x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Work with your shape instead of against it

When it comes to body shape, instead of mastering the art of playing to our strengths, most of us waste rather a large amount of time focusing on our perceived shortcomings.

When it comes to body shape, instead of mastering the art of playing to our strengths, most of us waste rather a large amount of time focusing on our perceived shortcomings. Silly really, for fashion is a mastery of disguise when used to its full potential. What we pick up in the morning and choose to slip on is really just another form of self-projection – a way to fit in to our surroundings and secure a place for ourselves in the world. Aside from a few eccentrics, most of us adapt our clothes to our environment, in the same way that perhaps that our body language varies, or the tone of our voice alters.

Now, I’m not normally one for encouraging you to stick wholly to the rules, but when it comes to basic body shape guidelines the rules are set in stone for a very good reason. Like almost everything, it’s all about balance; if one end outweighs the other, we need to add to the opposite to equalise – tricking the eye at its own game, if you like. That said, we should still be somewhat realistic.

If you are bottom-heavy, for example, think about sharp, tailored lines on the bottom half. With skirts, the A-line is a great base to add to, but make sure to stay away from pleats or side pockets, as they will only add unnecessary dimension. If you wear a belt, make sure that it’s thin and a similar colour to your trousers; with a dress, try to belt it slightly higher than your waistline than you would think to. Many woman are often concerned (mostly unnecessarily) about their upper arms, and end up throwing on a cardigan as a cover-up, when really they should be opting for a long-sleeved dress or top and having it altered so that the sleeves come to the elbow. A good tailor can be the key to transforming your wardrobe.

At the other end of the spectrum, those with a boyish figure will need to play with structure and creating the illusion of a waist. Luckily for you, wearing tops with a high neckline will trick the eye into the illusion of a fuller chest. Anything with a pleat or a frill around the hip will also create a better S-shaped silhouette. Pencil skirts are not as stress-inducing as you may imagine and are a great staple on which to build, as they will help emphasise your lean frame, but make sure to add a draped top that will skim the lack of definition at the waist. Pattern and playing with colour combinations will also help even out proportion problems. Using print to trick the eye is often neglected, which is a shame, for bold pattern can deviate attention away from an area that we wish to avoid, and fine florals or repeated prints can trick the eye into shrinking an area.

Remember, no matter how you feel, fashion is not just another exclusive club that you didn’t receive an invite for. So instead of sulking, be brutally honest about your shape, and start to think strategically. Most of the time, these rules are only here to help, so try not to fear your perceived flaws. What we forget is that most of the people you spend your life comparing yourself to are a whole lot less interested in the rules than you are.

ktrotter@thenational.ae

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