Style & Fit Guide
Style is Not a Size!
This is so true! Every woman, no matter her age or income and regardless of her size, can look great.
Did you know that the average American woman wears a size 14, and that roughly 20%-25% of women wear a size 16 and up? So whether you’re a slender size 6, a lovely size 16 or a beautiful full-figured size 26, you can be stylish. All it takes is an understanding of what works best for your body type.
Our Style & Fit Guide gives you all the tools and information you need to get an ultra-comfortable, flattering fit. Let’s get started.
Elements to Looking Your Best
Fit is the single most important element of style. It all comes down to comfort—if a garment doesn’t fit right, it won’t feel or look good! And to be perfectly frank, what looks good on one body type doesn’t necessarily flatter a different body type. Also, it’s not unusual to have one size difference between your top and bottom, which can present a challenge. We’ve taken the guesswork out of getting a great fit. With this helpful guide, not only will you know exactly what size to order, but you’ll also know what style of garment works best on your figure.
Fabric & Texture
Gone for good are the stiff, unflattering fabrics of yesteryear. Fortunately for us, the fabrics of today are both comfortable and flattering. Now, let’s talk texture. Texture can introduce a new line, shift emphasis, and even contribute to the impression of size. Keep in mind that even if you’re full-figured, you can and occasionally should wear bulky fabrics. It’s all about how you style your outfit. Here are some basics that will help you use different fabrics:
Stiffer fabrics, such as poplin and twill, hang straight and keep the eye moving up and down, giving a sleeker appearance.
The crisp fabric and strong vertical lines of this jacket keep the eye moving up and down, accentuating your face.
shop jackets and blazers
Rough textures or dull colors can absorb light and may help you appear smaller.
The heathered color and textured look of these pants minimize problem areas, helping you to look slimmer.
Lighter-weight fabrics like rayon and challis are best used when they are softly draped.
This softly draped dress is ultra-feminine and flattering to every figure.
Shiny, lustrous fabrics such as satin reflect light and can sometimes make you appear a bit larger.
The shimmery fabric of this satin shell can easily be balanced with a flattering jacket on top.
shop dressy tops
Limit the use of bulky fabrics, such as boucles, to one garment at a time in your outfit, like a sweater. They can add the appearance of extra pounds.
This tweed jacket is balanced with strong vertical lines. The front zipper and simple collar keep the eye moving up and down, ultimately creating a slimming effect and accenting your face.
shop jackets and blazers
Focal Point of Your Outfit
Focal point is best described as where the eye falls first. Ideally, this should always be your face. To determine the focal point of an outfit, try the “Blink Test”. It works like this:
Stand and face a full-length mirror.
Close your eyes, and count to 10.
Open your eyes. What’s the first thing you see?
If the first thing you see is your facial area, you’ve done a great job choosing the most flattering cut, color and accessories for your outfit. Let’s say your eye goes first to the garment pattern, or falls first on your waist or hips. If this is the case, maybe the garment’s detail isn’t flattering, or there is a better cut for your figure.
Harmony, Balance & Proportion
Simply stated, all the parts of your outfit work together. One element may stand out from the others, but the overall effect is flattering to your figure. Let’s define each term:
Harmony – all elements working together in a pleasing manner
Balance – equal amounts of interest in either direction from the natural center
Proportion – how all parts relate to one another in size, length and bulk
These are areas where small changes can make a big difference. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
Here we have essentially the same outfit that's styled 3 different ways. Outfit B is the most flattering: it creates a vertical line which lengthens your silhouette and draws the eye upward toward your face.
Garment Basics — What You Need to Know to Always Get a Great Fit
How a garment hangs is a crucial part of how it actually fits. Here are some handy tips on how garments will hang when the fit is perfect for your figure.
- You should have ample room to move your arms without it being tight or pulling.
- When you hang your arms at your side, the sleeve hems should cover your wristbone.
- When you button your jacket, you should be able to sit comfortably without it being tight.
- When standing, the hem should be straight and level all around, with no dipping.
- When you sit, you should be able to slip your thumb under the waistband and still be comfortable.
- The rise should hit at the top of your thigh, close to your body but not touching it.
