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The Standard / Ideal / Symmetrical Figure

As you begin an evaluation of the figure, each half of the body, from side to center, is expected to appear symmetrical, or as mirror images. In other words, the figure is assumed to be balanced, side to side.

Body proportions may be expressed in fractional amounts, or head lengths. Standard, average, or ideal proportions generally suggest one-half the total body length is above the hip joint and one-half below. Arm length is divided into equal areas by the elbow, which is located at waist level. The wrist is approximately at crotch level. Length from the base of the neck to the waist at the center back is equal to or slightly less than the width across the shoulders. Ideally, hip width is equal to or slightly less than the width across the shoulders. The bust circumference is equal to the circumference of the hips, while waist circumference is generally ten inches smaller.

Body proportions are often expressed in head lengths; referring to the number of times the head length could fit into the total body length. The average individual—or standard—is seven and one half heads tall. The fashion figure is eight heads tall (see Figure 3-1). As you might expect, there are three head lengths above the waist and five head lengths below. Body widths and depths also may be expressed in head lengths.


Figure 3-1 Standard 8-head fashion figure

Proportions for the “ideal” figure are the product of a particular culture and are subject to change according to the whims of fashion within that culture. Very few individuals conform to these standards. However, standards do concern us, as they are part of the basis for sizing ready-to-wear garments and commercial, patterns. An awareness of personal variation from these standards is essential in selecting appropriate clothing for the individual figure and in identifying areas where alterations may be required. (Section 4 discusses standards as adopted by the various commercial pattern companies.) As the fitting experience progresses, we will determine detailed variations from the standard used by the pattern company. At this point we are concerned with a general evaluation only.

The quantity and distribution of weight in relation to the size of the body frame determines the shape of the body and influences posture and fit in clothing. T1 the bone structure or body frame size was determined by wrist circumference. Recently, however, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company has published a new approach based on elbow breadth.

To discover your ideal weight range, first determine the elbow breadth. To do this, extend one arm in front of you, palm up. Bend it at the elbow, raising the forearm upward, the palm of the hand facing you. Place the thumb and index finger of the other hand on the two prominent bones on either side of the elbow. Using a ruler, measure the space between the fingers. Compare the elbow breadth measurement with the 1983 Metropolitan Life elbow breadth table below.

Next, find your height on the Metropolitan Life weight-range chart. Follow across to locate your body frame type. Your weight should fall some where between the ideal weight range given on the chart. If these weights seem a little heavy, realize they are based on women ages 25—29 wearing one-inch heels and three pounds of clothing, with muscles in top condition. Lower the range by five pounds if muscles are flacid.

If weight varies noticeably from standard, the underweight individual is generally less limited than the overweight individual in the selection of clothing. A thin figure is less obvious beneath attractive and well-fitted clothing. The variety of styles available is larger. There is also the possibility of layering clothing to provide the appearance of added weight. However, weight loss can be carried to an extreme, and a gaunt, emaciated appearance is generally considered unattractive—even unhealthy. In such cases, nutritional intake should be examined; health may be affected by poor nutrition, posture may become slumped or permanently impaired, and a poor fit in clothing will result.

Coupled with good muscle tone and posture, excess weight that's evenly distributed over the body frame may require only a change in garment or pattern size. Excess weight that's distributed unevenly may require several additional fitting adjustments and style selection becomes more limited. The strain from excess weight can lead to a breakdown of muscle tissue and support in the arms, chest, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs. Correct posture is difficult when the figure is overweight because of the increased effort required to maintain an erect alignment. The weight isn't balanced over both feet from front to back. As the body parts are forced out of alignment, figure variations are introduced and fitting problems increase, Weight loss may eliminate some or all of these figure variations.

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Friday, 2016-03-18 17:50