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From Design To Wear, Helping Clients Understand The Principles Of A Garment

Helping Clients Understand The Principles Of A Garment

Some people look at a piece of clothing hanging on a rack and simply see the garment in the very black and white terms of ugly or pretty. In reality, there’s an entire color spectrum of principles that exist between those two adjectives that can be applied to a total look. It’s time to travel from design to wear and get to know the principles you should be applying to make your image a true success. 

Is Your Image Just Okay? 

Whether it’s your personal, social, or professional life, your image is the first thing that speaks for you, and what you’re wearing is often the first ingredient people use to analyze the recipe that makes you who you are. 

If you’re image is just okay, then your successes will likely be the same bland mixture of failures and lucky breaks. Consistent success takes effort, and that effort should begin with investing in making your image all that it can be. How? 

There’s an art to conveying your personal and brand messages. It begins by understanding that your look isn’t created in terms of a single piece of clothing being ugly or pretty. Instead, it’s all the cumulative of how it applies to your specific body and purpose and whether it communicates your intent with confidence, clarity, and credibility. 

So, the big question is how do you ensure the smooth transition from selection to wear? Aside from personal taste, you’ll need four key ingredients! 

1. Proportion

This is the relationship between the areas, distances, parts, amounts, and degrees of the garment. You’ll pay careful attention to both width and length. 

Width is used to create eye-pleasing dimensions. Go with a narrow top and wide bottom or vice versa. You can even go with both a narrow top and bottom, but you should never wear a wide top and bottom together. 

Length is used to create eye-catching lines. Unequal lengths of short over long or long over short can add a touch of interest and break monotone lines. Just be sure to account for scale in your personal selection so that a garment doesn’t overwhelm your body’s dimensions. 

2. Balance

Balance is what coordinates your look, pulling it together as to not allow any one element to appear overbearing. You’ll need to address layering, coloring, and accessorizing: 

• Layering & Coloring 

Let’s say you have black slacks and a black sweater on with a leopard-print shawl. The shawl’s uneven line adds an area of interest in the layering, and you end up with one layer from the pants and sweater and a second from the shawl’s print. Meanwhile, you’d get three layers out of brown pants, a burgundy top, and a camel vest. 

Both sound like good outfits, but do you know which is the better pick? The brown pants. Why? Layers should be worn in odd numbers. Even numbers, especially in solids, are boring to the eye and don’t attract its attention. 

Layers in odds gives you more power to focus the eye where you want it – your best features. Of course, accessories can draw the eye upward and offer a focal point, but you still do not want to accessorize the monochromatic and traditional white with black, red or navy as this would distract from the already uneven symmetry you’ve created. 

Hosiery in the same color as your hemline offers a great opportunity to shake up the evenness of your look, too. This is also a great way to add the illusion of length to the lower body. 

• Accessorizing 

Unless worn as a single statement piece, keep the unequal numbers going for layering necklaces and bracelets, too. 

Avoid wearing all the same composition of jewelry. An 80:20 ratio of golds and silvers encourages the eye to take in all your pieces. 

3. Emphasis 

Highlight your best features by using emphasis, and, yes, we all have a crowning feature. 

Repeating a pattern, shape, or design in your clothing naturally makes the eye pay attention to that particular area. Meanwhile, we can shift the focus away from problem areas by not emphasizing it and shifting the attention to a distant area. 

Let’s look at some common emphasis tricks: 

• If your bustline is smaller, then you can use a scooped neckline to create the illusion of size.  


• Avoid wearing earring, collar, and lapel shapes that match the shape of your face. Square earrings, for example, exaggerate the squareness of a square face. Likewise, a rounded collar intensifies the roundness of a face that a sharp-edged collar would otherwise lessen. 

• Avoid rough, fluffy textures if you have thinning hair or skin issues. Smoother fabrics will not emphasize such problems. 

• Use color wheel and design opposites to attract attention. Let’s say you have beautiful green eyes, for example. Wearing color wheel opposites green above the waist and red above the face will intensify the green of the eyes. 

4. Rhythms

All clothing falls into one of four basic silhouettes – fitted, semi-fitted, square and stiff, or square and soft. This describes the outside shape of garment, and it should move with your rhythm and energy to be the best pick. Let’s look at the differences: 

Fitted – Snug fit with limited movement and minimal comforts. It leaves little room to hide imperfections and insecurities. Its purpose is generally to attract attention from romantic suitors or physique appreciation from social peers. This is rarely to never appropriate as business attire. 

Semi-fitted – The interior design is more giving than a fitted garment, leaving just enough room to comfortably glide over your figure as you move. It’s made to enhance all your assets whilst still camouflaging your less desirable areas. It’s appropriate for any occasion and location. 

Square & Stiff – This garment lacks shape. It’s a straight design that hides all the dimensions of your figure under a matronly pool of fabric. It’s rarely an attractive look, and it can make you seem unapproachable and introverted. 


Square & Soft – These garments retain the shape of square and stiff designs, but the softness and lightness of the material allow the garment to waterfall over your shape in much more flattering way. In fact, it’s a flattering pick for almost any body shape and size. It’s simple. It’s comfortable. Yet, you don’t sacrifice your shape. 

It’s A Recipe, Not A Single Ingredient 

In closing, it’s imperative that clients understand that the actual look of their image exceeds the single ingredient of ugly verses pretty criteria in selecting garments to fill it. A total look melds the visual appeal of a garment with its proportion, balance, emphasis, and rhythms to create the perfect look recipe.