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Balance and Scale in a Casual Outfit

Today I thought it would be fun to dissect the anatomy of an outfit that just wasn’t working for me. The balance and scale in a casual outfit can be as important as its color and shape so I made a few tweaks to get it back on track.

My friends at Chico’s sent me some clothes for an Instagram campaign and I love each piece individually but found the look unbalanced for several reasons.

As always, you can click the red text for more info and to shop the item.


This statement necklace is fabulous but its strong architectural vibe overpowers the more delicate paisley print. The drapey nature of the fabric also doesn’t hold up to the visual weight of the necklace. If it was a long dress, it might have had a fighting chance.

The necklace is too long to lay inside the neckline but not long enough to hang outside and stay over the back of the standup collar. There’s too much competition between the bold necklace on the top of the paisley pattern so neither wins.


The blouse says ‘soft’ and the necklace says ‘strong’ to me. I do love opposites in many outfits but not in this case. These may seem like nit-picky details but they’re the sort of thing that can derail an outfit even if we can’t put our finger on the problem.

Here’s what I did to adjust the balance and scale.

First, I swapped the heavy necklace for more delicate earrings and added a bracelet. The bracelet is as chunky as the statement necklace but has plenty of room at my wrist because the sleeves are pushed up. I would prefer a bracelet with smaller details like this one which is a better match for the fabric weight.

woman wearingn white ejans and blue and white top

This balance still isn’t my favorite but it’s much improved.



Here, I switched to a tank top with a denim shirt worn open and swapped my sandals for chunkier white platform sneakers. This tank allows the necklace to lay against my skin and not cover part of the top. I don’t mind when necklaces do cover part of a top, but they need to cover enough of it to look intentional.

There’s more room in the neckline for this statement necklace plus it’s not competing with a pattern for attention. Denim and chambray shirts are a classic in my wardrobe because they go with so many things.


Platform sneakers or any closed shoe give a better visual balance to the denim shirt and chunky necklace. The outfit looks less top-heavy when weighted by a heavier shoe. A darker shoe would do the same thing but it would make my short legs even shorter, so l prefer a pale shoe with white jeans.

See also – How to Look Taller and Slimmer

Do you think about the weight of fabrics with your jewelry?

Thanks for reading and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.



  1. Maxine Meadows says:

    I agree with you! Overpower happens too often in fashion. Thanks for your good advice!

  2. Enjoy your blogs so much and find them extremely helpful. I like the last picture. I agree with a couple other ladies that although the necklace is beautiful I think it’s still a little too big. But I did find it really interesting about thicker shoes to balance off the necklace. I wouldn’t have thought about that. Since I’m a real denim and white jeans person I will keep that in the back of my mind. Again thanks for the blog. It’s always so much fun to see what you’re up to 🙂

  3. Your article is really helpful in figuring out how to look at the proportion of an outfit, especially with your comparison of what doesn’t necessarily work with how you would adjust it. I need to develop a more analytical eye for putting together my own outfits, and this really helps.

  4. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I really like the necklace with the paisley top. I see the pattern as fairly large (for paisley), not delicate, and think it does stand up to the necklace. That said, I’m not seeing it in person so I will take your word for it that the fabric is too lightweight and true, then wearing the necklace isn’t the best choice. It would probably slip inside the V whenever you turn your head anyway, but at least in the pics it seems to sit nicely. The stone shapes complement the rounded sleeve ends too and since the buttons are covered and blend in, they’re not too distracting to be near the necklace. All that said, I like your restyle too. 🙂

    1. It did slip inside the neckline and drove me batty which can be a short trip for me when clothes need constant readjustment 🙂

  5. Love the denim shirt and tank top with the necklace.

  6. Thank you so much, Jennifer! I can’t begin to tell you how helpful these assessments of differing styles has helped me. I know what I like, but I couldn’t begin to break it down into the different components or why one thing works and another doesn’t. You have brought so much more awareness to my daily wardrobe! Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad to know it’s helpful, Karen

  7. Debra Gutenson says:

    Thanks so much for this post, it’s so helpful. I love when you do the comparison photos. And I ordered the denim dress and necklace from Chico’s from yesterday’s post. Love love them and can’t wait to get them. Thanks again!

  8. I so agree – balance & shape & proportion all are so important. Your re-styling nailed it all 🙂 I often see lovely women with ‘too tight tops over too tight leggings’ seemingly maybe in their minds IF they can squeeze their bodies into a size 8 then that’s the “correct” size. I say no no no! Fit the widest part of one’s body first, right? Like if you have a larger bust line, then grab the size that gently flows over that widest part of your body, not sticking to it skin tight. Like you said a good tailor or seamstress is so important if you can’t wear ‘off the rack’ clothing. No exposing of one’s muffin top, please!

  9. Lynne A Johnson says:

    At first I thought the outfit looked fine. Then when you restyled the items I understood what you were getting at. I guess that’s why you do the blog and I don’t lol! I need to keep your proportion concepts in mind when I feel uncomfortable in an outfit and I don’t know why. It probably is proportion is off in some way. Thank you for illustrating this so well. You look great!

  10. Like Jan, I didn’t notice the blouse detail until you removed the necklace. I don’t like the feel of heavy necklaces around my throat, although I can wear longer necklaces w/o a problem. Really liked your explanation BTW. I have a blue glass necklace what I almost never wore, and a friend looped it around my wrist — and suddenly it was a great accessory for bracelet-length jackets, and I got lots of compliments.

    1. I do that with my mala beads

  11. Love the blue paisley blouse, such a pretty color on you. The necklace is beautiful but not with that top. Liked the tank top with the necklace and denim shirt. You always look so good in all the outfits you present. Thank you Jennifer.

