Monday, November 7, 2011

Using the Golden Mean and the Camera to Adjust Proportions

One of my favorite posts of all time is Imogen of Inside Out Style's take on the Golden Mean/Fibonacci Numbers in relation to outfits. I've no head for the math, but the gist of it is that the human eye naturally finds certain ratios visually appealing -- and, as Imogen writes, "[g]iven that we find things that use this ratio so aesthetically pleasing (fern fronds, snail shells, snow flakes) it has also been found that when we dress in this ratio we are also more fabulous."

The ratios:
8:13 etc.
Now, here's where I would sometimes get hung up: if I'm human, and if humans naturally find these ratios most appealing, and if my goal is to dress in the most appealing way possible, then shouldn't I gravitate toward these ratios in the first place? Totally. But haven't we all experienced the dreaded, in-store skinny mirror? They're basically toned-down fun-house mirrors, and most of our in-home mirrors are just as misleading (if not as flattering). If you don't have the cash to invest in a macho mirror supreme, you can get a more accurate image - and more accurately adjust your outfit ratios - by using your camera. Get a slightly-zoomed, straight on, mid-height shot with the camera, as crazy camera angles will distort your body, too.

Here's the outfit I started out with this morning. Because of the high neck and long body of the sweater, my belt placement, and the contrast of the skirt, I've created some very distinct horizontal lines. My bust looks unnaturally large compared to my rise, my rise looks unnaturally long compared to my legs, and my legs look quite stumpy despite my high heels. My legs (from toes to bottom line) look to have a 1:1 ratio with the rest of me (bottom line to top of head). 1:1 is not a Fibonacci number - no good!

This looks much better - my bottom half is noticeably longer than my top half, closer to falling in line with the golden ratios. But now something still feels off with my torso. The widening effect of the turtleneck, combined with my on-the-fuller-side bust and on-the-fuller-side-waistline, makes for a big, 1x1-squarish expanse of neck/shoulder/boob.

 Here's what I ended up with. The high waist line makes my legs look noticeably longer than the torso, and the diagonal lines of the blazer fool the eye into thinking that my shoulder-waist and waist-hip ratios are more exaggerated and less squarish. 

Oh! And I totally lied yesterday when I said I have no new swap meet finds to share - it'd just been so long that I'd forgotten about this $5 map-print bag and this $1 Zara turtleneck. Blazer is an old $1 swap favorite, tights from 99 Cents Only, boots from Ebay ages ago, necklace was a gift. 

To tie this all back into One-Dollar Wonderland, the point of my story is that it doesn't matter how cheap or expensive your clothes are. As long as you have a fairly accurate self-image (brought to you by way of a quality mirror or via quality camera work), you can always flatter your figure by manipulating the relative proportions created by the lines of your garments.