New series: Fashion Friday

My passion for knitting, in addition to giving me something to do with my ever-fidgeting hands, is really all about my passion for clothing. I love clothes. I love the way they change our appearance, I love the way they can reflect my mood. I love the way they can change my mood, if it needs to be changed.

There’s that moment, on the first crisp fall day, when I pull on my boots, slip on a favorite pair of cords, and shrug into my first woolly sweater day of the season. And that moment, in the hot, breezy days of summer when I put on my lightest cotton skirt and near-scandalous tank top, to feel the warmth on my skin. And that moment when, nervous about a big presentation at work, I pull on my most favorite suit–and my nervousness disappears in the act of pulling together a totally professional appearance.

(And, lest you think I’m getting too saccharine about all of this, all those times in college when I threw on a bunch of torn black clothing and combat boots, and instantly transformed into someone super-fierce.)

And so I’ve been thinking lately: If I love clothing so much, why isn’t there more of it here? If I take great care in the items I choose out, and spend more time than I want to admit stalking this or that online, why is this integral part of my knitting passion never explored on this blog?

Enter Fashion Friday. A weekly blog series where I deconstruct an outfit, explore a fashion topic, explicitly talk through what’s going through my head as I choose my clothing. Often related to hand-knitting, but not exclusively. I hope you enjoy them!

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Today, for this first installment in the series, I’m going to start with the outfit on my Fit to Flatter page and step through why the same clothes can give such a different visual impression.

f2f-blog-recrop-1 website-lightened-3

To begin with, let’s go over some basics. First, these are the exact same items of clothing, in the exact same lighting, makeup, etc. conditions. I’m smiling in both pictures.

I am uncomfortable as all get-out, though, in the right-hand picture, which brings me to my first point about fashion:

If you’re not comfortable in it, you won’t look good in it.

I say this on the Fit to Flatter page explicitly, but it bears repeating here: Your happy spot, clothing wise, is a very personal one. I’m not out to give you some crazy, restrictive rule set that you need to live slavishly by. I’m here to help you think about your clothing, the picture you want to paint to the rest of the world, and how your wardrobe can get you there. So if something doesn’t feel good? Don’t wear it!

There are four underlying principles for how clothing changes the way your inherent body shape looks.

  • Horizontal lines or visual impressions will broaden a region of the body.
  • Vertical lines or visual impressions will narrow a region of the body.
  • Covering it in a single piece of fabric/color/texture will lengthen a region of the body.
  • Placing many different pieces of fabric/color/texture will shorten a region of the body.

So what’s going on in these outfits? First, I should share my underlying body shape: I’m proportional, or balanced, from shoulder to thigh; my hips are narrower, I have a fairly straight waist and a larger bust. My torso is long, and my legs short, for my height.

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Let’s start with the right-hand side first. There aren’t really any strong horizontal or vertical lines present in the way I’m wearing my outfit–the hem of my sweater paints a small horizontal line, and the buttons on my sweater paint something of a vertical line–but they’re pretty subtle. So the eye travels elsewhere:

  • You can see many details of my figure underneath this very plain clothing.
  • You can see the texture of my tummy, particularly my lower tummy under my jeans.
  • Your eye is drawn to my hands and thighs, since they’re a bright spot.
  • My torso gets lengthened by the solid block of gray, and my legs (already short for my height) get shortened further by the different visual sections in my shoes, socks, legs, pant cuffs, and pants. My calves in particular look quite short.

Contrast that with the visual impressions I’m giving in the left-hand picture:

f2f-blog-recrop-1

  • The contrast and lines of the different colors and shapes draw the eye away from the exact details of my figure.
  • My tummy now sort of recedes behind the interest of the lines of the cardigan, tank, and jeans.
  • The eye is drawn to the strip of brighter orange down the center of my torso, and up to my face with the deep V-neckline.
  • My torso gets shortened by lots of different visual sections; my legs get lengthened by my plan, long-hemmed pants.
  • A curvier waist is painted through the use of buttons.

There are lots of reasons I’m more comfortable in the clothing on the left, and other people perceive me differently as a result. Again–I’m not saying one way is “right” and the other “wrong” for everyone–far from it! But for me personally, one outfit makes me feel beautiful, and the other dumpy. And that shows!

You’re lovely. We are all lovely. Shouldn’t our clothes make us feel that way, too?

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new series–do you like it? Hate it? Have a request for one topic or another? Please, get in touch in the comments or in email, I’d love to hear from you. See you next Friday!

Comments

  1. Sarah JS says

    Love, love, love the new series. I find it very helpful to go over specific examples — I suppose just as a wine tasting class can point out what to take note of and to offer language for the experience.

    Another reason to look forward to Fridays now!

  2. Jenn says

    This is great, Amy, thanks. You’ve neatly put into words things that made sense to my lizard brain but that I could not necessarily articulate.

  3. Eva says

    This is such a great example!
    I read the ftf series on your blog earlier. I think you’re expressing and demonstrating the ideas in an even clearer way now. These principles are amazing tools for both picking and designing patterns. And for clothes shopping, of course :-) think I’ll definitely have to get your book.
    Oh, and you’re a really good model!

  4. Sara O says

    I think you wore this outfit at the F2F class I took. It was like magic seeing the difference between the 2 looks!

  5. says

    What a great idea for a series!
    I grew up short, small and small busted in a family of tall, larger, busty women and although I have developed a “feel” for what suits me and what suits others, I’m not so good at articulating why. This is going to be fun :)

  6. Heather says

    This is a fantastic example. I think I should invest in a tripod so I can start examing my own outfits. Thank you for your positive message. We are oftentimes too cruel to ourselves. You help us to see ourselves positively no matter what size or shape.

