When Patterns Don’t Flatter
I’ve written about the ability patterns have to visually camouflage and challenge our perception of depth. They are ideal for creating leaner silhouettes by tricking the eye.
I purchased two lovely vintage dressed about five months ago at the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show, neither of which I’d photographed myself wearing until recently.
Needless to say when I saw the photos my opinion about the dresses changed.
Don’t you hate it when that happens?
This 1960s cheongsam dress ticked all the right boxes for me.
The colours and graphic design seduced me into panic buying it at the very last minute as the vendors began closing up their booths.
I also bought a “wild and crazy” maxi dress from the 70’s.
No surprise there as I have a weakness for this type of dress. They command attention while allowing me to indulge in as many desserts as I like.
The cold and somewhat putrid “greige” colours on this maxi were not ideal for me.
Colours like this next to my face make me look like I’ve spent eight hours on a boat in Hawaii deep sea fishing, desperately trying not to hurl or throw myself overboad in an attempt to tranquillize my raging hangover after tying one too many on the night before. AKA drinking three times my weight in shots of tequila. (Ah sweet memories of my youth.)
Nope…deeper, darker jewel tone colours look better on me. This is what they mean when they tell you as you get older you get wiser, you know not to go deep sea fishing after a night of partying or wear faded repulsive colours next to your face.
Apparently I haven’t allowed all my 51 years of wisdom to sink in yet and took one last hit of retail therapy before the show closed and the dress came home with me regardless.
Let’s talk about the negative space issue of dress #1.
It’s a problem for me.
It is hitting me all places it shouldn’t.
I need that negative space in my mid section and thighs. Instead, the graphic pattern and bright colours framed by negative space create a convex illusion at my waist.
What about the shape of the dress?
Although the shape of the dress was okay for my body type it wasn’t doing me any favours either. Pumps would be necessary to elongate my legs which means no booties or ankle straps. The amount of wear I’d get out of this dress was diminishing as was my self confidence.
Did I make the right choice buying this dress?
Although I wasn’t sure of the colours on this dress the orange is near my face, not the greige so that works. The pattern draws the eyes upwards to my face in what almost looks like an inverted chest cavity. It’s a bit freaky but kind of cool at the same time, like I have a full body tattoo.
The dress works very well with my little blue velvet Elvis booties and as I mentioned before, I can eat and move with abandon.
Which dress did I choose to keep and which dress did I choose to sell?
Which one would you have kept?
If you guessed the Asian cheongsam is now for sale you are one smart cookie!
Go get yourself a treat. On me.
Whatever you have in the cupboard that you know you shouldn’t be eating will work nicely. I promise you won’t gain an ounce. This is my gift to you. You earned it.
If you had asked me before I took these photos which dress I’d be keeping it would have been the other way around.
The camera certainly shines another light on our perception.
Although I love patterns they don’t always flatter our bodies depending on negative space and pattern placement.
4 Tips To Choosing The Right Pattern For Yourself
- Dark negative space will create visual recesses. Ideally this should be placed at the waist or on the sides of a dress.
- Colourful graphic images or patterns sandwiched between negative spaces will draw the eyes in and add visual weight. Negative space is a visual frame drawing the eyes towards the centre of the frame.
- Balanced overall pattern (especially when smaller) will read as a solid to the eyes.
- Large bold graphic patterns can work as long as their lines create figure flattering curves. Lines, curves, highlights and lowlights on patterns all direct the eyes and can create optical illusions. Make sure the pattern accentuates all you love about your body.
Something to think about the next time you’re making an impulse buy at a vintage show.
Have you ever changed your mind about a piece of clothing after you saw photos of yourself wearing it?
Linking up with the lovely Patti over at Visible Monday.
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