Style Q&A: Proportions & Mustard Pants

Question: Hey SSC!  I’m a woman in my late 20’s, on the shorter side (around 5’5”) and am average build (with maybe a few extra lbs).  I want to know how best to dress myself to make me look tall and slim.  I seem to always get my proportions off and just can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.

I also have this great pair of mustard-colored pants that I like a lot, but I can’t seem to put an outfit together with them that doesn’t make me look short, 20 lbs heavier, and frumpy 🙁  How would you suggest I make these pants work?!!  Please help!!  I’m desperate in Chicago!

Answer:  Proper proportions can really make or break an outfit, and utilizing the wrong proportions when you dress can actually make you look shorter and heavier than you are (as you seem to be discovering).  It’s a challenge, that’s for sure, and is definitely something that takes some practice getting right.  Because women’s bodies vary so much and what might be right on one may be very wrong on another, it’s really hard to give a definitive answer.  So, I did a little bit of research on proportions for you and found these two very helpful websites that I suggest you take a look at.

  • Fashion 101: Proportions – How to Achieve the Appearance of a Well Proportioned Body: This is a series of articles that shows how 3 different women with specific shapes and concerns work out what best suits them, and shows how they manage their proportions.  Very interesting reads with some really helpful information!
  • The Fashion Code: You have to pay for the actual “code” here, but take a look at the gallery of before and after images and you’ll get an idea of how you can adjust your proportions when you get dressed.
I’m a really visual person, and seeing the differences, especially on the Fashion Code website, really helps me make more sense of proportions in fashion.  Hopefully it helps it all make sense to you too!
Spend some time evaluating your wardrobe and looking what you’re wearing.  Narrow cut, straight leg pants that hit just below the ankle are going to do wonders for lengthening your legs, especially when you wear them with coordinating heels.  Avoid wide-leg pants and especially avoid wide-leg or baggy cropped pants–they will just make you look stumpy.  If you have a pair that you love, consider taking them to a tailor to get them tapered throughout–it’ll make a big difference!  Wearing shoes that are the same color as your bottoms helps lengthen your leg, as do nude shoes if you’re wearing a skirt, dress, cropped pants or even shorts.  Heels, of course, lengthen your leg, so if you can, wear heels whenever possible.  If you’re into belting things like cardigans, make sure you belt at your natural waist, not above or below it, and try to avoid really thick belts that break you up too much or make you look blocky.  Try to be mindful of things hitting you right at your widest part, and try to aim for above that when searching for hemlines in shirts and jackets.  Avoid tops and dresses that blouse out over your midsection, as those can make you look like you’re hiding a pregnancy (especially if you then belt it just under your boobs).
Also, sit up straight and walk with your shoulders back and head up–don’t slouch!  Sounds like grandma’s bugging you funny, but it’ll make you look thinner and more confident in yourself.

Now, onto styling your mustard pants.  I have a pair of mustard skinny jeans and fully understand just how tricky they can be to style.  In my own struggles, I’ve done some significant research on styling ideas, and turned first to Chictopia for inspiration from the hundreds of stylish folks there.  Here are some looks that I found that might be doable for everyday wear.  I’m showing them in order of my favorites.

  1. Mustard & Maroon: I love this color combination.  It’s almost like muted jewel tones, which is great for fall.
  2. Uneven Hem & Floppy Hat: This look brings in the 70’s vibe that’s in with the floppy hat, and doesn’t scream “bumblebee” with the black and yellow mix either, likely because the shoes are burgundy.
  3. Stripes & Leather: Black and white stripes work surprisingly well with the mustard, as does the leather jacket.
  4. Plaid & Mustard: More leather from this Chictopian, but this time she grunges it up with plaid.  Note the nude oxford, which works really well.
  5. Royal, Navy & Mustard: A pop of color with a single jewel tone works really well, I think.
  6. Sorta bumblebee: This look works, likely because of the leather again.  Cuffing the pants gives them a slightly different look, and is something to try.
  7. Camel & Green Polka Dots: A color combo I’d never think to try myself, this works really nice and is, again, muted jewel tones.  This is a look that would make mustard pants office-friendly, I think!
  8. Mustard & Navy: Navy is a nice dark color to put with mustard if you’re afraid black is too “buzzy”.
  9. Oversize Sweater: These are tights, but I came across this look in my search and had to share it.  I love the way this print, and the oversize sweater, work with the mustard.
Bottom line?  I think sticking with darker, jewel-inspired tones works the best.  Also, notice that there’s no purple in any of these looks, which I found interesting as purple is yellow’s exact opposite on the colorwheel.  Perhaps it just doesn’t work as well as you’d think?  Adding a leather jacket works really well too, and I’m surprised I didn’t see any brown leather jackets at all when looking.  I’m going to try it with mine and see how it looks.  Smaller, geographic prints like dots and stripes seem to work really nicely with mustard, and I’m definitely going to give plaid a shot!
One thing is for sure though.  When it comes to mustard pants, stick with skinny or cigarette-leg pants, and avoid anything that’s shorter than ankle-length–I feel like a full-out cropped pant would be pretty unflattering in mustard, and would really shorten your legs, which you don’t want being short already!  And while the 70’s are in, mustard flares might be a little too much.
Now, go raid your closet and see what you can do with both your newly found proportion wisdom, and all these great ideas for styling your mustard pants!  Have fun!

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