“As a wheelchair user I often find it hard to get clothes which fit me and are practical but also stylish. Jane helped me understand what styles would work for my body shape and my lifestyle to give me a smarter more professional look in my new career.”  Bridget, Bulwell

Body Image and Style

Learn to love your body and dress to suit your shape with a careful analysis of your body shape and scale. How to choose the right patterns and prints, enhance your best features, disguise any problem areas and project the best image for you.

Look carefully at the two images below to see how they change the shape of my figure. The top on the left is too low cut for me and emphasizes my already long neck. The skirt is bias cut and clings at my least flattering area around the tops of the thighs, making me look a bit pear shaped. The length of the skirt is too long and makes my legs look short and a little bowed. The flat shoes with deep straps also make my legs look shorter. The overall effect is not the most flattering to my proportions.

Wrong Styles Right Styles
Wrong Styles
Right Styles

The top on the right emphasizes the width of my shoulders and along with the necklace creates a horizontal line which reduces the length of my neck. The A-line skirt skims over my lumpy thighs and stops at a more flattering point just below the knee, making my legs look more in proportion. The slight heel on the sandals and low straps also give the illusion of more length in the legs. The overall effect makes my petite frame appear slimmer and better proportioned.

Getting to Know your Shape

Everyone has their own individual body shape, and styles that look great on your friend, may not flatter you at all, so it is important to understand your own body shape and know what styles work for you. The outfit on the left would better suit someone with a short neck, larger bust, long legs and high round hips.

When working with clients I will generally start with an analysis of the body shape and proportions, looking at the features to disguise and more importantly the features to enhance. I then work with cloth drapes, which are designed to imitate parts of clothing (ie different necklines) so that we can visually explore what works for the client. The next stage is to look at patterns; I have 40 cloth drapes with different patterns in different scales which I drape over the client to see what works with their face and body shape and scale. Finally we look at their style personality to assess what clothing styles they like and what would be appropriate for them considering their age, occupation and lifestyle. Finally I make a style file of personal recommendations to help with shopping and wardrobe planning.

For taster sessions and body image and style parties, I introduce the five basic body shapes. We then analyse each other's shapes, look at body proportions and any areas to correct and finish by identifying each others' best features.

Benefits of Body Image and Style Analysis

As we age our style needs to grow up with us, but that doesn't mean that we can't look contemporary and stylish. The very fashionable styles that we may have got away with in our youth don't always look as good on an older woman. The trick is in understanding what suits your figure and choosing individual garments or accessories to update your look and keep it current.

When your clothes compliment your shape and scale and express your personality, you look well proportioned and give out the correct messages about who you are and what you want from life. When you look your best people respond to you in a more positive way. Body image and style analysis can be a very therapeutic experience, it can help boost your self esteem and confidence, increase your attractiveness and improve your professional image.

For further reading on style and line I would recommend the following books:

‘Style Directions for Women' Carol Spenser ISBN 0-7499-1955-8
‘The Colour and Style File' Barbara Jacques ISBN 0861888413
'How to Look Good Naked' Gok Wan ISBN 978-0-00-726724-8
‘What Not to Wear' Trinny and Susannah ISBN 0-297-84331-1
‘The Body Shape Bible' Trinny and Susannah ISBN 0297844547

Most of the books can be purchased from www.amazon.co.ukor if you prefer to shop locally try www.hive.co.ukwhere every purchase supports a local independent bookshop. 

© Jane McLennan 2008 text and images on this site cannot be reproduced without written permission.

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