Shouldering Your Weight: Are You Balancing That Body with Shoulder Shaping?
You may know your body type, but did you know that your shoulders are the next most important aspect to silhouette balance? The ideal shoulder line balances the hips but is not exceptionally broad/square nor narrow/sloping. Whatever your shoulders’ shape, choose your most flattering sleeve, neckline, and seaming detail to help balance your entire silhouette.
If You Have Narrow Sloping Shoulders
If your shoulders are narrow you know it. There is extra fabric in the shoulder and if it fits in the shoulder it’s tight everywhere else. Shoulder bags slide easily. If you have narrow shoulders, look for style and design lines that are horizontally broadening such as a boat neck, off the shoulder, a wide “V” or wide scoop neckline. The idea is to draw the eye out with wide collars, shoulder placed accessories and yoked blouses or jackets.
Shoulder pads (whether “in” or “out!”) are always good to have on hand to lift sloping and narrow shoulders. Shoulder padding also helps straighten the round line created with heavier arms, as fabric can drop straight down (vertical lines slenderize) rather than reveal the roundness of the arm (round adds pounds). Shoulder pads will always be your biggest camouflage comrade. Shoulder pads do not need to be Golden Girl Gargantuan. Small, naturally-shaped pads are virtually undetectable.
The Power of Padding
Because bad shoulder padding is as bad as no shoulder padding on narrow shoulders consider this: • Choose the right style of shoulder pads. Soft, rounded, more natural shoulder pads look best under blouses and sweaters. The idea is to look like your shoulders are nicely tapered. Not that you are wearing shoulder pads. • Get them in a color that matches your skin. • Buy pads that bring the shoulders out, but not up — unless you want to shorten your neck. • Tuck the shoulder pad under your bra strap and pull out as far as needed to balance the hip. • Don’t wear shoulder pads with tight clinging knits. In fact, if you’re narrow-shouldered, avoid tight clinging knits at your shoulder to begin with. Visit www.shoulderpads.com for more information on this topic.
If Your Shoulders are Narrow: • Avoid halter tops • Contrast vest and blouse for visual interest and widening at shoulder line • Try hoodies zipped at mid-waist to create a wide V, or tie a sweater over your shoulders for extra broadening. • Pull up your sleeves and blouse the upper arm fabric. • Choose wide straps in dresses and tops. The wider the strap the broader the shoulder.
Comeback Clue: Use elastic bands or arm garters to keep long sleeves pulled-up at a three-quarter length on blouses and sweaters. Best tops for narrow shoulders
• Boat Neck • Wide Scoop • Wide V • Off the shoulder • Sailor • Shawl
If You Have Broad Square Shoulders
Broad and square shoulders can be frustrating. Often your blouse will pull if buttoned to the neck, seams come in too far at the sleeve, and you often have to go a size larger just to fit at the shoulder. You have broad square shoulders if, when your arm is relaxed, the shoulder creates a right angle. Usually the shoulder bone is prominent. If broad shoulders are an issue, consider the following. • Try bell or peasant sleeves to draw the eye down. • Avoid puffed shoulders, boat necks, and off the shoulder looks. • Avoid contrast at the shoulder by keeping vests or jumpers the same tone as the under shirting. • Use vertical center front accessories and avoid shoulder placed attention such as epaulets. • Choose drop sleeves, halter lines, raglan seaming, and kimono styling. • Wear spaghetti straps. The narrower the strap the narrower the shoulder.
Best Tops for Broad Shoulders • Gathered yoke • Halter • Drop sleeve (good alternative to sleeveless) • Kimono • Raglan • Blouses which slim broad shoulders
How to determine if your shoulders balance your hips
Here’s a handy way to understand how to determine if your shoulders balance your hips:
• Take a string and cut it at around 36 inches. • Tie one end to a heavy washer or weight of some kind that will pull the string taught. • Press the un-weighted end to the front of your shoulder at the joint. (Swing your arm back and forth. You can feel where the joint is. • Allow the weight to hang straight down. • If the string sits inside the hip line your shoulders are broader than the hip and should be minimized. • If the line is inside the hip, the hips are broader than the shoulder and the shoulder should be augmented.
When your shoulder line is balanced so is your entire silhouette. Use line, texture, color and accent to create your ideal look for your ideal shoulders!