Diva Dressing

This month we’re going to look at how to dress to suit our body shape and so our imbalances – we all have them and to a certain extent we all compensate for some of it instinctively, but when it works and when it doesn’t we know it but we have no idea why and this is what I try to help people with.

When you look at a mantelpiece or shelve your brain, through your eyes, likes to see it balanced, this doesn’t mean it has to be exactly the same each side, but it need to balances out. If a picture is crooked it really annoys us and puts the whole wall out of balance, our brain does this assessment immediately and instinctively and this is what happens when you look in the mirror, you have a perfectly good outfit nice colour and it looks great on your friend who is the same height and weight as you, but for some reason (of which you’re sure) it looks wrong and so you take that outfit off and it goes to the back of the wardrobe again and again!!

Now if you are to make use of this month’s article you need to have done some work from last month (please refer to October’s The Psychology of Clothes. If you haven’t seen that article you can get it, and all of the magazine archive, by subscribing). Once you have read that article you should now have a few measurements dotted on a piece of paper and some explanation of what that means – so let me try and make it all a bit clearer. First check your measurements are in centimetres (this just makes the measuring more accurate).

Your sheet should look something like this:
You will be:
Tall or
Medium or

You will have:
Long legs with a short body or
Short legs with a long body

It is interesting to note that if you are very tall, you will have always assumed that you have long legs because you wear long legged trousers from Long Tall Sally or you can never find any long enough and your legs are longer than anyone else’s, but please be aware that they can be short when we’re talking about them in comparison with the length of your torso, so please trust the figures.

This also applies to people who are short in stature; you can often have long legs in comparison with your body. I love it when this happens as it can turn a light bulb on for the client as everything they have ever thought about their figure gets turned on its head!

Your will have discovered that you are:
Short-waited or
Long-waisted or

Your overall body shape will be:
Inverted Triangle or
Straight or
Apple or
Pear or
Hourglass or
Round if you are an hourglass carrying too much weight

You will have discovered that your bone structure is:
Fine or
Medium or

So let’s start at the beginning and talk about people with:

Short Legs and a Long Torso
We have a choice when we have short legs to lengthen them in one of two ways.
First we can lengthen them from the bottom, now obviously this can be done very easily with heels. BUT please be aware that this will only work if the shoes are covered up, this also goes if you are wearing flat shoes. Your legs will look longer if you cannot see the shoes. For this to happen your will need to be wearing boot leg trousers, Kick flares or wide leg trousers, a couple of millimetres off the floor.

What? I hear you say, do I do when I sometimes wear high shoes and sometimes wear flat – well the easiest option is to buy your trousers to match you shoe height. With jeans – if you are fortunate enough to find a pair that fit you perfectly and you want to wear them for both casual day time in flat shoes and going out attire with heels, then the only option is to buy them in TWO lengths this will extend the life of your trousers and make you look far more elegant on both occasions.

Trousers that fit you fantastically from a cheaper shop e.g. Tesco, will look more expensive on you than an expensive pair that don’t fit you so well!!! They just won’t last as long, so it is worth looking everywhere for that perfect pair of Jeans – but it can be tiring!

If extending your leg length from the bottom isn’t easy then you have to extend your leg length from the top – this means wearing shorter jackets and tops – a great effortless way to make your legs appear longer is to wear the same colour trouser and tee shirt so you have block colour and then have a shorter jacket, cardie or crop top in a contrasting colour, this give the eye the illusion of the legs being long and the body a lot shorter.

If, for whatever reason both of these fail then you have to give yourself some extra help with the use of verticals
Pin stripes on the trouser – Crease down the front
The more you do lengthen at the bottom, lengthen at the top and have verticals then the longer and more elegant your legs will look.

When it comes to short Legs then horizontals are your enemy as horizontals cut off and make things look shorter – no turn ups, no combat trousers as they have horizontals all the way down with zips and pockets, no checks or major patterns! Keep everything plain and simple.

Another aspect to remember, is the back view – when you have a long torso this can make your bottom look very long and flat which is not a good look – to prevent this happening we have to use horizontals to our advantage, because they cut off they can also give the appearance of making things seem smaller by breaking an area up, so pockets (the higher on the bum the better) waistband seams will all break that bottom area up – remember to look at the rear view!!!

With skirts life can get very complicated. As a general rule ladies with short legs should only wear two lengths – Very long and knee and above – how short you go is dependent on how good your legs are and to a certain extent your age – but so long as thick tights are worn, I don’t think age is too much of an issue!!

Skirts that waft in the middle of these two lengths will make you feel mumsie and dowdy and generally not good – you can improve the look by wearing higher heels and wearing boots that are the same colour as the skirt. The longer the skirt the shorter the top and the shorter the skirt the longer the top can be as we still have lots of leg showing.
Dresses on the whole should be kept knee and above!

So in a nut shell here is a check list to use and some things to avoid:

Short Legs and Long Torso ~ Choose:

* Attention at or above the waist
* Belts (if your waist is trim) as you have room on your top area
* Interesting buttons on jackets, keeping the trouser simple
* Short jackets, Bolero to hip length
* Shorter skirts just above knee to mini, depending on age and muscle tone
* Hosiery to tone with skirt and shoes
* Higher shoes
* Hem to the ground when wearing trousers with high heels
* Dresses over trousers cover up where the legs begin, but only with high heels
* Palazzo pants
* Wide flares with heels
* You probably have long back, so layer t-shirts
* Three-quarter length jacket worn with trousers and heels
* Long skirts have to have heels
* Calf length skirt with high boots in the same colour
* Keep colour flowing – same on shoe, sock and trouser


* Light or patterned hosiery
* Long Jackets, especially if teamed with long skirt
* Flat shoes
* Cropped trousers will only accentuate your lack of leg
* Second dropped waistband
* Drainpipe jeans unless tucking in to jeans and keep boots well below knee
* High-waisted trousers – accentuate a low-slung bum
* Bias cut skirt ending mid calf
* Long skirt and flat shoes

Now if you have Long legs and a Short body – aren’t you lucky, but here are few guide lines for you – but believe you me you have it so much easier!

Long legs and short torso ~ Choose:

* Long skirts
* Skirts on the bias
* Kick pleats
* Knife pleats
* Long sarongs
* Detailed hemlines
* Longer jackets
* Unstructured jackets ending mid-thigh/knee (if hips not too broad)
* Drop-waisted dresses
* Low slung hip belts


* Short skirts too far from the knee
* High heeled shoes
* Deep belts
* Fuss at the waistline

So now that you’ve learnt a few tricks of the trade, next month we will look at the different body shapes

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