Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Dress to impress with the right silhouette

There are no hard and fast rules in fashion (always wear whatever you want!), but you might feel that your look isn’t tying itself together. Why not try a different silhouette? The silhouette is “the overall outline or shape of a garment”. Whether you’re looking for trousers, tops, skirts, dresses, or coats, there will be many shapes to choose from. Examples can be found through a simple internet search – there are far, far too many to list here!

A piece’s silhouette can look different depending on body shapes and how you choose to style it. There has been extensive research done into what shapes look best on different body types and how you can use a silhouette to give the illusion of an ideal body type. You can choose to follow these, if you like, but I intend to take a different stance with this article. I want to help you think about how clothes can be used to make you feel more confident in your skin. How can a silhouette be used to create a certain aesthetic – a look that you want to show the world?


Shaping your personal style

Think about your personal style. How would you describe it if you had to put it into words? How do you think others perceive your style? With these thoughts in mind, what kind of shape do you think best fits your personal style?

For example, I’d argue that a “sleek” style consists of straight shapes, with no excess baggage or puffiness. Think straight-leg trousers or a long coat with a straight shape and square hemline.

If you were hoping to get a more sexy look, that would typically involve skin-tight clothing, or areas of bare skin. Skin wouldn’t have to be shown all over, nor would every item of clothing have to be tight, but “sexy” is about showing off your body’s outline, usually emphasising the body part which you’re most confident about. A revealing top half can highlight feminine sexuality, but a tighter-bottom half doesn’t always have to! When paired with a looser top, you can get a more casual look. By layering garments with multiple silhouettes, such as a fitted skirt with a loose top, the overall look can drastically change.

Don’t feel that you have to give yourself one label, one defining personal style

What aesthetic could I associate with baggy, comfortable clothing that isn’t just, “I can’t be bothered”, or “I’m hungover”? A billowy maxi-skirt can give a bohemian, girly vibe. Wide-legged trousers could be bold, statement pieces. A cosy jumper could be seen as effortlessly chic.

Don’t feel that you have to give yourself one label, one defining personal style. Everyone has different facets to their wardrobe, but giving a little thought towards your silhouette can make your style more cohesive.


Dressing for your body

What clothing makes you feel the most confident? There are traditional ideas about what silhouettes look the most flattering on different body types. If you want to follow these, that’s fine, but you don’t have to. Instead, think about the parts of your body you want to show off.

In my case, I have a tattoo on the left side of my waist, and my upper torso is slim, so I love wearing crop tops. I pair these with high-waisted trousers because the lower part of my torso holds more weight (which, out of personal preference, I prefer not to show). Having exposed skin between the top and the trousers draws the eye upwards, away from the part of my body I’d like to conceal.

The right silhouette can change the way you feel about your body. If a piece of clothing highlights your “flaws”, or what you feel are your flaws, you’ll feel less comfortable. It’s not always about fit, it’s about the shape too.


Finding a balance

It’s good to consider how different items of clothing can work in tandem. Some pieces may work individually, but won’t look right together. Generally, balance can be found by having a mix of tight and loose-fitting clothing, if you like that sort of look.

Necklaces of different lengths can work better with different necklines. Balance can also be found with a statement piece.

A helpful method to use is to focus on one piece of clothing and build an outfit around that

To go back to my ode to crop tops, I love pairing them with a chunky platform shoe. I have relatively wide hips, chunky thighs and tiny feet, so flat, delicate shoes can make me look a little triangular! I am also a tiny human (being 4’11”), so I crave the extra height!

If the thought of looking at your wardrobe and debating combinations is daunting, a helpful method to use is to focus on one piece of clothing and build an outfit around that. Keep a note of items you think might be missing for the next time you go shopping.


Getting creative

Fashion is fun and fluid. Get creative with your silhouette! I love tying full-length t-shirts into a knot around the waist to make them more fitted to my size and wearing them with comfortable, baggy tracksuit bottoms.

Don’t be afraid to look in the men’s or children’s sections for oversized or undersized pieces. I’ve bought men’s shirts from a vintage fair and I wear them as sort-of jackets with outfits that show bare leg. I may be biased, as I am small enough to fit into children’s clothes(!), but I find that normal-length children’s tops make good crop tops for adults.

No matter how I’m feeling about myself, I know that I can use clothes to feel more comfortable in my skin

I’d like to emphasise that I am no expert – I’m merely a girl with a strong sense of (sometimes questionable) personal style, but I felt that this was important to share. Putting a little bit of thought into the combinations of clothes can make a huge difference to your look and confidence.

Spending time on your personal appearance is often considered unnecessary vanity, but it can also be a tool for self-love. Purposely crafting the silhouette of my outfit has made me more conscious of the ratios of my body shape, but it has also helped me accept my body. No matter how I’m feeling about myself, I know that I can use clothes to feel more comfortable in my skin.


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