Ultimate Guide to Dressing for Your Body Shape

Everything you need to know about how to dress in a way that compliments your body shape

Ultimate Guide to Dressing for Your Body Shape

Everything you need to know about how to dress in a way that compliments your body shape 

Everyone wants to look good and feel comfortable in their clothes. We all know someone to whom that comes naturally. If that’s not you, then don’t worry – let this guide be your secret weapon. 

There are many tricks to looking good in your clothes – like finding colors that suit you and wearing fits that compliment your body shape. Today we’re going to cover the latter. In this article, we will teach you how to dress in a way that shows off all your natural features and make the parts that you don’t love look a little less obvious. 

There are three steps to successfully dressing for your body shape, 

  1. Determining your body shape 
  2. Choosing your outfits 
  3. Learning that confidence is the most important of any outfit 

We will be covering each of these stages today. With tips and tricks on dressing for every body shape! 

How to Determine Body Shape

How to Determine Body Shape

The first stage of learning how to dress for your body shape is learning what your body shape actually is. Everyone’s body is different and we won’t all fit neatly into the categories that we have laid out below. However, they are a good diving off point when it comes to finding your perfect style. 

The two main ways that you can determine your body shape are to measure your body or judge it by eye. 

Measuring

For a detailed guide on how to measure your body to find your body type check out the next section. 

Everybody looks different. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what body shape we have just by looking. This is perfectly normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re struggling to work out your body shape, grab a tape measure.  

By Eye

Some people are lucky enough to have a very obvious body shape. So they may be able to get away with not having to measure their body. 

To do this, take a look at the body shape chart below. Notice which hip to shoulder ratio represents you the most. Also, look at the shape of your hips and waist – do they dip in and then back out again, or do they tapper in? 

Where to Measure

Where to Measure

Many years ago, if you wanted to discover your body type through measurements then you would have to do quite a few complicated calculations. Thankfully, someone has kindly put together a calculator that does it for you. 

Follow our instructions to get the measurements then plug them into this website. Once you know your body shape then we can get onto the fun part – picking out outfits. 

Shoulders

Measure from the widest parts of our shoulders (from just below where they join the arms). This is the trickiest part to measure on your own as you will need to keep your arms flat against you. You may have to ask someone to help you. 

Bust

You will want to measure your bust at the widest part. If you wear bras on an everyday basis then we suggest you measure while wearing one. You do not want to pull the measuring tape too tight or it will affect your readings. 

Waist

Take a look at your torso in the mirror. The thinnest part of your torso is your waist, it is above your hip bones. When you measure this section you shouldn’t breathe in or tighten the measuring tape too much against your skin. If you do this the body shape you get won’t reflect what your body actually looks like. 

Hips

You will want to make sure you aren’t wearing any trousers or skirts for this measurement. Your hip measurement should be taken around the widest part of your hips and include the curve of your butt in it. 

Different Body Shapes

Different Body Shapes

Having used the body shape calculator or judging by eye, you should now know what body shape you have. Below you will find a little bit more information about the four main traditional body types

Pear

If you have a lovely Pear shaped body then this means that your bust and shoulders are more narrow than your hips. It is called Pear shaped, as Pears are round at the bottom and taper off at the top. 

As a Pear, odds are you have an enviable waistline and long, slim arms. Lots of the advice you get today will focus on accentuating those gorgeous features. 

Athletic

If your body is banana shaped then this means you have near equal shoulder, bust, and waist measurements. 

Your advice will focus on building the illusion of a bigger waist and showing off those glamorous shoulders of yours. 

Apple

Apples have a larger bust than the rest of their body – a feature many of us would love to have. Apples are often called oval body shapes as well. 

Your advice will be designed around adding length to your body, or top heavy outfits that show off the shape of your bust. 

Hourglass

Hourglass girls will have equally sized hips and shoulders but a smaller waist. Your bust is most likely a similar size to your shoulders. 

Your advice will be a little more widely focused as you can get away with showing off any part of your body. 

Other Types of Bodies

Other Types of Bodies

Over the last two decades, the science of dressing well has advanced. Now we have more than the traditional 4 body shapes. These extra shapes have been acknowledged as part of society’s abandonment of the ‘ideal’ body.

All bodies are beautiful. Below you will find some information on three more body types – petite, tall, and plus sized.  

You may fit into two categories, one from this section and one from the section above. This is completely normal. You will be able to apply tips from both categories to build your perfect wardrobe. 

Petite

If you have a petite body type this probably means that your arms, legs, and/or torso are a little shorter than average. 

When putting together your outfit you will want to focus on well fitting clothes that leave you looking balanced. Adding in tips from your other body type to show off your favorite features – be that your hips, shoulders, or bust. 

Tall

You have the opposite problems to your petite friends, you may have found that many high street clothes are too short for you. 

