Apr 282015

IMG_3787.PNGAnother of the basic body shape elements is the arc waist. Basically, like the cinch waist, the arc waist is smaller than hips and shoulders; unlike the cinch waist, the arc waist continues in – ahem – an arc from below the arm to the top of the leg. 

Personally, until I understood this, I was very self-conscious about my thighs. When you understand your body type, it becomes just a body – not a collection of features that cause off-the-rack clothes to look bad. 😉

The hip shape that goes with the arc waist is called a low hip, meaning that the widest part is the top of the thigh. Styles that are fitted through the midsection and flare below the hips are natural for this body type.  

Apr 202015


When defining a body type and the styles which harmonize, I will sometimes use the term “cinch waist”. Anatomically, what I mean is a body featuring a waist nipped in above a high hip shelf, the high hip appearing wider than the low hip/upper thigh. 

A cinch waist is flattered by, among other things, garments which are – ahem – cinched at the waist. The high hip accompanying the cinch waist wears narrow skirts and trousers beautifully.

To illustrate, I built you this Polyvore. 

And here’s a special Earth Day offer: Get addl. 20% OFF to celebrate Earth Day. Buying used is green! Save on all your favorite brands like Lululemon, Free People, Anthropologie. Offer ends 04/22/2015.

Mar 262015

When I started blogging, in 2005, flares were waning and skinnies were emerging; now, in 2015, we are seeing the flipside of that trend.

Fashion cycles aside, here’s my March 2006 rundown on how each of the basic figure types works with the skinny jean silhouette, and the 2015 corrections:

Hourglass ~ With square apparently equal hips and shoulders and a nipped-in arc waist, the trick to wearing skinny jeans is to have a definite flair from the waist to the hips, a jacket or top that is slim through the torso and at least as wide as the thigh ending above it. As long as the hourglass shape is maintained in the upper body, the legs can taper (as in tucked into boots) or be straight (same width at knee and at ankle). Alternatively, extend the top to below the widest part of the thigh.

Rectangle ~ Essentially a vertical look, with shoulders and hips (and waist) equally wide, balance is maintained by keeping a straight shape. Only the skinniest rectangles (what I call a pencil) will be tucking their jeans into their boots. A heavier rectangle can still look balanced by wearing a longer topper, extending the rectangle shape to mid-thigh, and/or using the boots themselves to add a little width to the ankles.

Oval ~ Loose, drapy top over skinny jeans tucked into boots; that is an oval silhouette. Keep the shoulders narrow and the waist filled in.

Figure-eight ~ Because the shoulders are sloped in both figure-eight and oval, a narrower hem is natural. Figure-eight needs waist definition. Curvy thighs? Leave the legs out of the boots.

Triangle ~ Boot-cut is your skinny jean.Wear a longer top that creates the triangle shape, with skinny jeans under.

Wedge (Inverted triangle)~ Wider shoulders and skinnier legs are a natural with skinny jeans. Be careful to keep things close to the body around the middle, or your legs may end up looking like toothpicks.

I remember how chic tapered pants seemed when they became fashionable in the 80s. With this trend to skinny jeans, I’m keeping my jacket with shoulder pads. It’s only a matter of time. (Lol. I was wrong about that one!)

After reworking this material, I found Into Mind’s post: Why I don’t believe in dressing for my body type, very much worth reading. Honestly, if style advice seems like so much fashion legalism, that’s no fun. Even with what I have written here, they are only suggestions and there are many other ways to create an aesthetically-pleasing visual appearance.

2015 readers: how do skinnies figure into your wardrobe today? How about knee-high boots? Personally, I have uncoupled the two, finding it to be an over-saturated look.

Mar 172015

This is a fun season. I don’t mean spring, although this year (my first with an empty nest) is not bad so far; I mean this season in my professional/sartorial life. After years of reading, studying, talking, blogging, and generally obsessing about what to wear and, more significantly, how to know; I have a whole new world of technical information available to ponder. And one of my favorite things to do is to ponder a number of ideas concurrently. You never know what insights might emerge.

