Aligned Shopping 101
Lessons from Align style analysis
Part 1 Scale
I’m starting a new blog series, the lessons from Align style analysis.
These are the basics of Align style analysis, and the lessons learned from helping women find the clothes that allow them to find and communicate their true selves and look extremely beautiful in the process.
I’ll go into the aspects of clothing you need to be aware of to find truly great styles for yourself. In this first episode, we’ll be looking at scale.
Scale is the first thing that we need to consider when shopping. Basically, it’s about how large an item of clothing needs to be. That might sound like I’m talking about size. Actually, it’s something completely unrelated. You might put on a item of clothing that has the perfect size, it could even be tailored to fit you the way the designer intended, and still have the wrong scale.
Classic example: when you put a very small woman in a maxi dress while it’s the right size, it still looks very weird. She’ll be swallowed by the dress, and look tiny and even forlorn in the garment. She’ll be weighed down, seeming to have shrunk more every time you look at her. It’s an effect I call ‘getting fused to the floor’. On the other hand, the very tall woman will look utterly normal in the same maxi dress (of course we’ll select the right size for her as well). She can wear the large scale, and is even flattered by it.
When we’re dealing with large and small scale body types, we quickly find they require different proportions to look their best. As I say often: to achieve the same effect, they must wear different clothes.
If you could make a dress longer or shorter, how would it look?
The most obvious aspect of scale is simply the length of the garment. In this blog post, I consider dresses to illustrate what scale can do. If you could make a dress longer or shorter, how would it look? Like the woman was squished into a little girl’s dress, or more like the example above, the small woman drowned in fabric? As we slide the hem of the dress up and down in our minds, there’s a length where neither of these effects is seen. With that length, you look normal, great, just right. Right there, we’ve just hit peak energy.
To have found peak energy, really means we found harmony. Two patterns (in our example, a woman and a dress) were combined to strengthen each other beyond what either was capable off. When the opposite happens, when these patterns clash, they only make noise and confusion. When we look at you now, you look not just normal, but beautifully proportioned. We’re able to focus on you with pleasant ease, supported as you are by your beautiful outfit. What a difference from the other dresses, where we kept being distracted by the awkward proportions!
Exciting stuff, right? So let’s have a look at some dresses and see what scale actually looks like.
The long and short of a dress
- Very large scale. It’s a very long dress, extending way past the knees. This is quite an extreme proportion for a pencil skirt! See how the lines of the dress are unbroken, from the shoulder all the way to the bottom hem? We can’t see the waistline, but by the look of it, there’s no heavy emphasis there. Nor is there any wavering in the silhouette, or detail on the dress. There’s a reason large scale women wear minimalist styles well – when there’s no detail, it allows them to have large, unbroken planes.
- This is a large scale dress. We’re still getting quite a bit of length, but not as much as the previous one. The shoulder is big, having significant width. Also, the dress is curvy, but not tight – all that extra space contributes to the scale. And then there are the pleats, which are really large and deep, creating long diagonal lines that stretch away from the waist.
- This one is medium large. It’s subtly longer than the knee, and the waistline is dropped just a bit. We’re definitely getting some width, and the large print makes it optically larger as well.
By the way, never mind whether the dress actually suits the model. For now, we’re only considering the dresses.
4. This dress is medium scale. The waist sits on the waist. The waistband starts at the tail end of the waist curve. The hem is just underneath the knee, which is normal in the case of an A line dress. None of the detail is particularly large or small – although the sleeves are a bit on the short side.
5. Now we’re getting to small scale. On this dress, the skirt starts directly on the narrowest part of the waistline, a subtle difference from the one above. Also, the skirt is shorter and lighter. It needs a smaller woman than the previous one.
6. And this is about as small as it gets, the ultra small end of scale. This dress is shorter still. It’s also tight, which means the hip curve of the dress begins directly on the curve of the waist.. The sleeves are short and the exposed area of the neckline is small as well. Question: Does that mean that only very small people look normal in skin tight clothes? Well, there are ways to bring it in to other types, but generally, yes. (Don’t get me started on skinny jeans! :P)
How about mini skirts?
Does this really mean that shorter skirts are more small scale? Generally yes, but only for a certain range. Everyone has their long skirts, midi skirts, and mini skirts. So far, we’ve been considering mostly dresses with mid-length skirts, which are around knee level. As we’ve seen, you might make it shorter to adjust to smaller scales, or longer for larger scales. But at some point the proportions flip and it becomes a mini skirt or conversely, long skirt.
- This one is an example of large scale, because as far as mini skirts go, it’s still quite long.
- Chop some centimeters off the bottom hem, and you’ll end up with medium-large scale. Notice how the dress is not very tight, which brings in a larger scale.
- Medium to small scale now. As you can see, the range for mini dresses is a bit smaller, the difference in length for small and large scale being less big than for midi dresses. That’s where there’s the most playing ground.
- And small scale. Besides the decidedly short length, note the small lift in the length made by the wrap skirt. Negative space like this makes it more lightweight, which also belongs to the small scale types. The diagonals made by the wrap also diffuse the vertical length of the dress, making it appear even smaller.
Is there overlap?
The truth about 'body flaws'
What did you think of this first lesson? Are you flattered by clothes that are medium scale? Or do they look better when they are small or large scale? Let me know in the comments below!
In the next part, we’ll take a look at lines.
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