shoes and accessories that are fashionable while being comfortable at the same time. I think it is important to look good. It isn't about being is just taking the time to look after yourself. After all, our choice of clothing does reflect our state of mind, attitude and thoughts towards a particular event, person or activity. Don't you agree? We always look at celebrities and envy them for their flawless appearance, slender figure and fabulous wardrobe but isn't it their job to look good?! They have the best fitness trainers, dieticians, beauticians, stylists and designers at their beck and call so its no wonder that they manage to look gorgeous all the time. For regular women with careers, families and countless other responsibilities, it is much harder. But with the adequate fashion know-how, you and me can look just as good minus the celebrity tag!  

Like most girls, I also went through that hideous awkward phase during my teenage years of bad hair, ill-fitting clothes and tacky accessories. Right from wearing dungarees, bulky tapered jeans, over-sized t-shirts, denim on denim, matching clothes to shoes, dowdy dresses (that could have passed off for my grandma's curtains) and sporting a bad fringe....I am guilty of all these crimes against fashion! If I happen to find a cringe-worthy picture of myself during those days, I make it a point to either hide them or burn them! I swear that some of those pictures are literally worthy of blackmail! Looking at them, the first thought that races to my mind invariably is "what in the world was I thinking, stepping into public wearing that?!" But when I talk to my girl friends, I get some comfort in the fact that I was not alone in committing all those fashion faux-pas back in the day. Looking at the bright side, it makes for a good laugh :) 

To tell you the truth, I actually researched this article for myself. As a grad student, most of my days were spent in jeans, casual tops and unfussy accessories. Juggling course modules, experiments, seminars, journal clubs, work update presentations and house chores, fashion was the last thing on my mind. After I graduated and began looking for a job, I wanted to upgrade to a wardrobe that was more professional albeit simple and comfortable. The first step was getting rid of all those old clothes that didn't fit me anymore but I was hanging onto anyway in the desperate hope that I would one day loose the weight to get back into them! Once I came to the realization that it wasn't going to happen anytime soon, the task of de-cluttering became much easier! I also threw out all the clothes that were outdated. I then began combing through several websites, looking for advice and tips on style basics. Watching the Style Network on a regular basis also helped! I never realized how important it was to dress according to your body shape. It can make or break your entire look. So, here is a list of body shapes and style tips on what kind of clothes, shoes and accessories to wear to flatter your shape.

Independent of fat percentage, weight or width, female body shapes are categorized into one of four elementary geometric shapes

Source: Joy Wilson's shape guide (Fashion World)

1. Banana or straight 
Characterized by a boyish shape that has the same measurement for the shoulders and the hips with a waist measurement that is close to them. This overall fat distribution creates the typical ruler or straight shape. Banana-shaped celebrities include Kate Hudson, Princess Diana, Kate Bosworth, Keira Knightley, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Style tips for the banana-shaped woman

  • Frills, ruffles and bows on tops work well on you.
  • Go for tops with large prints.
  • Round, high-necks and slash-necks are flattering. 
  • Jackets with a cinched waist will give you more of an hour glass shape.
  • Wrap dresses look wonderful on you.
  • Wear knee length A-line skirts.
  • Chose jeans, pants, and skirts that sit below your waist.
  • Skinny/ slim leg jeans were made for you!
  • Look for styles with detail on hips/ bottom.
  • Add fun necklaces, long strings of beads and scarves to your outfit.
  • Add belts to outfits to create the illusion of curves.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing that will accentuate your lack of curves. At the same time, avoid wearing loose fitting tops and dresses. Remember the goal is to create shapes, not hide them.
  • Sweetheart necklines are tricky 
  • Jackets that end at your waist are not a good choice since they do not help to define your waist.
  • Crop tops and shrugs will elongate your torso.
  • Stay away from vertical lines.
  • Big flares will unbalance your streamlined body shape.
  • Combats and cargos will make you look more boyish.
  • Avoid high waisted pants or skirts. 
  • Don’t go for very dainty bags that are fussy or frilly.
  • Avoid choker style necklaces with high neck tops.

2. Apple
Characterized by broad shoulders and narrow hips. Apple shaped women tend to have slim legs/thighs, while the abdomen and chest look out of proportion compared to the rest of the body. Fat is mainly distributed in the abdomen, chest, and face. Apple-shaped celebrities include Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Elizabeth Hurley, Tyra Banks and Demi Moore.

