As humans, we love balance. It gives us visual equilibrium and relates to our physical sense of balance (this is why we like our pictures to hang straight on the wall).
Balance Points and Clothing
Carla Mathis (image consultant and author of The Triumph of Individual Style) wrote about Balance Points in her book and for me, reading about them brought about one of my first “ah ha” moments in my image consulting life, as I’d always noticed that some lengths of necklaces looked good on me, and others much less flatter, some clothing necklines seemed to sit at better places than others. This theory explained the reason.
Jill Chivers of 16 Style Types and I discuss the basics of Balance Points in this video.
A balance point is a ratio point on your body relating to your face (see image here).
It creates a feeling of ease and balance that makes our brains happy and provides balance between the head and upper body. The depth of your necklines should relate to the length of your face.
Finding Your First Balance Point
The first balance point is a repeat of the length of your face from hairline to chin. Now there are some instructions on measuring from the bottom of the fringe if you have one to chin, but in my experience, very few people have a fringe so dense that you don’t see forehead through it and if you do this, then if you change your hair and get rid of your fringe, all your necklines are then in the wrong spot. This is why I work from hairline to chin and then repeat this distance down (in a 2D way).
In all my years of measuring balance points on my clients, what has been interesting is that for the vast majority of people, the first balance point sits at the breastbone, at the top of the cleavage.
The first balance point is your ideal point to end your lower necklines (such as Vs and scoops, cowls etc), or where you start seeing skin in a buttoned up blouse or shirt. This is where adding a cami or b-string underneath your lower necklines (that go lower than your ideal first balance point) will bring that point up and provide the right balance for your head and body.
Finding Your Second Balance Point
The second balance point is your ideal “high” neckline point (not collar), for higher necklines such as crews, halter and boat necks. Your second balance point is also ideal for putting a feature pendant or brooch or having some other detail on your clothing.
In my years of experience I’ve tended to find that for most people, the 2nd balance point sits just below the collarbone (so if you’re not sure, that’s a pretty safe bet).
Now if you want to wear a longer necklace, use your balance points in multiples to find your ideal placement. Ideally your first balance point, but you can also use your second balance point doubled.
Necklace Placement Using Balance Points
Placing the feature element or end of your necklace on a balance point is ideal. If you’re wearing a top with a neckline that finishes at your first balance point, then either wear a necklace that ends at your second balance point or doubles the length of your first balance point.
If you’re wearing a top with a higher neckline that finishes at your second balance point, then opt for either double the length of your second balance point or at your first balance point.
If you have a long necklace that you loop around your neck multiple times, then why not choose to end the lengths at each of your balance points.