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The Perfect Match
The latest trend in the fashion industry today is that of mix-n-match. Just apply your creativity and create a new combination from your old wardrobe.
We often come across the question, "Does this go with that?" while deciding what to wear. Here "that" can refer to anything, from a jacket to a pair of shoes, to a large square cushion, and the "this" could include a pair of blue jeans to wicker-backed easy chair.

Putting things together isn't always as easy as we would like it to be, it seems. As changing fashions in clothing and interiors churn out new designs and new products, the endless pairing of objects, or products as the case may be, sometimes seem to require mysterious rules of coordination.

Effective coordination really requires a basic feel for the principles of proportion that lie behind every product, every piece of clothing. Proportion is concerned with the harmonious relationship between elements of the arrangement in size, colour, quantity, and setting.

As proof that this is not just a preoccupation of the contemporary fashionista and design slave, a gentleman called Vitruvius, of the 1st century, was known to have said, "Beauty arises in the proportion of the parts, such as that of finger to finger, and all the forearm to the upper-arm and, of everything to everything else." Somewhat convoluted no doubt, but clearly the ancient Greeks and Romans were as deeply concerned with proportion.

This statement simply expressed an understanding of proportion, using the human body to establish balanced relationships between different elements. He believed that this system, which ruled the human figure in art, should also be applied to architecture. However, putting aside the concerns of the early Romans, the struggle to understand proportion is something well known to all of us from our early struggles with the vagaries of fashion.

Those of us whose memories go back to the days before fitted and low slung, may well remember earlier times when each new major shift in fashion brought about new rules and dilemmas in putting together an ensemble.

Many men have faced the dilemma of the changing widths of the lapels of the jackets, as the fits and shapes of jackets and suits have evolved over the years. Just how wide a tie to how narrow a lapel; or vice versa, as fashions change, seems to require different rules. Just as shirt collar shapes and widths change and add additional complexities to this equation. And that is not all. Trouser shapes change too, deeply pleated pants make way for flat fronts, narrow legged trousers get wider and as shoe shapes change, one may be required to rework one's entire wardrobe.

The shifts in proportion in women's fashion are much less subtle though no less complex. Skirt lengths have a propensity to keep moving up and down, and the general female silhouette embraces sweeping change more readily.

Who can forget the enormous shoulder pads of the late '80s and early'90s that compelled the wearer to approach every narrow doorway side-ways? As huge shoulder pads widened the human shoulders to superhuman proportions, clothing also reworked the shapes of the rest of the body.

Full, generously cut shirts, with deep armholes hung forgivingly over thickening midriffs and billowed like sails in the wind. Baggy pleated pants worn high on the waist once ruled the fashion industry.

Proportion is a key component in fashion and one can often date a piece of clothing usually by studying the silhouette. Changes in fashions often result in change in proportion, which then determines the eventual silhouette or shape of a garment. "This is well understood by fashion designers who play with the width of a collar, the length of a skirt, the fit of a jacket as they search for ways to update a look season after season,

This constant evolution though, rather puts paid to a notion much beloved by some, of that elusive something known as the "fashion classic". Some authorities to be a classic, for example, decree the navy blue blazer. If you need to buy one single piece of useful clothing, they firmly say, this is the one, brooking no argument.

So while proportion is defined as a harmonious arrangement of parts or elements within a whole, it does make sense to remember that as fashions change, so does proportion, as does our understanding of it too.
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Posted on : 26/11/2005
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