Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Color and Proportion - Step 4: Some Printed Blouses and Tee Shirts

Here's where a really amazing variety of possibilities begins. I'm starting with the simplest of stripes, but even with stripes there can be all sorts of variations. Imagine, for example, a mostly beige tee shirt with the thinnest white stripe, or conversely, a mostly white top with a very subtle beige stripe. The balance of color WITHIN the top will also influence how the balance of the entire outfit works. You could get really obsessive about this if you let yourself...

One thing I hear that many of you find challenging is the "dumpy" or "square" proportions of the jeans and cardigans. Frankly, I chose these items partly with that in mind - I really wanted the colors of the garments to be what we noticed - especially the ways that those colors changed our perceptions of the outfits as a whole. If I had used more shapely or fitted garments, the effect of the color changes might have been muted. I hope this makes sense!

And I want to offer up my personal two cents about wearing stripes. We've all, practically from childhood, been told that horizontal stripes will make us look wide. Well, in photographs, that might be true; it certainly holds true in all sorts of amusing visual tricks and optical illusions that can be seen on paper, or on a video screen.

But!!! When you wear a tee shirt or blouse, you are NOT a two-dimensional image - you are a moving, three-dimensional person. I wouldn't wear one for a photograph, where my movement and depth can't be seen, but in person, I think stripes are seen very differently. Reconsider, maybe?

Beige and white tee – T by Alexander Wang, black and white tee – T by Alexander Wang
beige and black tee – Burberry Brit

I'm finding all of these very wearable; personally I probably wouldn't wear #2 because I'm sort of "beige-phobic", but I find the proportions of this very acceptable.

Same feelings here - these all work. It doesn't hurt that I love stripes...

And here, for the first time, I can see wearing my white cardigan and black trousers together...


Just for fun, I'm tossing out a few more tops to consider. These tops are pretty luxe, so I'm not sure that jeans would always be the best pants to choose, but for our purposes of observing visual balance, they'll do...

Black and white shirt – Polo Ralph Lauren, fleur de lis top – Caterina Gatta
leaf print top – Ferragamo, dotted top –  Michael Michael Kors
floral blouse – Celine, paisley top – Etro

There are some delectable possibilities here...


PS - If you missed any of the articles in the "Color and Proportion" series, here they are for your reading pleasure:


  1. I love this....with a few of the scarves from yesterday, I could wear one of these outfits everyday, with or without the cardigan. This is what I am working towards and this is so helpful. I have to find a beige & black tee like that, love it. I think the white pants & cardigan work better with the printed tee & 2- tone shoes than with the scarf, still too much white, but better. I am really going to have fun with this....I think I can even use the grey pieces I have. Thanks again.

  2. I'm also a fan of horizontal stripes. They add interest and keep the eye moving.

  3. With the simple outfits, I noticed that the best-looking combinations had at least two items of each color. The nice part of the patterned pieces is that they function as an item of each color - so, if you have a B&W t-shirt under a white cardigan, it functions as two white items (without the twin-set connotations), even as the B&W t-shirt ALSO functions as a black item with the black jeans.

  4. This would be such as easy way to build a wardrobe. Start with those basic six pieces in neutrals, then add patterns in scarves and shirts. Perhaps throw in a scarf, tee, and shoe in an accent color, and you're done!! Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

  5. The two value stripes make all the difference here ! I have read in multiple fashion books and articles that narrow strikes are actually lengthening, not broadening, because your eye climbs them like a ladder, a vertical effect. It is the broad stripes with lots if space between that create a widening effect.

  6. make that lots of space, not if space -darned Tablet !

  7. Oh my, upon editing I see that stripes also became strikes in the text !

  8. This is a brilliant exercise and I am learning something new with each post. Thank you. This is great practice for one of your chapters in your book, especially if combined with body types.

    Deb from Vancouver

  9. A trick I learned is to wear a cross-body bag with a strap across the stripes to break them up. The strap will lend a vertical line. I love these outfits.

  10. I LOVE stripes, and you've done them so well here. If you're worried about the widening effect, a solid blouse/cardi/jacket over it automatically solves the problem.

    Although I love color, I LOVE beige w/white and cream. It suits my skin tones perfectly.

    BTW, Janice, I think putting luxe tops w/jeans is a terrific look, and one I do regularly.

    You've hit all my fave buttons w/this one.


    Cheers, M-T

  11. This has been a fascinating experiment, although I personally find the colors difficult. I use black because it meets so many needs and have a few white tops, but nothing beige. One thing I notice is that these colors are at the extremes of value, ie very dark or very light. The patterned tops and scarves add a middle value which works better for someone with my muted coloring. I would love to see this experiment repeated with another set of neutrals, say cream, olive (or denim) and black.

    Thanks for all your thoughts here!