At Plum we like to combine the fun and artistic side of fashion to build a practical intelligent wardrobe. The basic elements are colour, shape, scale, proportion, line and texture.  This post is about texture, proportion and shape. The idea is to match your clothing with your natural features. If you have curves, curly hair and a soft matte finish on your skin, then find clothing that has similar features (curved lines, textured fabric, matte finish) so that your look is coherent. You’ll find others will notice *you* instead of the items of clothing you’re wearing. 
Texture: the roughness or smoothness of fabric. Texture can be a feeling, as in nubby or rough fabric, or visual, as in pattern. People who have a bit more texture (curly hair, freckles, etc.) generally match well with textured fabrics like knits that are bulkier and soft. People that have less texture (straighter hair, no freckles, etc.) generally match better with smoother fabrics like lambs wool or silks. 
Proportion: is the relative amount of space given to different features in a garment or the relative size of different parts of the body. For example, a body can be long in the torso and smaller in the leg or evenly proportioned between the torso and legs. Certain shapes and balance points will work better for different proportions and using different proportions of clothing can change the visual line of the body, if desired. 
Shape: the outline of your torso from the shoulder to the hip is commonly considered your body shape. Some bodies have straighter angular shapes and some have curvier shapes with softer angles. Choosing the right garment to fit your shape is important to your overall look.  It is best to get an honest and knowledgeable opinion from sales people who are well trained and who have experience with many body shapes.
Everyone chooses clothing for different reasons. Clothing can be used to cover or reveal different parts of our bodies, can be used to create different proportions, or to draw attention to one area or another. So it is critical that you know and understand your own body without judgement.  What you choose depends largely on the function you want the clothing to serve, as well as on your personality. We can help you look at clothing from a design perspective if you’re interested in learning more about why certain items work better than others; if you already know what works, we can help you find things that go well with what you choose or what you have in your closet. 
Katherine Lazaruk's picture

Fictional Fashion Sells

There’s a lively debate going on at Plum about whether or not fashion advertising should be ‘aspirational’ or ‘real’ or some component of both. 
‘Aspirational’ advertising presents something people will long for, something they would like to do or have, or even someone they might like to be.  The results are pictures of ‘ideal’ women.  Taken to the extreme, it can be interpreted as the ‘perfect body’ type, the photoshopped, elongated, chopped, airbrushed and fictionalized pictures we see in fashion magazines and advertisements that bombard us daily.  It can create a feeling that we have shortcomings and that we ought to be doing something differently.  This type of advertising suggests that if we only buy this or that product we’ll miraculously be saved... unfortunately it often works. The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that has been profiting on these kinds of messages for years. It is what we have become accustomed to so it is difficult for advertisers to abandon those ‘aspirations’ for something more ‘real.’
‘Real’ advertising, such as the popular Dove Campaign for Real Beauty emphasizes diverse body types, diverse racial representation and advocates for fewer photoshopped images in ads for beauty products and fashion. This type of ‘real’ advertising is more about making people feel good about themselves and showing that a particular product isn’t restricted to a particular kind of person or designed to make you into anything other than who you are. 
We love that we have a diverse client base at Plum, from fashionistas to functional dressers and we do our best to accommodate as many of them as we can in our stores. 
We use professional models on our website and in our emails because it is what women are used to seeing and because the models are trained professionals. But we do not alter bodies in our images. We do remove blemishes and alter images as needed to remove wrinkles from fabric or slight imperfections in the images, smoothing out the edges. We feel that fashion can be aspirational, artistic and expressive and that everyone should be able to enjoy what it can do for them as individuals.  
We have invested in a new training program for our staff so they can help individual customers more effectively.  They have learned about colour, body, wardrobing, personal style and lifestyles.  Let us know what you think by commenting below – what do you love seeing in fashion advertising? Aspiration or real or both? 
Katherine Lazaruk's picture

Fashion is biology?

We recognize that not everyone loves fashion. Lots of people just want to get dressed for function and are in a place where how they look doesn’t seem as important as what they do. Fashion is still considered by many to be a frivolous or unnecessary expense. However, many people are unaware of the deep connection between how they look and how successful they are in life.

Although we try hard ‘not to judge a book by its cover’, the fact is that our brains aren’t wired that way. The part of our brain that judges is lightning fast, while the part that tells us to look beneath the surface is very slow. In the first moments of meeting you, people will be making judgements (often subconsciously) about how smart, capable, educated and likeable you are. They’ll also make assessments of your socioeconomic status, where you live, if you’re dating or married and if you’re trustworthy. People who ‘pass’ these judgements have an easier time with making social connections and building relationship than those who don’t. Every time you show up, you’re making a statement about who you are – the more accurate these statements are, the easier it is for people to get to know you.

Fashion is just one tool in the toolbox – it’s designed for you to pick and choose things to express who you are in a visual way. No matter what your value set is around fashion, there is something available for you to use to get your message across clearly. Are you a creative person? Maybe you’ll choose things that are more patterned, more colourful or more flowing. Are you a more conservative person? Perhaps solid neutral colours in modest cuts will suit you better. At Plum, we’re interested in helping you express yourself in the clearest possible way, so we’ve started an intensive training program with our staff so we can help you quickly find what you’re looking for and help you express your style in a way that suits you. Developed in conjunction with Katherine Lazaruk of ICU Image Consulting Inc., our program helps our staff understand colour, body shape, personal style and lifestyle more fully so we can help you find things that work. We call it ‘dressing with purpose’ and we hope you’ll join us on the journey as we learn how to serve you better.


