Monday Musings- Proportions and Sustainability
Happy Monday, ladies. Today I have some random musings that don’t tie up neatly into a category, but here goes.
I shared this photo last week, and a reader on Facebook commented that she would prefer the outfit with a black belt so her eyes would not stop and focus on the brown. That got me thinking about proportion and why it’s such an important component of a pleasing outfit.
Not all of my accessory choices are tactical, but this one was. I have a long torso and short legs. Wearing a black belt that matches my top would visually lengthen my torso and shorten the look of my legs.
This tan belt is less ideal than a white belt (which I don’t own), but I prefer it to a black one that matches my top. The tan coordinates with my sandals, so the eye continues moving down my silhouette and is a lower contrast to the white.
More importantly, wearing a black belt comes closer to dividing my outfit in 1/2, which is less flattering than the 1/3-2/3 Rule of Thirds ratio. Are you familiar with the rule of thirds? It’s one of the best styling tricks petite women have to elongate the look of their legs.
Proportion is my favorite style tool, so it catches my attention before almost anything else.
I haven’t used dedicated eye cream for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure that I believe all the talk about different size pores around our eyes and the need for special products. Do you? I do know the skin under my eyes is looking crepier and crepier these days, so I picked up this Tatcha Silk Peony.
There were tons of eye cream options at Sephora, and I got trapped by an enthusiastic sales guy who had encyclopedic info on many of them. I politely extricated myself from him and chose this Tatcha Silk Peony for several reasons. It’s small and won’t take up much space in my suitcase; it’s cruelty-free and contains great ingredients, including Camelia Sensisi leaf. Research has shown that the application of tea to the skin has beneficial properties like increased hydration and anti-inflammatory properties, plus may protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Sustainable Dressing and Project 333
Are you a fan of sustainable fashion? Do you find it easier to get dressed when you limit yourself to a certain number of items? I’ve never intentionally planned my wardrobe that way but find it naturally occurs each season as I reach for the same pieces repeatedly. When I buy better quality, it lasts longer, so I buy less.
I spotted Project 333 in the bookstore over the weekend and was fascinated. Project 333 is a fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. I’m not sure it would work for me. What about you?
Thanks for reading, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.
I’m definitely interested in learning more about Project 333. Last winter I did a 6 items for a month challenge and found it much easier than I expected. I did become a bit bored with my choices after awhile though. The 6 items didn’t include underwear, sleepwear, shoes and socks, or outerwear, but I limited myself to 2 pairs of pants, 3 tops, and a cardigan for an entire month.
My favorite eye cream is Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream. I think the name is kind of strange and the cream is a light yellow, which disappears after you apply. It is soft as silk and I feel it truly has made a difference around my eye area- less lines and more moisturized feeling. It is also “clean beauty”. I highly recommend it.
Thank you, Debbie. I’ve never tried that brand before. I’ll check into it!
I’m sure I could make 333 work (retired so my life is pretty casual, fairly well coordinated wardrobe), but I like a lot of variety. While I appreciate the virtues of a limited wardrobe, it just isn’t appealing to someone who enjoys wide variety and with an enormous closet.
That’s the rub with a capsule wardrobe. Variety is not included. You can get some with accessories but not as much as some women love.
ai’d like to hear more about the 1/3 2/3 rule.
Jennifer, I think we should take a serious look at Project 333. Or perhaps those of us who are interested could do this as a “project” and report back on our experiences. For me it seems like something I’ve been looking for and just didn’t quite know what it was……
I have had the daunting experience in the last few years of having to dispose of two entire households (during the time of Covid) of elderly relatives who saved every single solitary thing. It taught me something about possessions, “stuff” in general, and what’s really important that I have yet to completely apply to my lifestyle, but I am working on it. This Project just might be an eye opener, because even though I really enjoy all of the fashions, choices, and yes, having more classic quality pieces in my crowded closet, I’m terrible at editing them and figuring out what to get rid of. The thrifty gene seems to run in my family. Lol
I live with a man who does not like to get rid of anything, which motivates me to declutter and clear out. I admit my wardrobe gets less than it needs, so I will be making a concerted effort to whittle things down this year.
Your posts are always so informative Jennifer. I like the idea of Project 333 and have made a concerted effort the last few years to only purchase only what I love so that I will wear it. The challenge to whittle the number of items down to 33 ( how did the author come up with that number?) for 3 months is that our weather is so unpredictable especially during the transitional seasons. I do attempt to wear each item in my closet (except dressy clothes which rarely get worn now) at least twice during the season.
Jennifer, I think the tan belt and shoes looks great!
As for the 333 concept, with 4 distinct seasons where I live, it would leave me with too few options each season. Interesting idea for others, however.
