I enjoy the visual effect when I create some structure in my fluid and fluidly tailored outfits. It makes my outfits look neater, dressier, more polished. To me it feels more comfortable and more attractive. Highly structured outfits are not for me. I don’t like to wear items that are tight, form-fitting, body-encasing, or restrict my movement. My outfits have to flow, move when I move, and to some extent stand away from my body.
To recap, structure is about two main things. First, it means deliberately accentuating, or gently hinting at, the actual shape of your body. That can mean fully or partly defining the waist and hips, the shape of your arms and legs, the bust, your bottom, or the shape of your shoulders. Showcasing bare skin creates structure because you can see the shape of your body in all its glory when there is nothing covering it. That’s why a shorter hemline on a sack dress that showcases more of the leg can create structure.
Second, it’s about accentuating these details. Like a sharp shouldered jacket that creates an extra strong shoulder line. The princess seams and welted pocket positions on a jacket that draw attention to a defined waist. Or vertical lines and columns of colour that create vertical integrity.
I’ve noticed that I frequently use four styling strategies to create some structure amidst the deliberate fluidity of my outfits.
I wear long sleeved sweaters, shirts, blouses, and sweatshirts very frequently, and almost always scrunch the sleeves to showcase forearm skin for both visual and practical reasons. Scrunched sleeves showcase skin which creates outfit structure and a bit of textural interest. I also find three quarter sleeves, which is the length the long sleeves are scrunched to, very practical because I wear wrist braces when I type. The shorter sleeve is handy for cooking, cleaning, doing things around the house, and working with my clients.
I scrunch the sleeves of denim jackets and some blazers for the same reasons. But I do not scrunch the sleeves of other types of jackets or outerwear. My arms need to stay covered and insulated to weather the elements.
I tuck or semi-tuck regular length tops into bottoms that are high or mid rise to temper the volume of their fluidity and showcase some or a lot of waist definition. The effect of the shorter top has the added advantage of visually lengthening the leg line from the hips upward. This is especially effective because I do not wear heels. That said, I’m happy to wear boxy untucked tops too. It depends on my mood, the top, my activities, and the outfit as to how much structure I feel like incorporating into my look that day.
I love to wear shirts, jackets, coats, and dresses with tailored collars because the design feature is a slam dunk for my body type. The high neckline of a collar is a great way to shorten and add structure to my very long neck and narrow shoulder line. The added coverage of popping a collar accentuates the structure and height of the neckline. Very short hair helps the collars stay popped.
Sometimes I like to cuff the hems of some of my more fluid pants and jeans to create just the right hem tapering and length with the footwear I’m wearing. The right length adds a subtle form of structure by showcasing the right amount of skin on the ankles. It’s amazing how much visual impact a couple of inches can make. I don’t cuff the hems of wide crops, wide legs, cropped flares, or bootcuts, but tend to cuff with relaxed straights, boyfriend jeans, and some style of carrot pants.
Over to you. Do you use any of these styling techniques?