What is your biggest fashion challenge? Email us at info@plum.ca (or post it below).   ... read the full post and reader comments

Katherine Lazaruk's picture
First of all, don't miss out on our PLUM PROMO; Spend over $100, qualify for a $15 coupon for later use. You do not want to miss out on this; details below.
Lets talk dresses... life is complicated... go to to work, pick up kids, pick up groceries, pick up laundry,  pick up the slack...does it ever end? Probably not. It is what it is. Therefore,it's nice to just reach into the treasure chest of a closet and pull out something that just 'works'. Effortless chic; quality fabric, the right cut, and you're off. Easier to look good than changing a diaper in the dark (lets face it, you do that in your sleep (or have)). The days are full of multiple types of activities, walk the dog, make breakfast, go to work, PAC meetings etc....few people enjoy (or have time for) changing 4 times. I have been known to merely change my shoes and jacket (yes I've walked the dog in a dress). How simple.
Stripes are your best friend when it comes to simplicity. Bonus points for the gathered pleat. This sleeveless knit shakes up the stripe, by adding a bit of visual interest, with this unexpected detail making accessories absolutely a matter of mood!
Perhaps you're looking for a more demure look for an evening event, or afternoon tea. This is very much the season of lace. The ultimate in femine style. I almost had to catch my breath when I saw this stunning number. With a beautiful hint of pink lining and complimentary accented waist, as well, slightly sheer cap sleeve, cut to compliment the curves you were not meant to hide. Comes as well in off-white.
Feeling like a goddess in disguise? No disguise here. This gorgeous vivid green strapless print, has a sheered top flowing down to a complimentary, yet contrasting border. Also in two other prints.
Light as air! Doesn't this remind you of an angel walking on air? So light, gossimar, flowey with the dreamy flower print. Ahh... just so pretty! Another functional piece that will not see much closet time. Top it off with a jean jacket or cardigan or nothing at all.
Now, last but by all means not least, I would like to introduce you to both my fashion muse and the dress of the day (or perhaps the season). My work associate Sue, Plum's Inventory Manager,  is sporting what is 'now' referred to as the magic dress. Sue turns heads wherever she goes but I'm fairly sure this ensemble will be in the new version of the Guiness book of records for being the only dress which promted someone to remove their earbuds to make a comment. YES SOMEONE REMOVED THEIR EARBUDS to comment on this dress. Wouldn't you? I'm sure I would. I think the tally was 5 people stopped to make a comment. That's exceptional. Therefore if you're looking for a 'double take' dress, this might well be the one. Channelling her inner 60's girly girl, finishing it off with a wonderful crinoline for added length and texture and just the right strappy pumps Sue struggled to make it to work. Remember, you'll need to leave extra time for your 'comment' time with this dress!
If at this point confusion has set in, Plum's experienced staff can assist in locating THE dress for you. Sometimes our bodies change with time and life events; babies happen to our bodies. We love babies but they certainly can reshape things. Plum staff can easily assist in helping to uncover what works best to compliment your current lifestyle and body as it is now... show you shapes that work, lines that compliment or discover something new about yourself.
And don't forget about this fantastic promo. That and these stunning styles should be enough incentive to revitalize your relationship with your closet.
Yours in fashion passion
Suzanne M
Plum Promo: From May 15 to May 25, spend minimum $100 (before taxes), you will qualify for a $15 off a future puchase coupon. Coupon will be emailed.
Suzanne's picture

Your body shape is determined by the proportions between your shoulders, bust, waist and hips. But no two bodies are alike. By knowing the shape of your body, you can understand the different effects clothes have when you wear them. If you find that one part of your body is out of balance with the others, you can choose to draw or detract attention from those areas of the body by using different garments. Because they hang from the shoulders to the hip, jackets can affect the perception of our body shape.


Are your hips wider than your waist and bust? If so, you have a triangle shape. Because of your lower half’s proportions, you might want to draw the attention upwards to create balance. Have you tried something with a strong shoulder? A jacket with structured shoulders paired with a simple bottom can create more balance in your shape. If you attracted attention to your lower half instead, you might only emphasize your hips’ width against a smaller waist and bust.



You have an inverted triangle shape if your shoulders are wider than your bust, waist and hips. If you wanted to create balance, solid coloured fitted jackets don’t attract as much attention to the span of your shoulders, while you can play with adding more of your clothing’s details on your bottom half.



If your waist is wider than your bust or hips, you have an oval shape. Because of your proportions, you might not want to draw attention to your mid-section so you can create a straight line between your shoulders and hips with the right garments. Why don’t you try an unstructured jacket that falls below the waist? Because it would fall straight down the sides of your body, it would even create the illusion that there is a dip where your waist is.



If you don’t have a noticeable difference between your bust, waist and hips, you have a rectangle shape. You might find that drawing attention to your waist just shows how similar your bust, waist and hips are in relation to each other.  Instead, try a jacket that falls below the waist and has an unstructured fit so it creates balance between your proportions.




You have an hourglass shape if you have an obviously smaller waist than your bust and hips. Because your shape is the most balanced naturally, you can choose to highlight your proportions by drawing attention to your waist. A fitted jacket with shaping seams through the waist works well because it draws attention to the X shape of your body.

Find out more about the rules of shape and how to wardrobe at plum.ca

   ... read the full post and reader comments

lindsay's picture
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