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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ask The Fashion Professor

Dear Professor,

Can you explain more about what is meant by the term "proportion"? Tim says this all the time, and in challenges designing for the "everyday woman," many designers have commented that they don't know how to make clothes for women of non-model proportions.

Is proportion just a reference to body type, or does it have something to do with the clothes themselves?

Laura in Austin, TX

Hi Laura.

There are some laws of proportion that are used in fashion and other areas of design that if followed create more harmonious clothes, graphics, interiors and buildings.

In fashion design however there is such a wide variety of body shapes that clothes that look good on a 6 foot tall 120 pound runway model aren't going to look quite the same on a 5 foot tall 170 pound lady. The term proportion could be used to describe the body types of the two women - one woman's proportions are quite different from the other.

Proportion also applies to clothes. And accessories. Pieces of an outfit relate to one another. And to the body wearing them.
Imagine a big puffy down jacket, wool stockings and knee high Uggs on our two ladies... This is a standard outfit right now in Manhattan and a study in clothing proportion. Young women like the look - I think the proportions are odd - like a Q-tip.

The majority of the training the current designers have done has been done on a dress form similar to the runway model's body type - consequently any clever tricks that look great on a tall and thin body may look much less flattering on a shorter, curvy body - the weight loss challenge really showed who could adapt.

Thanks for writing,