There are two main components of personal styling taught by Gail Morgan on the Study in Style Course and they are Colour Analysis and understanding how to flatter different body shapes and figures utilising the correct garments, fabrics and accessories.
There are 3 elements of personal style analysis - they are Line, Scale and Proportion - all of which have a bearing on the cut, fabric weave, fabric texture and pattern of the garments you should be wearing, along with the appropriate details and finishes.
When we consider line, we are looking at an individual's body and face to see where there are straight and/or curved lines. Note that we are looking at the individual's skeletal shape, NOT the amount of flesh padding out the bones. Key elements of this analysis exercise include looking at the individual's shoulders, waist, hips, face and jawline. For instance, are their shoulders straight or sloping? Is the waist defined or not? Are the hips flared or straight? Are the lips straight /thin or curved/full? Is the jawline curved or angular?
An individual could be curved or straight all over, or could be a combination of both. The bottom line is that if we reflect our facial and bodylines in our clothing lines, we will look more congruent and comfortable.
To give examples of the importance of establishing your correct bodyline, imagine how difficult it is to cover a football with wrapping paper and how dreadful it looks - much easier and nicer to see it wrapped in soft fabric.
An individual can possess different lines on different parts of their body, or possess one line that characterises most of the body. For example, a figure will generally fall into one of the following categories:
- straight top half with a curvy bottom
- curvy top half with straighter hips
- straight all over
- curvy all over
And the general rules for choosing garments with details that flatter your shape are as follows:
- if you are curvy all over, select only curved details
- if you are straight all over, select only straight details
- if you are a combination, then select garments that comprise a combination of the two
For example, when I first visited an image consultant and was diagnosed as a 'straightie', I became aware that everything about me was mostly angular and straight. For instance, I have straight shoulders, a pointed jaw, thin straight lips, 'oriental-shaped' eyes, high cheekbones and a 'straightish' figure. My chest is rounder, but in a sense is lost in the configuration of hard lines. On the other hand, my Mother had sloping shoulders, a round face and a round bottom. And this made me aware that whilst my Mother looked frumpy if she wore anything with hard lines such as a black safari-style shirt or straight black trousers, I tend to look unkempt in outfits that have roundness and volume. Examples are flared skirts and tops, as well as round necks. On the other hand, denim and leather jackets, as well as suit jackets and shirts have always enhanced my appearance.
A great example of a shopping mistake I made was when I bought a designer dress in a sale. It was straight with a v-neck, so I knew it was congruent with my line. However, I was in a hurry and failed to notice that there were two decorative seams that resembled 'motorway arrows' and lay horizontally across the expanse of the bottom half of the dress. And every time I wear it, I appear to gain pounds on my thighs!
'Follow the line', therefore, is fundamental to good dressing, as it is all a question of visual blending. And although one might consider such advice to be restrictive, I think it is evidence that anyone can look super regardless of shape. You only have to consider how good Dawn French looks when she is wearing outfits that suit her line. In fact, I believe an understanding of the theory would weaken the diet industry's influence. And in some respects it doesn't surprise me that the 'rise and rise' of the diet industry has largely occurred following the shunning of needlework, due to lower clothing prices. And as we are naturally drawn to our own colours, perhaps we naturally know how to shape ourselves - evidence for which I need look no further than the memory of two Great Aunts. These two attractive ladies were fabulously curved who dressed beautifully and were never short of admirers. Perhaps we should spend more time on body design than interior design - and adopt some of the latter's principles of shape for 'furnishing our forms'!
In the forthcoming parts two, three and four of this personal body sculpting blog, I will talk about Scale and Proportion. In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about Gail Morgan's excellent Personal Stylist Course, then please visit: www.studyinstyletraining.com