Nothing makes me feel less fashionable than when I get my outfit proportion wrong.
But because it’s a little bit of “I know it when I see it,” I struggled with how to write a Fashion Friday post on proportion.
Yet mastering proportion will make you feel like you’ve mastered fashion quicker than any trick in the book.
Here are a few of my rules for getting proportion right:
Pair narrow with chunky and big with small. What started me on this post to begin with was walking out for work one morning and feeling like I lived on the street. I couldn’t figure out what it was so I consulted my full length mirror (of which everyone should have one) and immediately saw the problem. I had on a more boring outfit than usual but I had married (1) suede chunky wedge booties with a wide leg trouser (ack!), and (2) a very small dark pearl necklace with an already unadorned neckline. I kept the same outfit (purple shell, animal print cardigan, and wide leg trousers which I never love) and changed to a pointed toe heel with bow embellishment and swapped out my accessories for a chunky sheer beaded necklace and waterfall earrings.
Here’s another great way to pull off bold in right proportion – note the bold color oversized coat is paired with very narrow jeans, a solid pale top, and skinny heels. She marries pattern with neutrals in the scarf and shoe. The handbag is small and the jewelry and make up are minimal.
(Photo courtesy of J. Crew.)
2. Add a fitted layering piece in to add structure and correct proportion to a tunic or oversized shirt. Otherwise, you quickly become frumpy. Note, proportion of your layering piece is key. An oversized sweater adds to the vagabond feel. A too long jacket makes it look like you forgot to tuck your shirt in. The jacket has to be short enough for it to look intentional, it has to have the structure the bigger piece lacks, and there should be enough color definition (or pattern) between the pieces to be able to pick up on the definition of the two pieces. I love this example because the added height of the ankle boot (it’s okay that they’re chunky because the jeans are super skinny) and the gap filling at the neckline make this “after” woman look brand new.
(Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping)
3. Select your “big” or “statement” item. All too often people make an item compete for attention. I love the contrast of these dos and don’ts. For example, the moto jacket with oversized animal print scarf would be spot on but when you pair it with another oversized patterned piece you look sloppy and blind. This next item is BOLD yes, but the statement is the skirt. There is no jewelry, no fussy hair, and minimal make up. Because the skirt is fitted, she can partner it with a big silhouette in the top and play with color in the simple unadorned pump. The proportion is just right.
This goes for everything. Find your eye popping item and don’t make it compete. These are great examples of an eye catching blouse where everything else is understated or a statement necklace where the outfit plays the background (don’t team statement jewelry with a statement outfit, it’s too much – and pick your piece, either the necklace or the earrings, not both):
What is your best proportion dressing tip? What is your favorite statement piece and how do you style it?