Too frequently, we buy or make clothes we think we’ll love, only to find them either just hanging in the closet or being worn self-consciously.
Many of these discouraging experiences can’t be blamed on the sewer’s skill or the purchaser’s sense of style. Instead, the issue often lies in the optical illusion created between the stripes, prints, colors, fabrics or styles chosen on YOUR body.
Keep in mind that every style looks great on a mannequin and the models used on the pattern envelope. If you’re like me though, you may have lumps and bumps and problem fitting areas those models never seem to have. For that reason when planning any garment or outfit you should consider that our clothing choices nearly always create SOME kind of optical illusion. The trick is to make sure that any illusion you’re creating will be flattering and not disappointing.
Here are a few examples of fashion optical illusions that can occur with various prints, stripes, colors and types of fabrics:
Princess or A-line seams produce a “narrowing” effect that makes the wearer appear slimmer.
Sleeveless, short, tight or cap style sleeves all call attention to the arms and put them on display. If you have heavy upper arms or are self conscious about extra thin arms, look for loose or flowy sleeve styles instead.
A fabric that clings to the body can give a skeletal impression on too-thin body parts. Around bulges however, the clinging fabric can create cruel, framing shadows. A more loosely woven fabric will be kinder to thicker or thinner areas.
Solid colors, vertical lines and narrow V-necks will heighten a body. Contrasting colors in tops and skirts as well as big bold prints, will make the body appear shorter. For example, the nude shoe in the image above makes the models legs look longer while a matching red shoe would give her legs a shorter appearance.
Turtlenecks, mandarin or scarf-tied collars, chokers and fussy necklines can shorten an already short neck, or hide a long one. These styles can also be used to help hide a saggy neck or wrinkled chest.
Figures appear rounder and fuller in double breasted jackets and blouses, as well as in large prints and plaids.
Waists seem to expand with wide or conspicuous belts, or buckles, or with bulky or stiff fabrics. Shirts or dresses with several rows of elastic sewn at the waistline will emphasize a small waist or thicken a large one and can shorten your height, while semi-fitted dresses with a V-neck and A-line skirt will give a thinner and taller appearance.
Consider your own body type and any positives you may want to emphasize along with any “flaws” you may want to hide. Every BODY is different and it’s our differences that make us unique and beautiful. Learning what works for you and your body type will help you to choose outfits that flatter and you’ll feel great when you wear them!