Wardrobe Building – Part 1 & 2 – Silhouette & Color

January 27, 2019

For 2019 I’m excited to do a series of blog posts about how to build a wardrobe, starting from the very beginning! I’ve come up with a method, though nothing in this process is actually created by me, certainly not from scratch.  It’s more of  a putting together of things I’ve learned along the way, from my fashion classes in college, to helping friends shop. to style blogging, to creating my own wardrobe one piece at a time. I’m really excited about this and hope you find it helpful!

how to build a wardrobe from scratch

I’ll try to give you a new topic each month and this month, I wanted to start at the very beginning: let’s talk about silhouette and color.




The outline and shape of a garment can make all the difference in how you look and feel in it. Most of us look better in some silhouettes than others, and of course there will be a few fortunate women who will look great in any silhouette.

There are generally considered four basic body shapes, and every single shape is beautiful!  If I had to pick one, I don’t think I could choose. Maybe if I could pick based on my outfit of the day, that would work!  Ha!  But alas, we have one shape and are pretty much stuck with it. Losing or gaining weight, and exercise and training, can change size and firmness, but the basic shape stays the same.

The topic of dressing your body shape could be a whole book!  And just like anything else, humans don’t always fit into such cut and dry categories, but this is a good basic place to start.


If you are an apple, you probably have a great bust line and fab legs and these are the pretty parts you want to show off.  Your waist is undefined and you carry any extra weight in the stomach area. The main idea is to draw attention away from your middle.   For tops, you will look great in A-lines, flowy tunics, button-ups, and V-necks.  Sheath dresses are also your friend. Just be sure to keep clingy fabric and big thick belts away from your waist and go ahead and play up those great legs and pretty cleavage!


If you’re a pear shape, I am one of your tribe and wrote a whole post about how to dress a pear shape. Pears carry weight in their hips, thighs, and butt.  Pears usually have a defined waist and pretty shoulder line.  Pears legs are usually best from the knees down. In general, fit and flare and A-line skirts and dresses are your friend.  Boot-cut and flare pants bring balance.  Jackets and coats are best if they hit between the waist and the hip bone, or if they’re longer, in other words, either higher or lower than your hips and thighs, because you don’t want a hem to end right where you’re widest. Go ahead and show off a small waist and elegant shoulders and neck.  Add balance with color and interest on top and simple bottoms.



An hourglass figure is curvy with a defined waist. In the hourglass shape, bust and hip measurement are roughly even.  The hourglass shape looks amazing in more structured silhouettes. Hourglasses look to die for in dresses and I would definitely suggest the fit and flare and the classic wrap dress.  Show off your small waist and when in doubt, belt an outfit!  Avoid anything boxy or flowy. Remember you’ll look your best when you show off that nice waistline.


The Stalk

Usually called the stalk or the banana, this shape is basically straight up and down.  In 1920’s and again in the 60’s your body type was all the rage!  Skinny jeans are your friend.  You will look great in a sheath dress and you are the only shape that can really rock a dropped waist dress.  If you wear a flowy dress, a belt can add a waistline. Ruffles and details at the bust and hips can add more volume there.


I have one friend who doesn’t fit into any of these categories. She had a big torso and tiny arms and legs.  I’m just mentioning it because if you feel like you don’t fit in any of these groupings, you might not!  And that’s okay.  Personally though my body shape is clear, I find my coloring is actually a bit trickier.



The basic rule for wardrobe building is to pick a few neutrals that look good on you for basics and then pick an accent color or two.

What is neutral? A neutral is a color that mixes well with other colors.

List of neutrals:

black, gray, white, ivory, beige, taupe, tan, brown, khaki beige, khaki/olive green, navy, denim

Accents colors can be red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, green … and all the pretty colors in between.

How to pick your best colors?

Well, when I was studying fashion in college in the 80’s, the seasonal theory of colors was all the rage.  It’s a place to start, but just like body shapes, there’s never exactly a one size fits all. In general there are four groupings of coloring based on the four seasons.

Winters look good in more saturated and vivid cooler tones, especially jewel tones (think emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red).


Summers look good in pastel versions of cooler shades, like soft pink, baby blue, lavender and mint green.


Springs look good in brighter shades, usually with a warmer tone, think Easter eggs shades like coral and turquoise.


Falls look good in the shades of a fall landscape: browns, rusts, and yellows.


But again, this is only a starting place.  Using myself as an example, I feel like I’m a tricky winter. The reason I say tricky is because most winters have dark hair, but those really are the shades that look best on me, followed by bright spring shades.  Fall and summer colors will totally wash me out.

I think most of us know what colors we feel best in, What shades do we wear when we get the most compliments?  What color are you wearing when someone asks you if you’re tired (and you’re not!).  If you really don’t know, ask a savvy friend or go and get your colors done!

My basic neutrals are black, gray, and denim.  My favorite accent color is my favorite color period, red!  I love all the variations of it as well, from an orange-y red to a hot pink to a deep burgundy.

Putting It All Together

I wanted to put part 1 & 2 together so you can really have a place to start.  With your best silhouettes and best colors, you will be able to start making thoughtful decisions that make the best sense for you.