Agree with Elizabeth on both issues as well as you Jennifer, re proportion. Super illustration BTW! That being said; as to ‘too matchy matchy’ with the belt and footwear; as all trends do eventually repeat themselves IMHO feel you will be seeing more ‘colour’ matching of handbags with footwear particularly for those of us whose style is that of classic. (Victoria Beckham is a master at doing such.) On that note; as to having a long or short torso and speaking namely for myself due to spinal compression (because of age), my torso is definitely shorter than once was so I have either resorted to wearing narrower belts and/or avoid large buckles if I do wear one. -Brenda-
I tend to like a little matchy/matchy with accessories. It’s easy to overdo, but I do enjoy it.
The author does actually refer to four seasons, in which you utilize 33 items for each season. Therefore, you do have plenty of choices. She also says that 33 items might not be enough for some people. I agree with so much of what she says; I’m still trying to put it into practice.
I know one of the commenters below considered the tan belt-tan sandals combination too matchy matchy, but, interestingly, I think prefer that combo even w/out considering proportion. For me, the black belt not only makes the skirt-top-cardi too matchy matchy, but makes to outfit way too stark, as would the substitution of a white belt. The addition of a third color removes the starkness and adds visual interest. It’s always intriguing to me how different our various aesthetic reactions are.
I share your long torso-short leg figure, so it’s nice to see photos of outfits that play down the one to one ratio.
I’d love to see you do a Project 333 series, if you ever decide to tackle it.
I like the tan too 🙂
I like the idea of three colors in an outfit. As someone with a long torso, I divided my torso subconsciously before I realized I was doing it. I did this both with color blocking and with belts in a contrasting color. I liked to accentuate my then- thin waist.
Proportions are everything, which is why I try to avoid V-necks. My neck is long already, and I don’t need anything to make it look longer. V-necks and scoop necks also seem to lengthen my torso, which needs no lengthening. Proportions are unique to each individual.
As for capsule wardrobes, this is what people in temperate climates are doing when they put their fall and winter clothing into storage to make way for spring and summer clothing. We need heavy winter clothing, lightweight summer clothing and everything in between. I make my own rules. I bring things out of storage when we have our predictably unpredictable temperature dips in the summer. I need a down-filled parka and -40°C. rated winter boots. We have seasons. Also, no one should tell me not to ever wear tights (reference -40°C).
I’ve enjoyed your columns that touch on accessory colors and why you choose the colors you do. The brown belt makes perfect sense. I was wearing white jeans, blue and white stripe shirt and none of my belts looked “right” so I wore the shirt untucked. I don’t own a white belt. I’m neither long-waisted or short-waisted. Is a white belt the best choice for white jeans?
Any pale color works well with white jeans. I like ones with a touch of animal print or metallic too
Absolutely the brown belt is a better option than black for the reasons you mention. Great explanation and example of proportions.
At 5’1″, short torso, I find proportional dressing very helpful.
Soft contrast also helps me. I go to four meetings at different places and different people each month so I choose the one outfit that I will wear to each meeting then change it for the next month. I had enormous success with eye cream, I hope that you do too. At 72 I have recently discovered retinol and could see an immediate improvement in the face and neck. Good luck!
Never met a bookstore I didn’t love! Forget my closet; I need to stop buying books. I had things under control until the pandemic b/c I used the library -and am slowly getting back to this. I love the 333 concept and think it applies not only to clothes and books but teacups, dishes, etc. I’ve color coded my closet for years and highly recommend: solid tops together from light to dark, with prints following – then the same for trousers. I keep cardigans in one area and pullovers in another. Folded tops are separated into two dawers: everyday and ‘nicer’ ones. My husband thinks I’m crazy!
Oh my gosh Jennifer. A big thank you to the reader that led to this proportion tutorial! Your style knowledge has had a huge impact on my wardrobe. (Such zen/joy when I can reach in and pair clothing and it works!) I share your wide shoulders, rectangular body shape and height but i’m short waisted with longer legs. And even though my esthetic is a little less classic/structural the “rules” still apply. As always thank you for what you do for us.
Side by side photos…… says it all.
Drives the proportion tips home.
Just a note on Tatcha…I tried the silky cleanser & cream samples that I received from Sephora. I gave it a week to see how my skin reacted. I have rosacea & very sensitive skin. My skin handled it beautifully. No breakouts or rashes…it was very soothing. So…I think I’ll try more of their products.
That’s so good to know. My rosacea goes crazy over the strangest things…like essential oils etc.
Jennifer–It really helped to see those two pictures side by side! I have the opposite problem of long legs and short torso although I am only 5’3″ and have narrow shoulders to boot. So I am constantly struggling with proportion–there seems no good place to put a belt (not that I have a waist anyway!). I picked up a copy of Project 333 a couple of weeks ago, thinking it might encourage me to cull items from my closet which is stuffed to the brim. I do a very good job when packing, selecting a minimal travel wardrobe, and don’t mind having only a few things. But at home the watchword seems to be plenitude: multiples of sizes and options. I know I find security in the abundance but this needs to stop. The pandemic has only made this worse, so I need to find a way out.
Thank you for sharing your very real struggle with us, Mary. It’s something many of us share.
I remember you talking about proportions before and it was very helpful. I’m short but am short waisted with long legs so finding tops that aren’t too long has always been a problem. I find myself reaching for the same clothes all the time too.
