The Triumph of Individual Style – part 6

With some facial asymmetry and wavy body side view contour added to the list of findings, let’s move on to chapter 5 and talk about scale.

Starting with bone structure, we’re looking at wrists and ankles and deciding if they are thin/small, medium, or thick/large. The larger the bone structure, the larger the scale. Also, your wrists and ankles may be of different scales (combination), and your total body size has no bearing on your bone structure scale (so a large woman may have small or medium bone structure and a small woman may have medium or large bone structure).

The bone structure scale determines the scale of construction details, such as topstitching, ribbing, plackets, width of purse and shoe straps, and width of heels. With the exception of purse and shoe straps (small is under ½”, medium is ½” to 1″, and large is 1″ to 1½”), the book doesn’t have specific measurements but it does have a very handy diagram illustrating garments with details of varying scale for visual comparison.

Scale - prints and handbags

My wrist and ankles are quite narrow. Bracelets are almost always too big, watches need multiple links removed to fit, and I won’t even get into how most shoes look oversized and clunky with my skinny ankles sticking out of them. So small scale details for me – thin topstitching, narrow plackets, ribbing, and pleats, narrow heels or thin-soled flats, and skinny purse and shoe straps. This pretty much aligns with my preferences already.

Next up are facial features. Here, we are once again looking at the lines in the face, this time assessing their length and width. The shorter and thinner a line is, the smaller its scale; the longer and thicker a line is, the larger its scale. Lines that are short and thick or long and thin are classified as medium scale. There is also an extra-large scale (think Anne Hathaway).

In my picture below, I see eyebrows of medium length and narrow width, medium eyes, a somewhat short nose of medium width across the bridge and across the tip, an upper lip of medium length and a width, and a fairly thick, fairly long lower lip. This part is time-consuming because it takes a lot of back and forth, looking at the illustrations in the book and comparing. It’s easy to tell the difference between small and extra-large, but where does medium start and end?

Line - face

At any rate, I’m counting 2 small, 6 medium, 2 large, and 0 extra-large scale points. That means the details related to facial features (jewelry, prints, pockets, belt buckles, buttons, bows, ruffles, and other decorative bits in the upper part of the body) should be mostly medium scale, with a bit of leeway in both directions. It is possible that with my head being so small, my best bet will be on the smaller side of medium scale range.

And now, the body’s apparent size, which refers to the amount of space the body appears to take. As before, the longer and wider the body, the larger its apparent size/scale, and the shorter and narrower the body, the smaller its apparent size/scale. Crossover, such as a short wide body, is considered medium scale.

Apparent body size indicates how much body space you can use for details and decoration, especially in the lower part of the body, and it determines the best handbag size – the larger the space, the larger the details that will fit it and the larger the handbag. Someone whose apparent body size is large but facial features are small, could use small details in clusters to be in scale with the body size. Someone else with a small apparent body size and large facial features might use one large detail, such as a brooch, and leave it at that.

At 5’5½”, I am of a medium height. Definitely not short (that is usually 5’3″ and below, at least according to Burda magazine) and certainly far from tall. I tend to think of my size as pretty medium but I’m consistently told I am skinny. I can see it to some extent on the few group photos I have, but never in the mirror. Not in a body dysmorphic disorder way, but more in the sense that what we see in the mirror becomes “the norm” by which we judge everything else. Does that make sense?

To summarize the findings from this chapter’s exercises:
Small scale bone structure – small scale details (thin topstitching, narrow plackets, ribbing, and pleats, thin heels or thin-soled flats, and skinny purse and shoe straps).
Medium scale facial features – medium scale details in the upper part of the body (jewelry, prints, pockets, belt buckles, buttons, bows, ruffles, and other decorative bits).
Small-medium scale apparent body size – small to medium details in the lower part of the body and a small to medium handbag. (I already like my handbags small so that’s good, but what’s with the details in the lower part of the body? I have legs there!)

Again, a chapter with lots of information. Luckily for me, it looks like I can stick to the small-medium detail sizes for all of this, but I can imagine that someone who’s all over the spectrum could take a bit longer to solidify this information into specific design ideas.

The next chapter deals with color and has a very interesting color chart. I’ll be back to talk about it tomorrow.

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4 responses to “The Triumph of Individual Style – part 6

  1. I’ve studied this book closely a number of years ago and I think you’re doing a great job with this series of posts. It’s reminding me of a number of points (pun intended) to styling that may be dropped from an individual’s assessments. Good work!

  2. Alexandra – I very much enjoy reading about your adventures in style. I definitely appreciate your attention to detail and your mad sewing skills!

    I am writing because I thought you might be interested to explore a style system called “dressing your truth.” It was developed by a woman, Carol Tuttle, in Utah, and is an altogether new approach that takes into consideration one’s personality. (I am not affiliated with the program in any way, but have been personally having fun learning about it). Within the system there are four “types” and I think you would likely be a Type 4. It would be interesting to see what you think.

    Thanks again for your willingness to share your developing style!


  3. Another interesting chapter. It sounds very time consuming to analyse all these things! wow!

  4. (From my laptop instead of my iPad LOL) Thanks, Alexandra, for another valuable distillation of this book’s concepts. I’ll stay tuned…

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