Understanding Your Body Proportions

Understanding your body proportions gives you clues regarding the proper placement of horizontal lines and vertical lines. It also provides the second puzzle piece in your understanding of the scale of prints and accessories.

Horizontal lines stop the eye, emphasizing the area in question and cutting the body, making it appear shorter and, in some cases, wider.


Each of these rectangles is the same size and shape.  Note, how the placement of horizontal lines effect the appearance, making some of the rectangles appear shorter and wider.


Vertical lines draw the eye up and down, elongating your appearance and making you look taller. In addition, by cutting the space vertically, you create a slimmer profile.


Each of these rectangles is the same size and shape. Note, how the placement of vertical lines effects the appearance, make some of the rectangles appear taller and more slender.


Avoid horizontal lines in areas that appear short.  Instead, add vertical lines to elongate your appearance.  For example, if you are short waisted, do not wear high waisted pants or skirts.  Choose waist lines that hit approximately one to two inches below your waist.

This is not the only factor to take into consideration when placing horizontal lines.  You should also think about what needs to be de-emphasized as apposed to what you’d like to call attention to.

For example, using vertical lines creates the illusion of longer legs.  Wearing heels with the pant hem almost hitting the floor and having a pressed crease in the center of the pant leg creates vertical lines that elongate your legs.

I challenge you to determine your body proportions and evaluate where to best use horizontal lines and vertical lines.

When considering scale in relation to your body proportions, it’s important to use appropriately scaled prints and accessories to mirror your proportions correctly.  For example, in the area between your waist and chin, based on the proportions you identified earlier in the Body Proportion Worksheet, are you long-waisted, short-wasted, or are your proportions equal? If you are short-waisted, then decrease the scale of your prints and accessories.  If you’re long-waisted, then increase the scale. If you’re evenly proportioned, then use the other two elements in the Scale Puzzle (color and body frame) to determine which size prints and accessories to choose.

Which leads us to the third and final piece in the Scale Puzzle — Body Frame.