Choosing the right style for your body – part 2

An Inverted Triangle is the body that has wider shoulders than hips. This body shape is often found with swimmers as they have developed strong arm and shoulder muscles from hours of practice. The key here is to draw attention away from the shoulder width and add visual width to the hips. 0466486578752_247x329Notice the contrast between the red and navy print dress and the black. The print draws attention to the shoulder and exaggerates the width. This would offer a perfect way of balancing someone’s body with narrow shoulders but it is not a good choice for the inverted triangle.

Exaggerates the shoulders.  (Saks)
Exaggerates the shoulders. (Saks)

Compare this to the black leather dress. The “V” neckline is narrow on the black dress, drawing your eye up to the face and the shoulder line does not extend all the way to the shoulder causing your eye not to really “see” the shoulder width. Being constructed of a heavier medium, the skirt keeps its form and appears slightly wider than the hips giving visual balance to the body. This model might have a triangle shape or hourglass. It is impossible to tell with the dress structure but it is an excellent design to give visual balance to an inverted triangle.

Beautiful for hourglass or triangle.  (Saks)
Beautiful for hourglass or triangle. (Saks)

Of course, the Hourglass is the body shape everyone longs to have! It, like all the others, has its challenges but is often easier to find clothes that fit well. The body of an hourglass has shoulders and hips the same width with a defined waist that usually form an arc at the side.  Some hourglass figures will loose some of the waist definition as the body changes. If so, choose styles that draw less attention to the waist. This peach-colored dress is a good style for an hourglass with a defined waist. The gray and white dress from last week is also an excellent choice for an hourglass.
Contrary to appearances, the last image for body shape is not a snowman!

Soft belt for Figure 8.  (Saks)
Soft belt for Figure 8. (Saks)

It is a Figure Eight depicting the body with a high hipbone. This body is similar to a rectangle but usually has a defined waist making an abrupt indentation due to a high hipbone. The biggest challenge is finding clothing that will accommodate this width immediately below the waist. Of course, many styles that would be complementary for a rectangle, would also be good for a figure eight. This blue and gray print is softly belted in defining the waist and is ideal for the figure 8. The waist is defined but there is room to accommodate the high hipbone without causing the garment to pull.

As you can see, there is not a perfect body shape but just a variety of styles from which to choose in order to make your body shape look its best. How great is that! Once you know your unique body shape and which styles are the most becoming, you can always present your most beautiful you!

Choose the best style for your body shape!

Questions from recent workshops, helped me realize that many people could use a little more clarification on how to choose the best styles for their body type.  If workshop participants asked for clarification, I decided that that many of you might find it helpful as well.

There are six different body shapes for women and five for men.  Men do not have an hourglass shape.

SWA Body Shape


Rectangle                                    Oval                                                Triangle

Inverted Triangle                        Hourglass                                    Figure 8

To keep it simple, we will focus on the first three this week and the remaining three next week.

No one will guess you don't have a 26" waist.  (Saks)
No one will guess you don’t have a 26″ waist. (Saks)

A rectangle is that body with very little waist indentation. The shoulders and hips are balanced in width. This body usually does not have a large derriere and the side of the body through the hip area is generally straight.   The challenge for this body type is camouflaging the waist. This is easily accomplished by bypassing it. I love the little white blouse with the asymmetric hem. It totally bypasses the waist and your attention is drawn to the hem design. Most people with this body type have slender legs so the skinny jeans or tights are an excellent choice. The teal dress uses the same technique but creates a dressier look.

Classy rectangle.  (Saks)
Classy rectangle. (Saks)

For a professional business look, the suit exposing a panel of blouse color is a great technique for making most any body shape appear more slender. One’s eye is drawn to the light narrow color in the middle keeping the attention away from the width of the body.

Great look for an oval.  (Saks)
Great look for an oval. (Saks)

The oval body shape has balanced hips and shoulder width but this body is wider, especially if one is a bit heavy. However, I have had clients who are a tiny size 2 but their body is simply wider through the waist. If the person is slender, many of the styles for a rectangle will be flattering. If an oval is significantly fuller through the waist, camouflaging with a fuller cut like the black dress is a great solution.   One could always add sheer sleeves if exposed arms are an issue. Straight cut trousers will be the best choice for the oval.imgres

A triangle is probably the most common body shape; with hips wider than the shoulders. Choosing a fuller skirt with a flair is an excellent solution. This gray dress not only hides wide hips but the white panel draws the eye to the center, and is visually slenderizing. Avoid skinny jeans. Straight-legged trousers hanging straight from the widest part of the hip to the bottom are the best choice.

Ideal look for a triangle.  Hide those hips!  (Saks)
Ideal look for a triangle. Hide those hips! (Saks)

Your body shape is not in this list? Wait for next week and we’ll talk about the last three! Don’t hesitate to email if you still have some questions:


Marcala: For 2015 Choose Marcala!


