by admin on May 22, 2012

or V, A, H, X

our fashion class listened to a wonderful talk about how to choose a wardrobe by fashion consultant denise swenson.  denise began by summarizing a seminal tome on this subject:  DRESSING THIN by bonnie august, written in the early ’80’s when women were starting to enter the workplace en masse.  esme winced at the title, as i imagine you will.  of course most of us want to look thin-ish, but in the enlightened 21st century, this is something we……..well, i suppose you could say…..we try not to admit to it!

so let’s retitle the book DRESSING FOR SHAPELINESS (or something like that).  and let me see if i can summarize for you what i learned from denise.

ok.  bodies are divided into 4 basic types:  A’s have narrow shoulders and wide hips.  they can afford to wear embellishment on top to broaden the shoulders, should emphasize the waist, and avoid styles that broaden the hips.  X’s have hips and shoulders that are balanced, and can wear many styles, as this is one of our culture’s “ideal” shapes. V’s have broad shoulders and narrow hips—somewhat more masculine proportions—which can either be softened (e.g. with a flared skirt) or emphaszied.  and H’s are straight up and down with little contour.  they need all the shape they can get from their clothing–peplum jackets, fuller skirts and sometimes belts are their friends.  i suppose esme is an X who is losing her waist with middle age!

but that’s not all.  you have your W’s (short-waisted) and your Y’s (long torso and short legs).  esme counts herself as a Y.

you have your T’s, where the top of the thighs is narrower than the hips.  (ah this explains why esme looks like a lollipop in certain narrow pants or leggings!).

there are also four types of profiles:

you have your b’s (protruding stomach); your d’s (protruding rear end); your i’s (straight up and down) and your r’s (full-busted).  esme is probably some sort of b and r combo!

my goodness!  at least these categories are letters and not numbers, or esme would be completely lost.  and the use of letters, rather than being phonetic, is pictographic……very interesting…..kind of like chinese characters??

anyway, an experienced stylist can size up your shape in a jiff, and go on to recommend styles that complement your figure by emphasizing your “assets” and downplaying your “liabilities”.

and that’s just the beginning.  denise went on to talk about color, line, fabric and the concept of co-ordinated wardrobe capsules.  all this in an hour and a half!

but that’s plenty for today,



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