How to wear your clothes in a more flattering way
If you have ever watched Project Runway, you will have undoubtedly heard Tim Gunn say, “Make it work.” Love him! And you also likely heard Nina Garcia mention proportions. And even if you didn’t know exactly what she was talking about, you knew she was right in saying something was “off” about an outfit. So I’m going to try to make sense of what she was talking about.
The complicated explanation is: the golden ratio, or a ratio of 1 to 1.618. I won’t get into the math (not that I have the ability to). But I will try to summarize its significance.
There is a ratio or mathematic equation that is found everywhere. It is found in nature, such as the shape of the leaves of trees, the spiral of a snail’s shell, the organization of hurricanes, the layout of the human face, and even in our DNA. This ratio has been used in art and architecture for thousands of years before it even had a name. It is even found in music. And interestingly, the closer something is to the golden ratio, the more attractive we find it. It is “the equation of beauty.”
The less complicated answer is: A ratio of 1 to 1 (or 1/2 + 1/2) is less appealing. A ratio of 1 to 2 (or 1/3 + 2/3) is better. So how do we apply this to fashion?
Take a look at my example outfits. The left outfit is less attractive because it uses a 1:1 ratio. The three to the right are more flattering because they have a better proportion, using the “rule of thirds.”
Plus Size Proportions
In the first (left) outfit, the body is basically broken in half because the length of the shirt is about the same length (visually) as the pants. This is not very flattering. It makes your torso look too long and your legs too short.
The next outfit has a tucked-in top resulting in the body being visually broken down into 1/3 on top and 2/3 on the bottom, which is more appealing. But don’t fret, this doesn’t mean you always have to tuck in your tops!
The next outfit shows a cropped denim jacket on top of an un-tucked t-shirt. The bottom of the cropped jacket creates a line roughly 1/3 the length of the body, leaving 2/3 at the bottom. Not that I recommend belting a t-shirt, but the last outfit shows that you can add a belt to a top for the same effect.
Regardless of your size and height, or the length of your pants, skirts, or dresses, this “rule of thirds,” as it is called in fashion, should keep you looking your best. Keep it in mind when you are getting dressed or deciding on an outfit. You’ll soon have the Nina-Garcia-like ability to know when something is “off.”
Most importantly, remember that feeling good about what you are wearing is the most important thing. Rules be damned. Your confidence is what matters most. You do you.
For more styling tips and advice, check out my Style 101 posts!
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