Janet Major

 sustainable styling, sustainable textiles


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body profile
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Body Profile

To me understanding my body profile (1) is THE key to wearing garments that I like and work for my body, ie having my own style. We live in a very visual society and how we look really does matter. Whether we like it or not we are often judged on our appearance and knowing how to make the most of ourselves is something we all deserve. Once we are happy in our selves this radiates to those around us.

This concept is not new. One of my favourite books (Women’s and children’s garment design by Hulme), first published in 1948 is not the expected book of how to measure and draft block. Instead virtually all the book is devoted to understanding body profiles.

A lovely quote: …..’Every type of female figure is fully dealt with….which will enable every woman to dress well and economically and to express her personality in the clothes she wears, whatever her particular body form may be’. To me this is very enlightened. My latest book purchase on pattern drafting doesn’t even recognise that the front and the back of a body may be different!

I would urge you to think about becoming more familiar with your body profile. This can be simply done in the privacy of your own room. It may help to know that this is largely determined by your skeleton and won’t be changed by diet or exercise! As a start I suggest:

A photo of yourself just wearing underwear

An outline if your body – stick paper on a flat surface such as a door and draw round it – it will be easier with a helper but not impossible on your own.

From these 2 – work out:

Width of shoulders to hips

Length of legs compared to top of body – take the crotch as the dividing line

From my experience as an image consultant, it won’t surprise you to know that I never saw anyone who thought there body was perfect. But no one has left me not knowing how to dress their body to advantage. Lots of people have myths about there body.

An example: Let’s call her Ann. Ann tells me she is pear shaped with big hips. She wears long cardigans to cover up her hips. Her wardrobe has a number of these all based on the points at the side, waterfall front type. She says she can never feel smart.

A few simple measurements and the reality is that her shoulders and hips are balanced.

She has quite short legs.

The effect she is giving herself is that she is making her hips wider but wearing lots of layers on top of them. The long flowing cardigans are making her legs look even shorter as they are lengthening her body.

By using the clothes Ann was wearing it was possible to show the difference that could be made to how she looked using no more than pins! She began to smile too!

The moral of the story is – get your true body profile. Use evidence to help you know how to dress your body.

It can be seem difficult to find clothes in the shops. It is much easier for manufacturers to produce a cardigan labelled ‘fits all’ but to me that it fits no-one! How can it fit a petite size 8 through to a tall large framed size 20? I exaggerate but I hope you get the point.

Once you know your body profile you can think about fabric type, pattern, texture and clothing details that are best for different parts of the body. It is all about making the most of your assets and disguising the areas that don’t need any more attention.

I believe it is possible for every one of us to look good, following sustainable principles. ‘Shopping for clothes that will last’ sounds very much a phrase from the past but there is much value in this. Having garments made from good quality fibres and made with love and care will always pay.

This will show you me wearing a number of different pairs of trousers, press here.

More pictures of me, I will leave you to judge which the most flattering top is. Try and work out why! Press here.

I’ve aimed to give an introduction here that gives you something concrete you can do to get started. I hope you feel it has succeeded. But please note it is only an introduction – doing it one to one would take 2 to 3 hours!

(1)  By body profile I mean body silhouette, scale and proportions.


I am still adding more information here and I regularly blog about current projects.

Individual or group teaching; demonstrations, talks, presentations and workshops available.



©janet major carleton rode norfolk 07990 702223     info@janetmajorimage.co.uk