Knowing how to buy clothes to flatter your proportion and scale is fundamental to “getting it right” style-wise.  Mistakenly, many women think their dress size alone defines whether they are large, medium, or small but it’s’ not.  Let me tell you why proportion and scale matter more than your dress size.

What is Proportion and Scale?

In style and fashion terms, proportion and scale are how the different components of an outfit work in conjunction with your frame to make it a success.  Once you know your scale and proportion you can use accessories and clothing to create illusions of the best size relationships between objects and your figure.

Often referred to as your “build” or your “frame”, proportion and scale are dictated by your height and dominant wrist size.

Why Proportion and Scale Matter

Regardless of our dress size, our scale gives an overall impression of us.  Despite once being a skinny UK size 6, I am actually large scale (see below to calculate yours).  I always felt large and cumbersome, so to make myself appear daintier and more feminine, I went against what I truly liked and started wearing small prints and dainty jewellery.  As well as not suiting my Style Personality AT ALL, unbeknownst to me, these diminutive pieces were actually lost on my large frame.  To the point where they looked really odd as there was so much of “me” leftover.  So in fact, they were actually making me appear larger than I really was.  I never knew proportion and scale matter more than my dress size.

Vice versa, if someone who is small scale wears large scale or bulky items, they will be completely overwhelmed.

Calculate Your Scale

When I do a scale and proportion calculation for my clients I use several measurements, but below is a really quick and easy way to get a good idea for yourself
Most of us know our height, though as we get older we do tend to shrink a bit, so it’s worth remeasuring yourself if you haven’t done so for a while.

Now with your tape measure, make a not of the circumference of your dominant wrist, at the base of your hand.  The measurements I use are in inches.

If you are:

5′ 2″or under

  • Wrist less than 5.5″ = SMALL Scale


  • Wrist 5.5″ to 5.75″ = MEDIUM Scale


  • Wrist over 5.75″ = LARGE Scale

5′ 2″ to 5′ 5″

  • Wrist less than 6″ = SMALL Scale


  • Wrist 6″ to 6.25″ = MEDIUM Scale


  • Wrist over 6.25″ = LARGE Scale

Over 5′ 5″

  • Wrist less than 6.25″ = SMALL Scale


  • Wrist 6.25″ to 6.5″ = MEDIUM Scale


  • Wrist over 6.5″ = LARGE Scale
My wrist being measured with a tape measure


From this picture here, you can see that my wrist measurement is around 7.25″.  I am 5′ 6.5″ tall, so that makes me LARGE scale

How Your Scale will Impact Your Style Choices

Here are a few of the things your scale will impact when making your style choices:


  • Weight and volume of fabric
  • Size of pattern or detail  – check out my article on this here
  • Design / weight of shoes (heels, soles, details)
  • Size and detail of jewellery
  • Size and detail of handbag

As with all things I do when working with a client to make the best clothing choices, like goes with like.
So …. the same works for scale and proportion.

If you are small-scale, opt for finer daintier items that don’t overwhelm you.  For medium-scale, layers of delicate jewellery or medium scale pieces will work best for you. Large-scale will suit larger and statement items, and avoid anything too thin or delicate that will get lost on your frame.

The picture on the left shows a top with large-scale buttons; this would completely overwhelm someone of small-scale.
Whereas the picture of the pink cardigan on the right shows much finer fabric and smaller buttons which would be perfect for someone of small-scale and could be a bit lost on someone of larger scale.

How to Tell if it’s Right

Pretty much they eye will go to what isn’t right – either straight to it or around the area.
When looking in the mirror, you will be drawn.  For example  – if you have large hands and wrists then a really small dainty watch will be lost on you.  Take it up a scale and all of a sudden it will look just right.
Remember … it isn’t that your wrist is too big, it’s that the watch is too small!!!

If there isn’t anything that keeps drawing your eye, then you will pretty much have it spot on.

Your style personality also has a major influence on your scale.  If you are Classic through and through then you will automatically veer towards smaller finer jewellery.  A Dramatic, like myself, will opt for statement pieces.


You’re likely to know by now that my mantra is “if you look and feel amazing in something then it is right for you”. 

Hopefully, me explaining why proportion and scale matter more than your dress size will really help you when choosing items in the future.