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    What's Right for Your Body Type?

    Excerpted from
    The Pocket Stylist: Behind the Scenes Expertise from a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look
    By Kendall Farr

    If you've read this far, then you understand that clothing is designed for silhouette first and measurements second. I'll mention this again (yes, count on me to flog this point throughout the book): your silhouette, the essential frame you are born with, is the beginning of any conversation you have with clothes. Our measurements change-they naturally go up and down in a lifetime and they can be changed considerably with exercise and diet-but your frame remains the one constant in the equation.

    Your edited list, from bottoms to tops, is based on what I have found to be the right shapes for your frame. How do I define right? Naturally, it's an assessment based on what wall streamline your body and give you the almighty unbroken line I mentioned earlier. When a woman develops her eye to choose and adapt clothing that best flatters her particular shape-not an idealized shape-she has also tapped into a timeless aesthetic of balance, proportion, and line. In your stylist s opinion, this is the foundation of real personal style. Forget the vagaries of fashion, lets concentrate on elevating your reality.

    As you flip to your body type and read through your list of shapes and proportions, keep this in mind: this is not just a shopping list for this season-think of this as your list for any season, any year. There are only so many ways to skin a cat. Remember, designers don't reinvent silhouettes every season, they reexamine them and tweak them a bit for newness. So, when you know what you're looking for, you will always spot seasonal reinterpretations of your shapes as you shop. You'll also find four illustrated looks that combine ideal silhouettes and proportions from casual to cocktails, which can serve as a visual blueprint for the shopping ahead.

    For All Body Types

    Shape, should be at work in any piece of clothing you choose: what you want to downplay or de-emphasize you'll want to dress simply, without a lot of details that draw in the eye. What you want to highlight and expose are places for detail, color, embellishment, something trendy. I'll elaborate on all of this as we move along.

    I recommend that ever)' body type wear her skirts at knee length. Visually you know your own best hem length is the point at which your legs look their longest and slimmest. Whether yours is just above or just below the knee, at the knee is a general guideline for a length that will show off your legs at their best. If you've got great legs, by all means raise your hemline a bit when shorts skirts are a part of the trends landscape. A caveat, however: stand with your hands by your side and make sure that your hem reaches the tip of your middle finger. If it doesn't, your skirt is disproportionately short for your height (not to mention a little tarty-looking). I'll outline the best shapes in skirts-at various lengths-for your body type.

    As you read on, you'll see that I recommend a low waistline (hits about 1" to 1 1/2" below your navel for average sizing and at the navel for full-fashion sizing) for pants and jeans. If you a have a rounded abdomen (and who doesn't at least once a month, a day, an hour?) a waistband that sits high on your waist appears to mold fabric around your belly. A low waistline creates the illusion of a longer torso and, by placing a horizontal line through the fullness, the illusion of a flatter stomach.

    You'll also see that I emphasize hemming your pants to wear with heels to lengthen your body line and raise your rear view. Honestly ladies, I am not a sadist. I know there are times when you must be built for speed and comfort and that means wearing flats or sneakers. But a girl must have different hem lengths in her closet; including at least a few pairs of pants with a killer fit that you can throw on with at least a kitten heel to look a little longer and leaner.

    To my eye. sleeveless and cap-sleeve tops are not your friends at any size unless your arms are toned. For the millions of us that do not have toned arms-or who hold weight in our arms-our best bet is to cover them. Think about it, the eye is immediately drawn to any expanse of skin. The skin you show off should flatter your overall silhouette.

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