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Dressing Without Losing Yourself
by Diane Keelan & Flossie St. Clair, LamasBeauty Consultants
 

Learning to dress for success, or any other occasion for that matter, can be fun and exciting, or it can be confusing and mind boggling, or simply no fun at all.

When we are dressing ourselves, we must learn the basic principle, and that is to keep a sense of our own personal style apparent. Otherwise, we will feel made up or unattractive, because we are trying to duplicate someone else's look, instead of learning to develop our own sense of style that best suits our body frame, clothing preferences and personality.

When getting started, you must first learn your body frame. I am going to list all four of the bodies, along with their characteristics and you choose which one of them best describes your body.

A-Frame

  • Body is narrower at the top half and wider at the lower hip and upper thigh area
  • Legs may be shorter and sometimes heavier
  • Upper torso may be average to long, firm and slender
  • When there is weight gain, it is usually in the upper thighs

This frame can be balanced by widening the shoulders. It can be achieved by choosing garments with shoulder pads or sleeve detailing.

V-Frame

  • Shoulders appear to be wider than the hips
  • Bust is usually large, with a shorter torso and high waist
  • Thighs and derriere are usually flat
  • Legs are thin
  • Tummy may be more prominent than bust

This frame should be balanced by widening the hip and upper leg area. Choosing garments that have width and fullness in the skirt or pants.


H-Frame

  • Body appears to be straight up and down
  • Thighs and derriere are usually flat
  • Legs may be longer
  • Bust is average to large
  • Weight gain is usually through the middle

This frame should be balanced by creating the illusion of a smaller waist. This can be accomplished by choosing either a bloused garment with a flared skirt and belted waist, or a straight garment like a chemise dress.


8-Frame

  • Figure is curvy and perfectly balanced
  • Bust is full, waist is small, with average length
  • Hips are gently tapered, with good proportions to derriere
  • Leg length and upper torso are balanced
  • Weight gain is always evenly distributed

This frame should emphasize the waist and avoid cluttering the figure with lots of clothes and layering. Choose garments that fit the body and identify the waist.


When you attempt to analyze your own figure, stand in front of a full-length mirror and look for the obvious shapes and length. If you feel that you have some characteristics from more than one category, then you may have a balanced frame or combination frame. Just follow the basic rules and remember to create good balance from top to bottom.

The next steps that we must follow are learning what our clothing personality profile is. Stay with me ladies, this is very important when learning to dress ourselves.

There are six basic personality types:

  • Classic
  • Dramatic
  • Romantic
  • Ingénue
  • Natural
  • Gamin'

Let's begin with the CLASSIC woman. She is the epitome of elegance and refinement. The classic personality is very controlled, from the time of her youth; she expresses her heart and soul in her appearance. She does not like chaotic environments...it will always bring out the worst in her. As a person, she is warm and caring. She is always sincere.

Her body type is as follows:

  • Height is average (5'4" to 5'7")
  • Figure will be balanced and symmetrical
  • Her appearance is one of a mature adult, never "girlish"
  • Body is not too thin, too delicate or too sturdy

Fabrics for her:

  • Matte finishes or low luster are best
  • Fabric weights are moderate
  • Smooth knots and double knits are great

Accessories:

  • Jewelry, belts, handbags and shoes should be refined and fashionable. Classics do not wear dangles or funky stuff!

Shopping tips:

  • A planned budget is ideal
  • Because classics need to purchase quality clothing, your motto needs to be "Less clothes for more money"
  • Focus on a base color scheme, especially if money is limited for clothing purchases
  • Investing in solids and refined fabrics are the key
  • Keep an eye on fashion trends, not fads, to stay current and fashionable

Proto-types:

  • Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Nancy Reagan, Diane Sawyer

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Let's move on to our DRAMATIC woman. She has a sophisticated, high-fashion look. Some dramatics have a tendency to over-do their look to unattractive extremes. Just think of Cher; wherever the dramatic goes, she turns heads. People want to see what she has on and how she is put together. She likes large groups and a lavish array of foods. She is a risk taker. She's happiest owning her own business. She enjoys being in control. She is a private person, which becomes apparent when you try to get close to her. She allows no grass to grow under her feet...she is always moving forward.

Her body type is as follows:

  • Height will be taller (5'8" and above)
  • Bone structure will be narrow and angular
  • Overall look can be exotic

Fabrics for her:

  • All fabric choices must hold a defined shape
  • An appropriate choice would be gabardines, foilles, stiff brocades, taffetas, linens, etc.
  • Patterns are bold, abstract or geometric
  • Head to toe dark colors or dark neutrals work well

Accessories:

  • Bold, chunky and dangling are all a part of who she is....hats, scarves and brooches, as well

Shopping tips:

  • A planned budget is ideal
  • A greater amount of money will be spent on accessories. This is where her uniqueness is.
  • Whatever you choose must make a statement
  • Put the focus on current trends in clothing and accessorization

Proto-types:

  • Cher, Barbra Streisand, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Linda Dano

Next on the list is our ROMANTIC woman. She is a sexy lady; curvy and very feminine. She is the epitome of sex appeal. When she enters a room full of people, most women present will feel threatened by her sex appeal. She is charming, enchanting and magnetic. She can be very accommodating and sympathetic.

