Style musings: Yin and Yang

It's dissecting time! Just like I promised you in my last post when I said I didn't really like the outfit I put together. I took out this full body shot from the last post on purpose: I think the part below the skirt was the culprit for making the whole outfit out of balance. All the yin and yang totally messed up... so let me explain to you what is what --and after you're done reading, check if you agree or disagree and let me know!

If you're not familiar with the yin and yang concept in styling, let me break it down to you.
We have a culturally learned tendency to categorize everything, including, of course, aesthetics. Two of these categories are masculine and feminine or yang and yin. When I say 'masculine', you possibly get a picture of strength, power and action. When I say 'feminine' you may see fragility, passiveness and allure. Those are just concepts and stereotypes, of course, not any sort of judgement on my part. Also, let it be said once and for all, they are not words I would use to describe men and women. I'm only using them as tools to describe the aesthetic vibe of things I'm looking at. I'll get to the examples and I'm sure you'll understand what I'm talking about. It's very intuitive.

Now, before we begin, let me state that I personally believe that our style is best when it follows along with our bodies' natural character. If a body is more yin, then the styling should be more yin to match it. If it's yang --well, you get the picture. Of course, our bodies tend to be a misture of both yin and yang qualities. We have angular (yang) parts and curved (yin) parts. To match your style to those two opposites can be a headache: that's probably why a lot of women have a problem with this.

So let's focus on this outfit: the clothes and my body shape.
The yang in this styling are as follows: the sweater, the frames of my glasses, the backpack, my hair and my legs. Those things appear large, sturdy, heavy, thick, strong. (Again, no judgements here, just categories!)
The yin are the blouse, the skirt, my shoes, especially the laces, and the upper part of my face (my chin is not yin), my round hips. Those things appear flowing, delicate, light, small, fragile.

It's not exact science in that you can't just count the amount of yin and yang elements to see if an outfit is more feminine or more masculine. I have more of a qualitative approach. It's important to see that the contrast between yin and yang brings out the most masculine and feminine parts in each other. What I mean is that this skirt, paired with a cute blouse, would not appear as harshly yin as it does next to the big yang sweater. I could have worn jeans (yang) here and all would've been fine. Also if I changed the cute yin shoes to my taller leather boots which are yang, the outfit would have been more balanced. Now we've got yang legs framed by very yin skirt and shoes --a contrast too strong for my own good! My legs look almost like a man's legs here.

Now the biggest trick here is that this outfit on its own is just fine. Many of you remarked about that in comments on my last post and you were totally right.

Thing is: it's not working on my body. If someone less curvy than me were to wear it, they'd look super cute. As it is, you can see the sweater clinging to my high hips and the skirt flowing around them and making them appear even larger than they already are. That forms a weird contrast with my slightly muscular legs and slightly yang face, ultimately creating an imbalance and I think we can agree that all of us can clearly see something's off.

Bottom line: I should remember to take into account that I have most of my yin qualities in my bust, waist and hips areas. I have yang legs and slightly yang face (especially with very short hair and my new glasses). I need to match the qualities of my clothes to those innate qualities of my body: when those two are in harmony, the best outfits are created. And on that note --I will probably post some more of these 'style musings' in the future: things that make an outfit pop, how to create a style that is a harmonius combination of yin and yang, what shapes of clothes work best for a body similar to mine etc. Let me know if there are some topics you'd like me to cover, I'd be glad to hear about that.

(Oh, and by the way, all this lengthy reasoning usually happens in about five seconds that I spend looking in the mirror before I head out --it's just so complicated to translate intuition to writing!)

What is it that makes or breaks an outfit for you?
How do you assess your outfits? 
What are your most true and tested ways of putting together outfits that match your body and personality?



  1. With your very clear explanation, I can understand your criticism of this outfit, and I do agree with your analysis, although I still think you are perhaps being more harsh in your judgement than a casual observer would be. :)

    I do completely understand what you are saying about 'yin' and 'yang' (although in my mind I think of them as 'feminine' and 'masculine' - and like you, I'm not being judgemental here, these are just the descriptive terms that I can relate to best). Overall, especially in my face, I'm more yang than yin, so when I wear overtly feminine styles they look very out of place on me, and I need to either avoid them altogether or balance them with masculine elements. So, I can wear a pretty embroidered blouse, or loose top, as long as it has a boxy shape or well-defined shoulders and neckline, and/or I pair it with structured trousers and brogues. I've found that wearing outfits that are overall more yang than I am, actually makes me look more yin by comparison, and hence more balanced, if that makes sense?

    My body shape and proportions are quite similar to yours, in that my face and legs are relatively yang (I also have a pixie cut and square-framed glasses), while my torso is more yin, so I would be very interested in any more insights and suggestions you have for dressing this body type!

  2. I've never heard of this concept (uhm, im not knowing too much about styling, but i decide that 2017 will be the year of fashion to me, I want to rationalize my higgledy-piggledy wardrobe and I also want to take care of sutainability in fashion), and I'm so grateful that you wrote it down in this so understandable way! I'm one step closer to my plan :)