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Most of my clients, whether they are petite, tall, regular or plus sized, like to wear outfits with vertical integrity, which accentuates that sought after “long lean line”. This is especially important to my clients who are large in the bust, extra curvy, and plus sized. 

If feeling taller and slimmer in outfits is a figure flattering priority, then the horizontal lines that “chop up” an outfit are going to work against you. And given the current popularity of stripes, there are more horizontal details in our outfits than ever. Here are four ways to combat their widening effect.

1. Structured Clothing

Items that are tailored on the shoulder line and under the arms, waist defining, and have a “skimming fit” look great on the body because they create a proportional whole. Note that this does not mean that you have to wear body conscious clothing. Skimming means fitted and not overly tight. Bootcuts and straight leg trouser styles, for example, are fitted and structured, but not as body conscious as skinnies, or as unstructured as palazzo pants. Voluminous blouses that surrender the waistline are unstructured, and should be avoided if you want to create a structured look (unless you rein in the volume with a waist cinching belt or layer over a structured jacket). 

2. Vertical Design Details

Clothing with princess seams provides great vertical integrity, especially if the darts are top stitched for visual effect. V-necklines, revere collars, cowl necklines, open shirt collars that create a V-effect, long pendant necklaces, ties and scarves that are draped in a vertical way do a great job too. Keeping a tailored single breasted jacket or coat un-fastened creates an effective vertical line down the front of the body. Sleeveless garments, elbow length sleeves and long sleeves accentuate the vertical line of an outfit, as does wearing patterns with vertical lines.

Oddly enough, diagonal lines, either in the form of a pattern or asymmetrical cuts can also minimize the widening effect of horizontal lines. 

3. Low Colour Contrast

Creating a low colour contrast, either between outfit items, and/or bewteen your skin tone and outfit items is an important concept to understand if you want to maximize the vertical and minimize the horizontal.  For example, creating a column of colour by wearing items in the same colour, or low contrasting colours both on the top and bottom creates a strong vertical line. Wearing a white top with black bottoms creates a horizontal line across the body, but wearing an ink blue top with black bottoms minimizes the horizontal effect. Wearing low colour contrasting footwear with trousers and jeans minimizes the effect of horizontal lines, as does wearing low colour contrasting footwear on bare legs. Wearing a black belt with red trousers and a tucked in blush pink top creates strong horizontal lines across the outfit. Swapping out the black belt for a more tonal light brown minimizes the horizontal effect. And choosing tonal horizontal stripes instead of bold versions minimizes their horizontal effect. 

4. Low Vamped Footwear

Low vamped footwear, without T-straps, ankle straps and mary jane straps, are “vertical” shoes because they don’t create horizontal lines across the foot and ankle. If you do wear strappy and high vamped shoes, you can minimize the horizontal line if there is a low contrast between the colour of the shoe and your skin tone (or hose colour). 

Don’t Feel Restricted by the Long Lean Line

There is no need to wear structured, V-necked, solid, low colour contrasting clothing and footwear for the rest of your life because that’s not fun either. The suggestions above merely serve as a way to troubleshoot an outfit. Perhaps your outfit lacked vertical integrity and looked “chopped up”, which made you feel drab instead of fab. In that case it might be a question of changing one thing, like the colour of your belt or shoes. Or avoiding voluminous pieces, black and white jailbird stripes, t-strap shoes, and choker necklaces. 

Over to you. Do you minimize the effect of some horizontal lines on your outfits? If so, how do you like to create a vertical effect? Do you have favourite ways of adding vertical integrity to your ensembles? Or are you not concerned with vertical integrity at all?