I struggle with pants because my legs are short, but my rise is high. We will dig further into proportions because it’s so helpful to understand.
As someone with a long torso and very short legs, I appreciate this post. Thanks for the photos too. Great to ponder as I dress for the day. And yes, I think I will try the 333 project. I live in an area with four very different seasons, so depending on the months it might be more of a challenge but I like the idea. I would love a post that focuses on some sustainable basic pieces that would span seasons and years!
I like the idea of it too, and personalizing it to your lifestyle would be a critical component of its success. I will look into some more sustainable options.
Hi Jennifer! I love reading your posts and they’ve helped me quite a bit in restyling my wardrobe for a more updated look. So thank you for that! You often mention that you have a long torso. I would be very interested in how to tell if I have a long or short torso. I’m 5’0” so proportions are critical for this short gal! Appreciate your help with this!
The easiest way is to use the width of your hands. Stack your hands horizontally on your torso, starting directly under your bust. How many hand widths does it take to reach your waist? If they end past your waist, you have a short torso. You have a long torso if you have several more inches left before your waist. If they end at your waist, you’re balanced.
I would like to understand the 1/3 – 2/3 proportion ratios better. You write “More importantly, wearing a black belt comes closer to dividing my outfit in 1/2, which is less flattering than the 1/3-2/3 Rule of Thirds ratio. Are you familiar with the rule of thirds? It’s one of the best styling tricks petite women have to elongate the look of their legs.”
Would a black belt be part of the upper 1/3 that includes the black t-shirt?
Could you show more ratios with other photos?
Yes, the black belt would “visually join” the black top and change that proportion to be closer to 1/2. I’ll find some more images to explain further.
Thank you! I appreciate the visuals and side by side as well. I’m 5’4 and would like to learn how to not look cut in half and yet not dress in a column of color all the time.
If you have previous posts on this, how would I find them? Thanks for all you do!
I haven’t covered this much in the past but am working on a post now.
Thanks for the post. As a petite I need all the help I can to look taller and my legs longer. I so appreciate your tips. The best
Suggestion, try the Tatcha Cleansing Oil. A number of years ago, my son, who lives in California had been to a trade show where he bought this product for me. I use it at night to remove my makeup and love it!
Thanks for the recommendation. I really like their products.
My immediate thought was that matching the brown belt to the brown shoes was a bit too “matchy” for me, but when I consider the proportionality, I definitely see what you are talking about.
My daughter lives in downtown Vancouver and I have put the Indigo bookstore onto my agenda for our next visit.
And, finally, love all of the beautiful boilersuits you are have as your finds of the day!
It’s a great bookstore. I could spend days there.
I’ve gained weight so needed new clothes for spring/summer. I purchased 1 tee shirt dress, 3 cropped pants and 9 tops (short sleeve and sleeveless), 1 jeans, 1 fashion joggers and 3 long sleeve light tops. A total of 18 pieces. I’ve been wearing these pieces on repeat since April. It makes it so much easier to get dressed and surprisingly not boring. Who knew?! Now don’t ask me to restrict my footwear. 😉
Bravo, Joanna! It can be done.
I’d be willing to try the 333 project, focus is good. Three months could be a challenge at certain times of the year, however. 🙂
Jennifer the side by side photos did a fantastic job of explaining proportions! I don’t think that I quite “got” the concept. Boy do I now. I recently determined that I also have a long torso and short legs (so at 67 I’m still learning so that’s a good thing). Your photo will be very helpful in future.
I’m so glad it helped!
I recently read project 333 and I decided to use the underlying philosophy (rather than the strict numbers) and apply it to my closet. I counted 200 pieces in my closet and whittled that number down to 90 for the next 3 months. This was about 2 and a half weeks ago. My thoughts so far are that it is easier to get dressed in the morning. I also selected 3 neutrals and 2 accent colors before I started the culling of my closet so I don’t have any outliers at present. Maybe I can whittle the number down more during the next 3 month cycle.
That’s fascinating. Are you enjoying the results?
I’d certainly try the 333 project. My many years of dressing for office work created a mindset of “outfit of the day” which carried me into retirement. Now that I don’t interact with same people every day and my lifestyle is far more predictable, the need for variety in my daily wardrobe has diminished dramatically. Having fewer but higher quality garments that last longer would be better for my budget, home organization, and far better for our environment. Sign me up!
I am late to the party on this, Jennifer, but your post last week on style consideration before jumping into seasonal sales was extremely informative and helpful. Thank you!
Variety in our wardrobes is a fascinating topic, Susan.
I love the idea of clearing out and minimizing but don’t think I could go so extreme. I go weeks at a time of making a point to wear different outfits, not just my favorite go tos. I need to learn more about the ‘thirds’ way to dress being only 5’3. Have a great Monday!
I am greatly enjoying the diversity of topics in your blog. Regarding the white outfit with the brown belt and sandals, I think it wouldk be better if the top was not so dark. Something more midtone in value.
I am very interested in the 333 project. I may start by grouping a limited number of items from which to choose.