The Space Between My Peers: Two Ways to Create Harmony: Repetition vs. Contrast

The Space Between My Peers

From the bottom of the fashion food chain ...

Location: The Great Northwest

I'm a home-schooling, bible-believing SAHM with an annual clothing budget of about $500 American. The Space Between My Peers reveals my secret passion: analysis of the art and science of what to wear.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Ways to Create Harmony: Repetition vs. Contrast

This post is totally unrelated to my "gingerly wading" into a sea of shower water in my basement this morning. I'm putting myself on a plumbing bleaching schedule!

Gingerly wading into the sea of confusion surrounding the "flowiness" of fabric, I'll start by calling out the idea, as requested by Jennifer, behind the rule of the thumb prescribed in The Triumph of Individual Style:

The principle is to create straight lines where your body is straight and curved lines where your body is curvy. (Remember this saddlebag solution? That was a medium taut fabric constructed into a curved shape. Hmmm ... like a fitted jacket or blouse with darts.)

In this, and most of the other artistic principles I have blogged, harmony is created between clothing and the body of the wearer by repetition. Using a color palette based on your own personal coloring is an obvious example.

Contrast is another way of achieving harmony, and emphasis. (Boy, do I feel the need for an art teacher about now!) In color, the example would be to use the complement of your natural color.

(No doubt Wendy is correct in suggesting that fabric choices are related to personal idiom, even as Vildy had noted that she has a "crisp personality".)

But what about Jennifer's other question: Doesn't that make you look more extreme? Which emphasizes the natural straightness or curviness of the body more, repetition or contrast?

More thoughts? If one learns best by discussing a subject, I suspect I'm going to be on this one for a while.


Anonymous Vildy said...

I have Triumph of Individual Style. I also have Metamorphosis by Kibbe. This is a book full of makeovers of real people based on pure angularity or fleshiness or some combination of the two. He would also stipulate streamlined, angular clothing for tall, thin women. The way he handles a conflict between physicality and personal expression is to try to convince you that you are repressing your true nature.

A new favorite of mine is Color and Line in Dress by Laurene Hempstead. It could be my very favorite if only it were not published in 1931 so that it completely omits the whole subject of trousers.

She has a chapter on the tall, thin woman in which she discusses 2 types: this one and the one who is "too" tall. She encourages the tall, thin woman to dress to emphasize those qualities but the too tall woman gets some of the standard advice about cutting height. I think this is significant and is the other side of what we've been talking about. Sometimes our personality contrasts with what we "should" wear and sometimes, at some periods, society declares us "too" and in need of a remedy.

Just as I like structured clothes on my 5' stocky/curvy body, when I read the advice that it is flattering to contrast accessories, suddenly I knew that I wanted to be carrying a structured bag. Most other advice would have me duplicate my curves and presumed softness with a pouchy bag. I think these pouchy bags are wonderful looking but they make me feel squishy, when I'm firm.

So this is what? Tone? Muscularity?
This kind of handbag, smallish and, well, crisp-edged, both harmonizes and contrasts with me, as I see it.

3:57 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Now I have more books to go to the library for! (It sounds like perhaps Kibbe overemphasizes this one "angle".)

So, it sounds as if you are toned and curvy, and the smallish structured bag is harmonious with both your appearance and your personality. Good choice.

Honestly, my head is swimming with all this stuff, but I appreciate so much the opportunity to process it in this way.

I'm tempted to just declare, "fitted clothes in semi-taut stretch fabrics for everybody"!

5:17 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Maybe harmony is to play up positives and contrast is to play down negatives? Features you want to accentuate--harmonize with them. Features you don't like--contrast. Maybe??

And maybe people are so individual that all rules should be qualified with "as long as it makes you feel attractive!" I liked the comment of being a "crisp" personality. So many of our clothing choices do reflect our personality, regardless of body type & coloring.

One could go round and round with this! I think I'll just go put on something I like next time I need to pick.


2:10 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I agree, Jennifer, pick what you want!

The other thing about personality and contrast: contrast adds drama.

3:09 PM  

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