April 12, 2009

The Triumph of Individual Style, Carla Mason Mathis and Helen Villa Connor

This is the best book or essay I've ever seen arguing that you can dress to make any body beautiful. They do not merely argue that you can make any body look more like 'the' desirable body; they reproduce art of the last several hundred years in which (female) bodies in wide variety, stunning array, are depicted with attention and admiration, and then they translate some of that art into reasonably-modern clothing. Dozens of features are picked out with examples of how to camouflage or highlight them -- *each* is to be either hidden or flaunted; high bosom hidden, large tummy flaunted, etc etc. Clothing would be a lot less dull and depressing if everyone thought this way.

The line drawings by the authors are noticeably 1980s, that being when the book was written, but the clothes are of such a mad variety of cut that few of them are hopelessly dated; you can think, Oh, not that belt in this decade, but the waistband works.

They get more general, analyzing bodies by asymmetry, scale, texture, proportion, as well as the usual bosom-waist-hips combination; and they have color chips in a wide range, covering a great number of the unexpected undertones we can have (eight varieties of melanin, is it?). I think the reader is supposed to clip out her colors, so if you're buying it used, check those pages. The examples are mostly Anglo-Norman, but the art includes 'ethnographic' as well as 'fine', so most backgrounds occur at least once.

Hat tip to PatternReview, where I'm sure I saw this recommended.

Find in a Library: The Triumph of Individual Style

So wrote clew in Art. , Clothing.
And thus wrote others:
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