Thursday, 29 August 2013

A question of scale

No, I'm not talking about de-scaling kettles, though where we live the water is very hard.  Vinegar is the answer to getting rid of limescale, in case anyone is disappointed that the topic of this post isn't what they expected.  The scale that I'm talking about is for patterns on clothes and whether small-scale,  medium-scale or large-scale looks best.

I'm a petite (I'm talking height-wise - before anyone comments that I don't look that tiny!), so I have to be very careful with patterns. I've written several posts on the subject of colour and making sure that the colour doesn't wear you rather than the other way round. This becomes even more important when it comes to patterns: too large a pattern and you notice the clothes rather than the individual person wearing them. Bearing in mind the fact that I'm short, which of the two looks below do you think is better on me?

I love the colour of the first shirt, which is why I bought it in the first place, but if I'm honest I think the check is probably a bit too large for me, or it could be the contract between the turquoise and the white which makes it appear that way. What do you think about the two outfits below, showing different patterns?  

The first photo is interesting because I am wearing a chunky necklace as well as a patterned dress, so that stands out as much as the pattern on my dress. In the background, by the way, you can see my husband wearing a checked shirt. Although it has large checks that is fine for him, as he is over 6 feet tall!

In the second photo I am wearing a less chunky necklace and, although there is a fair bit of contrast between the blue and white of my top, I don't think it dominates in the same way as the checked shirt did.

As I said earlier, it's not just a matter of colour: those of us who are smaller also need to make sure that any patterns don't overwhelm us. Of course any larger and/or taller ladies will get away with medium to large scale patterns, but they will need to take care with small-scale patterns.


  1. Sue, I know what you mean about being petite and patterns! It's tough. My opinion from these photos is that you wear lower-contrast patterns better (sometimes it's not just the size, but the level of contrast and pattern density). In fact, I think you look smashing in that swirly top on the lower left hand picture!

  2. I agree with Une femme's analysis! I like the smaller checked shirt and the swirly top/chunky necklace. In fact that necklace draws the eye to your face while the other shirt draws the eye to the shirt. Great point about lower-contract patterns for petites.

  3. I'll chime in too, agreeing with Une femme!

  4. Thank you all for your interesting comments. I'm particularly intrigued by the vote for the bottom left outfit with the chunky necklace as, though I liked it when I wore it that evening, looking at the photo now I think it makes me look pale and a bit tired! I'll have to try it out again, obviously!

    Juhli and Robin G: if you haven't already checked out Une femme's excellent blog, there's a link under my Recommended Blogs.

  5. Sue

    I think that darker photo is better relative to the higher contrast ones. You do look a little pale but compared to the high contrast it's better. Maybe take that concept and tone it down a little so you have a dark gray (or other shaded tone in your colors) or a dark green like the upper right photo.

    I do like Une Femme's blog--and Vivienne's too. Thanks for linking to those!

  6. Hi Sue, I have to disagree with those selecting the chunky dark necklace look. I think the smaller patterns look better, but it is also the shape of those patterns. You look roundish to me. Forehead, cheeks etc. That is what makes you "cute". The plaid is square, and a bit off, whereas the dots look like they belong. The necklace with the squares is off, whereas the smaller one looks like it belongs. Sometimes we want to wear contrasting shapes, colors just because we can. But they are not our best.


    1. Sharon, I found your comments very interesting. It may very well be all the combinations as you say: not just the colour and the contrast but also the shapes. I will have to go through my wardrobe and pull out different patterns to check (sorry for the pun!) this out.

  7. Sue

    Maybe put up a compare and contrast with that black top and chunky necklace vs. the brown outfit you posted that you wore to the party--the one the PS talked you into.