- Side seams should hang perpendicular to the floor.
- Hemlines should just touch your instep and cover about half your heel.
- When standing, you should be able to “pinch an inch” of material at the mid-hip.
- Slits should lie closed when you are still.
- Side seams should hang perpendicular to the floor.
- Bias-cut skirts should have smooth, unpuckered seams.
- Unless the hemline is asymmetrical, it should hang level, without rising in the back.
- The neckline, shoulder seams, armholes and chest area should lie comfortably flat, without gaping or constricting.
- On sleeveless designs, your bra should not play peek-a-boo when you raise your arms.
- When tying a wrap dress, make sure to sit and bend to ensure ample overlap.
- When standing, the hem should hang straight and level all around.
- The front opening should never pull or gap.
- You should be able to move your arms without it pulling or constricting against you.
- When you’re wearing sleeveless designs, your bra should not play peek-a-boo.
- When situated properly, the shoulder seam should be centered on the natural shoulder line.
- If the garment has a button collar, you should be able to slip two fingers between your neck and the collar when it’s buttoned.
- If you tuck the shirt in, there should be enough fabric to allow you to sit and raise your arms above your head without it pulling out of your pants or skirt.
- Coats should hang comfortably from the shoulders without pulling or weighing you down.
- Move your arms all about to assure you have a comfortable range of motion.
- Sleeves should cover your wrist bone.
- Buttons or zippers should close easily and never be snug.
- The hem should be perfectly level all the way around.
- Side seams should hang perpendicular to the floor.
All About Color
Color is a very powerful tool. It has the ability to influence mood and reflect the wearer’s personality. And we love the way it can create “optical illusions”. Each color scheme has a place in your wardrobe. First, let’s review the color wheel.
How Colors & Patterns Play a Role in Your Wardrobe
Now, we’ll put this wheel to practical use in our wardrobe. There are 3 major color schemes, as follows:
Color schemes that minimize size
- Cool shades, such as hues of blue, green and violet
- Duller colors, such as mauve, dusty blue and sage
- Subtle color schemes such as tones of khaki and natural
Color schemes that draw attention
- Warm shades, such as hues of red, yellow and orange
- Brighter colors, such as lime, fuchsia and royal
- Bold contrasts like black and bright pink
There is also much more to color than just solid shades. Prints, or patterns, play an enormous role in fashion. Whether bold and bright or soft and muted, prints are a combination of colors.
Vivid, contrasting and bright shades appear larger:
Subtle, low contrast and dull shades appear smaller:
Look for simple design lines so the print doesn’t make the garment seem cluttered:
Plaids, stripes and other prints may create their own lines:
When you’re buying a garment with a pattern, keep these tips in mind:
The print must:
- relate to the figure
- be in scale with the wearer
- be in scale with the design of the garment
Placement can attract or distract attention to wearers areas of pluses or minuses.
The 5 Basic Figure Shapes—Which Are You?
Let’s face facts—not all sizes are “equal”. What looks good on one size 14 may not be as flattering on another 14. We all know this, but just like you, were frustrated at the failure of clothing manufacturers to address this issue.
So, we’ve decided it’s high-time to make sure you can find both your correct size and your perfect, flattering fit. At long last, here’s practical advice on exactly what will flatter your figure.
Lucky you! Your figure is often referred to as curvy—you have the classic hourglass shape. Your waist is noticeably smaller than your bust and hips, which are nearly equal in size. You want to emphasize your gentle curves without cluttering your figure.
Style What to Look For What to Avoid Blazers and Tops Semi-fitted styles that fall at mid-hipSingle-breasted designs. Consider shoulder pads. Styles with belts, usually in the back Long lines Double-breasted styles. Excess details Pants Flat-fronts that sit at the natural waistSide or back-zip styles. Designs with a bit of stretch Cuffs, Very tapered-leg styles Skirts A-line and wrap styles. Waistbands that allow you tuck-in tops, Softly draping, floaty fabrics Boxy styles with horizontal detailing. Stiff fabrics. Full pleats
Many women have this shape—nature’s preferred feminine shape. Your figure is often referred to as pear-shaped. Your figure is wider below your waist; your hips and thighs are full. Balance is the key word—minimize your figure below the waist by maximizing impact above the waist.
