Ain't it the truth!!  I get a good chuckle out of that little ad so I had to include it.  Hopefully it brought a smile to your face, since usually any discussion of our current size and shape prompts growls and grumbles.  But discussed it must be! 

It's a basic fact that our bodies change over the course of our lifetimes.  Weight gains and losses, pregnancy... even those blessed thin and fit from birth will have to deal with the effects of gravity.  I'm still coming to terms with the fundamental alterations my own body incurred from my recent twin pregnancy.  (These sweet little girls were so worth it!)

Knowing your own shape really is crucial to looking good.  Accenting it, enhancing it, sometimes camouflaging and counteracting it.  Even an elementary understanding of how best to dress your shape will simplify your shopping and have you creating outfits more confidently.

But get ready for a roller coaster ride!  You probably grew up hearing about the basic 4,  Hourglass, Rectangle, Apple and Pear.  Made sense.  But nowadays there are many more ways to define body shapes.  Here is just a sampling.
  • Trinny and Susannah (brilliant British ladies and originators of What Not To Wear) revealed 12 shapes in their Body Shape Bible. Click here for some very realistic pics to go with the 12 shapes!
  • Imogen Lamport from Inside Out Style uses 7 shapes; 8, O, A, I, V, X, H.  And explains them very clearly in various posts on her blog.
  • does it with letters, 7 to be exact: M-Y-S-H-A-P-E
No matter which method of the many you use to determine your shape, grab a measuring tape and do your homework!  (Determining your shape will always require you to take your measurments.)

For a basic beginning on how best to dress your particular shape, I've posted the highlights (with edits for modest dressers) of a great article from the February issue of InStyle magazine. For a fun activity, click here to visit their Fit Profiler

Curvy Hips:

  1. Draw eyes north with bold or light colors on top and dark shades on bottom.  *Light-reflecting earrings invite upward glances.
  2. Broad necklines (boatnecks or off-the-shoulder shirts) equalize your figure.  For modest dressers, think broad lapels, strong shoulders (not shoulder pads!) and puffy sleeves.
  3. Jackets, long cardigans and dress shirts worn open create a lengthening effect, minimizing the appearance of wider thighs. 
  1. Baggy clothes have a body-shrinking effect.  Ensure fit; get things tailored if need be.
  2. Be creative with waistlines: Drop-waist tops make torsos look longer while high-rise bottoms add inches to legs.
  3. Too billowy a blouse or dizzying a print can overwhelm.  Classic, structured shapes concoct an illusion of tall and narrow.
  1. Foundation is key: INvest in a good bra with sculpted cups and sturdy straps to maintain allover smooth lift and to prevent side bulges.
  2. Avoid bulky turtlenecks, which make you look heavy from the waist up.
  3. Subtle accents on top complement decolletage while bold details (like, yes, stripes) add unwanted volume.
  1. Enhance a smaller chest with necklines that expose a bit: Pick ones with a flirty dip, like a sweetheart or a deep V.  (For modest dressers - go ahead and pair a bright or sparkly camisole with those deep V necklines!)
  2. Add curves to narrow hips by wearing a thick, low-slung belt with jeans or trousers.
  3. Experiment with new fabrics, like boucle or ones with sequin, that give a little dimension to a straighter figure.
Full Figure:
  1. By keeping the silhouette close - but not snug - to your body, you look trimmer than you would trying to hide under baggy clothes.
  2. Dark palettes minimize, but you can also go lean with bright, monochromatic hues.
  3. Too tight sleeves accentuate arm bulge.  Fabrics should skim upper arms.  Bell sleeves are always chic too.
  1. Accentuate your profile with a few pretty belts and cinch everything (from dresses to blouses) at the small of your waist.
  2. Jersey and silk lightly graze curves.  Wool and tweed add bulk.
  3. Defined, structured shoulders and exposed necklines (think V-neck) flatter busts.
  1. When dressing up, wear bottoms that rise over your belly for the smoothest lines under tops.
  2. Go for clothing basics, but make a statement with jewelry like bold necklaces or cocktail rings, which can be trotted out post pregnancy too.
  3. Don't spend a fortune on maternity wear.  Empire-waist blouses, cardigans and dress shirts untucked and open all work.

“Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.”

- Coco Chanel

One factor that often derails our summertime fashion is the lack of proportion.  Because modest dressers are covering more skin from neck to knee, our outfits can look heavy and dowdy.  Here are 4 tips to keep you looking and feeling cool!

  1. Think Teeter-Totter!  It’s all about balance and avoiding all-over volume that adds visual pounds and frumpiness.  If you’re going voluminous on the bottom, such as a maxi skirt – pair it with a trim, fitted top.  Teeter – Totter!  Maybe you choose a tunic length top with fuller sleeves – stick to slim and trim on the bottom, like a denim pencil skirt, straight cut jeans or walking shorts.
  2. Always Chic and Shape Check! While I'm sure this sign maker was attempting to create a foreground/background image, it obviously didn't work.  However, they successfully managed to portray exactly what can happen when your outfit is out of balance - you'll look much heavier than you actually are. Always take at least a quick glance in a mirror.  If you can't decipher your shape for all the clothes it's time to call a do over!  
  3. Don't assume a belt will solve it.  While a belt around the waist normally does create a nice shape where there might not have been one a moment ago, if voluminous fabric is spilling out over the top of it and flowing from under it, it "ain't done ya a lick o' good, lady!"
  4. When in doubt - cut it out!  It may be the old mantra of a surgeon but it applies to fashion as well.  If you're looking in the mirror and thinking, "I might look just a bit like a bag lady in this." - Do over!  Cut one of the voluminous pieces from the outfit and replace with something more trim.

Here are just a couple of outfits with proper proportion.  Now go keep enjoying your summer and look better too!