Dressing for Your Body Shape

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by Kathy Moses

The trick to looking great in clothes really has little to do with designer, size or the  price tag..  The fact is all women can look great, on any budget, at any age, at any size.   To look your best in clothing, the starting point is to know your body shape, therefore enabling you to choose styles that flatter and balance your shape, creating a more flattering silhouette.  Similar to the work of an interior decorator, who can re-create a room by adding color, re-arranging the furniture and adding pictures to the walls; the use of color, clothing style and accessories can be used to create a balanced and attractive  overall picture of you.


The five basic body shapes fall into the following categories.

The  Hourglass has a balanced hip and upper body, with a defined waist.  Styles for this body type should compliment curves without over-emphasizing them, avoiding styles that are too tight, or too big or baggy.  Tops should skim, not hug, the body.  Jackets should nip at the waist, and wear scoop, V-neck or draped necklines. Styles that accentuate the waistline are a must. Avoid tapered pants or very short skirts.  A great look would be a v-neck fitted cardigan set and knee length pencil skirt.

The Pear carries more weight on the lower body, hip and buttocks area, and is  smaller in proportion on the top half.  Clothing styles need to bring balance to the upper half, with natural shoulder pads, detailed necklines, wide necklines, eye-catching jewelry, empire style tops and dresses.  Pants and skirts should never have pleats or gathered waistlines.  A trouser cut or boot cut bottom balances the hip area.  Try a darker color on bottom paired with a brighter top to draw the eye upwards.

The Apple carries fullness in the mid-section with no defined waist.  Clothing should bring definition to the upper body and elongate the body with vertical details.  Try v-necklines narrow lapels, un-tucked tops, and avoid bulky, baggy styles that adds weight to your shape.  Try pant that are trouser cut, or boot-cut, and long enough to cover your shoe.

An Inverted Triangle, or Strawberry indicates that you are top-heavy, proportionately larger in the bust/shoulder area than your hips.

The idea is to bring balance to your bottom half.  Try uncomplicated, darker toned tops with vertical details such as narrow lapels and v-necks.  Pants should be flared, trouser, or boot-cut, and skirts should be A-line or have interesting hemlines. Pencil skirts should taper around the knee or slightly below the knee.

The Rectangle or Banana has no curves, therefore clothing styles should help create them.  Tops should be fitted with darts, have layers, ruffles, rouching or draping. Pants should have a slight amount of stretch for a more form- fitting look, have details on the backside, and skirts should show off your hips and legs.

Knowing what styles work well for you body shape streamlines the shopping process, resulting in better choices, saving money and time, as well as looking fabulous!


By Kathy Moses