  7. says

    I love this! And I just bought your book, thank you! I’ve seen some of the other blog posts, but having the book is easier for me.

    I totally agree, we should be comfortable in what we wear and how we wear it.

  8. Sylvia says

    Love this feature! Please continue it.

    (And I just bought your book today, and I’m in your Craftsy class, too!)

  9. christine arnone says

    Love it ! You present great examples and know how to put it all into words to make it easily understood. We should feel happy in our clothes. You look so closed up on the right. Even with the smile you are still exuding the unhappiness. Thanks for this series, Amy.

  10. Cari says

    Love it! Just when I thought Friday couldn’t get any better…Fashion Friday. More, please!

  11. Ray in CA says

    I, too, really like the idea of a Fashion Friday. I may be a bit older than a lot of your readers. I am 63 and have just retired. I find myself struggling a bit with how to dress. It’s so easy to pull on comfy sweat pants and a t-shirt, but that’s not really how I want to appear all the time – even to myself. So, I’ll be interested in seeing how this series goes – and hopefully get some ideas for comfy but good-looking (on me) outfits.

    I do have a question for you that I haven’t seen discussed. I understand why you “build” your sweaters in pieces, but how do you actually handle the length of the pieces – just measuring, counting rows, or knitting the front & back at the same time – then the two sleeves at the same time. I always knit two socks at the same time for just this reason – and I’ve knit mainly top-down sweaters.

    Thanks in advance for your insight.

  12. says

    Amy, I LOVE this idea and will be here every Friday. I think this series will help cement the principles of getting a flattering fit even deeper in our minds! Wow – the difference in those two pictures is incredible. Thank you!

  13. says

    Bring on the rest of this series! I’d love to read more about these ‘magic’ tricks, it’s incredible how details can make such a difference. :)

  14. Hind says

    I think the new series is wonderful, and I love this first installment. I’m amazed at how a few simple changes can make such a big difference. Not only is your outfit more flattering in the left hand picture, but you look more relaxed and approachable. Thank you for putting this together. I look forward to reading more.

  15. Evi says

    I’m looking forward to Fashion Friday. This is a great idea and very informative. Amazing how your eyes see things differently. There’s hope for this old knitter.

  16. Susan says

    I just bought your book which I am devouring. I am certain I will absolutely love this new series! The pictures of the same clothes, different looks, have given me some feedback to think about when choosing my outfits. Thank you. – Susan aka “buttonband” on ravelry.

  17. Kathleen says

    Love the idea of Fashion Friday. Developing a better eye for what flatters is going to save me a lot of money–it will keep a lot of those what was I thinking items out of my closet and help in putting together better looks from what is there. Thanks.

  18. Robin F. says

    Now even I can understand it!! Thanks. The better to rearrange my outfits as needed.

  19. SarahG says

    I think this is great! As a new mom, with a different body than I had a year ago, I feel like I do ‘t know where to start with my clothes. This series looks like it will help me out! Thanks!

  20. Katinka says

    I’m built similarly to you, so I welcome the series!

    (P.S. I’m traveling for Spring Break and can’t wait to get home because I have your book waiting for me!)

  21. Dana says

    I am looking forward to fridays. I am totally not someone who dresses after the latest fashion but I do like clothing, playing around with it and exploring what influence it has on people. And yes, I like beautiful clothes (though not shopping for them, probably due to the abundance of non-fitting and not well made clothes in the shops). I am excited to hear what you have to say on the subject. I am sure it will be most interesting. Especially when my figure is much like yours, actually. I am bound to steal your ideas, I am afraid ;-)
    Thanks a lot!

  22. Pat says

    I love the idea of this series. I see so many beautiful sweaters that I would love to knit, but I’m not always sure how to style them or choose what to wear with them. This first installment is super helpful, and I’d love to see more just like it, plus ideas for dressing sweaters up or down, and how to choose what to wear under a sweater, like how the orange tank both brightens and elongates. I finally understand the principles of balancing a look through a garment’s shape and lines, thanks to you, and I’d love to learn more about how you use and think about color.

    Congratulations again on the book release, and thank you so much for the incredibly fun and amazingly educational party last night!

  23. says

    This is great! I’m really looking forward to more. Once again, having two pictures is so much more informative than just one that shows the ‘right’ way. I’m trying to screw up the courage to get rid of a lot of clothes that just don’t feel right, and this will help me articulate why they don’t work.

  24. Liz says

    You’re so right that clothes influence the way you feel! Thank you for a great new series. I look forward to the next installment and hope to learn a lot.

  25. Diane says

    Amy I love your blog and patterns! And I think fashion friday is a great idea.
    I’d love any of the sweater patterns offered.Thank you very much…and the yarn company as well.

  26. RebeccaL says

    I love this series! My question is about sleeve length. I have heavy upper arms that don’t really taper to my elbows, especially as I’ve become heavier. Now if I wear long or three quarter sleeves I am fine, but shorter sleeves tend to make me look heavier than I really am. So, what length of sleeve above the elbow is most flattering for me?

  27. fiberlicious says

    I’m am an Amy fangirl, as you know. And while you have great insight into the structure of clothing and fit, your greatest gift is being able to really translate the geometry into an easily understood narrative. You, my dear, are a treasure, and I will eagerly await Fridays.

    Now, off to read my just-arrived book…

  28. says

    I like this a LOT. The visual, and then the explanation really nails it. How about differences in what different clothes choices do to big boobs/little boobs/big butt/little butt/big tum/little tum/ hips, etc.?
    So much I have not thought about, use old rules that don’t work!