So what is Marcala?0d4af5ab67ac40716a655762128c32f421b1bd72

  1. A lady’s name
  2. A shade of red
  3. An Italian wine
  4. All of the above

If your answer was D, you are right!

Why we are talking about Marsala? It is Pantone’s 2015 color of the year selection. This puzzling process occurs each year. Pantone works with major manufactures of home decor, designers, and even cosmetic retailers such as Sephora to determine what will be the “color of the year”. This year is a shade of deep brown-red, resembling the Italian red Marsala wine.

68665326e1d339fbab0ee32b627329b932d88f8cI am delighted to see a truly universal color for a change. Previous choices of recent years such as tangerine tango, emerald and radiant orchid, though beautiful, are limited in how many people can wear the color well and/or how it can be used as an accent. Bright orange, for example, is a beautiful color but is not becoming to many people and is limited on its use as an accent. Softer variations of orange are often more flattering for one with warm toned coloring, not to mention how saturated orange often turns the cool toned person into a pumpkin!

Marsala, on the other hand, will be a beautiful neutral accent for shoes, handbag or other accessories.

Shades of Marsala can be worn by both cool and warm toned individuals, depending on the balance of how much black or brown is added to red. Marsala becomes a rust tone by adding more brown, or it can lean toward the burgundy shade with the addition of black.   You will soon be seeing jeans, blazers, ties and much more in store displays.

37ecb7f5293aa7af2f4e70377ba8326101022dacThen there is makeup. I am a strong proponent of using makeup that is an extension of your natural coloring. Makeup is designed to enhance one’s beauty. I find the makeup of this model unattractive unless the goal is to appear theatrical. Using mascara in a brown/wine color could be quite effective. If someone has light hair, eyes and skin, black is often too harsh for eyeliner and mascara while brown or gray will give softer definition.   I would not use eyeliner in Marsala as lining your eye with red can make you appear to have pink eye or some other unwanted malady.  Not the goal of eyeliner.   But using a red-brown mascara could really bring out the color of blue eyes.7e0b39490e8b9e4a63f2a1eb801d0b9461a79043

Hope your creative juices are flowing. Expect to see lots of Marsala in coming months so you will have many choices.  Have fun deciding from which Marsala accent you will get the most mileage out of for the coming year!

Is your closet overflowing with cashmere?


Alpaca Mall on the internet
Alpaca Mall on the internet

We have long become accustomed to thinking of Cashmere as being the warmest, most luxurious fabric in the marketplace.   Not so! Alpaca, after falling from grace a number of years ago, is making a huge resurgence. Then, who even heard of vicuna? “Is that sort of like nutria?” you might ask.   Once you take a look at the price, you understand that Vicuna is the most expensive fabric in the world – for good reason.

Alpaca and vicuna, both related to the llama, live high in the Andes in Peru, Chili, Argentina, and Bolivia. Vicuna is the smallest of these animals and can be used neither as a beast of burden or for its meat. They nearly became extinct in the 1960’s leading to strict laws protecting them. Today there are about 350,000 in existence but continued protection is required against poachers.


Vicuna will starve to death in captivity so they must be allowed to live in the wild. This makes shearing their wool a little tricky.   Yield is so small that they can only be sheared every three years. The natives of the region use an old process of creating a human fence around the animals, allowing them to be taken individually and sheared. Strict laws are in place to ensure that the animals have been sheared alive and returned to the wild. Vicuna is the warmest, softest, lightest wool in existence.   It sells for $1800 to $3000 a yard with a men’s topcoat costing up to $30,000. The locals who help in the shearing are given a generous share of the profits. Vicuna cannot be dyed so color selection is limited to shades of neutrals.


If vicuna is a little over your budget, enter the resurgence of alpaca!   This warm, soft, natural wool offers an alternative to cashmere at a comparable price. Alpaca can be raised domestically so Alpaca farms are appearing in the Unites States – Oregon, Texas and Georgia to mention a few. They are larger animals than vicuna and can be used as pack animals and for food as well as their wool.   The wool is in plentiful supply and can be dyed, into a wide range of colors.

Of course, cashmere is our standby. The cashmere goat’s natural habitat is China and neighboring mountainous regions. But now Australia is a large producer of cashmere. If you have a quality cashmere garment, it can be passed down for generations.

Pashmina Goats
Pashmina Goats

Unfortunately, many cashmere products are made from shorter strands of yarn causing pilling. This is difficult to discern and doesn’t seem to be totally related to price. You just discover these nasty little balls after a few wearings! (This is discussed at more length in a previous blog: “Cuddle Your Cashmere” posted on 2-12-14.)

Now may be the perfect time to expand your wardrobe with some of these newer wools. Sales are on and Santa needs ideas for your stocking!