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 Fashion Look Tutorial Tips

How to Assess a Fashion Look
 Tutorial Tips Part 2

      By Pauline Weston Thomas for


How to Assess a Fashion Look - Part 2

In Part 1 of How to Assess and Update a Fashion Look you've just learned how to get the top of your body looking up to date.  Now after reading about choosing  jewellery as discussed below move onto assessing the lower half of the body.


Look at the Jewellery

Check for changes in jewellery.

Earrings in particular set the tone of a look. 

Are the studs tiny or increasing in size, flat, button, drop or chandelier?  Are they real or fake?  Is the metal or metal trim used yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, platinum, silver, pewter, enamel, titanium or copper?  Is the metal shiny, bright, dull, oxidised, brushed, textured or matt? 

Pearls come in and out of fashion with regularity and every woman should own some for certain occasions.  Are the pearls cultured, seed, freshwater, South Sea, Mabe, unusual shapes or combined with diamonds, shells or crystals? Are precious or semi precious stones being used?
In recent years coloured gemstones have been in demand.

Ask yourself does jewellery have an antique or estate feel, a South western look or Oriental or ethnic approach?  Is it tribal and eclectic ethnic in approach?  Is costume jewellery the height of fashion?  Does crystal, cubic zirconium, diamante, jet, jade, glass or bugle beads feature heavily?  Do chunky wooden beads, seed beads, buttons, ceramic beads, plique à jour enamel pieces, lac jewels, feathers, wires, yarns, sequins and ribbons play a part? Are pendants mixed and hung from ribbons, chains or torques.  Do you need to purchase an enhancer clasp to multiply the variety of ways you can wear pendants.  Read about these special clasps on my CliClasp page.

Are brooches, bangles, bracelets, charms, chokers, pendants, stick pins, stranded necklaces, wire torques, tiaras or dress rings the rage? Is a watch the only adornment?  Is it a fob watch, a dainty bracelet style, a charm watch, or is it a timepiece style which has interchangeable coloured rims or coloured straps.   Does the watch face have a special finish such as a mother of pearl face or does it have pictorial elements, gem embedding, a diamond or diamante rimmed face.  Look at the way these jewellery items are worn.  Are they worn sparingly or in abundance.  Would a brooch converter make a brooch you love extra versatile and enable it to be worn also as a pendant.

Have you more income than in previous years and do you now need the subtle look of wealth.  Read my bespoke jewellery page.

Check That Décolletage

Check now to see if low or high necklines are a feature.  Is the bust exposed by scoop, V, square, sweetheart, shawl, strapless, shoestring straps or a keyhole style?  Are collar looks turtle, tie, shirt, collarless, stand or mandarin?  Are shoulders bared, are arm tops covered, is the back or nape of the neck displayed?

Is the bust full, uplifted, softened or flattened. Is cleavage in fashion or would it seem outrageous just now?  Are the shoulders narrow, wide, oversized and footballer padded , shoestring strapped, or cut in and haltered?  Is the armhole becoming drop shouldered or batwing.


Watch That Waist

Where is the waistline? Is it in its natural position, nipped in, straight or bloused or is it dropped twenties or sixties hipster style?  Perhaps it's empire lined under the bust.  Is it narrow or wide belted, buckled, sashed, gathered, straight, shirred, laced or set on a peplum.  Is it pleated from the waist or from a dropped band, basque or hip yoke.  Check which retro period suits your bodyshape and take advantage of any novel retro styles designers send down the catwalk.

The Crucial Sleeve Length

Getting the sleeve length or style on a garment correct can really make a fashion look up to date.  Check are sleeves flopping over the hand. Are they wrist, bracelet, seven eighths, three quarter or elbow length?  Are they narrow, loose, cuffed, bloused, full, angel, caftan, bell, short, opaque, sheer, overlaid or solid.   If the sleeves of coats and jackets are above wrist, check out the snazzy effects that longer length contrasting gloves can create. 

If sleeves are puffed and you are over 18 do be careful!!!  Be very very careful. 

Check That Skirt

Here deduce the perfect length that is not only in fashion, but which also suits your hip, thigh and waist silhouette as well as your leg length.     

