The Triumph of Individual Style

Since being analyzed as a Bright Winter back in May, I’ve been focusing on bright colors. Mostly adding them to the stash, although I did make that one bright red cardigan, which I love. I have been looking forward to incorporating them into my wardrobe but I also want to do it right, you know. I don’t want to use one of my new bright colored fabrics for a garment that ultimately doesn’t work. So I’ve been re-reading The Triumph of Individual Style.*

*The price on Amazon is getting ridiculous. If you want the book, I suggest you buy it from the author for a much more reasonable amount. And you’ll get more than just the book.

It’s an excellent book with detailed explanations of style concepts, such as line, shape, proportion, scale, etc. The idea is to figure out what is already present in one’s face and body and then amplify the beauty by clothing and accessory choices that create harmony and balance.

Today, I’ll tackle chapter 1 – line in the face and body. Line has movement and direction. For body lines, we’re looking at the movement: straight or curved. Five body types are recognized in the book: skeletal (straight and bony), moulded (rounded and fleshy), muscular (taut and muscular), skeletal/moulded, and moulded/muscular. The last two are combination types where the body lines above and below the waist are different. The images in the book really help illustrate the differences. My body is the skeletal/moulded type, with straight lines and bony look in the shoulders, rib cage, and upper chest, and fleshy rounded look in the hips, thighs, and derriere. (Your body may be the other way: moulded up top and skeletal below the waist.)

The structural design of one’s clothing should correspond to the lines of one’s body. In terms of fabrics, straight lines look good in medium-taut to taut fabric, such as medium-weight cottons, wool flannel, wool crepe, and leather. Curved lines look good in medium-drape to fluid fabric, such as wool challis, wool jersey, fine knits, and chiffon.

For lines in the face, we’re looking at both movement (straight or curved) and direction (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal).
Line - face

What I see here is one eyebrow curved and diagonal-ish, the other a little bit straighter and more horizontal. The eyes look curved to me, although not particularly round, and horizontal if you draw a line from inner corner to outer corner. The sides of the nose look straight and vertical, the tip of the nose curved and horizontal. The mouth looks both curved (lips) and straight (corner to corner), and horizontal. The hairline is curved with diagonal and horizontal elements. The sides of the face are straight-ish and vertical. The jaw and chin are curved and diagonal.

I hope I did that right. Tallying up the numbers, I get 6 curved and 4 straight, and 5 horizontal, 3 diagonal, and 2 vertical. My interpretation is that the line movement of my face is predominantly curved and moving predominantly in a horizontal direction. I’m not sure if the diagonal is a close-enough runner-up to count.

The last part of this chapter deals with choosing patterns and prints. (This is where things usually get difficult for me – I am very much a fan of solid colors.) Here, the line movement of the pattern should agree with the line of the face, so curved and horizontal for me. Then, we look at clarity of the edges, space around the print, and scale.


Various prints from my previous projects.

In the face picture above, my features look well-defined, except for the lips, which look fairly undefined. In real life, I rarely go without lipstick or lip gloss so I looked at some of my recent project pictures and my lips definitely look well-defined there. I’m sticking with well-defined edges for now. The space around my facial features appears fairly moderate. (Good luck with this part; I just don’t see enough of a difference in the faces used to illustrate the concept, although it is quite clear in the fabric patterns.) And scale – I think small to medium. Scale is discussed in greater depth in a later chapter so I may come back and edit if it turns out that small to medium is not it.

So, to summarize: my body type is skeletal/moulded so my predominant structural lines in clothing should be straight in the upper body and curved in the lower body. My best fabrics are medium-taut to medium-drape fabrics. The features of my face are small to medium in scale, predominantly curved and horizontal, with well-defined edges, and a moderate amount of space around them. My fabric prints should reflect that.

Dear readers, do you have this book? If you have worked through it, what did you think? If you haven’t, will you join me and work along with me so we can compare notes?

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4 responses to “The Triumph of Individual Style

  1. Toto je strašne komplikované, ale keďže je to Tvoj džob, nebudem sa tým vôbec zaťažovať. =)

  2. Carol in Denver

    I have had this book for years and love it but can’t understand all the concepts; my concentration powers are not the best. The part I’ve used most is the illustration of colors and how they change with the addition of other colors — color mixing. I like to dye fabrics and this has been informative and inspiring.

  3. Came out of lurkdom on the SG 6-pac thread, and would like to follow, or even be part of this process, just as soon as my IT glitches are sorted.

  4. I would say your face is straight in the majority of its lines – that is the first thing I noticed about you! In fact, the lines are not unlike my own, as is the body structure – smaller, straighter lines on top, fleshy on the bottom half. The difference is, I am tall and therefore lean towards the yang/soft – soft dramatic or dramatic/romantic as labelled by some.

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