Dressing for Your Body Type

So many women live their lives envying other women’s body types  while hating their own. When you learn to embrace your own curves (or lack thereof) and dress for your body type, confidence inevitably follows.

There are four main body shapes: hourglass, triangle, circle and rectangle. Women with each of these body types can find ways to accentuate the parts of their bodies that they love and minimize those that they do not.

The hourglass body shape has curves in the chest and hips while having a small waist.  Wrap dresses work excellently with this body type; they are not only slimming around the waist, but emphasize your curves in the classiest way. High-waisted pencil skirts or pants are also great options, as they create a slim line from the waist down, with all the attention at the narrowest part of your waist. Scoop or v-neck shirts are very flattering, as long as they don’t scoop so low that you’re over-exposed. Since hourglass shapes give the illusion of a shorter torso, the open neckline brings a visual breath of fresh air, lengthening the look of a torso, minimizing your chest and drawing the eye upward, towards your gorgeous face.

A woman with a triangle-shaped body carries more weight at her hips while having smaller waist, chest and shoulders. Women with this body type can have a difficult time finding dresses that fit properly, as their measurements fit different sizes. It is generally easier to buy separates, as you can focus on different sizes for tops and bottoms. When looking for pants, it is most flattering to find styles that fit the widest part of your hips and go straight down to the ankle hem. This creates a long line that helps balance out your curves. If pants narrow at the ankle a lot more emphasis will go to your hips. Tops should provide balance to the bottoms. A structured jacket can balance out the lower body by playing up the shoulders. Another way to do this is with a boatneck top, which broadens shoulders in the most flattering way. A-line skirts can also minimize hips when in a more structured fabric like wool or tweed, as thinner fabrics will have too much cling. Women with a triangle body shape tend to have tiny waists, so when the opportunity to show it off presents itself, take full advantage.

The circle-shaped body is thicker around the middle, and tends to have less weight around the hips and limbs. The key for this body type is to wear clothing that fits loosely around your midsection, minimizing your stomach and playing up assets such as thinner limbs. Blouses and tunic tops are incredibly flattering, as they skim over the stomach. Empire-waist tops have a similar effect with the added benefit of emphasizing the narrowness of your ribcage while smoothing out the midsection. Slim-cut pants allow you to balance out a loose top and play up your legs. Skirts, especially straight-cut styles, that hit at or right above the knee also emphasize your legs and minimize your midsection. Shift dresses can offer a structured look that not only lengthens the look of your body, but cuts straight down, slimming out the torso.

A rectangle-shaped body has very little curve, staying  pretty straight from chest to hips. Though there is little definition at the waist, and the often-derogatory terms “boyish” or “flat as a board” may come to mind, this body shape allows for a wide range of styles. You can pull off skinny jeans better than any other body type, emphasizing slim legs without creating great imbalance. However, a boot-cut can also be very flattering, sitting snug at the hips and widening to the hem to create a bit of volume on the lower body and the illusion of curves. Dresses and skirts should sit right at or above the knee so as not to overwhelm the body. However, a fuller skirt will emphasize a small waist while giving the illusion of an hourglass. Fitted blazers create a waist and also give the illusion of curves. Women with rectangle-shaped bodies can get away with more embellishment on shirts, whether it’s ruffles, pleating, rosettes or unique sleeves. All of these will add volume to the shoulders and chest and make the waist look smaller by comparison. While you have the opportunity to create an illusion of curves with many styles, there’s no shame in playing up your straight figure with a tomboy look of chino shorts and a chambray button-down.

All body types have their fair share of assets to be celebrated and emphasized. Instead of dressing for the body you want, start dressing for the body you have; embrace the person you are today. In some cases, the way you see and feel about yourself can change from the outside in. When you feel confident about the way you look, you may find that suddenly you have the confidence within to chase your passions, do what you love and take the time to care for yourself. Fashion, when properly approached, has an incredible way of empowering those who take the time to understand it.

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