Monthly Archives: July 2013

Prints and optical illusions. Stripes

This is one more of theoretical posts. The topic of prints and optical illusions they create is very large, so I’m going to write a series of posts about optical illusions. But keep it in mind that there are some special cases which I won’t cover  (I can’t cover all, because it will require a monograph). The good news is that mirrors are still exist in this world and nothing can beat the old “try and see for yourself” method.

I think knowing about optical illusions applied to clothes is useful, so there would be no unpleasant surprises if you grab something non-returnable on final sale online and then discover that it visually changes your proportions in very unflattering way.

Today post will be about stripes

There is a very common stereotype that vertical stripes are slimming and horizontal stripes are widening. But actually it depends.

Optical illusion of stripes is most prominent for high contrast stripes, for low contrast and blurred the print behaves more like solid color. Wide stripes effect is a little bit less affected by contrastness, that thin stripes effect.

This is two Cathrine Melandrino dresses from Yoox, left behaives more like dark blue andslimming dress to the right is actually making girl wearing it appear large all over

There are two Cathrine Melandrino dresses from Yoox, left behaves more like dark blue (it’s slimming), for dress to the right stripes are at play (it’s making girl wearing it appear larger)

Optical illusion of stripes based on fact that our eye is lazy and it likes to travel along lines and we tend to overestimate lines along which eye travels.  But there is a gotcha: sometimes our eye tends to interpret stripes as a whole and travels in the perpendicular direction.

And one more thing that should be taken into account: everything busy is perceived larger. So with very bright thin stripes with small distance between them, especially if there are a lot of clashing colors, garment will make you taller and wider no matter what is stripes direction.

If we have more of one color than another then slimming/widening effect depends a lot from prevailing color. Cool/dark color as prevailing color is more slimming/less widening then light/warm prevailing color. If the the both colors are cool/dark or light/warm and stripes are not very contrasting, then the print behaves more like a solid mix of stripes colors, and again cool/dark is slimming and and light/warm is widening.

These are two tops by Rena Langa from Yoox, you can think about left as coral and about right as blue-grey when analyzing how it affects shape perseption

These are two tops by Rena Langa from Yoox, you can think about left as coral and about right as greyish blue when analyzing how they would affect shape perception

This is should be considered, but, please, if you have light and warm coloring, I beg you do not opt for coolest and darkest, it can make you a little bit slimmer, but it will also make you look sick. The same about contrastness, if you have very delicate coloring (soft, light and muted), then high contrast stripes will get more attention than your face, so wear them when you want to hide.

If we have just one vertical line we usually need lighter/warmer color in the middle to get slimming effect.

Stripe in the center (don't know author, it's all over the internet)

Stripe in the center (don’t know author, it’s all over the internet)

Then there are wide stripes and thin stripes. Wide stripes are widening no matter what is direction (wide stripes make people overestimate distance in average by 8%). If you are X shaped then wide stripes is something to wear despite how it looks or something to use on sleeves and hems.

But not all thin stripes are equal. Look at this pictures. Most people see left one thinner than the right one.

But again it’s not universal. There is a trick that could make thin vertical stripes like this slimming: it’s gradiented distance between the stripes.

The important thing to keep in mind is print distortion on curvy body. Because when we have clinging dress we can get instead of parallel stripes something like that:

This is dress from ASOS on very slim and tall fashion model, but stripes distortion and its width make her body quite voluptuous, if you are already voluptuous, avoid such dresses like a plugue

This is a dress from ASOS on a very slim and tall fashion model, but stripes distortion and their width make her body quite voluptuous, if you are already voluptuous, I would suggest to avoid such dresses like a plague

Compare it with this

Another stripy top from ASOS, but this one makes girl to look smaller despite widening stripes, just because it's so oversized

Another stripy top from ASOS, but this one makes girl to look smaller despite widening stripes, just because it’s so oversized

Distorted stripes are completely different case than parallel. They create an illusion that all curves are curvier than they actually are: because we have so called 3D illusion on top of real 3D shape and often psychological effect of too small item. And too small clothes makes us larger in the eyes of viewers, even if there is only impression and actually the item feels absolutely fine*. And in this case it’s completely irrelevant what is direction of stripes. This effect is the most prominent for regular dark and light stripes, for stripes of different width and shade it’s much less noticeable.

Classic black'n'white vs multicolor vs paisley (from

Classic black’n’white vs multicolor vs paisley (from

These are photos of Darlene of Hourglassy from her post about tankinis (you can find there also some interesting thoughts and visuals about swimming bras and how they affect the look). You can see that stripes on the left got more distorted and vertical row of buttons not much of a help, because they work as an accent here drawing attention to the bust area. Top in the center has different kind of stripes and they are less distorted and work as a whole, but when you are looking along the stripes you see how underbust and waist are slimmer (stripes help us see this because they create wide dark groups), but they also make the bust to look wider by comparison, the whole look is rather flattering I would say.

So if you don’t want your bust to look bigger then avoid stripy jersey items, where stripes visibly widen or curve on your bust when an item of clothes stretches to fit. If it’s desirable effect then go for wide contrast stripes.

And don’t forget that the same effect takes place for buttocks**, thighs and tummy.

Diagonal lines are neither slimming, nor widening, but they add dynamics and concentrate attention on themselves. In some cases, if there is color blocking with colors that have different widening/slimming effect, diagonal lines can distort shape of the body, but with thin or moderately thick stripes it’s hardly the case. Although if the angle is not 90 degrees vertical stripes behave a little bit differently. Dynamics is still there, but more vertical diagonal stripes are slimming and more horizontal are widening.

