Pajama-Level Comfort with Artful Dressing for Four Body Types

I have long admired the people of Advanced Style for their fun, anything goes, bon vivant, approach to style. Some I admire more than others, and I started making notes about why. I noticed that I love the mixed prints, the head-to-toe and full-sleeve lack of skin, over the top accessories, low to flat shoes, and relaxed clothing lines. It looks as comfortable as pajamas, and as artistic as a painting.

So I tried it. I was really proud of one outfit in particular. I showed my sister. Her response, "Uhhh....". Haha! She did eventually say I looked like a "hip grandma" which was a high compliment to my ears, but I noticed when I looked in the mirror that I had a frumpy lumpy shape going on. I wondered if it might just be my eyes adjusting to new lines. I didn't buy the outfit, and nearly three years later, I'm still thinking about the experience. 

Recently I've been wondering just what shapes were beneath those incredible swaths of fabric, and how much might underlying body shape matter in relaxed head-to-toe lines? There is such a sense of dressing as artistic canvas rather than body enhancement/advertisement in the looks that are my favorites, that I'm not sure the lines beneath should be treated as if they matter at all. And the same with color- a sense of play with color for the artistic joy of it, rather than to harmonize with or enhance our own personal coloring.

For the most part, the differences in body shapes are moot when doing head-to-toe relaxed lines, because you'll end up with a great rectangle to play with regardless. However, if you have a greater than 10" difference between waist and bust and/or between waist and hip circumference, it might be worth considering shape tips. 

I created the following ideas for fully covered, relaxed fit, style. I've mostly shown the looks in separates, but you could just as easily translate the ideas into dresses and jumpsuits. You might try to think in layers. If you find a sleeveless short dress, add a long sleeved garment under or over, and pants, leggings, or tights beneath to get the fully covered comfort effect as well as for an opportunity to layer textures, colors, and prints. 

 

The H shape body, like the X, is balanced in terms of top and bottom visual weight. Though she might be an H with the sides pushed in a bit or the sides pushed out a bit, she is nearest to having the ideal canvas of a rectangular body shape. All we need to do is continue that visual balance by keeping the silhouette in straight lines along the body, and even distribution of the visual weight of color, print, design details, and other choices. Long vests, long scarves, and boas are all fun options to add. Jewelry and shoes she can get wild with.

For her I've chosen:
1. any accessories, shown here with statement studs, she could also pile on statement necklaces and bracelets
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2. shift dresses/tunics
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3. tights/leggings/pant/straight maxi skirts
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4. loafer/creeper/sneaker/oxford
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5. any purses (not pictured)
 

 

The A shape has a greater than 10" difference between hips and waist, and has a smallish bust, creating more visual weight in her lower half. I'm going to add visual weight to her upper half to balance and evenly distribute the visual weight (I celebrate your choice to distribute visual weight however you want- putting the emphasis where you want. Even distribution happens to be my choice for this article).

Kimono dresses, wrap dresses, and belted shirt dresses are good alternate options that aren't shown above. If you want to wear a full skirt and/or a print on bottom, to create visual balance you will need to add even more visual weight up top. I haven't shown this possibility, but find it worth mentioning.  

1. flashy accessories above bust line (infinity scarf, statement earrings, statement necklace, head scarves, vivid/dark colors, shiny textures, tassels/details, prints, large size)
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2. full, busy top with horizontal movement (boatneck, scoop neck, wide neck, off shoulder, kimono or batwing or otherwise dropped sleeves, ruffle sleeves, beadings/sequins, layered tops, horizontal stripes, wrap tops, prints, bright/light colors) that is either tucked into a slim fitting skirt band or belted.
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3. solid color, dark, matte, a-line skirt
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4. dark/plain shoes- boots with straight shafts/platform sneaker/closed-toe low wedge
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5. purses that do not obscure the waist and do not fall at hip-length (short shoulder purses and clutches) not pictured

 

The X shape has at least a 10" difference between bust and waist AND at least a 10" difference between waist and hips. She is balanced visually, with a pinched waist, and all we need to do is reflect the rounding in necklines and shoes as well as continue that balance, evenly distributing visual weight of prints, colors, design interest, and textures, while ensuring her silhouette nips in at the middle comfortably. While not relaxed in line, I included a tube skirt as a fairly comfy alternative for this shape.

1. any accessories (not pictured)
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2. softly fitted tops with softly open necklines (scoops)
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3. full skirts with leggings or tights
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4. ballet flats
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5. purses that do not obscure the waist (short shoulder purse, hip-length purse, or clutch) not pictured

 

 

 

Y shapes have a 10" or greater difference between waist and bust with slim hips. The opposite of an A shape, for the Y we will focus on adding visual weight to the bottom half while streamlining the top. Adding vertical to a broader top with V-necks and central detail.

1. single pendant necklaces
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2. softly fitted, plain, dark top with v neck or vertical detail, tucked into fitted skirt waist band or else belted
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3. full, busy, bright/light bottoms with horizontal movement (tiered maxis, layered skirts, ruffles, prints, wide leg pants, fluted skirts)
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4. busy/bold shoes of any kind
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5. purses that do not hit at bust length nor obscure waist line (long shoulder purses or tote/shoppers held low)

 


I'm going to give fully covered, arty, relaxed lines another try, this time paying a bit of mind to my A shape, and see how it goes.

Would you ever try this style? What relaxed lines shape would you fall into?