THINK: Outside the Closet!

Proportion and Silhouette


I hope you took some time to peruse a few pictures and collage them for inspiration. And somewhere, within your collage, I hope you found some common elements. Style; trendy, classic, or goth? Go for color? Shapes? Check your pictures again. How about necklines?

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.


How does the storyboard compare to the favorites in your closet? The best way to start is to check your closet and to find 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 the rest.


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.


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 by wearing clothes and then pinning the best hem line for skirts, jackets pants, etc. You will only need to mark one spot. The rest you can easily adjust on your dress form. If you don’t own a dress form, look at our site for guidance.


(It’s all about the curves of your legs.) For pants, measure the rise and the inseam. Remember, that favorite comfortable piece can be translated a hundred different ways, worn a hundred different times. Best of all, these beautiful handmade clothes will feel as comfortable as your old hang out “go-tos”. Only this time the new clothes will have a slightly different energy because they were 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.


Seriously, 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 you might want to try it. How do 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 an old lady and swear never again to wear it. Now, I always remember to grab a scarf or shirt to add color that I feel good in.
Once you’re aware of the color energy, you’ll save many style mistakes.

It's best to build your clothes around solids first, and then add your favorite prints. I have seen so many print mistakes in otherwise beautiful clothes. For me, prints always look so right in fabric stores, but everything I have ever made in prints just ended up hanging in my closet… so I stopped. There always seems to be this frenzy about getting dressed when prints are around...scrounging the closet at the last minute, throwing clothes all over the room, and rushing out in a hastily cobbled outfit! I was never one to wear prints.  If you feel great in prints, that will be the second part of building your closet. You can always mix prints with basics, or even 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.


"Compliment Your Figure"

10 Tips to Create YOUR Best Look

Everyone loves to feel great in clothes…even when we think it doesn't matter. Do not be fooled…. what you see in magazines, and what you feel in reality, are 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 feel comfortable.

We all know what we would like to hide, 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 anywhere.

Style is good thing.  It's important to duplicate your curves on any dress form whatever they might be. 

1. Minimize curves. A V-front suit jacket, tailored with vertical lines, and a skirt with a perfect length minimizes large hips and gives a great comfortable silhouette to busts..

2. Emphasize curves. A halter dress is perfect for large bosoms. If the pattern has a full front you can pin and release the fabric easily.  Again, just a basic pattern is fine. Everything else can change according to the fabric.

3. Elongate your body. A pinstripe jacket makes a strong vertical optical illusion. If you're not into pin stripes, use vertical seams. Long dart seams on the front of a jacket highlight the bust, elongate the body and add flare or fullness. Also princess lines create great illusion of length in the front.

4. Hide your butt. A long blazer hides hips; under a skinny body fitting dress. Wear a tapered jacket with a hem about an inch past the hipline.

5. Illusion of a waistline. Choose body-skimming styles, with a low waisted dynamite belt.

6. Conceal a pear shape. Keep jacket hemlines below your widest hip point.

7. Thick torso. Usually happens with great legs! Choose your skirt length by ½” increments to show off your legs. Skirt lengths should be just below, or just above the knee. Choose straight skirts, and longish jackets.

8. Low bust line. Thin notch collars, or unbuttoned shirt collars will draw attention upward, and makes the low bust line easy and comfortable.

9. Narrow sloping shoulders. Fill in the shoulder area with shoulder pads rotated forward on the dress form.  This way you can see what pad you will need to shape your jacket for a natural lift.

10. Lengthen a short waist. Choose drop waist skirts with no waistband.


Identify comfortable lifestyle direction with inspiration boards, photographs or tear pages.

Find daily favorites and compare the pictures

Analyze your body shape

Choose three colors, and then two additional colors (Including black and white)

Swatch the fabric.

Choose a pattern with bodice and sleeves that resembles your most simple, comfortable, favorite piece.

Cut and sew the pattern in muslin.

Rules can always be broken, but keep this one, especially in jackets.  RULE: Hemlines should end above or below the widest part of a bottom, a thigh, a knee, a calf or an ankle. Sometimes raising or lowering hemlines as much as half an inch shows off a better part of your leg; or hides a bigger part of your bottom. 


If your favorite piece is a dress, check the length against your legs. If it’s short pants, analyse the proportion of the hem at the ankle. Check the curve and the best position for the hemline. The best way to see proportion objectively is to play with your clothes; and to evaluate the ones you like best.  Check the mirror to decide the best skirt or pants length according to your curves.  You'll only have to do this once...the rest will be marked on your dress form.