Proportion, Silhouette and Style...

what could we possibly all have in common?...

kendra standing.jpg

LOVE & CLOTHES!!'s all about creativity...It's about fixing...and letting go of those issues that bother us.  Seeing colors and shapes on your storyboards is not about life's beauty from without...even though you might find a color, a shape, or a hemline from the picture.  Somewhere, within your collage, there are common elements that will express who you are; showing colors and textures that you are innately drawn to. Style; trendy, classic, or goth? Go for color? Shapes? Check your pictures again. How about necklines?

So go ahead...we do this for collections, stages, closets, and we know it works.

Looking at the inspiration board (or pile of magazine pages) focus on five pieces. Then choose three colors (including black and white, of course) and then choose two more. Fabric inspiration? Is it wrinkled linen, unlined cashmere, silk, or layers of cotton? Identifying the fabrics from the storyboard will give you direction, and lead to a lot less confusion at the fabric store. Put together the colors in the fabrics and swatch them.

check your dailies...

How does the storyboard compare to the favorites in your closet? The best way to start is to check your favorites; and to find your direction from what already works.  If you haven't done this yet, stop and go do it. It will only take a minute to find your favorites. If you have absolutely no favorites (this calls for a complete re-do), then that’s okay too. Just start with the first steps.

Your closet evaluation will give you a good idea about what you need to add to the basic pieces. Once you have identified your colors, fabrics, and the clothes which are still great to wear, it will be easy to build and re-create.


The building block of our guideline is the very body you hang your clothes on. Once you accept and understand the proportions of your body, finding your style is just a matter of honestly accepting what’s there; and then working with it. Maybe a different waistline to hide an extra eight pounds (even before you lose it), or an uneven hemline to hide an uneven body.

Teaching your hands and your eyes to connect is a universal ability. Just start with what you have and follow the steps. You’ll only need to learn this once. There's only one set of rules in creating clothes.

check your mirror...

Stand in front of a full-length mirror, and look at your body front, side and back. Let’s be honest about your reflection; don't beat yourself up about it, don't lose sleep, and don't think about losing weight.  Just document what you see.

Look honestly at your silhouette in the mirror, and take note of the vertical proportion between the top and bottom of the curve.  Creating a simple muslin for your first sample will direct you in deciding what length is best for your design and fabric. Discovering balance in your clothes begins by anchoring a pair of pants or the bodice allowing the fabric to fall and create movement with the best possible proportion.

Note every proportion at these hem lengths:

Best hem length from waist to finish

a. Skirt Short Length

b. Skirt Medium Length

c. Skirt Long Length


You can do this yourself!  Try something on and then pin the best hem line for skirts, jackets, pants; everything. You will only need to mark one spot. The rest you can easily adjust on your dress form. 

(It’s all about the curves of your legs.) For pants, measure the rise and the inseam.  That favorite comfortable piece can be translated a hundred different ways, worn a hundred different times. Best of all, these fabulous clothes will feel as comfortable as your dailies. Created for you!

What about the jacket length?

The rule of thumb: Never end any hem at the widest part of a curve. Not the hip, not the thigh, not the calf, not the ankle. Always end the hem line above, or below the widest part of the curve.


Once you decide where you want the hemline ( to best fit the shape and length of your curves), the rest appears on the dress form body double.  There is no guessing when you can pinpoint the exact place to shape your silhouette in everything you create.


Start learning with a favorite pattern that has the same basic features; a front, a back, shoulder, or an adjustable hip length (very important in jackets).  Emphasize basic.


Sculpt the paper pattern together. Then, step back, pin the pattern, or muslin on the dress form, and take a calculated look. Now MARK the vertical measurements.  

MARK what needs vertical seams, to appear elongated. which parts of a pattern need more fabric to cover curves, where hemlines should fall to accentuate, (or hide), what gapes, what pulls.

PINCH AND RELEASE any extra pattern tissue which doesn't match the line of your body's silhouette on the form. Roughly “sculpt” the tissue with pins to match your vertical and horizontal measurements. CUT the pattern in muslin, and baste.   To me, style is simplicity, and proportion and feeling fabulous in effortless clothes.

color energy...

We know that YOU know what colors are best for you. It's instinctive; you will feel it. Try the colors in your closet against basics, like navy, black, charcoal, chocolate, khaki, or even “bordeaux”; (olive skin only!).  When you put the colors up against your skin, you can feel the energy.  It sounds crazy, but try it. How do you feel in that red blouse? I have a khaki trench that I love…literally love...but every time I wear this coat, I feel like a woman past "a certain age" and swear never again to wear it. Now, I always remember to grab a scarf or shirt to add color that I feel like myself in.
Once you’re aware of the color energy, you’ll save many style mistakes.


I love prints, but...My your clothes around solids first, and then add your favorite prints. I have seen so many print mistakes in otherwise beautiful clothes...and everything I have ever made in print just ended up hanging in my closet… so I stopped. (And, there always seems to be this frenzy about getting dressed when prints were around...scrounging the closet at the last minute, throwing clothes all over the room, and rushing out in solids!) I was never one to wear prints.  That's just me.  

So if you look good in prints, brava!  Let that be the second part of building your closet. You can always mix prints with basics, and certainly mix prints with prints, but unless your eye is as good Dolce & Gabbana's, I would begin with solids. Basic solid pieces will give you the “dailies”… the really comfortable clothes you can bring wherever you go.

finding your style...

Everyone loves to feel great in clothes…even when we think it doesn't matter. IT MATTERS…. However...what we see in magazines, and what we feel in reality, might be two different stories.

So, even if you don’t look like you're floating down a runway (who really needs that?), your clothes will look their best when they reflect your personal style, express your individuality and most of all make you feel comfortable and  powerful.

We all know what needs to be disguised, and what we would like to show. The first step is understanding proportion. Create a few clothes that make you feel comfortable, confident, sexy, good looking or happy…and they will take you everywhere.

Style is good thing!  Easy, instant gratification when you see yourself on your dress form!

Easy tricks to Create YOUR Best Silhouette!

  • Minimize Curves / Large Hips:  Choose a V-front jacket , tailored with vertical seams and a perfect length skirt.  Rule of thumb #1:  Never end the jacket hem at the widest part of your hips, ( no matter how great it might look from the front!).
  • Emphasize Curves:  Go for basic patterns and turn them into fabulous halter dresses, or mark easy princess seams over the curves of the bust line.  Match your widest bust measurement on the form, and then match the upper chest measurement.  
  • Elongate your body:  Although a pinstripe jacket creates an optical illusion on vertical height, vertical seams will also work well if you are not the pinstripe person.  Flare the front with princess lines or long darts to the bust.
  • Hide your butt. A long blazer hides your hips, under a skinny body fitting dress.  Or SHOW that butt with a waist jacket over a long t-shirt!
  •  Illusion of a waistline. Choose body-skimming styles, with a low waisted dynamite belt.
  • Conceal a pear shape. Keep jacket hemlines below your widest hip point.  I love shaped 3/4 coats for that!
  • Thick torso. Usually happens with great legs! Choose your skirt length by ½” increments to show your legs. Skirt  lengths just below, or just above the knee. Choose straight skirts, and longish jackets.
  • Low bust line. Thin notch collars, or unbuttoned shirt collars will draw attention upward.  I like to open it up over a skinny T.
  • Narrow sloping shoulders. Fill in the shoulder area with carefully chosen shoulder pads, for a natural lift.
  •  Lengthen a short waist. Choose drop waist skirts with no waistbands.

Jill Ralston


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