Updated: Aug 23
Dressing for your body shape will make clothing look amazing and make you feel a million dollars, because it will highlight your body in the right places as well as camouflage problem areas.
Styling clothes to your body shape is all about balance, so let me briefly outline some common body shapes, and how you can determine which shape you are.
Your body shape relates to the measurement of your body, that is the measurement around your waist, hips and across your shoulders, and their relationship to each other. So if your shoulder measurement is larger than your hips, you are an inverted triangle. If your hip measurement is larger than your shoulders, you are a triangle. If all your measurements are even you are a rectangle. If your widest measurement is around your waist, you are an oval and if your hips and shoulder measurements are similar but your waist measurement is smaller, you are an hourglass.
The human eye is drawn to symmetry, so when you are dressing for your body shape you need to emphasize the smaller parts of your body and camouflage the areas of your body that are larger – this will balance your body, making it seem like your silhoutte is much more symmetrical.
Before I go ahead and briefly discuss 5 of the most common body shapes, I would like to say that what I will be giving you is guidelines, NOT rules or laws because at the end of the day you have to wear what you are comfortable in and what makes YOU feel great!
If you belong to the TRIANGLE body shape (full hips and thighs, shoulders narrower than hips), you need to focus on highlighting your shoulders, so put your focus on your top half and draw attention away from your bottom half – this can be done by wearing bright colours, horizontal stripes and prints on the top and darker colours on the bottom. This will balance your silhouette, making your shoulders appear broader and balancing your bottom half. Necklines that can also enhance this body type are either a scoop neck or boat neckline, as well as a strapless or off the shoulder top. Styles to avoid are full skirts, skinny or tapered pants, since they will draw attention to your lower half instead of your top half.
If your body shape is more like an INVERTED TRIANGLE (broad shoulders with narrow hips), your aim is to balance by minimising details above the waist and drawing attention with detail and embellishment to your lower half. Dark colours are best chosen on the top with lighter colours on the bottom. Bootleg and flared pants suit this body shape, as well as A-line skirts.
Styles to avoid are, anything that makes your shoulders look broader, such as shoulder pads, big collars and puffy sleeves.
If your measurements reflect more the RECTANGLE body shape, you need to create the illusion of curves around the hips, bust and waist – this can be done by adding a belt, ruffles or frills.
Avoid loose boxy jackets and bulky jumpers as these will make you look shapeless. Go for waisted or belted jackets instead.
Rectangle body shapes have great flexibility in their necklines so that ruffles, cowl neck and scoop neck will give the illusion of a rounded more voluptuous top. Skirts and dresses with frills will have a similar effect on your bottom half.
If you relate to the OVAL body shape, you have rounded shoulders and torso with slim legs – your legs are your best feature and your waist is undefined. When you gain weight, you usually gain it around your waist. When dressing this body type the aim is to visually elongate the body and pull attention away from your torso and towards your neckline. The best way to do this is with a statement necklace, a scarf and low necklines. Dresses should flow and skim the waistline, tops need to be worn out (or only partially tucked), and pants should be made of soft fabric with a flat front.
If you have this body shape you should avoid tucking in clothes as it attracts attention to your waist. Shoulder pads are your best friend, either in jackets or shirts.
Jackets should always be worn open, giving the illusion of elongating your oval silhouette.
Avoid, belts, high necklines and pleats.
The HOURGLASS body shape has hips and shoulders of similar width with a narrow waist – clothes should follow this body shape instead of hiding it – the hourglass curves need to be highlighted, so straight cut dresses should be avoided. Baggy and boxy clothing should also be avoided.
Necklines should draw attention to your decolletage, so either scoop, square, V or even sweetheart necklines are beneficial. Sleeves need to be cap or ¾ length.
Wrap or cross over tops are your friend since they follow your curves and accentuate your silhouette.
Jackets also need to be fitted.
Finally, every woman's body shape is unique and it can change during your life, so it's important to remember these body shapes are only a base or a guide. Booking in with a Personal Stylist is the best option to not only determine your body type, but also assess your features and measure your vertical proportions. A stylist can help you create outfits from your own wardrobe, help when you are shopping for new items and take the stress out of dressing in the morning.