Handmade Wardrobe with a Plan 1 - Flattering Shapes and Colours

If you'd like to know what all of this is about, here is the link to the first post in the series.

First of all, I can't believe I'm well into my 30s and still needed to figure out what suits me... I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel here or try to coach you (badly!), but break it down into the steps I have taken and link to useful websites if you'd like to have a go yourself. This part has nothing to do with sewing or knitting. It's purely studying your body to find out what is most flattering for you. By the end of this section, I had a good idea of what should suit my body and colouring: in THEORY. In the next section, I will edit this list to make it work for me.

I have seen a lot of "wear whatever you want" kind of posts and I can see where those people are coming from... Of course, when you ARE happy with what you have in your wardrobe, you shouldn't try to change to fit into some mold. If this is your case, NONE OF THIS IS RELEVANT! (skip to the next section!) But what if you aren't? What if you have things in your wardrobe you never wear? Wouldn't you want to know why so you don't bother spending money on something similar again? Even worse, you've spent money on wool, pattern, several weeks (ahem, months) of your time on a knitted jumper to find out you hate it... Well, that's me. I'm fed up with the hit and miss. I would like hits only, pretty please!

I did the following 1 and 2 together as they both require tape measure, calculator, not many clothes on and a tall mirror.

1 - Horizontal proportions

That's your body shape. Whatever system/test you want to use, it's about your shoulders, bust, waist, hips measurements.

Useful links:
whowhatwear.co.uk: how to find your body shape  (calculator at the ready for this one)
thechicfashionista: determine-your-body-shape

I did have a eureka moment on that one. It's quite obvious I am pear shape but I hadn't noticed my shoulders and hips were in line: from the back I look like an hourglass. So all the usual advice about details at the shoulders, puff sleeves etc just make me look like an American footballer (that actually explains a lot of uncomfortable/not really working tops and jackets...hum...). I am also on 3 different sizes when compared to standard measurements (that's why I have to do so many alterations on standard patterns).

At that stage, on top of my measurements,  I wrote a long list of general advice, guidelines, outfits for my shape (and left out anything about emphasizing shoulders!): a kind of what to wear / what not to wear list.

2 - Vertical proportions

This one isn't mentioned a lot... We tend to think "I'm short so I've got short legs" but it's not how it works...

For this, you're comparing your overall height and where your waist and hips are. So you might be short but have long legs and a short torso. Maybe not vital when you're model height but otherwise, it could really help create well balanced outfits.
If you're doing this exercise in order to make your own clothes, you might want to study those horizontal lines into more details: shoulder, bust, waist, hip, crotch, knee, ankle. They will help when altering pattern pieces etc.

Useful link:
Inside Out Style: How to measure your body proportions (with video) 

I drew a very quick sketch (think child-like stick person rather than croquis) with horizontal lines and marked my measurements and also where my proportions were different to standard (I just put + and -). I also went back to my "what to wear / what not to wear" list and made notes of my ideal length for tops, long cardigans/coats, skirts etc.
I have to add here that it doesn't mean that this is what I will end up wearing: there's a lot of tweaking yet to be done!

So that's it for flattering shapes... Pfew...

3 - Colours

When you go shopping, it's quite easy to lift a garment and decide there and then whether you like that colour on you or not. But when you have rolls and rolls or fabric in front of you and fancy skeins of yarn, it's very hard to keep the finished garment in mind...
Colours have never been my thing... I'm a pro at white, black and grey! I've got better in the last decade but when a white and grey pattern counts as multicolored, well, you need a bit of help! :p

I quite liked the idea of the season system and finding out which colour palette would suit me. There are a lot of online questionnaires and videos to help, but which one is best for you depends on your features. Also when you look at the famous examples, you will find the same celeb for different seasons... So if what you come up with feels wrong, try another website or video until you're happy with the result ;o)

The Red Lipstick: several posts on colour theory. There are also individual blog posts for each season
Color me pretty: 12 season analysis
Color me pretty: 4 season analysis
Seamwork: design a personal color palette  a geeky way to build a palette with a picture of yourself

I have dark hair and eyes and light skin so it was easy for me to start with the deep contrast. Then I had to work out whether I was Deep Winter or Deep Autumn. I was very confused because I couldn't work out the usual silver or gold and white or ivory tests: I go for white and grey in winter but in the summer I'm happy with gold or bronze and I love autumnal hues... headache! Then I found more color tests: terracotta vs fuchsia, peach vs icy pink... yep, definitely Winter! After reading some more, it seems that you can also borrow some colours form your sister palette: I'm a Deep Winter and the deeper colours of the Deep Autumn can also work for me. That's better, I'm happy with that!

What next? I found a colour palette for Deep Winter I liked and printed it off. I also put a copy in my bag so I don't get carried away if I find some super offers in a fabric or wool shop.
Once again, it doesn't mean I'll be wearing all of them (or that I'm not allowed other colours), it's just a starting point.


So, after Part One, I've got:
what to wear / what not to wear advice (with measurements)
ideal lengths according to my vertical proportions (with measurements)
colour palette (still needs a personal touch)

All of this information will be edited in the next section so I can plan a wardrobe that works for me.


Thank you for reading and I hope that you find this series helpful! (or that my attempt makes you smile... whichever :p )
ps: I'd love to know how you work out what to make! I guess not many people take the silly regimented approach I do... ;o)

Posts in this series:

Handmade Wardrobe with a Plan 1 - Flattering Shapes and Colours
Handmade Wardrobe with a Plan 2 - A wardrobe that works
Handmade Wardrobe with a Plan 3 - Organise that stash
Handmade Wardrobe with a Plan 4 - Seasonal Schedule