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How To Dress According to Your Body Shape

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Do you struggle to find clothes and designs that fit you well and complement you, making it difficult for you to feel your best when you're dressed? Have you ever worn something and felt really bad because you’ve seen so many women carry it beautifully but for some reason, it just looks off on you? It’s not because there is something wrong with you or your body but most likely the type of clothing is wrong for your body shape (or skin tone). When you understand your natural body type a little better, you understand which styles and fits suit you best and, of course, make the process of dressing up and shopping so much simpler! No, this does not mean you have to compromise on your personal style or lifestyle. Once you learn your body shape:

  • You learn how to lengthen, shorten, thin out, and add fullness to your body and certain body areas

  • You pick up a lot of useful tips that will make dressing and shopping for clothes that fit your body easier and more pleasurable

  • You’ll learn how to create visual balance and harmony in your outfits, or in simpler terms, make yourself look your best

Knowing how to dress for your specific form makes you appear your best since it highlights your positive features and minimises the parts of your body you may not want to draw attention to. It all comes down to stressing certain features while downplaying others in order to trick the eye into thinking you are the picture of proportion and balance.

Some women have a very obvious body shape, and you can visually judge their body shape just by looking at them. Most of us? Not so much. If your body shape is one of the tough ones to determine, don't be discouraged. There are many online body calculators ( and various books that can help you determine your body type.

Vertical Body Type

Firstly, there is your vertical body type which is determined not by your height or weight, but by your upper and lower body length proportions. You can be short, tall or an average height and still fall into either one of the following three categories:

  • Balanced: If your hip line height is half of your total height and your waist is at the same height as your bent elbow, you most likely have a balanced vertical body. This means your upper body length is the same as your lower body length.

  • Long legs / Short Torso: If your hipline height is higher than your full height and your waist is higher than your bent elbow, you most likely have long legs and a proportionally short torso.

  • Short legs / Long Torso: If your hipline height is less than half your height and your waist is much lower than your bent elbow, you most likely have short legs and a long torso.

Horizontal Body Type

The horizontal body type is the relationship between the chest, waist, and hips. Understanding these proportions will help you identify the style of dress that best suits you. All aspects of body type and style analysis are based on balance and proportions. If one part of your body is narrow and another wide, widening the narrowest part will balance it out and restore your visual proportions. Below you’ll find the 6 body shapes and how to best dress for them.

  • Triangle: otherwise known as the pear body shape consists of bodies with hips much larger than their bust and a well-defined waist. In order to balance out this body shape, redirecting visual attention away from the hips and towards the torso (specifically chest and shoulders) will do the trick. This can be achieved by wearing a v-neck, boat neck, shoulder pads, statement necklaces, puffy sleeves, colourful tops paired with neutral bottoms and prints or patterns that are placed strategically.

  • Inverted Triangle: is a more athletic-looking silhouette as it has a proportionally larger upper body (broad shoulders, chest and back) in comparison to its lower body which is narrow. Balancing out this body shape can be achieved by doing the opposite of a triangle body shape, by redirecting the attention away from the torso and towards the lower region. For example, wearing a skater dress, wrap style tops, peplum tops, fit and flare dresses, midi pleated skirts, wide leg pants, boot cut pants, cargo pants, pants with prints, dark tops and lighter bottoms.

  • Rectangle- this is also a more athletic-looking silhouette, with a balanced bust and hips but the waist is not as defined as an hourglass. In order to create some dimension on this body type, the torso and legs need to be “broken up” visually in order to create the illusion of a waist, this can be achieved by wearing belted or wrap tops, dresses and jackets, scoop necks, puffy sleeves, structured jackets cinched at the waist, pleated flowy skirts, flared bottoms, fit and flare dresses, and ruched dresses.

  • Hourglass: considered a “well balanced” body type as the hips and bust are well proportionately well balanced and the waist is well defined. The key to dressing this body type is to accentuate its waist with form-fitting tops, wrap style tops and dresses, pencil skirts, ruched dresses, skinny jeans, bootcut and straight leg pants, high waisted trousers, peplum tops, v-neck tops, cropped or belted jackets, and jumpsuits.

  • Oval: is a body type that is proportionately wider in the chest and abdomen area, the shoulders and hips are proportional however the waist is not well defined and tends to be wider than the hips. The key to dressing this body shape is an illusion of a waist that can be created by creating a visual balance between the torso and lower body. This can be done by wearing accentuating your shoulders, neckline and bust with wrap dresses, dolman sleeves and v-necks. Wrap style tops and dresses, peplum tops, open front jackets and vests, long lapel jackets, empire waist dresses, off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, and high-waisted pants.

  • Diamond: is similar to the oval shape as it does not have a well-defined waist, however, its hips are wider than the upper body and the stomach sits higher than the oval. The best way to dress this body shape is by balancing the shoulders and bust with the hips and by creating an illusion of a waist. In order to do this, clothing that adds curves and fullness to the upper body with clothing such as off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, boat necks, flutter sleeves, embellishments around the shoulders, pants with hip pockets, straight skirts and a-line skirts.

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