Style What to Look For What to Avoid Blazers and Tops Shoulder pads are a must!Semi-fitted, moderate-length styles. Car-coat or duster-length designs. Contour seaming details Cropped lengths. Flap or patch pockets. Double-breasted styles Pants Tailored, flat-front designsWaistbands more than 1” wide. Ample room thru the hips and thighs Back pockets or back detailing. Both wide legs and tapered legs. Busy prints such as plaids and loud patterns Skirts Moderate a-lines. No-waist stylesVertical details Designs with pockets. Bias-cut stylesHem detail, pleats or full flares. Busy prints such as plaids and loud patterns
Your figure is frequently called athletic. Your waist is undefined, and similar in size to your bust and hips. By broadening your shoulders and hips and creating hints of a waistline, you can turn your figure into an hourglass. Wear tops and bottoms that are contrasting colors or different shades.
Style What to Look For What to Avoid Blazers and Tops Double-breasted styles. Textured fabricsModerate lengths with waist detail Single-breasted stylesVery plain designs. Heavy seaming details Pants Flat-front designs. Wide waistbands with a slight low-rise. Styles with a slight hem flare Boot-cut, relaxed fits. Very narrow waistbands, except no-waist styles Skirts Full-pleating. Belted stylesPocket details Long and narrow or tapered skirts
Many women have this shape, too. Your waist is somewhat larger than your bust and hips, which are fairly even in size. By creating length in the torso, you’ll have a longer, more flattering silhouette.
Style What to Look For What to Avoid
Style What to Look For What to Avoid Blazers and Tops Semi-fitted, straight-cut or open-jacket styles. Lengths that fall at or below the derriere. Single-breasted, deep v-neck designs Cropped styles. Double-breasted designsWide lapels. Flap or patch pockets Pants Flat-front, straight-leg designs. No-waist styles. Back elastic or side elastic inserts Pleats. High-waisted designs. Wearing belts in a contrasting color Skirts Gently tapered pencil skirts and a-lines. No-waist, flat front styles. Subdued colors in smooth fabrics Bias-cut and wrapped styles. Pleats of all kinds. Styles with waistbands over ½”
Style What to Look For What to Avoid Blazers and Tops Smooth, drapey fabrics. Narrow lapels and collarsVertical, contour seaming Shoulder pads or shoulder detailing. Exceptionally fitted styles. Double-breasted designs Pants No-waist designs are universally flattering. Pleated designs with belt loops Tapered legsSlim fit and tight fitting pants Skirts Full, flared designs that provide balance to your bust or shoulders. Drapey fabricsPleated styles Form-fitting styles that fall straight from the waist
Finding Your Perfect Color
Don’t you just love those days when people keep telling you how fabulous you look? (We sure do!) Well, chances are it has a lot to do with the color of the garments you’re wearing. Wearing the “perfect” color is almost magical: it will brighten your eyes, even out your skin tone, and highlight and complement your best features.
Finding your perfect color isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of thought. It’s a little different for every woman, and depends on such variables as skin tone, hair and eye color, even personality. Also, there’s a lot of room for creativity. Color is the perfect place to discover and express your individuality.
Through your skin tone and hair and eye color, you belong to one of four seasons: Winter, Summer, Spring and Autumn. You may be able to wear colors from more than one season, especially if you accent or accessorize the color nearest your face for flattering impact.
A fun way to discover your perfect color is to grab a girlfriend and go to a fabric store. Start by holding solid-colored fabric swatches near your face, and ask your friend for honest feedback. Does the color complement you, or is it not the best choice? Begin with these four colors: royal blue for Winter, soft rose for Summer, sunshine yellow for Spring, and rich gold for Autumn. After you determine which of the four is most flattering, experiment with different shades of that color. (Keep in mind these guidelines are not absolute.) And remember, this exercise is all about having fun! When you’re done, treat yourself to a new outfit from Blair.com in your perfect color!