Your advice will focus on showing off features like your lovely long legs, or your shoulders. 

Plus Size

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t dress well because you’re plus size. 

Your advice will not focus on hiding any part of your body, instead, it will focus on showing off all of your amazing features and curves. 

Pear Shaped Body

Pear Shaped Body

To show off your pear shaped figure you should have two goals in mind: 

  • Show off your waist 
  • Balance out your body by elongating your torso 

Pear shaped women are blessed with lovely hips – this is something you want to show off. However, some of you may be concerned about looking too bottom heavy. You can correct this by creating the illusion of a longer torso. 

How to Dress

Torso

To make your torso look longer and more balanced, compared to your hips, you are going to want to accentuate your shoulders and bust. 

You can do this by wearing items with padded shoulders or by wearing off the shoulder tube tops that draw the eye a little lower.  

Waist

Horizontal stripes and bold belts are doing to be your best friend. These will make your curves look even curvier and visually sinch you in at the waist. You can get away with A-line skirts that flare at the hips. 

What Clothes to Buy

Here are 5 clothing items that will suit your body shape: 

Padded jackets – jackets that are belted at the waist and padded on the shoulder will bring the balance to your body that you are craving. 

A-line skirts – these skirts will accentuate your hips, whilst adding length to your torso. 

Flared jeans – if you’re interested in adding more dimension to the bottom half of your body, why not try flared trousers? They were cool in the ’70s and they’re just as cool now

Off the shoulder tops – the key to balancing out your top half is to keep eyes on your shoulders and bust. With a nice off the shoulder top, they won’t be able to look away. 

Vertical stripes – this type of strip will make your curves more obvious, and will help you bring balance to your torso. 

What Not to Wear

Here are three items that you should avoid wearing if you want to accentuate your pear body shape: 

Tops with high and narrow necklines – this will make your shoulders look even smaller, and make you look more top heavy. 

Pencil skirts – these will draw the eye to your hips and upper legs, making your shoulders look smaller.

Pants with lots of detail – again these will make you look too top heavy. 

Hourglass Shaped Body

Triangle Shaped Body

Hourglass bodies have been notoriously sought after for decades now.  

The two things you want to focus on are: 

  • Maintaining balance 
  • Accentuating your waist 

This body shape is defined by its symmetry. When you are trying new types of clothes, you should keep this in mind. Yes, you want to accentuate certain features, but you want to try and keep your hips and bust as balanced as possible.  

If you are blessed with a lot of natural balance then you will want to look for clothes that are tailored to your body type. Read on to find out the best fits of clothes for ladies with hourglass figures. 

How to Dress

Women with hourglass figures will really benefit from wearing tight and fitted outfits. 

If you have the money you may want to consider getting your most worn outfits tailored – alternatively you could do it yourself. This type of styling will allow you to make the most of your natural shaping. 

If you want to draw more attention to your waist and make it look smaller then you should look at wearing high waisted items like high waisted blue jeans and pencil skirts. Pairing these with crop tops will only add to the effect. 

What Clothes to Buy

Here are 5 clothing items that will suit your body shape: 

High waisted jeans – by giving the illusion that your waist is higher than it is, these jeans will make your hips look curvier.  

Crop top – A crop top and pencil skirt is a deadly combination favored by most of the Kardashian clan. 

Pencil skirt – High waistlines and wide hips only add to the hourglass illusion. 

Low and V necklines – low V necks mirror your natural body shape and really show off your bust. 

Belted coats – your shape can easily get lost in large coats, a belted coat will keep you looking curvy even in the pouring rain

What Not to Wear

Here are three items of clothing that you should avoid if you want to show off your hourglass figure: 

Shapeless dresses – your whole body can get lost and swamped by oversized and shapeless pieces of clothing

Neck accessories (that aren’t delicate necklaces) – too much around your neck will make you look top heavy and unbalanced. It will also hide your bust. 

Wide, unfitted sleeves – these types of sleeves are another type of bulk that you should avoid, opt for fitted sleeves instead. 

Apple Shaped Body

Apple Shaped Body

Apple shaped bodies are also known as heart shaped bodies. Their main characteristic is that their bust is the widest part of their body. They tend to have a narrow waist with a wider midriff. Lack of waist definition is a common concern with apple body types. 

There are two main areas you will want to focus on if you have an apple body shape: 

  • Defining your waistline 
  • Balancing your waist and bust 

Apples will appreciate structured items that have a lot of detail above the bust line, or below the waistline. They will want to flaunt their natural assets – i.e. their slim legs and impressive busts. 

How to Dress

Wide and low necklines – like v necks, scoop necks, and sweetheart necklines will add a little bit of balance to the top half of your body. Making your shoulders and bust look like they are a similar size. 

Draped and flared sleeves will help you to build more definition around your waist. Avoid fitted sleeves which will draw the eye to the lack of shape at the waist. 

