I am headed to Alt Summit San Francisco today and I couldn’t be more excited! Not only do we get to experience a great line up of speakers and presenters…we also get to go to PINTEREST HEADQUARTERS! I can hardly stand the anticipation! :-) (I’ll take lots of pictures!) But as excited as I am about THAT, I’m also VERY excited about the great guest posts I’ve lined up while I’m gone that I really think you’re going to love!
Today’s guest post is from Alicia Richmond, a long-time friend and colleague I used to work with during my talk show producing days. I have always been impressed with her unique ability to help women look their best no matter their shape or size! Even though she’s worked with Clinton Kelly and other notables in the fashion industry, her typical client is “the woman next door”….aka YOU and ME! Her website, Chic on a Shoestring, is full of practical advice on how to find your personal best. Take it away Alicia…
Alicia Richmond –
As a professional wardrobe stylist I have chosen to work with the everyday woman and have performed thousands of personal consultations. I have worked with women size 0 – 26 and of every shape and type. The one thing that I’ve learned during these 15 years is…. women are too critical of their own bodies.
I often ask women to name the three parts of their body that they love; most women can’t do it. They are quick to give me a lengthy list of what they don’t like, but struggle to focus on the positive. I’ve also found that they are overly concerned with the size stated on the tag in their clothing.
As I work with women, I try to help them find their personal best and to focus on the positive. When they can’t tell me what they like about their body, I tell them what I see and then teach them how to dress to flatter these body assets. I call this “Embrace Your REAL Shape.” A woman’s size may go up and down during the changes in life, but their basic shape, their bone structure and genetic make-up, remains the same.
One of my secrets to helping women find their best fit is a principle I call the “Rule of Thirds.” It is more flattering to the body when it is divided into three sections rather than two halves. This Rule of Thirds helps women to find their feminine side and embrace their curves; it’s not applicable to men.
The Rule of Thirds focuses on your shoulder line, the narrowest point of the torso and the hip line and how to find balance and definition between the three. Look at your shoulder line, and ask yourself, “Are you narrow or wide in the shoulders?” For the torso or waist line, “Where is your narrowest point between your navel and the bust line?” Most people think of the waist line as a horizontal line that intersects your navel, which is anatomically correct, but for the most flattering fit in clothes, the narrowest point of your torso can often be just under the bust line. Then, “How does your hip line compare to your shoulder line?”
This Rule of Thirds is different for most women. To illustrate this point let’s go through a fitting with two clients.
Amber is very curvy with a great bust line and a balanced shoulder to hip line. Her challenges are that she carries some weight in her mid-section and her legs are short. If she’s not careful she can easily look boxy and hippy.
Notice in Amber’s more flattering look that the neckline to her top is a scoop neck, which frames the shoulders. Her top is ruched on the side seams and is cut in just under the bust, which highlights the smallest area on her torso. This prevents her from looking too boxy through her torso and creates this high or empire “waist line.” To flatter her hipline the length of top hits just below her widest point of her hips.
In the photo that is less flattering her sleeves are too big and hit her arms at a less flattering spot. No definition under her bust or through the rib cage creates this boxy look. Women will often wear a baggy top to conceal any weight they carry through the mid-section.
Amber’s pants are also much too fitted for how loose and shapeless the top appears. Her body is visually cut into two halves; the top and bottom. With the more flattering outfit, there are three distinct sections and she looks curvier and more feminine.
Next is Marin, who is a completely different shape than Amber. Marin’s assets are her narrow and slim mid-section, a long torso with narrowest point about an inch above the navel and her curvy hips with toned, shapely legs. Some of the challenges for Marin are that her shoulders are more narrow than her hip line and she has short legs for her height.
To balance Marin’s shape, I look for shoulder seams that are extended with attention being drawn to her narrow torso and defined waistline. Pants and skirts should skim and not cling to the hipline, helping to minimize the hips and maintain balance with the shoulders.
The dress is ideal for Marin because the shoulder line is extended with the definition being accentuated by the slim belt, the A-line skirt skims the hip line and hits at a slimming point on her leg line. Her legs appear long, the waist line is narrow and shoulder line looks balanced.
In Marin’s less flattering look, the shoulder in the tunic is cut oversized and appears shapeless, there is no definition through the torso or at the narrowest point of the waist line. The belt is hip slung, which draws attention to her curvy hips and adds weight where she doesn’t carry it. The outfit makes her shoulders look small and her torso and mid-section look fuller. Her body appears to be in two halves, which creates legs that appear larger and shorter.
Both of these less flattering outfits may look good on a Pinterest board or hanging on the rack, but to truly Embrace Your REAL Shape it’s crucial to learn how to find the styles that fit and flatter YOUR body-type. When you understand these principles, you can then choose where you want to shop and the price point you feel most comfortable with. As an added benefit, you have fewer “regrets hanging in your closet” because you now know why some pieces look good on you and others do not.
My personal wardrobe consultation I have been doing for 15+ years is now available as an online service called Embrace Your REAL Shape. You can learn more at: www.chiconashoestring.com.
My passion, my joy is helping the everyday woman find her personal best, embrace her figure as it is right now and to stop the cycle of negative thinking about her body.
How does your wardrobe stack up to “The Rule Of Thirds?”
Photo disclaimer: The photos of Amber and Marin are from an actual styling session and taken with an iPhone as a quick snapshot. I’m a wardrobe stylist, not a photographer.