So, one day last week, these two excellent posts landed in my inbox on the same day:

And these two posts really got me thinking: about why I haven’t warmed up to the capsule wardrobe concept, about why it doesn’t really feel like it would work for me, about for which body types the styles pictured would work. Along with all the other resident concepts knocking around in my brain recently, these two confirmed my thinking that a capsule wardrobe is doable. But I don’t think it is as easy as we have been led to believe.

The three complications:

  1. silhouette: ideally, if I am to wear a fitted skirt, it will be with a top with a little volume, and vice versa. The best capsule wardrobes would be assembled of pieces which, when combined, create a unified silhouette.
  2. proportion: how many times have I tried to make an outfit with a really great top and bottom that don’t actually meet in the middle? It will be easier to create a cohesive capsule from pieces with length proportions which play well together.
  3. color harmony: even if I get the color values right and there is no apparent clash, there are just some colors I don’t feel as comfortable wearing together. Color combining preferences seem to be rooted in personality. What color is your coat? The simplest capsule wardrobe would include pants only in colors you like with it (your coat probably covers your skirts, otherwise same concept).

This is not a comprehensive list, just a peak into what that burning smell is coming from my ears. After chewing on this for a few days, an example of a smart casual capsule wardrobe that I think really works with these concepts arrived in my inbox via Youlookfab.


Feb 032015

The foundational first step in most of what I do is something I am calling the Style Line Analysis. Without it, I could look at the clothes in your closet and have little to no idea whether they would suit you are not. With it (and your measurements), I could pretty much do your shopping for you while you did something else. 🙂

So what is a Style Line Analysis? Basically, it covers the big considerations in putting together an outfit: shape and proportion. From a photo or in-person consultation, I identify your silhouette and proportion considerations; then, give you insight into techniques for creating balance and harmony with your clothes.

In my Spokane personal style consultancy, I require the Style Line Analysis before I do a Closet Consultation or any personal shopping; however, it is also available remotely via email. Introductory pricing for this service is only $45 – less than you were going to spend on clothes this month – 😉 why not hit the pause button and get some clarity first? I can only offer 10 of these this month, so email me today to get on the calendar: rebecca (at) between my peers (dot) com.

If the idea of hiring a personal style consultant still seems strange to you, you may appreciate this post Bridgette Raes wrote last year: What You Need to Know Before You Hire a Fashion Stylist.

Nov 072014

IMG_3053.JPGFull disclosure: I am not affiliated with Fabletics, although I think I can put a link here that would give me a referral fee.

This is another tip from the locker room. Well, not technically from the locker room, but the actual exercise studio. One of my co-sweaters (an inverted triangle with a high hip) was wearing this really cool top that created an X at her waist in the back. It was so flattering! That is how I learned about Fabletics, the subscription site for quality athletic wear, (Kate Hudson, founder). Before I even went to the site, I was ready to sign up; because if I buy the clothes, I will look like Kate Hudson when I’m exercising, right? 😉

Seriously, folks, it is the ease and affordability, the automation factor, if you will, that appeals to me.

How it works:

For as little as $25, you can get your first complete outfit when you become a member (mine was $35). There’s a little quiz that’s actually building your profile, then they give you recommendations. Unfortunately, the quiz isn’t detailed enough to for everyone to receive recommendations as spectacular and specific as my friend did; I still needed to know what works with my silhouette and proportions. And be warned: once you go through the quiz, the clock starts ticking and you have one hour to shop and join. I don’t know that failing to finish in the allotted time precludes joining later; I just would have done the quiz after looking around rather than first if I had known.