If diagonal stripes meet at some point this point draws attention the most and we can get the acute angle overestimation illusion in play, so be aware.***

Combination of vertical and diagonal stripes strategically placed could be very flattering.

Todd Lynn. Photo by GoRunway via

Todd Lynn. Photo by GoRunway via See how point where diagonals met creates focal point of the dress

So as you can see there are a lot of factors which affects how stripes would look on you, but when you begin to think about it, it all becomes more and more clear. But there is also a shortcut: sites usually use the same models for different items, try to look for the same girl in similar (or the same) items which have solid neutral color or stripes, or different kinds of stripes, it will help you to understand what print adds to the impression.

Series continued: Prints and optical illusions. Plaid and check, Prints and optical illusions. Polka dot.

* Main culprits there are print distortion, proportions which are slightly off (sleeves which are too long for 3/4 and too short for full length, e.g. the same applies for pant legs), gaping buttons (even if it’s elastic pulling them and much larger person could fit into the garment).

**I highly recommend making photos of yourself from behind, because it can give you a completely new point of view on how you look.

*** You can look it up on Wiki, short version is: <—> make line in the middle appear shorter, and >—< make line in the middle appear longer.

Review. Mimi Holliday Berry Fest Super Plunge and Angelique Jet Super Plunge

So far my most comfortable bra has been Mimi Holliday Nymphina Super Plunge, so when I saw these for 21£ I ordered Angelique Jet (because it’s a great basic) and Berry Fest (because color is gorgeous).

Angelique Jet is the good example how basic bra could be sexy and pretty.

Front view

Front view

Side view

Side view

Band is lace. Flat and breathable and very pretty!

Lace on the a band close up

Lace on the a band close up

And Berry Feast. The color is brighter and deeper in real life. True magenta.

Front view

Front view

Side view

Side view

Band is powermesh and I think that gold looks really good with main color

Band is powermesh and I think that gold looks really good with main color

But, alas! These beauties were less successful fit-wise.

Nymphina is very slightly gaping when I’m in my smallest (to tell the truth I tend to skip the bra on these days) and my salvation when I’m in my fullest. And I wanted more of this! But both Berry Fest and Angelique Jet are smaller both in the band and in the cup.

I would say that Berry Fest and Angelique Jet are true to size in the band, may be even on a tighter side.

Angelique Jet is a little bit smaller in the cup than Nymphina, so it fits just fine when I’m in my smallest and gore stick out slightly when I’m bloating, but it’s not really uncomfortable. I usually get problem with wires are too narrow, while central gore is tacking, but not with Mimi Holliday Super Plunges. Slightly floating central gore is the only issue when I’m in my fullest, so I think that it’s totally wearable, but Alas! there is no insane comfort which I get from Nymphina. Well, given that it is very nice looking. quite comfortable and has smooth cups, I think it will get a great amount of wear. Although I have two Masquerade Tiffany plunges which are the same size and function.

The real problem is Berry Fest. It’s even smaller in the cups than Angelique Jet. Central gore floating even when I’m in my smallest. I should confess that I love the color and overall look and feel too much to sell it , so I’m going to keep it for a while. But I think that I will be looking for 32F in this.

Here you can see difference in the cups between Berry Feast and Nymphina. I think it's pretty close to cup size

Here you can see difference in the cups between Berry Fest and Nymphina. I think it’s pretty close to cup size

So that was the story of how my dreams of ultimate comfort were ruined by the size inconsistency, but I still have a new pretty and basic bra and one colorful bra which almost fit sometimes.

Review. Prima Donna Menton Plunge

Here is the story: I really need some non-padded bras for summer. The heat is already at 90+ F sometimes and in July and August it can easily jump to 100F (last year official maximum was 107.6F or 42C). Even thin foam is not really welcomed in such weather conditions. My previous attempt was Panache Loretta Plunge and it failed miserably. Problem is that non-padded bras are usually have deeper cups and I need shallow and wide. And to tell the truth I’m picky when it comes to design. That’s why when I read that Prima Donna bras have wide wires and are usually good for shallow breasts I become hopeful (they are beautiful). Well, what can I tell, it failed even more miserable than my previous attempt.

So here it is: Menton Plunge. This bra is breathable and absolutely gorgeous. Prima Donna really worth its price tag (although I got mine from ebay really cheap, because I was just testing the brand, so I was looking for bargain really hard, it saved me from being totally devastated).

It’s three part cups construction with a side sling for the better lift and support.

Front View (on a hanger)

Front View (on a hanger)

Side view

Side view

This lace against the light... isn't it beautiful?

This lace against the light… isn’t it beautiful?

Straps are partially adjustable.

Lace on the straps continues the same theme as on the cups

Lace on the straps continues the same theme as on the cups

This is how they placed the label (it’s near the armpit).

Label from lace

Label from lace

Quality is impeccable.

Inside view, the sewing is precise.

Inside view, the sewing is precise.

But here is the catch: it runs huge in the cups and tight in the band. So 32E (my go-to size) was more like 30G. And when I’m totally ok with not super tight 30s (I definitely prefer 32 for comfort, but hey… my underbust is 29.5), the fact that it’s 2 cup sizes too large is absolute show stoppage. And from the fact that wires’ width is good for me and cups’ edges are flush against the skin, while I have huge gaping in the middle (no, it’s absolutely not “orange in the glass”, cups’ depth is much bigger than perimeter of my breasts), I can tell that cups’ shape is totally wrong for me. This bra designed for more narrow and projected breasts than mine. I would say that wires are not super narrow (think Comexim), but there are not wide also, at least not for Menton Plunge. And they are quite sturdy.

Looks like non-padded plunges from Prima Donna are after all not for me. And I begin to suspect that non-padded bra for summer is mission impossible for my breast shape.