Despite our little weather U-turn here in the D.C. area, it's basically dress season! That's all of spring and summer for me, if I'm being honest. I don't really do shorts -- I think I only own two pairs -- and I rarely wear pants even in the winter months.
But ... hemlines are even more important when you're barelegged (without tights to streamline the look). Despite the myriad other connotations your hemline can convey, where your hem falls is just as important as a tan and a workout for how your legs look.
As I've talked about already, I've been doing my spring cleaning of my closets, making lists of what new items I need to shop for, and donating or selling things I'm getting rid of. There's one more important thing you should be doing this time of year though, and that's making a pile of things to take to the tailor (or alter yourself).
I started thinking about the perfect dress length for me and where I wanted to hem each of these. I'd always thought that juuuuust a smidge above my knee was the perfect length, but I decided to do a little research to find out. I think most of us know our own bodies well enough at this point to know when a dress is too short or too long to be flattering on us in particular. I was curious whether there was an exact way to measure for your own body though.
I found two interesting different methods, in particular, to help me calculate the most flattering hem length for my body.
The Golden Ratio
If you haven't heard of the Golden Ratio before, I'm not going to put you through a full math lesson on Fashion Friday. Suffice to say that it is, in a way, a proportioning number. It appears often in geometry, architecture, art and even fashion and many believe that it creates the most pleasing shape, particularly in terms of proportion.
So, to use the Golden Ratio to calculate your perfect dress length, the theory is that you measure the length of your body from your shoulders to your toes (including the heel height you'd normally wear) and divide that by the Golden Ratio (1.618). If you take the resulting number and measure from your shoulders down to that number, you'll have your perfect dress length.
Long-Shin vs Short-Shin
Most people do not have legs that measure the same distance from hip-to-knee as from knee-to-ankle. Most common is a long upper leg and short lower leg combo, "short-shin" if you will. Less common is short upper leg with long lower leg, or "long-shin."
The rationale behind this method is that you want to find the mid-point of your total leg and set your hem there. This means you're setting your hem at the point which makes your legs perfectly proportional.
So, you first need to measure your upper leg (from hipbone to mid-kneecap) and your lower leg (from mid-kneecap to mid-anklebone) and determine which is longer. (Mine are actually almost exactly proportional, which is probably why I'd always thought just above my knee is the perfect hem length). You then want to split the difference and move the hem in the direction you need to compensate.
If your upper leg is longer, you want to raise your hem above your kneecap by that number.
If your lower leg is longer, you want to drop your hem below your kneecap by that number.
For example, if your upper leg was 17 inches, lower leg 13 inches, your difference is 4 inches and you would put the hem 2 inches (split the difference) above your knee.
Okay? Start Hemming
I found it best, for me, to calculate each of these numbers and then put on some of my favorite dresses and compare the calculations to those actual measurements. After doing that, I still decided that right above my knee was really the best for me, but it was a fun experiment!
Of course, this doesn't mean that you want every single dress or skirt you own to be at the same hem length. There are places in your wardrobe for a mini or a midi, for example. But it's still good to know where your average hem length should fall, to best compliment your body and your legs.
Is this still just way too much math for a Friday though?