Look out for mini, micro, mid thigh, above knee, on the knee, below knee, mid calf, calf, below the calf ankle, long, floor length and trained.  Styles will vary from pencil, straight, stretch, flared, swing, handkerchief, gored, knife pleated, boxed pleated, sunray pleated, circular, draped, wrap over, ra-ra, asymmetric, split, gathered dirndl, slouch, shirred, elasticated, frilled, bustled, tiered gypsy, bias, crosscut and soft pleated and divided. 

As the millennium progresses we notice that skirts gained considerable volume.  This trend has continued as a new fresher silhouette line which has appealed to bored consumers.  But stop and think - does that fulsome and tulip rounded skirt enhance your pear shape, or kill your main best feature of slim hips?

If you feel you have thicker than average calves be brave and ask yourself which draws more attention to the calves, wearing the current length that MOST other people wear or hiding the calves under yesterday's fashion.


Legs and Pantyhose

Next look at the legs.  Are tights or stockings in fashion or is it a bare satin smooth natural look. Is hosiery sheer, opaque, patterned, dark, black white, pale or coloured?  Are tights plain, thick, textured, patterned, spotted, lace, zigzagged, clocked, ribbed, glossy, shiny or matt?

Do fishnets have standard or large holes.  Are lace look tights all the rage.

Are socks really being worn with heeled pumps.  If they are, do you really want to wear this fashion.  If you do fine, but just remember how you might feel now about past fashions like leggings and leg warmers. 


Trousers Cuts

Are trousers narrow, drainpipe, straight, flared, boot cut, split bottom, belled, palazzo, Capri, Gauchos, cuffed, pleated, Oxford, wide waist cuffed, elasticated, belted, hipster, high waisted Spanish, stretch, pedal pushers, cropped or styles of shorts? Are jeggings, leggings, treggings more the mode.

Are shorts, hotpants, Bermuda, South Pacific, cheek showing, baggy, cuffed, elasticated or flared like skirts.  Are these all styles best avoided with your figure or best kept restricted to your private garden patio rather than the high street or nightclub. But can you get away with shorts if you wear thick winter or lace tights. Maybe!

Are the fabrics plain or patterns in denim, light tweeds, smooth wool suiting, crepes, natural cottons, linen or ramie, batik, stretchy, corduroy, velvets, silks, seersucker, spots, stripes, checks, tartans, tweeds, sheers, herringbones, satin twills, crinkle, brocade or slinky fabrics?  

Footwear Changes

Check the heel and toe shape in most footwear illustrated.  Pay special attention to the heel shape.  Recent looks have shown cone shape, kitten heels stilettos and no end of other dynamic heel styles.  Materials used in footwear are diverse and include patterned print leathers, coloured patents, cloth and rope. Most importantly since 2005, real or mock croc, snakeskin, salmon skin or alligator skin effects in leathers and hardware trims such as biker belts and zip inserts have been very fashionable. These materials all continue to be important through 2008 and 2012.  2008 spring summer footwear ranges used floral printed materials to create very modern looking shoes. Glitter and sequins offer festive footwear fun for winter 2012.

Shoes are making statements right now.  Wedges high and low strapped, or thonged combined with natural materials like rope and raffia have been strong fashion footwear since 2005-2006.  Next the wedge and platform sole reached new heights combined with a peep toe. 

Look at the colours and types of finish given to leathers.  Is it leather?  Or is canvas, cloth or plastic the option?  Is patent in or out? In 2011 most definitely yes to patent and in every colour available.  Are shoes trimmed with buckles, bows, diamante, satin, animal print or tortoiseshell effects?  Are they strapped or T strapped, single Greek/Roman thong style or flip flops, sling back or enclosed, peep toe, platform or wedged, laced up or buttoned.  In 2008 Gladiator sandals low cut, or rising up the calf took the world by storm.

Are boots getting attention.  Are they Cowboy boots, thigh boots, flat boots, Victorian lace up boots, biker or riding boots, kitten boots, suede or Chelsea boots.  In 2011/12 look out for over-the-knee boots called cuissardes and also for knee boots. Check for the same feature you look for in shoes.  If they are in mode, ask yourself realistically are thigh boots really you and do you want photographs of yourself wearing them to be shown ten years down the road.

Is there some other trend that will make a 'now' statement just as well for you the individual?  Recall in the past the influence of green Wellingtons, patterned Wellingtons, Uggs and other fur varieties, Doc Martens, Nike trainers, crocs, flip flops and Dr Scholl sandals - do you hate those photos when they get dragged out? 

