Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Body Proportions - simplified

I have written about body proportions before, and I fear I over-complicated things.  OK, I know I did.
Let me share what I have learned since I started using this concept in choosing my necklines and hemlines for clothing.

As you may recall, there are 4 equal quadrants.  The body's half-way height is where the leg bends out at the hip.  The upper quadrants are divided by the bustline and the lower quadrants are divided at mid knee.
I refer to each of these as a height.  There is the bust height, the knee height and so forth.

In practice, I like to choose necklines and hems based on these heights.
Let me show you what I mean.  On the left is the "ideally" proportioned body based on Michelangelo.  I tend to think he knew what he was doing.  More here.



*or*


just for fun, let's look at something dumpy,  Yes, let's!


It seems to work for me.  What do you think?  Is this a bunch of mumbo-jumbo?  I am using the mini-skirt length for coats and long caridgans and I always feel good in that length.  My mini-skirt days are gone, but you will hear no complaints from me.  I wore them while I could and it's time to let the next generation have their turn.  

I will not, however, wear a wrap dress.  

Tell me what you think about this proportion stuff.


21 comments:

  1. It is really interesting, but it only addresses vertical proportions and not bust, hip, circumferences which probably have a whole different set of "rules". I would like to see it with real clothes though (not expecting you to do this, just saying!). I just can't help thinking that any shape is going to look better in a wrap dress than in a maxi length turtle neck!

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  2. LOL, good point Allison! Yeah, I am only talking about heights. The girths matter, too :)

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  3. Hmmm. Where does the rule about fifths come in? For some reason I remember something about breaking the body into fifths and maintaining a 2/5's to 3/5's ratio for a pleasing look. Don't know that I ever really think of this when choosing outfits. I also remember being told that every woman has an "ideal" length of skirt - not that I really stick to that either, but I have noticed, especially on shorter skirts - one extra inch in length and the whole thing looks somehow dowdy. May-be in the eras when women only wore skirts to the floor, there was much less angst over what to wear and how to wear it.

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  4. Here's a page that will help on human proportions for all ages and weights.
    http://www.realcolorwheel.com/human.htm

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  5. Very interesting and helpful. I would like to learn more. Guess I need to draw it out for myself like you did.

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  6. Thanks. This explains why the supposedly "universally flattering" wrap dress looks awful on me as well.

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  7. Like others have said I think it's very interesting. Of course, a little technical for most, but it does give you an accurate picture of how these will look on you.

    Thank you for taking time to share this concept.
    C

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  8. I think I did this sometime last summer. If I did it right, the only place off was in my knee/ankle area...or something.

    I need to look for it and see what it says.

    And I stuck to these rules for a while (before we moved into a building with crazy AC): long sleeve top/short bottom (skirt), short-sleeved top/long bottom (pants), tight top/loose bottom, loose top/tight bottom, light top/dark bottom.

    Seemed to work for me but I don't know if that followed any rules.

    And I'd like to see it with real clothes too! (hint, hint)

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  9. It's a great starting point :) I alter clothing for a living :) EVERY body has its' OWN SHAPE :) We all have our best necklines AND hem lengths. Personally, I am 5'7" tall, 128 lbs. I am slender but VERY BUSTY (measure about 39").. I have 34" hips. My BEST neckline is a v-neck, other necklines just accentuate my BREASTS which I do NOT want to accentuate :) Empires make me look VERY pregnant or heavy :( My thin hips and rear-end can EASILY make me look sort-of top-heavy. My point is..proportion speaking, I am OUT OF PROPORTION..TOTALLY :) I have VERY thin legs and arms.Many of my heavy-set customers do not meet ANY sort-of standard proportion either :) That's why they NEED ME :) I can alter their clothing to FIT them perfectly :)

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  10. Just wanted to join the "universally flattering dress" bandwagon. Yep...wrap dresses look terrible on me, too! Loved this post, even if I've never looked at this way. Proportion has always been important and it why we say "Oh, that hits you in an awkward spot" or "That skirt hits you just perfectly."

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  11. I adore wrap dresses, even if they are not universally flattering, they work on me!
    I find the proportion idea very interesting, but for me it is easier to tell by trial and error, rather than looking at the maths. When I make something to a formula, it fits just about as well as a pattern drafted to standard measurements.

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  12. I think it depends on someone's body type and height. Great idea though! I love your blog. I also sew in between audit engagements, refashioning "ukay-ukay" finds and turning them to okay-okay! :) -Issa of Ukay, Fine Whatever!

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  13. It's an interesting concept, still find it difficult to do this for myself.

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  14. Oh, and thanks for the link to the sewing tutorial blog. Looks nice to see it like this.

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  15. I'm an accountant...so the math part makes sense. But it doesn't address proportions that are horizontal - like my potbelly or my bubbly butt. And it doesn't address features that might not fall at the right quadrant but one might want to play up anyway - like fabulous legs, an elegant neck, or an awesome rack. But I do think it's a great starting point. I'm going to mull it over for sure!

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  16. Very interesting. I have found that wrap dress don't necessarily look good on me too. But I think there is the potential for them to look good. EVery pattern needs to be tweaked.

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  17. I'm not sure I understand how to choose the hem....surely you have options other than a mini skirt or ankle length...

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  18. Tracy - the best hems are at the lines mini-skirt (mid-thigh), mid-knee and just above ankle length.

    Every place there is a horizontal line is a good hem length.

    Same thing for necklines, a turtle neck is good, as is that dotted line above my bustline.
    :)

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  19. Now I'm itching to do a little drawing and calculating to see how this works on my own body, and how it tabulates with my own "golden ratio" research and preferences.. Neeeeet.

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  20. Thanks for doing the work and posting this! Something we are ALL interested in figuring out.

    SueC56

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  21. I love the whole thing. To me aesthetics must look at the math involved. There's a reason why things please our eyes. I don't think it's too complicated, even the measuring stuff. AND if at the very least one learns that this section is shorter than ideal and this section is longer than ideal, and the you know how to dress for those facts, you'll look better!! Thanks.

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