(Fabletics referral link)

Here’s where the automation comes in (the fine print):

  1. Shop Your Outfits – On the 1st of each month, we’ll send you outfits selected just for you and your workouts. Complete outfits start at just $49.95 for VIP Members, a savings of up to 40%.
  2. Buy or Skip – Purchase the outfits you love, or if nothing catches your eye, simply skip the month by the 5th.
  3. Accrue a Credit – If you don’t make a purchase or skip the month by the 5th, you’ll be charged $49.95 for 1 member credit on the 6th. Each member credit can be redeemed for 1 outfit — use it to shop anytime.

Honestly, exercise clothes are a great candidate for automation: they are less complicated to fit, they need to be replaced more often, and I just don’t want to have to put alot of creative effort into being appropriately dressed at the gym. (But I do try to be well-dressed everywhere I go.) I don’t plan on buying every month (nor does anyone else I talked to), but at these prices I could see getting a new outfit once every two or three months.

I hear the quality is good. When I experience it for myself, I will confirm. Btw, there are a ton of reviews on the Fabletics site, so I have a feeling I am a little bit behind on this one.

Oct 072014

In the artistic composition that is you, what are the dominant characteristics? They may be things that create the most challenge for you; they may be your greatest strengths. Those could be the same.

For example, today when I saw myself in the yoga studio mirror, I noticed something I hadn’t really noticed about myself before: my outline (silhouette) is comprised of short, broken lines – straight and curved – in combination. Even my shoulder line presents such. In the past, I always saw those curves as bulges; but, in reality, it is simply my design pattern.

In principle, the concepts that are likely to yield the best return aesthetically are, IMO: silhouette, length proportion, color value contrast, and style personality. Identifying the first three can be done inexpensively from a photograph.

I am still trying to develop/adapt a diagnostic instrument for what is arguably the cornerstone of personal style: personality.

Aug 232014

Is it possible that great style for one could be colossal fail for another? Of course it is! And the mini version of that is the question I often find myself thinking,

If (fill in the blank) looks so good in that, why can’t I wear it?

Usually, there are reasons; I am in the process of learning about those now. As I learn different principles, and try different concepts, I find other aspects of my look need tweaking.

So what makes style individual? My theory:

when two artistic principles conflict because of your unique body and you create an artful solution

For example, my hips are wide and my legs are short. Wide hips are supposed to be balanced by flared pants; straight leg pants with a slight taper makes legs look longer. These two principles conflict. That could be frustrating. Or an opportunity for me to develop great individual style.

Save up to 40% at the NORDSTROM Clearance Sale through September 7.

Jul 232014

And here’s why:

within your silhouette, you can always wear a shorter version with skinnys under.

It may not be easy. Back in the 90s, when the oval (long sweaters and leggings) was the look; it was all but impossible for me to achieve with my proportions. The top never quite covered my bottom. 😉

But now, I think fashions have loosened up a bit; and I have too. If I can’t find the exact thing I’m looking for, I may need to spend more or alter something to work.

So, the point I’m trying to make is this:

if you want to wear slim pants, and you are a body type that normally wouldn’t; wear a long top, or even a short dress, that creates the shape you are after for the shoulders, waist, and hips.

Nine times out of 10, that will work!

Jul 212014

As I’ve been assimilating all that I’ve been learning, I have been thinking about the most helpful things I can convey here. Chief of these: find a way to see yourself objectively.

We all kinda intuitively know that if we look in the mirror and start fluffing the hair, something is not quite right with the hairstyle. Similarly, when we look in the mirror and adjust the stance, it may be that something is not quite right with the outfit. Often, that something will be related to the silhouette.

For example, one move I find myself making from time to time, that I never really understood before, is standing with my feet further apart. The reason for this? My natural silhouette is an hourglass; I always thought I was a figure eight. If I can stand in front of my mirror with my feet together or my feet apart, that is a good outfit!

Surprisingly, it turns out, fluffing the hair can be related to silhouette too. I always want my hair to have an inverted triangle exterior shape; that is, of course, the top of an hourglass.