Her body type is as follows:

  • Height is average to short, not tall
  • Figure proportions are very shapely, rounded and soft
  • Hips and buttocks are always rounded

Fabrics for her:

  • Weights should be light to medium
  • Finishes should be rich
  • Suggested fabrics are silk, soft wool, crepes, sweater knits such as angora and cashmere, suede's and soft leathers

Accessories:

  • Jewelry is dainty in detail, but lavish in effect
  • Silk scarves and flowers work well with this look
  • Evening looks are ornate

Shopping tips:

  • A planned budget is ideal
  • Focus on spending the most money on the waist up
  • The garment itself must express your style. Do not choose cheap fabrics, it will discount your look quickly.

Proto-types:

  • Liz Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren, Donna Mills, Jane Seymore

Now we discover our INGENUE woman. The ingénue woman is a sweet, youthful, innocent portrait of femininity. She is not sexy and alluring, but rather has a naive, feminine side. When she enters a room, she brings a special quality of freshness.

Her body type is as follows:

  • Feminine, small-boned, dainty
  • Regardless of height, her frame is delicate looking
  • Figure traits are gently rounded

Fabrics for her:

  • Weights should be light
  • Soft woolens and fine silks
  • Fine cotton, crisp cotton

Accessories:

  • Jewelry is small and dainty
  • Florals, ribbons, bows and cameos

Shopping tips:

  • A planned budget is ideal
  • You may first want to look through a catalog to find your style
  • Fabric quality is not crucial, you may wear less expensive clothes and have a more expansive wardrobe
  • Always remember to finish your look. This is where you may have trouble, whether it is shoes, bag, coat or jewelry

Proto-types:

  • Goldie Hawn, Charlene Tilton, Barbara Mandrel

Let's look at our NATURAL woman. Sporty natural, more than any other personality, knows who she is from a very young age. She needs comfortable clothes, which is why her clothes are less tailored and unstructured. She is a great team player. She is a loyal, faithful friend or employee. Material things or how things look are usually not her focus. She simply has a no-fuss, no muss attitude about life.

Her body type is as follows:

  • Height is average tall
  • Body is strong and sturdy in appearance
  • Hips are curvy, with a nice waistline, or hips can be straight, with a thicker waist
  • Bone structure is softly angular with broad to average shoulder width
  • Body may be slightly muscular

Fabrics for her:

  • Textures are soft, rough or nubby
  • Wrinkled looks are good
  • Knits will often be jersey, cable or studded
  • Tweeds, wool challis, linens, cottons and denims

Accessories:

  • She seldom will finish her look with added detail
  • Her focus will be on the basics...belt, handbag and shoes...your basic staples
  • Jewelry is rarely her focus

Shopping tips:

  • A planned budget is ideal
  • Shop department stores, catalogs or specialty stores such as Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, Mark Fare, Strike and Talbot's
  • Discount stores or cheaper chains will not carry the traditional natural look because this style is not always produced in cheaper fabrics
  • Always remember personal taste prevails
  • You are rarely willing to stretch and risk new looks, you like your comfort zone

Proto-types:

  • Cheryl Tiegs, Brooke Shields, Jane Fonda, Ali McGraw, Farrah Fawcett

Last, but certainly not least, is our GAMIN woman. The gamin is the most misunderstood of all the personalities. Many of them want to be another personality. She is petite and often is unwilling to accept her petiteness and does not want to be called cute...and yet, she is adorably cute! Her personality is spunky and energetic. She loves fun and a good time. Many gamins take "the party" wherever they go.

Her body type is as follows:

  • Height is 5'5" and under
  • Build is small to medium
  • Her body can be straight and slim or chunky and stocky

Fabrics for her:

  • Colors should be bold and sassy as she can create
  • Multi-color splashes or caricature work well
  • Prints should be colorful, animated and contemporary
  • Matte or low luster finishes of fabric surfaces are best

Accessories:

  • Jewelry pieces should be scaled to body proportions....smaller sizes are generally best
  • Gamins are the only personality who use contrasting hosiery colors for a more staccato appearance
  • Dark hosiery should be sheer

Shopping tips:

  • A planned budget is ideal
  • Focus should be petite sizing
  • You are perfect for mix and match
  • Avoid monochromatic, unless you are combined with another personality
  • Coordinate two or three colors into your garments
  • One color needs to dominate as a foundation color

Proto-types:

  • Sandy Duncan, Sally Fields, Carol Channing

Ladies, there you have it! These are the basic principals of developing your personal look while maintaining your own individual style.

Meet us back here at lamasbeauty.com each month to learn more about becoming the best you can be - inside and out - professionally and personally. This column will be devoted to furthering your education on topics that enhance and empower you! Your self-esteem, attitudes and values, beauty routines, fashion, style, and personality - because they're all part of the journey - our personal, exciting BeautyWalk!

Do you have any questions or comments about this article? We'd love to hear from you. Contact us using this form.

Until next time!

Warm Regards,

Diane & Flossie


Diane Keelan is the Founder and President of Selective Style, a full service image company located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Along with her partner Flossie St. Clair, the two conduct personal style development training seminars throughout the United States. Clients include United Airlines, American Trans Air, Century 21 and The Kellogg Corporation. Diane's passion is teaching women the basic principals involved in looking good and feeling good -- every day of their lives.

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