The Little Things to look For

Additional things to watch are use of fasteners.  Are zips the focus? Are zips the focus and very visible or hidden within a subtle seam and invisible. Are covered buttons and rouleaux loops a feature. Is frog fastening and fur combined?  Are badges, emblems and gold braids the look? Look to see pocket placements and types, jacket lengths, curvature or not on jacket lower edges, lapels and pockets.  Is the jacket to the knee, seven eighths long, hip length, boyfriend, waisted, nipped and cropped or a brief empire spencer style?

Is colour important - try to spot the colour schemes that appeal to you and which will suit your colouring most.

Finally take a look at that special factor which will be there - you just have to keep looking through those magazines and suddenly it will hit you. 

It might be the depth of a cuff or the shimmer of iridescence on body or fabrics, but you will spot it if you look carefully.

In the late nineties fabrics such as devore velvet, Pashminas, silk blended with cashmere, linen, beading, cowl necklines, girly dresses and cardigans, diamond solitaire studs and pretty neckwear were some of the factors that made one of many looks.  Linen, chiffons, tweeds and brocades have also been strong features of fashion throughout the noughties.

By contrast urban functional looks such as sportswear, techno fabrics, fleeces and back pack bags have been just as popular and fashionable too, but it may just have not been a look that appealed to you.  Find the look you like and be confident with your very own style.

Handbags, scarves, shawls, capes what and where do they feature.  Articles on bags frequently appear in Sunday style sections and accessories are a great treat as you never need to diet to wear a handbag or scarf!  There are lots of bag articles on fashion-era and you can see some pages about designer bags here.

Under Foundations


This does not have to mean corsetry it means get the right slip, or the right bra for the garment, or the right type of panties or line free hosiery.  Tactel slips from Marks and Spencer give a very smooth clutter free outline under clothes and are very useful under semi-opaque dresses.  They also sell secret support pants that leave no visible line beneath trousers or other close fitting garments. Always wear flesh toned items under white trousers.  Thongs are just passé.

You can read more about Spanx Power Pants here.

If you are full cupped think about investing in a good bra from Figleaves.  Your breasts will uplift and it will take 10 years off your figure. 

If you do not own a flesh toned bra seriously consider getting several as they are very versatile.  Lejaby make a great sweater bra that gives a smooth round look to cups under fine sweaters - try the Nuage style which is flesh toned, but for a tanned rather than an untanned skin.  If your garment demands it, get a basque, but be sure to get fitted for it and just remember that such items are worth the money when you can double them up as bedroom items. If you need a little extra help seek out an Ultimo bra or Ultimo body.

Whatever items you choose do seriously think about whether the underwear enhances the clothes on top.  Ugly ridges and sightings of bits of straps are just that - ugly.  The fashion for showing underwear straps is only attractive if you convince yourself just that and you are in the bloom of youth under twenty. If you must show your bra straps at least make sure they match the garment colour.  Every high street store has pretty bras in a wide range of colours that at least tone with an outfit.  An alternative is the plastic detachable strap, or you can use all the latest gimmicky tapes most bra departments these days stock.

Just remember you are an individual and you need to be comfortable with your style and find your best most flattering now look. 

What suits your sister or best friend or elongated magazine model may do nothing for you and vice versa.  Be true to yourself and be your own woman and become a fashionista in your own right.

In the end it's up to you - go high fashion, label mad, anti, classic, vintage or thrift shop.  There will be something to make you the individual, feel part of the zeitgeist. 

Get that hair and those shoes updated and you will feel instantly more attuned.

The list of fashion trends is endless, you will find many for the current year discussed in my Trends section.

Happy fashion trend spotting.

On another page I discuss my TICKS rule I invented to help myself go through the reasons why I should or should not buy an item. You may find Pauline's Fashion TICKS Rule helps you too. 



Page Updated 27 Nov 2011.

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About looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era.  Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear.  These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.Fashion History can take no responsibility for any information on the site which may cause you error, loss or costs incurred from use of the information and links either directly or indirectly.  This site is owned, designed, written and developed by author: Pauline Thomas and Guy Thomas. This site is designed to be viewed in 1024 X 768 or higher.

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