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Understanding Your Body Proportions

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Understanding Your Body Proportions

Proportion is about balance and how things fit together harmoniously.  You will more than likely not be aware if something is in proportion until it is out of proportion. Out of proportion is when the  relative size of two objects being compared seems wrong, or out of balance.  Proportion in the context of fashion design is the principle that holds that the size of various components of a garment or fashion accessory must look good together. 

Body proportion can be measured  by the length of your head. The ideal body proportion for a human being, according to the ancient Greeks, is 8 heads tall.  An average person is generally 7 –  7 1/2  heads tall.  In the fashion industry however,  the female croquis  is based on a 9 head tall body which represents the tall, skinny runway model.

The female croquis  template is what all fashion design is based on when designing clothes. Obviously most women do not look like this.  I know from experience that when I design an outfit on a female croquis,  it will look completely different on me.

Female croquis

Below is an example of how the body is divided up into head lengths.

The  classic division of the body is usually done in eight equal segments and each segment is one head length: You will notice that from the chin to the waist is 2 head lengths. and from the waist to the floor is 5 head lengths. The division of the body is defined as follows:

  •  The height of the head is the first division. 
  • The second division is at the breastbone. 1/6th of a head length below the breastbone is the nipples and 1/3 of a head length below is  the breasts.
  •  The third division is at the waist (which is even with the elbow).
  •  The fourth division is at the groin (which aligns with the wrist).
  •  The fingertips is at the fifth segment 
  • The knee is positioned in the sixth division.
  •  Just below the calves is the seventh line. 
  •  The bottom of the feet is the eighth.

As for  the width:

  • Body width= 2 heads wide
  • Waist = 1 head wide
  • Buttocks = 1 1/2 heads wide
  • Width of calf muscles together at mid-point = 1 head wide
  • Bottom of the knees = 2 heads from ground level

So now for the fun part (or maybe not so fun part for me).  I will analyze my own body proportions against the ideal body proportions.

I am 5’3″ tall and my body proportions is measured in 6 1/2 heads instead of the ideal 8 heads.  

My torso is short.  It should be 2 head lengths from your chin to your waist. I have marked my natural waistline with a red line.  You will notice that my waistline is almost 1/2 a head length shorter than where is should be.  

My legs are short for my body.  According to the ideal body proportion, it should be 5 head lengths from the waistline to your heels. I am  only 4 head lengths. 

My shoulders and my hips are fairly proportionate.

My arms are proportionate.

My waistline is thicker than 1 head length and is almost as wide as my hips.  This is not necessarily my  natural proportion  but more to do with the wine I drink and the snacks I love to eat. 

Based on this analysis I would focus on lengthening my torso, lengthening my legs and defining a waist

There are also fitting issues that you may have that are not easily identifiable from the body proportion analysis. For instance, one of my main fitting issues I have is my quadriceps.  They are larger than the average and this affects how pants and skirts  will fit and look.  My back shoulder area is well developed which means I have to make adjustments to fitted  patterns for my back , shoulder and sleeve,  

In my next post I will look at how I address these areas when choosing clothing. I will also perform the same analysis on different body shapes in future blogs. 

(1) Comment

  1. […] My next post on this subject looks at body proportions and how to analyze your own body shape.¬† To read further on this topic click here. […]

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