Sometimes you want to wear something that’s intentionally off-kilter. Sometimes it can be tough to create visual balance in a figure that has extremes. Sometimes balance just isn’t a priority. But for many women, balance is a key concept in dressing, and there are many ways to approach it so I’d like to examine a few common practices!
Balancing clothing volume
When I first became truly interested in style and dressing theory, one of the first things I learned was to balance voluminous clothing with fitted clothing. Wanna wear a loose, drapey, voluminous top? You might consider balancing that volume with a close-fitting bottom garment. This also works in reverse: A voluminous bottom can be balanced by a fitted top. If you do volume all over, the observing eye fills in body fullness where there is none. By wearing a voluminous top with voluminous bottoms, you mask the curves and contours of your figure and may make yourself look big all over. By pairing loose with fitted, more of your true figure shape is revealed.
Balancing figure volume
Volume can also create visual balance within the figure itself. For instance, if you carry much of your weight in your top or bottom half – or if you have a pronounced bust or hips that you wish to balance – adding volume to the OPPOSITE half can have the intended effect. Above, I’ve used the pussybow blouse to add some subtle volume to my slimmer top half which, in turn, balances my hips. This tactic can backfire, especially on the short-waisted! Don’t feel like you must add lots of exaggerated volume to create balance. In many cases, a little dab will do ya.
You’ve undoubtedly heard people talk about “pops of color,” and colors can certainly function as isolated accents within outfits. The color blocking trend seems to have some staying power, and mixing large swaths of solid colors can look artful and modern. But for balance and a cohesive whole, repeating colors within outfits works beautifully. In this outfit, the echoing is subtle but the bright red of my tights is echoed in the scarf. These two elements bracket the ensemble and unify it. Without the scarf, the tights would become the sole color in the outfit resting its very bottom creating visual imbalance.
Some imbalanced outfits are superb. Some figures will never be successfully balanced by the implementation of carefully chosen garments. None of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you and discard the rest!