When we look good, we feel great! But sometimes the most magical dress on the rack just doesn’t work once you put it on. Don’t be disheartened, simply remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting dressed.
Women come in all different shapes, sizes and forms – and so do clothes. It’s these differences that make each and every one of us unique, beautiful and filled with character. Understanding how to enhance your body shape (think playing with proportions, paying attention to the
details and learning to tailor your clothes) can revolutionise the way you dress.
Why dress for your body shape?
Fashion is meant to be fun. And while following trends or finding inspiration on your Instagram feed is great, not all outfits will translate across all body types. Well-fitting clothes will always outshine of-the-moment ensembles so it's best to invest in items that are cut to suit your shape.
Your best friend might look fantastic in bodycon dresses, while you might prefer the comfort of an oversized blazer and menswear-inspired pants. This is the key to learning what to wear – embrace what you feel most comfortable in and build your wardrobe accordingly.
Types of body shapes for women
Understanding your body type is the first step in learning how to dress for your shape. The most common shapes and measurements are:
A body with defined curves, usually
proportioned with equal bust and hip measurements but a narrower waist.
This body type is
straight up and down without any particularly defined curves.
This body type usually has a bigger upper body with a fuller bust and larger shoulder-to-hip ratio.
This body shape usually has a more
pronounced bottom half and a smaller top, just like a pear.
Characterised by a fuller waist and upper body compared to their lower body.
Understanding the rule of thirds
Knowing your body type is the first step in understanding your body’s proportions, however these shapes can be a bit of a generalisation. It pays to take out the measuring tape and really get to know your size in order to take advantage of your shape.
If you haven’t heard about the rule of thirds, it's time to listen up. Understanding how to make your proportions work for you, not against you is one of the most important lessons in dressing. It stems from an idea that the ancient Greeks developing, claiming that a 1/3 to 2/3 ratio is the most aesthetically pleasing division of spaces.
Dividing your body into thirds and mixing your outfits this way can help your body look longer, taller and even slimmer. Either work with 1/3 of your outfit on top and 2/3 on the bottom, for example tucking a slim-fit top into a pair of wide leg pants or midi skirt. Or play with 2/3 on top and 1/3 on the bottom by choosing a longer line blazer or cardigan to layer over your jeans.
Cutting your body in half can work against you by making you look boxy – no one wants that.
How to dress for your body shape
Once you know what your body shape is, it's time to learn how to dress in order to accentuate your best features.
If you have a curvier upper and lower body with a defined waist, don’t be afraid to show it off. Look for wrap dresses, jumpsuits and separates that highlight your figure. Look to fabrics that hug your body or offer structure to maximise your sought-after body shape.
Pear or Triangle
Wider hips and thighs lend themselves perfectly to A-line and maxi dresses that glide over the lower body. You might also want to draw attention to your upper body in order to bring balance to your shape. This could be through the use of colour, pattern or bold silhouettes or tops with statement sleeves or eye-catching necklines. Its best to avoid extremely long or cropped tops and look for styles that hit at the widest part of your hips for a flattering silhouette.
Apple, Oval or Round
If you’re blessed with an Apple body type, chances are you also have great legs. Consider streamlined tops and blazers, which are tailored to suit your shape, matched with straight-leg pants and jeans as the building blocks of your wardrobe. Pieces that offer waist definition in fabrics that sit close to the body (but do not cling!) like silk, linen and cotton are sure to become fast favourites.
Athletic or Inverted Triangle
Broad shoulders and smaller hips will look best in items that accentuate the lower body and draw attention away from the top half. This means it's best to avoid wide straps, halter necklines and puffed sleeves. Instead, turn your attention to ruffled or pleated skirts that bring volume to your bottom half.
Rectangle,Straight or Banana
Bodies with uniform measurements offer the freedom to play with the features you love most. For example, if you prefer to accentuate your lower body, opt for statement pants and skirts. This could be through silhouette or colour and prints. A pair of wide-leg trousers or a printed full skirt would be a winning choice. In order to amp up your upper body, look for embellished necklines or considered sleeve lengths. Softer fabrics can help to loosen up looks for straight body types.
The do’s and don’t for enhancing your body shape
While there are particular nuances for enhancing each and every body type, there are a few do’s and don’ts that you should keep in mind regardless of your shape.
1. Get pieces tailored to fit your body shape. The right sleeve or cuff length can make or break an outfit.
2. Invest in wardrobe foundations that you feel confident wearing.
3. Find inspiration from celebrities and influencers that have a similar body shape and can encourage you to try new outfits through their posts on Pinterest, Instagram and blogs.
1. Wear clothing that doesn’t fit properly
2. Let trends overtake your wardrobe
3. Rush to buy clothes without considering the style, cut and colour in regard to your body shape.