Dressing for Your Body Type

by Lecia DeBrine
(last updated March 14, 2013)

Did you ever share clothes with your friends in high school? I never could because what look good on them was not very flattering on me and I could not figure out why. As I got older and learned more about how clothing can make the body look it became clearer to me, I had a completely different body type from my friends. There are four main shapes to the human body and specific types of clothes that can enhance each one.

  1. Pear. This shape is characterized by a smaller top half and larger bottom half with emphasis on the hips and outer thighs. Weight gain shows in the lower half of the body. Because your hips and thighs are the larger part of your body, you want your clothes to balance out the top half. Clingy or extra tight pants will only further accentuate these areas, so you want to wear straight leg pants. Tops that widen the shoulders with wider necklines, embellishments, patterns, or puffed sleeves are a great way to create a little balance. For women wrap dresses to emphasis a slim waist or a-line skirts look good on this shape.
  2. Apple. Typically this shape is larger on top with smaller hips and slimmer legs. Extra weight is put on around the middle. Elongating lines and bringing attention upward is done easily with v-neck shirts and longer necklaces. Wrap, empire, and raised waist tops along with structured jackets can create a smaller waist, this goes for dresses as well. In pants wide leg, boot cut, or flared pants will look best. You definitely want to stay away from tapered or skinny jeans as they will make your top half look even bigger.
  3. Hourglass. Generally with this shape the upper and lower body are both curvy with a slim or defined waist. When weight is gained it will distribute fairly evenly over the body with slight emphasis in the bust and bottom. With this body shape you can show off the curves you have or create a longer leaner look. High waisted pants and skirts will emphasize your waist and hips and are good paired with tailored, belted or wrap tops. Long lines create a leaner look and can be made with tops that bring the eye upward, like a v-neck, and trouser cut pants. You can also go for pants and jeans with slight flare if you want to create some balance.
  4. Rectangle. This shape is usually less curvy than other body types, with measurements of the chest, waist, and hips being fairly close to each other. Excess weight is normally spread evenly throughout the body. Pants for this shape can be either straight or flared, and a low rise will help create hips. Scoop neck or v-neck shirts will give you shape, and tops with embellishments around the neck accomplish this as well. Jackets with cinched waists and a little flare lend the illusion of a smaller waist. Layers are an excellent way to get the silhouette you are looking for.
  5. Picking one part of your body that you love and enhancing it will take the focus off of any area you do not particularly like. When you show off the things about you that you like you will feel better and look better. Celebrate and love your body for what it is and you will feel like you can do anything.

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