Winter colors are vibrant, dramatic and sophisticated. They are blue-based cool colors and are best accented with white, gold or platinum. Winters are the only season that can wear pure white or black. They are best in clear colors and sharp contrasts—never muted or powdered. When shopping, think true blue, vivid and icy.
Summer colors are soft, sensitive and refined. They are blue-based cool colors and should be accented with white gold, rose gold, silver or platinum. Summers are best in pastels and soft neutral colors. They should not wear vivid colors near their face unless lightened with white or gray. When shopping, think blue, rose and soft, muted colors.
Spring colors are light, fresh and radiant. They are yellow-based warm colors and are best complemented with yellow gold or bronze. Spring is the most delicate of the seasons and has colors that are alive. Springs look their most becoming in bright, delicate colors—not muted or dark shades. When shopping, think about yellows, both soft and crisp tones.
Autumn colors are warm, rich and mellow. They are yellow-based warm colors and should be accented with yellow gold, bronze or copper. Autumns have that “Town and Country” look and wear both vivid and muted rich earth tones best. Pinks and blue-reds are not their most flattering shades. When shopping, think of golden undertones, much like fall foliage.
The Role of Accessories in Your Wardrobe
Necklaces and earrings, pins and brooches, shoes and handbags, scarves and more—where would we be without them? Not only can accessories change your outfit (or make or break it as the adage goes), they can be a lot of fun, too! Accessories are perfect for expressing your individuality and creativity. A piece that’s large and sparkly simply begs for attention, while wearing a piece that’s small and dainty is an exquisite finishing touch. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, we’re told, but we think goldtone jewelry is just as precious! Its rich gleam is flattering to many hair and skin tones. And simple gold studs or a single gold chain are appropriate with everything from a formal dress to denims and sneakers. More on the casual side, silvertone jewelry can be quite flattering, too, especially on women with black and steely-grey hair. Consider stocking your jewelry box with an array of earrings, from delicate studs to pairs that are larger and more attention-grabbing. Be sure to have at least two watches, one with a leather or stretch band for everyday use, and one for more special occasions. Pins can be fun too! Keep a couple of different ones on hand, from antique(looking) brooches to something fun and seasonal, like a cute little snowman pin. Necklaces are where you can really get creative. From antique chokers to modern pendants to a simple strand of pearls, necklaces are the perfect accessory to draw attention upwards towards your face. Choose necklaces based on where you are going: work, running errands, lunch with the girls or a special dinner with your significant other. Each calls for a slightly different piece, but no matter what the occasion, have fun! Here are a few of our top picks:
The single most important factor in getting a comfortable fit is to try shoes on later in the day. Your feet are a bit more swollen or flattened-out later in the afternoon. You want your shoes to be as comfortable late in the day as they are when you first put them on. Next, feel the insoles with your fingers. Lots of cushioning and padding will help raise your comfort level when you have to be on your feet for extended periods. Also, walking on a carpeted surface when you’re trying shoes on can make them seem more comfort-able then they really are. So be sure to walk on a hard surface, such as linoleum or asphalt, to get a good sense of their true feel. And remember, when you shop at Blair, our exceptional guarantee means you can give your new shoes a rigorous test run to be sure they fit perfectly and feel great! Here are a few of our best-selling customer favorites.
Handbags, Purses & Totes
We could call them “wardrobe workhorses”. Handbags just may be a woman’s most trusted accessory—they go everyplace with us, and look great while keeping our things safe and secure. The best handbags can also make a hectic day a little easier. Finding a purse with just the right number of pockets, flaps and zippers keeps everything organized yet accessible. Today handbags are constructed of just about any fiber you can think of, including premium quality synthetics that look remarkably like fine leather, minus the high price. The result: handbags that are both pretty and practical. And that truly is the best of both worlds! Here are a couple of this [season’s] most stylish designs.
From elegant to carefree, a scarf has the power to instantly change the entire appearance and focus of your outfit. It can add a needed dash of color, even save a top that isn’t the best color choice for your complexion. But we think the best thing about scarves is how versatile they are. Morning meeting, black-tie dinner or a weekend spent antiquing; wrap around your neck, tie around your waist, or drape over your shoulder—whatever the occasion and no matter how you choose to wear them, scarves are incredibly versatile.