Using Yin and Yang in Clothing Design to Balance Your Appearance


The other day I posted about the concept of Yin and Yang (advancing and receding elements) in clothing design. You may have started to think about the clothes you choose and what they are communicating, but have you thought about your own physical appearance and what it may naturally communicate and how you can use Yin and Yang design concepts to balance it?

Yin Physical Traits

  • Short
  • Small boned
  • Curvy
  • Fair
  • Low contrast colouring
  • Wavy or curly hair
  • Youthful
  • Graceful
  • Soft voice
  • High pitch voice

Yang Physical Traits

  • Tall
  • Large boned
  • Angular body shape
  • Dark colouring
  • High contrast colouring
  • Straight/smooth hair
  • Purposeful
  • Mature
  • Strong voice
  • Deep voice

If you think about these elements and choose whether you are more one way or the other (or right in the middle) you can start to then see if you are physically more Yin or Yang.

Then with this knowledge, you can decide if you want to balance your appearance using the design elements of Yin and Yang as discussed here.

For example, if you’re petite, with a curvy figure and curly hair and look young, you may find yourself not being taken seriously at work, so you may want to wear clothing that has yang traits – like this example pictured here:

appearing more yang

Alternatively, maybe you have a very forceful personality and are quite tall, and find that you’re not seen as friendly in a social situation and want to be seen as more nurturing or feminine, why not try adding more yin elements to your outfit like the ones pictured here:

appearing more yin

There are so many reasons you may want to balance out your physical appearance to communicate something about who you are, or to help you get ahead in your life. Understanding how Yin and Yang design elements are interpreted and how you can use them in your own wardrobe can really help you communicate effectively with your appearance.


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Thank you Imogen! This and the other jin-jang post is life saving!
    Since my childhood I had problems with my jang type body (tall, wide, angular, triangle face, strong jaw, long face, long nose, broad shoulders, big bones). In my teens I realised that it will be interesting ’cause my body turned be be curvy. As big round boobs, hips and tights. So It’s still not easy to find the connention between my jang bone structure, jin curves and the jin-jang side of my personality.
    How to look feminine if you look outside masculine and serious?
    Thank you to help with these. 🙂
    Anita from Hungary (your work is needed in Europe more than you think)

    • HI Anita,

      Sounds like your body kind of balances itself – with your more yang bone structure, but yin curves! Glad that you’re finding this information really useful.

      • Thank you for the answer! I think all of your readers feels that you really care about us. 🙂
        It’s still a little strange, that in a house somewhere in the hungarian countryside, monday morning I can dress my body with the right colors and shapes because somebody (Imogen) in Australia created clear, visual, creative, understandable pictures and posts. So finally me, my family and my friends got real help by your explanations.
        Here are a lot of women who looks frumpy, sad, poor, fat and old, just because they didn’t know that how much can colors and clothes change positively people’s lifes. They can save marriages and careers too. I really believe that women who feels pretty and confident can transform a community.
        Imogen will you visit us in Europe and teach the crowd how to look fabulous? You’re welcome!
        Thank you for the lessons.

        • Thanks Anita!

          There are some great image consultants in Europe, but hope to get back over there in the next year or two! Would love to meet up should I make it to your part of the world.

  • this yin and yang thing is a great translation: this is why I have troubles finding patterns. its either too strong (yang) or too yin (floral – feminine) for my very yang personality. I usually wear only unicoloured pieces, but they can be yin in shape and texture, like waterfall-necklines or soft and sheer tunics over a strong coloured top.
    now I know why I never found a pattern I liked (except for scarves). I had troubles finding the right mixture between the yin pattern and the yang shape – its either too much yang or too much yin in the piece itself and then it doesnt fit my body. at all. this is why I have a lot of yin scarves (floral pattern, low contrast value, etc)… this is eye opening.

    this blog is amazing. thank you very much! I never considered myself to have a style until I found your blog and you somehow translated my taste into a fashion statement. its good to read, why I dont like low rise trousers. its because I am an x and not because I dont know whats trendy and fashion… I was always a bit lost and couldnt understand why I liked this and that not. for an analytical person like me this is the dream source. thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.

  • Thanks for this Great info on Yin & Yang Imogen,

    Realised I’m totally Yang! which in business is probably great – but a little more balance could assist also – particularly in networking. Any tips for clothing when addressing large groups (200) on stage?
    Obviously things that suit us….and we’re comfortable in…Maybe you have an article on it somewhere? – am about to go shopping…..

      • Thanks Imogen,

        Not sure really. I once saw someone speak to a room of 500 – She was beautifully presented & made up – But her top was a really super busy print – and I just found it distracting – even at that distance. Not sure if that’s about being on stage – or maybe the print just didn’t suit the person? I’m planning to stick with what I know suits me – But somehow highlight it – by bolder colour…starker contrast…something to say ‘power & authority” without saying “Look at me, get distracted from my presentation”. Any tips appreciated – You ado a great job with all your advice. Thanking you 🙂

  • Hmmm…. what if you are short, medium bone structure, high contrast colouring, curvy, long straight her that you’ve curled for over 30 years, purposeful, with a strong voice, with dark, high contrast colouring?

  • Imogen, your posts are so insightful! I’m short, round and fair, I have a high pitched, child like voice, I’m also 59. So very yin. I’ve worked my career as a scientist and have a strong personality. I’ve known for years I shock those who know me without seeing me when we meet and surprise those I meet when I speak, now I know why! It also seems my tailored wardrobe all these years has been a step in the right direction! I’m drawn to frills, but they never feel right on me. Now, I get it!

  • This is very great information. I am more youthful , but as a stay at home mother, I embrace that part of my nature in it’s full glory , but there are times when I do change that consciously to be taken seriously. I actually asked my husband for a ying/yang necklace in onyx and mother of pearl as I talk about the concept in my style a lot. When i use the terms I am referring of opposite juxtaposition of feminine and masculine or feminine and edgy. I have the most pep in my step in outfits that hit the balance of both these elements in one look.

  • Dear Imogen

    I love it when I see Julia Gillard wearing large soft colourful pearls. This balances her style and type beautifully. I guess she loves them. This is a wonderful Yin balance for a corporate or political Yang look — whether the more expensive, or the larger fresh water pearl.

    I have studied Yin and Yang for a long time through my work on Taoism and the I Ching. It is a beautiful part of the way Creation works. Everything returns to state of balance in the end. Just look to Nature to see harmony with colour in flowers and branches. It is incredible when you recognize it, as Imogen obviously does.

    Three cheers for the work she does.

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