    Style tips for the apple-shaped woman

    • Choose clothes that skim and not cling
    • Wear darker colors on top and lighter shades on the bottom. .
    • V-necked tops draw the eye in and away from your shoulders.
    • Chose wrap shirts and wrap dresses.
    • To elongate your body, wear longer tops that end over your hips or wear tops with vertical stripes
    • Belted jackets, dresses, and tops help your waist to look smaller.
    • Pants and skirts with a flare will help draw attention to your lower body, balancing out your upper body.
    • Apples can have the pick when it comes to denim jean colors! Choosing jeans that are of lighter shades are great as they will add shape to your thighs.
    • Pointy-toe shoes with high heels help to elongate your body.
    • Hand held bags that you carry down around your knees are a great option. Alternatively, you can try clutches that tuck under the arms, or totes that have long straps.
    • Tops with puffy sleeves, halter necks and polo necks are a no-no.
    • Avoid double-breasted jackets.
    • Stay clear from shoulder pads.
    • Avoid bold patterns, large checks and light colors above your waist. 
    • Tops that are too tight or busy with a lot of detailing, frills or lace should be avoided.
    • Pleated pants will only add inches to your waist.
    • Stay away from bottoms that are too tight or pants and skirts that are perfectly straight because these will also make you look bigger on top.
    • Bulky bags that sit under your shoulder do nothing for your shape. 

    3. Pear or spoon or bell
    Characterized by the hip measurement greater than the chest measurement. The women of this body type tend to have relatively wider hips, robust thighs, and a smaller chest. Pear-shaped celebrities include Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce Knowles, Shakira, Kate Winslet and Sandra Bullock. 

    Style tips for the pear-shaped woman

      • Have fun with color and striking necklines.
      • Puff, kimono and bell sleeve tops will flatter.
      • Try adding shrugs or waistcoats/vests to a plain top.
      • Wear brighter colors on top, and darker colors on the bottom.
      • Choose tops that have ruffles, or interesting details to draw attention away from your lower body.
      • Empire waist dresses are a good choice for accentuating your top half, and hiding your lower body.
      • Wrap dresses work well with your figure.
      • A-line skirts are your best choice.
      • Pants should be straight leg or slightly flared.
      • Make a statement with a bold necklace and earrings.
      • Accessorize with a bright scarf. 
      • Go for a high heel if you can handle it.
      • Knee boots draw the eye to lower legs instead of thighs.
      • Avoid skinny lapels and small, dainty collars
      • Don’t hide your waist in big baggy tops
      • Tucking in your shirt creates a boxy look with your shape.
      • Jackets that end at the widest part of your hips.
      • Pencil skirts should be avoided.
      • Stay away from skinny jeans, pants that taper in at the ankles and cargo pants. 
      • Don’t pick shoes with very pointed toes
      • Choose a sturdier heel than stilettos
      • Low slung belts will make your hips look bigger
      • Don’t go for long strap bags that rest at the thigh 

      4. Hourglass  
      Universally considered the best body shape to have! Characterized by a hip and chest of almost of equal size with a narrow waist. Body fat distribution tends to be around both the upper body and lower body. Hourglass-shaped celebrities include Halle Berry, Nigella Lawson, Scarlett Johansson, Cindy Crawford, Marilyn Monroe and Salma Hayek.
        Style tips for the hourglass-shaped woman

        • Low halternecks, square neck, scoop, sweetheart and V-necklines are all flattering
        • Try a fitted cardigan with the top buttons undone
        • Lengthen a short torso with vertical stripes
        • Go for short fitted jackets.
        • Pencil skirts and A-line skirts are flattering
        • Try a full circle skirt for a fun fifties look.
        • Knee length skirts will work better than maxi length
        • Wrap dresses and back-tie styles will work that waist
        • Wide leg trousers, boot-cuts and flared jeans will balance your hips
        • Tailored pants with a slight flare at bottom.
        • Rounded toe shoes will suit your shape
        • Peep toe high heels will give you instant glamour
        • Fashionable waist belts are your best friend
        • Don’t hide away in baggy T-shirts or jumpers.
        • Stay away from tops with high necks, frills, bows or any bulky detail.
        • Straight tunic tops won’t show off your shape.
        • Avoid belts that are too wide.
        • Avoid empire dresses and tops.
        • Short skirts will visually cut your body into pieces.
        • Steer clear of skinny jeans, slouchy jeans and baggy pants.
        • Rounded toe shoes will suit your shape.
        • Peep toe high heels will give you instant glamour. 
        • Hip belts will only emphasize the hip area.
        • Huge angular jewellery will detract from your curves.

        So, there you have it! The list of fashion do's and don'ts advocated by the fashion experts and stylists that I have learned over a period of time. I don't claim to  follow each and every rule because that is simply impractical. After all, the best part about rules are that they are meant to be broken! And fashion is something that is extremely subjective. There really is no right or wrong. At the end of the day, if you feel great in what you are wearing, that is what counts. Copying the style of another person from head to toe is rather unimaginative. You don't want to end up looking like the clone of another person! On the other hand, taking elements from the style sensibilities of a person you admire and translating it to your own look, thereby retaining the unique element of your personality is what personal style is all about.

        With that, I hope you benefit from this article and keep in mind at least some of these guidelines the next time you are out shopping!

        Keep looking fabulous...

        1 comment:

        1. Meggie! Good one!! (Oh My! u did take so much effort for the research!)


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