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Balance Points

This is a method used in the art world to show the level at which a neckline or necklace will be aesthetically pleasing.

Your first balance point is the length of your face from your hairline to your chin, and then take this distance and measure down from the chin to your chest.

This is the ideal place to have a flattering neckline or longer necklace.

The v of my gingham shirt sits at the first balance point,as does the knot of the longer pearls in the white denim skirt outfit.

The second balance point is measured from your cheek bone down to your chin. You then take this distance and measure from your inner shoulder (the area before your shoulder turns into your neck) down.

This will be roughly the collar bone on most people. My pearls sit at the second balance point.

This is a good place for a necklace to sit. You can double balance points if you want to wear a really long necklace.

The longer your face, the lower the balance points will be, however you will tend to have a longer decolletage and vice versa. You may find it worthwhile investing in a few necklace extenders then you can set your chains to just the right length.

Reference: Timeless Beauty Mathis and Connor (1993)

Torso

There are three points in the torso where you might have long, short or balanced proportions, in relation to your overall body proportions that you worked out in section one.

These are:

  1. The decolletage 
  2. The waist
  3. The rise

The Decolletage

This is the area between your chin and you midpoint of your breasts, which is approximately halfway down your upper arm. The mid point between your elbow and shoulder.

Many clients think they have a long decolletage when the real issue is that they have a bra that is not supporting them correctly.

A well fitting bra will put the largest part of your breasts at the mid point of your upper arms. You should not have more than an inch of give in the shoulder strap.

If you have, then they are too loose and should be tightened. If the fullest part of the breast lies very high up your arm then your straps may be too tight.

The band that goes around your body should fit snugly and should provide the majority of support for your breasts.

The band should be level. If it rises at the back then it is likely to be too large and you should try moving in the hooks to make the band smaller. If it digs into you then the band could be too tight, or too narrow.

Larger breasts are usually better supported by a wide band and three hooks. For smaller breasts you will get adequate support from one, but preferably two hooks.

After altering your bra to fit correctly, and your décolletage is proportionally long, and you would like it to look proportionally smaller, then you can use bigger necklaces, fussier necklines or layer necklaces to fill in the space. Bows or ruffles on shirts will add detail to a longer neck area.

If your décolletage is balanced, then choose whatever takes your fancy. If your décolletage is proportionally small, then smaller necklaces and simpler tops won't overpower your face.

Long or short waisted?

Calculate the proportions of your waist area then decide if you want to use any of the stylist tricks to change the proportion of your waist.

Short waisted means your natural waistline sits closer to your bust line than your hips. Long waisted is where your natural waistline sits lower down the torso and closer to the hips, than the bust. A balanced waist sits around about the middle of these two points on your body.

If you have a balanced waist to torso ratio, then you should find less problems getting a good fit on items such as jumpsuits and waisted dresses. However, if you are short or long waisted then you may find the waist doesn't sit in the correct place for you and may not be in a comfortable place for your body. Having a larger bust will also pull up the waist line of dresses.

If you are short waisted, then you usually have either long legs or you have a long rise and either short or balanced legs.

Pear shapes have a tendency to be long waisted.

Hourglasses tend to be short or balanced.

Some body shapes don't have a defined waist but can still be proportionally long or short waisted. If you are short waisted be careful of wide belts as they can take up all your torso.

To make a short waist look longer:

  • Opt for mid or low rise jeans
  • Chose skirts that have waistlines that sit lower down, rather than high waisted.
  • To elongate your torso, choose a belt that matches your torso rather than you trousers.

To make a long waist look shorter:

  • Opt for empire line or high waisted dresses and skirts.
  • Choose medium rise or high waisted jeans
  • To shorten the torso, choose a belt that is the same colour as your jeans, and not your top.

You should also look at where the hemline of your top sits.

A fairly fail safe option is to end your top hemlines on your higher hip. Some people worry that this will draw the eye to their bottom and thighs, especially if they tend to be proportionally bigger through this area, however hemlines draw a horizontal and therefore draw the eye. The eye will then focus higher up the body and not on the hips, or upper thighs.

A high hip length usually creates flattering proportions. Longer tops might take your portions more towards 50/50 ratio then the more flattering rule of thirds.

You can see in this example from Sylvia of her tan colored top and long jeans that the most flattering length is the third one, at high hip length. It elongates the legs and creates flattering proportions.

If you like to wear your tops long, then consider an asymmetric hemline instead.

As the line is then diagonal, the strong horizontal is not created at the midpoint of the thighs, and the eye is drawn up the diagonal, acting more like a vertical line than a horizontal one. This creates a more flattering look.

The Rise

Your rise may be balanced with the rest of your proportions, or you may have either a long or short rise.

Those with a long rise, or a long bottom, will struggle with low rise jeans as they will feel like they are falling off their body and expose too much underwear, most likely.

Medium or high rise are likely to be a more comfortable fit.To make the bottom look optically smaller,  wear a wide belt over your hips rather than a thinner belt on your waist or empire line.

Having jackets where the hemline finishes at the high hip also helps to disguise a long rise. Like the hip belt, it chops the bottom in half.

I have a long rise and proportionally short legs but in this skirt you don't know if I have long legs and a short rise, or short legs and a long rise.

The jacket hemline also finishes at the high hip level and hence visually cuts my bottom in half too. Dresses have the same impact as a skirt does.

When you wear a dress no one knows how long your bottom is and if you wear a skirt, it is also difficult to tell where your rise ends and your legs begin.

If you have a short rise, it generally means you have long legs. Lucky you! Most women prefer to show these off, however a high hip length jacket or top is usually the most flattering length.

Dresses

A dress can be one of the easiest items to wear as it often creates the pleasing 2/3 - 1/3 silhouette automatically.  The best length of your dress is determined by the rule of thirds.

If you are short or petite, then your dress usually looks best when it is shorter so that the leg part is one third of the total look. If you are tall your skirts and dresses can be longer.

A midi dress can look unbalanced which is why many women find these dresses harder to wear, but you can overcome this by wearing a shorter jacket and heels. When there is a high waistline on a maxi dress, it tends to make the legs appear proportionally longer and most women are usually happy to have that part of their body appear longer.

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