Aim for flowy garments that have a structured bust. If you can find items that also have a little structure around the waist you will notice that they sit more nicely on your body. 

What Clothes to Buy

Here are 5 clothing items that will suit your body shape: 

Wrap dresses – also wrap tops, these provide structure at the top of your body but flare out and create more illusion of a waist. 

Drapey cardigans – particularly waterfall cardigans. These draw the eye away from the midriff and elongate the torso. 

Single breasted coats – empire line coats are a great option for apples. They are heavily structured and bring balance to the body. 

Mid Rise flares – mid rise is the perfect option for trousers. The flaring bottoms will make your body look longer and more balanced. 

A-line skirts – Again these sit on that mid rise waist level. They flare out at the hips, making them look wider. 

What Not to Wear

Here are three items that you should avoid wearing if you want to make the most of your apple figure: 

Halter neck tops – these will make your shoulders look smaller and your bust look out of balance with the rest of your body

Fitted sleeves – will accentuate your lack of waistline  

Tapered hemlines – will make your hips and legs look thinner than they actually are. This will make you look even more top heavy. Try asymmetrical hems instead. 

Banana Body Type

Banana, rectangle, athletic body types have become more popular in recent years, thanks to the rise of social media. Toned muscles look great on this body shape. 

If you have a rectangle body shape then your clothing goals may be the following: 

  • Create an illusion of curves 
  • Create an illusion of a waistline  

As a banana body shape, you will have equally sized shoulders, bust, waist, and hips. A straight line down both sides of your body. You may want to create the illusion of having more of an hourglass shape. 

How to Dress

The main thing you will want to do is stay well away from anything oversized or shapeless. These will drown out any shape you have. 

You will want to play with bold cuts, you create different illusions. Luckily for you, a lot of cuts will sit on your body very nicely. 

You will want to avoid high and square necklines, opting instead for low and round necklines. Use flared sleeves to create more interest around the waist. 

Make the most of belts to create the waistline but keep them simple – stick with dark colored and avoid too many embellishments. 

What Clothes to Buy

Here are 5 clothing items that will suit your body shape: 

Belted shirts – for banana shaped bodies cinching is everything. 

Pussy bow blouses – these blouses have nicely flared sleeves. They’re often structured around the bust. The bow under the neck draws the eye up to the top half of the body.  

Tailored jackets – cropped slightly above the waist, these jackets will have everyone thinking you have an hourglass figure. 

Wide cotton pants – the wide waist helps to build the illusion of an ample waist.  

Skinny jeans – you don’t want to add any bulk to your legs, they already look great so show them off. 

What Not to Wear

Here are three items that you should avoid wearing if you want to make the most of your banana figure:

Boxy tees – these items are shapeless and will swallow your body’s shape. Their sleeves are also too short to do you any favors. 

Flared jeans – if the flares on your trousers are too wide, they will make you look very bottom heavy. They will make your hips look even more nonexistent. 

Shapeless dresses –  as we have mentioned you should try and avoid anything shapeless. However, shapeless dresses are particularly problematic. They hide the waist, the bust, the hips, and the shoulders. They can also fall at an awkward position on the legs. 

Petite

Petite

To fit into the petite category you will need to be under 5’3 and/or have an inseam of 27 inches. 

The reality of styling a petite body is that you will have to tailor a lot of your clothes. Many shops won’t cater to your body type – so you will have to be proactive and make things work for you. 

As a petite lady you will want to focus on two things: 

  • Elongating the look of your body 
  • Not forgetting your body type 

How to Dress

Lots of petite women forget that their height isn’t the only thing they should consider when they’re dressing themselves. Don’t forget that you will also have another body type that you will need to bear in mind. 

Don’t skip over these other body types. You will just have to tailor them a little bit to make them work for your body shape. If you need to cinch your waist, do it. If you need to balance out your top half with an off the shoulder jumper, do it. 

Sweetheart necklines and off the shoulder cropped tops can be styled with high waisted, wide cotton trousers. This will help elongate your legs and balance out your body. 

What Clothes to Buy

Here are 5 clothing items that will suit your body shape: 

Sweetheart neckline crop top – the sweetheart neckline does wonders for anyone who wants to accentuate their bust and show off their shoulders. Cropped shirts will make your body look longer and slimmer. 

Blouse with three-quarter length sleeves – The three-quarters cropped sleeves will make your arms look longer and will draw the eye to your waist. 

Cropped leather jacket – Again, cropped clothes will be your friend as a petite woman. 

Pleated trousers – these are a classic office look. If they are tailored well and cropped just above the ankle they’ll add length to the body. 

High low skirt – The complexity of these hemlines will make your legs look longer, and draw the eye to your waist. 

