Civility by Diana Olson:

Part 1

Body proportions

It is essential to understand the importance of body proportions and balance in the choice of clothing designs. Technically, vertical body proportions for clothing styles can be determined through charting the body (on paper) to analyze your bone structure. With the paper attached to the wall (as tall as the person — from the floor), a diagram of the human body is determined by having someone mark: top of the head to the underarm, underarm to the hipline (where the leg meets the torso), hipline to knees (bend of the knee), and knees to the floor. Paper is then folded into quarters to determine proportions. Falling within these fold lines indicates where you are within the norm for someone of your height. Horizontal measurements are taken with a tape measure.

A well-proportioned body will be divided as follows:

1st Quarter Fold

(Top of head to underarm)

If one is short from the top of the head to the underarm, a longer necklace or neckline can be flattering. If one is longer in this area, then a choker necklace or neckline may be a good choice.

2nd Quarter Fold

(Underarm to hipline)

?Bust position: A balanced bust line is normally 1½ inches below the underarms. If bust is lower, then raise bra strap to create that balance. A youthful bust is high.

?Waist: A balanced waist would be halfway between the underarm and the hipline. The elbow, when bent, should be at the waist. If the waist is shorter than 1”, a belt the color of the blouse will visually lengthen the waist. If the waist is longer than 1”, a belt the color of the pants or skirt will visually shorten the waist.

?Torso: Measurement from the underarm to the hipline shows whether the torso is long or short. This also makes a determination as to whether the legs are longer or shorter than the torso. Legs in perfect proportion are 1” longer than the torso. If legs are more than one inch longer, this means that the torso is short; therefore longer jackets will lengthen the torso and will be more flattering. For shorter legs (that fall below the hipline fold) and a long torso, short jackets will be flattering (unless there is much fullness around the tummy and waist).

With an education, we can use clothing to create an illusion of a perfectly proportioned body. Clever use of line and design can create visual miracles!

(Excerpts contributed by Marge Swenson and Gerrie Pinckney, Fashion Academy.)

•?Next week will be Part 2.

DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP is a certified Image and Etiquette Consultant in Pasadena. She can be contacted at (626) 584-9761, or through

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