The Triumph of Individual Style – part 8

We’ve covered almost the whole book now: face and body lines, shape/silhouette, length proportions, balance points, symmetry/asymmetry, scale, and coloring. Today’s chapter is about texture.

Texture refers to how things look and feel. They may be shiny or matte, smooth or rough, soft or hard, lightweight or heavyweight.  Think of a woolen shawl – it might be matte, soft, with a boucle or cabled texture. Simple concept, right? Now let’s see how this works on the human body and face.



This is another exercise you can do right along with me. First we examine the surface quality of the skin and hair.

  • Plain smoothness refers to a smooth flawless skin and straight smooth hair of one color.
  • Patterned smoothness refers to skin and hair that feel smooth but are visually textured: skin may have freckles or other variations in pigmentation, and hair may be salt-and-pepper or have natural highlights.
  • All-over textured quality refers to skin with surface depth, say from wrinkles or pock-marks, and hair that is anything other than smooth, regardless of its color.
  • If your hair falls into one category and your skin into another, you have combination of smooth and textured. You also have a combination if your skin and/or hair is smooth in some areas and textured in others.

Then we look at textural weight. There is a neat chart in the book to help with this, pictures included as usual. Columns are light-, medium-, and heavyweight. For each item, you mark the appropriate column.

  1. thickness of hair shaft: fine, medium, or thick (coarse/wiry)
  2. length of hair: short (above chin), medium (chin to shoulder length), or long (below shoulder)
  3. fullness of hair: close to the head, moderate volume, or voluminous
  4. density of hair: thin and airy (you can really see the scalp), medium (some air space between strands), or thick/compact (can’t see scalp)
  5. hair color relative to skin: light, medium, or dark
  6. skin opacity: translucent (visible veins in wrists, temples, and eyelids), opaque, or leathery

OK, now count the marks in each column. The extremes cancel each other out and make a medium. For example, my hair is medium thick, short, with moderate volume and density, dark in color relative to my skin, and my skin is translucent. The short hair cancels its darkness so I have 1L, 4M, and 0H points. Possible results are all light-, all medium-, or all heavy-weight, combination light- and medium-weight, or combination medium- and heavy-weight.

So today I’ve learned that I have a surface quality that is a combination of smooth and textured because my skin is smooth and my hair is slightly wavy (when it’s long enough). My textural weight is a combination of light- and medium-weight.

100_0284SPW view 4

I wonder how far I can push the textured bit, considering that it’s only the slight wave of my hair that brings it in. Does that mean my best bet is mostly smooth with only a touch of texture, like the cardigan on the left above? Or does the heathered yarn give it more visual texture than it would otherwise have? Compare and contrast with the solid-colored all-over textured wrap on the right – what do you think?

Well, that’s it for the exercises in the book. The next task is to put all the findings together and form a sewing plan for a fall mini-wardrobe that will address at least some of them. I’m already looking forward to it.

See you soon!

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4 responses to “The Triumph of Individual Style – part 8

  1. Vicki Wingo Grant

    I think both photos present a mix of smooth and textured surfaces, just like you. They don’t jump at me as “right one way and the other is wrong” so you have a lot of options.

    The wrap has a chunkier knit texture than your gray cardigan but there is “less of it” visually–balanced by the smooth shirt and (I think?) smooth pants. If it was that large knit in a cardigan size, it would be too much in terms of the balance of scale (for you)

    I see the cardigan as a combination of small and medium texture and the skirt is smooth. What a lovely outfit!

    The take away idea is having both smooth and texture together in some fashion (which I think you already instinctively do) and the textural quality needs to stay on the small to medium side of the scale.

    Thanks for writing out the exercises–I get lost looking at art, but when I see it on a person, it makes better sense. It will be fun to watch the outfits emerge– put your ideas and intention commentary with the garments so I can follow along, please!

  2. Thank you so much for blogging about this book! I ended up ordering the ebook from the author. I haven’t work through it all yet, but this is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Looking forward to seeing your swap ( previous clothes were goreous on you).

  3. Alexandra, thanks so much for this series of posts. I found your blog through the You Look Fab forum and have eagerly followed your findings regarding this book. This is such good information and I tried a lot of the excersises along with you. It has confirmed some things I learned through trial and error and now I know why certain things work for me while others don’t.

    I’m curious to see how you put things together. Do you think it will make choosing clothes for yourself easier or will it complicate things? I’m very much looking forward to your fall wardrobe. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Julia, welcome and thank you for your comment. I think the information from these exercises should make things easier. At the same time, I sometimes unnecessarily complicate things so we’ll see.

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