What Not to Wear

Here are three items that you should avoid wearing if you want to make the most of your petite figure:

Low rise jeans – these will make your legs look shorter and your waist looks shapeless. Let’s just leave these in the 90s, please.  

Flared trousers – these will make you look very bottom heavy and make your legs look very short. 

Pencil skirt – this is another shape of skirt that is going to lose your waistline and shorten your body. 

Tall

Tall

The benefit of trying to style yourself as a tall person is that you can steal fashion tips from models in streetwear. If you want to know how to dress a tall body then copy those models. 

With your long legs, you can get away with wearing bold shapes and colors. 

You will want to do the following two things: 

  • Wear items that elongate your body and keep you looking balanced 
  • Don’t forget to work with your body shape as well as your height  

How to Dress

As a tall woman, you are very lucky and you can pull off a lot of bolder styles that other body shapes cannot. 

When dressing yourself you need to pick out pieces that are long, as normally sized pieces will look too short on you. Think long fitted sleeves. Knee-high boots. Maxi dresses. 

You may have to look into getting some of your items tailored so that they fit you nicely. You don’t want pieces that are too short but you also want to avoid pieces that are too long – which gets overlooked by tall girls a lot. 

What Clothes to Buy

Here are 5 clothing items that will suit your body shape: 

Knee-high boots – if you’ve got long legs then you’re going to want to wear shoes that will elongate them while keeping your body looking balanced. 

Big accessories – when you have the real estate, you should make the most of it. Rock the massive handbags, the chunky bangles, and the long necklaces.  

Cropped leather jacket – jackets that fall just above the waist will help to keep your torso looking balanced but also lengthen your legs and define your waist. 

Skinny jeans – If you’re tall you can get away with wearing pretty much any type of trousers. However, you will look extra good in skinny jeans – there’s a reason why all the models are wearing them. 

Big belts – visually breaking up the top and bottom half of your body will add more dimension to your look. It will keep your legs looking long without making your torso look too short. 

What Not to Wear

Here are three items that you should avoid wearing if you want to make the most of your tall figure:

Mini skirts – the one problem with long legs is that it is really hard to find mini skirts that look right on them. They are best avoided if in doubt. 

Vertical stripes – these stripes are going to make you look like one long line from shoulder to ankle. They will distract from any natural shape you have. 

Ruffles – There are very few people who can pull off ruffles. They are bulky and will make you look wider than you really are. Your body shape will get lost underneath them. 

Plus Size

Plus Size

We get asked a lot of questions about what plus size women should and shouldn’t wear. Well, the truth is that there aren’t any clothing items that are off-limits for plus size women. If it makes you feel good then wear it. 

Your fashion goals as a plus size woman may be: 

  • To work with your body shape 
  • To show off your curves 

How to Dress

A lot of people don’t realize that Plus Size isn’t a mutually exclusive body shape. You may be Plus sized but you will also be one of the four main body types (hourglass, apple, pear, banana). All the tips in that section will be relevant to you. 

What we’re going to talk about in this section is how to dress confidently when you don’t keep comfortable in your skin. Every body is beautiful. We should all feel comfortable in our skin no matter what size we are. 

But we understand self love is a journey, so this section is for those of you who are just beginning that journey. 

What Clothes to Buy

Here are 5 clothing items that will suit your body shape: 

Blouses with slit sleeves – slit sleeves are a great way to create shape and definition without having to wear fitted sleeves. You’re flashing a little bit of skin without having to have your whole arm out. 

Tailored work pants – this is an item that looks good on everyone. Make sure that they are cropped just about the ankle and draw attention to your hips. 

Blazers – there are so many different shapes of blazers. All come with structured shoulders and are tailored at the waist. It’s impossible to look bad in a blazer. 

V necks and sweetheart neckline – these necklines are perfect for showing off the bust while creating an illusion of a slimmer waist. 

High waisted jeans – we would live in high waisted jeans if we could. They give unrivaled waist definition and leave us feeling covered up and supported on those days where we don’t feel our best. 

What Not to Wear

Here are three items that you should avoid wearing if you want to make the most of your Plus Sized figure:

Shapeless dresses – these do not look good on anyone. You want to seek out dresses with a structure that support and compliment your body. 

Low rise jeans – unlike high waist jeans these won’t leave you feeling supported or shapely.  

Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable – we want you to only wear clothes that you love and that make you feel good. 

The Most Important Thing is to Feel Confident

The Most Important Thing is to feel Confident

Rules are made to be broken. 

All our bodies are different and they are all beautiful. When you are picking out an outfit you will need to remember that confidence is the most important accessory. 

Yes, this article is full of advice on how to dress to suit your body type, but if something makes you happy then you should wear it. If something makes you feel good then ignore what we’ve said and rock it anyway. 

If you feel confident in what you’re wearing then you won’t be able to help but look good.

Scroll to Top