  12. Very helpful! It’s amazing how much difference those small details can make. I’ve never given much thought to what makes certain accessories or combinations work or not work. I’m going to pay much greater attention now.

  13. I have found that quite a few of the Chicos styles and pairings favor a plus size body or bigger boned/tall women – bodies that can carry big prints, large caftans and bolder jewelry. As a dainty petite I have to really watch it. Your dissection today was very helpful. I think the necklace is still a bit too big for your frame, but it is beautiful the way YOU styled it.

    1. I agree, it looks a bit big for my eye too.

  14. Love the denim shirt and white pants. Classy statement and the necklace fits in.
    I think softer fabrics go well with softer jewelry. Puts it all in line.

  15. Love your post! I definitely love denim in shirts and jackets and jeans. One trick I found that works for me: when I have a necklace that I really love, but doesn’t hit just right, I use extenders. You can find them just about anywhere, but warning, the magnetic ones only work with light weight necklaces. And yes, I agree, the weightier or heavier ones definitely work better with either a solid color top or tank. I use them to take a simple outfit up a notch. So enjoy your posts and look forward to them. Have a beautiful day!

    1. Have a great day, Rhoda!

  16. Excellent observations. Balance makes a huge difference. So glad I found you!

  17. This post was very helpful. Thank you.

  18. It is sometimes difficult to find balance with a statement necklace. You really helped us understand that. I’ve been wearing smaller necklaces because it’s so much easier to style if you are a small person. The blue tops look great on you.

  19. I agree with the scale/proportion thoughts, especially the top and chunky necklace. I am approximately your same height and find as a petite it is harder to pull of some of the chunky items. I believe that is where it gets ‘out of balance’. Thanks for your blog. As a fellow petite, it is very helpful!

    1. I so glad you find it helpful to see the change in balance

  20. Those switch ups are great Jennifer! You bring attention to small details that my eye says, “there’s something not right” and explain it and show how to fix it. Love the denim and white and the necklace then perfectly compliments.

  21. I love to look at outfit ideas on Pinterest or Polyvore where they just group the items together, but this is a great example of why you need to see an outfit “on”, to really tell if all the pieces work together, and work for you. I really appreciate your blog, especially DRD, for that reason. Although our bodies are different, seeing clothes on a real human being gives me a much better idea of what might work for me. I’ve found some of my favorite pieces by reading your site!

  22. Celia Bass says:

    I love some of the more elaborate necklaces that Chico’s sells, but as you have said, they seem like “too much” for some outfits, and in competition with the clothing balance. I’m pleased to realize that my past thoughts about this have been verified by your fashion “eye”. People went crazy buying those indigo howlight necklaces but as a petite woman, I think I would feel overpowered by it.

    1. Some women are more comfortable with less is more, I fall somewhere in the middle depending on my mood.

  23. Love your fixes, Jennifer! I never even noticed the button detail until the heavy necklace was removed. Are the white jeans you’re wearing an optic white or an off-white? Chico’s calls it alabaster. Do you find that the jeans stretch out with wear?

  24. Such a helpful post! I love when you dissect outfits to show us WHY something works or doesn’t work. Thank you, Jennifer!

    1. I agree, so helpful!
      Thank you!

  25. Both outfits look fine to me but I definitely have a problem with the necklace. I think it’s too large and heavy for you! It weighs down your small frame. The stones are too large and heavy-looking. While it is a beautiful necklace, if it were half the weight/size, it would look much better on you — on either outfit.

  26. Great tips Jennifer. Loved the simple styling of the denim shirt and tank with the jeans. A much more youthful and modern look compared to the tunic and jeans. Since I am petite I cannot pull off large statement jewelry. You looked lovely in both outfits and I appreciate your tutorial on balancing an outfit.

    1. At 5’4″, I struggle with really large jewelry too. This one is a bit larger than my usual.

  27. Honestly I didn’t mind the first look and thought “what’s the problem, it looks nice together ”……but when scrolling down I much preferred your renditions. To Jan’s point, you don’t notice the buttons on the print shirt until you removed the necklace. Enjoyed todays post. Thank you

  28. Love your “fixes”! Pairing jewelry with outfits is a personal thing. I too struggle to feel comfortable in a large necklace that does not either completely lay on a top (i.e., a plain turtleneck lightweight sweater) or completely on my skin (as in your final picture). I also always try to balance my shoes with the necklace. Thanks for reassuring me!

  29. Love your instructional posts. “Great style lives in the details.” Thank you, Jennifer!

  30. Numerous times I have added an accessory only to quickly remove it! I may not have been able to put my finger on the specific reason for doing so but your visual examples today make it crystal clear. I didn’t even notice the button detail on the soft, blue top until you removed the statement necklace. Once again, it’s all in the details. I love a denim shirt when paired with a tank or tshirt. I typically will add a longer necklace. I feel that is my favorite choice because I wear glasses. That and the fact that I always wear a certain amount of makeup, it seems to be enough detail around my face. Lol

    1. Jan Kofoed says:

      From one Jan to another: I too remove jewelry after trying it out. Then you casually said its because you wear glasses. Boom! I haven’t always worn glasses but now that I do that explains everything. Glasses just seem to compete with large jewelry. I love this post Jennifer because you put into words what I sometimes instinctively know but haven’t been able to tell why I know it. Love the denim over a white tank with white pants. Looking forward to getting a lightweight chambray shirt so I can copy the look, especially tied at the waist to elongate my even shorter legs than yours.
      Thanks for all your great posts. They’re so helpful.

      1. Glasses add so much I often find myself removing accessories these days. Glasses, earrings, a necklace can be fine, but then when I add my hat, it’s overdone.

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