Here’s just a few examples from my wardrobe …

Denim is also one of my neutrals and as a pear shape, I look great in a flared silhouette.  Cropped flares work well on me, with a tall frame and pear shaped body.  The black moto jacket is the perfect length for a pear shape and  of course black is one of my neutrals.


how to dress a pear shape, cropped flares and cropped jacket



Fit and flare dresses are also always flattering on me and of course I love red, so this Karina dress makes perfect sense on me.

fit and flare dresses for pear shapes


But enough about me, let’s talk about you!  What are your best colors and silhouette?  Let me know in the comments!

And remember, my newsletter subscribers can always get free stye advice via email, so if you haven’t yet, sign up!  (Your email is always safe with me.)

Stay tuned for the next installment of Wardrobe Building, coming next month.  And in the meantime, keep an eye out for lots of New York Fashion Week coverage … coming soon!

Fun & Fashion,

Dawn Lucy


Link Ups: Visible Monday! Shoe and Tell!  #iwillwearwhatilike link up! Turning Heads Tuesday! Confident Tuesday!   Style Perspectives! Trendy Wednesday! Style on the Daily!  Thursday Fashion Files! Chic and Stylish! Labour of Fashion! Thursday Moda! Top of the World Style!   Fabulous Friday!   Weekend Wear Link Up!  Edge of the Week! Nancy’s Fashion Style!   Sharing a Journey!


  • Reply Briana January 27, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Menopause and middle age changed my body. I used to have a very definite hour glass figure. I still have curvy hips and a full bustline, but my waist has thickened no matter how much I exercise. My skin tone has become more yellow too. I used to be able to wear just about any color, but colors that I used to wear well now make me look sallow. Flared jeans look best on me now as well as fit & flare dresses. Head to toe black doesn’t work anymore on me unless I wear a bright color close to my face. Your blog has been such a help to me during this new phase of my life.

    • Reply Dawn Lucy January 28, 2019 at 9:06 am

      Hi Briana,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. You are so right … our bodies do change as we age. I’m starting to get a tummy that I never had before even though my actual weight is the same. I think everything … shifts, right?! Happy to create a space where us fashionable mid-lifers can discuss fashion and aging!


    • Reply Linda April 23, 2019 at 1:00 am

      Oh how I can relate to this!! I used to have an hourglass figure too, now I have a tummy no matter what I do! I’ve had to start wearing a high to mid-rise jean and I wear a lot of black because I just don’t know what else to wear. I feel like I have to relearn how to dress this new body

      • Reply Dawn Lucy April 23, 2019 at 6:11 am

        Yes! Our bodies just change as we get older. Things … shift! But we can dress to flatter and still look fabulous! Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Linda!


  • Reply Theresa January 28, 2019 at 5:38 am

    Good tips there! I’m kind of in between a pear and hourglass, as my waist is 8″ smaller than my chest and 10″ smaller than my hips. The most flattering silhouettes for me are the fit and flare looks inspired by the 50s and if going really casual, I like skinny pants or leggings, but always prefer a thigh length top. A loose top that sits right at my hip looks very unflattering on me.

    • Reply Dawn Lucy January 28, 2019 at 9:07 am

      Hi Theresa,

      Such great comments. Yes, I think a lot of us are between shapes … and between color seasons too! Style is part formula … but mostly art! Thanks so much for stopping by!


  • Reply A Woman Of A Certain Age January 28, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    I love vintage and classic pieces.
    That red dress is beautiful on you!


    • Reply Dawn Lucy January 29, 2019 at 8:04 am

      Thanks so much Susan! And a big yes to classic and vintage pieces!


  • Reply Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side January 31, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Good tips, I have a post in my drafts talking all about pear shapes! I totally agree!

    • Reply Dawn Lucy January 31, 2019 at 8:55 am

      Oh awesome! PEar shapes of the world unite! 😀

  • Reply Sarah February 6, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    This is so interesting, the same colour palette suits me too.
    I’d love some advice on a new silhouette I have to work with: long torso, narrow shoulders and seated in a wheelchair. All these things that used to look good standing often don’t work (long jackets for example) and skirts that are fine standing or sitting at a desk seem too short in a wheelchair.
    I’d love your advice.

  • Reply Mariann April 28, 2020 at 11:19 am

    What a great article. I’m looking forward to reading the whole series. I’m very tall, nearly 6 feet. I used to be a stalk, but after 50, I have become an apple. I’m most comfortable in skinny jeans, and tunic tops. I also have some cute a-line dresses that I wear with leggings. I’m still confused about my best color choices. I have brown eyes, my skin is fair with yellow/green undertones, I no longer dye my hair so it is nearly white. I get a lot of compliments on my hair color which still surprises me. I think jewel tones look good on me, shades of gray, and also black. I’m not to fond of how I look in navy blue, or cobalt blue. I also think beige washes me out. I’m going to try and get my colors done, and see how my thoughts on colors for me, line up with the professional’s choices.

    • Reply Dawn Lucy April 28, 2020 at 11:59 am

      So nice to hear from you! Let me know what you think of the rest of the series. It’s all done now and I hope you found all the posts! Do you look good in olive green? How about a Terra Cotta color? Just ideas … I’m not sure. I’m not a color expert! Thanks for stopping by!!

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