What Does Knowing Your Body Shape Really Tell You?

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Vertical lines

Vertical lines lengthen and can slim the body.  They create the illusion of height or length.  The eye moves quickly over them.

Horizontal lines

Horizontal lines broaden or widen.  The eye moves more slowly over them and we are constantly looking for horizontals as we search for the horizon as it gives us a feeling of balance.  Every hem (unless it’s asymmetric) is a horizontal line.

Diagonal lines

Diagonal lines move the eye and create action.  The more ‘vertical’ the diagonal the more it works to slim, the more ‘horizontal’ the diagonal it becomes more broadening.  In Western cultures where we read left to right, we also look at horizontals from left to right, so some take our eye upwards, others downwards.

Curved lines

Curved lines add volume (or as my American image consultant friends say “round adds pounds”).  They are the slowest lines for our eyes to follow as we have to move over more area to follow them (this is why they add that volume).

rules of line

rules of line by imogenl featuring a white color block dress

Understanding a little about lines helps us think about how to dress our body shape, how to alter it using our ‘magician’s toolbox of illusion’. Want to look taller? Add in some more verticals. Want to balance your hips?  Add a horizontal line element across your shoulders.  Want to move the eye upwards, consider wearing a jacket which draws the eye upwards (vertically with it’s opening) and then outwards (with it’s diagonal based lapel).  Want to add curves?  Put a frill over that area.

whats my body shape

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  • good post, often the pear shape apple etc recommendations dont look at the individuals positives and a lot of the advice doesnt run true for all, so in so far as there is no such thing as a one size fits all – no style rule is absolute………………

    • Every body is unique and many generic recommendations are only that, you still, within that need to figure out which parts work for you and which to ignore.

  • I love all the knowledge you share here Imogen. The description of lines is amazing. Really helpful for women looking to accentuate the positives! I do agree that personality trumps body shape though.
    Bron x

    • Yes Understanding the principles of line is so important and we teach this and so much more in our personal stylist training as it tells you what suits each shape and how to create illusions. It amazes me that it is not taught more widely in fashion which is why there is so much bad design in the clothing marketplace.

  • Hi Imogen, I loved the article, it really is true that body shape is more than just waistline, tall or short height.
    I for example, am something of a slim 8 to H shape, so finding summer tops should be easy. It’s not. I love shopping, but I dread shopping for summer tops, since my upper arms are very full, which makes me look more like a V shape in most tops. The combination of crew necks or V-necks on most tops with short sleeves (which always end at the wrong point) or no sleeves at all makes me look like a linebacker. Neckholders and tube tops are even worse. I am quite flat-busted, so deep necklines look disappointing on me. It’s so complicated! I can’t be the only one with this problem?
    Maybe you could do a special just on T-shirts or tank tops? These are the most basic items of clothing but, I feel, they are also the most ifficult to choose.

    • Yes it’s tricky when we have body variations that take us out of the manufacturing standard – you may find that woven tops rather than knits work better for you.

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