How to Dress for Your Body Shape
There is some controversy around dressing for your body shape. Before I start, I would like to announce that in no way am I telling you what to do and of course you can wear whatever you want. However, I know some of us like to know the 'rules' (I prefer to call them guidelines) for dressing for our body types as it helps us feel more confident in our clothes. If this is you, read on for some tips and tricks to emphasise the most beautiful parts of your body.
Get to know your body type.
I feel like this picture shows very clearly that I am an hourglass. For me this has always been fairly obvious, because my curves are quite exaggerated. I have big boobs, big hips and bum and a tiny waist (well, it was tiny when I was younger. Now it's small-ish).
If your body shape isn't so obvious, the best thing you can do is research, research, research. While doing your research, bear in mind that people are all different and the traditional fruit shapes such as apple and pear may not completely speak to you. You may decide to look into other theories such as Kibbe instead, but I have to admit I am the wrong person to ask about that!
Here are some good YouTube channel to help you on your journey:
- https://www.youtube.com/@elliejeanroyden (Kibbe body types, as well as more traditional shapes)
- https://www.youtube.com/@JennyMustard (More lifestyle now but she still has some good body type content on her channel)
You can also find old episodes of Gok Wan's How to Look Good Naked and Trinny and Susannah's What Not to Wear. They are a bit dated now but they offer a good introduction to the different body types and how to flatter them.
Once you've got a good idea of your body shape, these same resources will help you work out how to dress for it. I've known from many years of watching Gok and Trinny & Susannah as a teenager that v-necks and belted waistlines are the way forward for me. I rarely wear a v-neck because I actually find it quite aging, so instead I go for a plunge neck. I do still belt my waist a lot as I definitely agree it looks better, though I also love the comfort of not wearing a belt!
This is why I like to think of them as guidelines as opposed to rules - all our bodies are different. We may go under the umbrella of 'hourglass', 'inverted triangle' or 'rectangle' but it's not like we all have the same measurements. We're also not all the same height or weight. Learn the rules, then learn how best to break them.
The old-fashioned way of dressing for your body shape tells you to hide the parts you least like, but I think it's better to emphasise the parts you like best. However I know that some of us do feel less confident about certain parts of our figure so I will give you some tips for both.
You don't always have to use a belt to emphasise your waist. You can wear a crop top and high-waisted skirt or trousers to show off what is for many of us the slimmest part of our figures, the bit just above your bellybutton / under your bust. You can also show off this part of your body with skater dresses or by taking clothes to the tailor and asking them to add darts to emphasise that area (or doing it yourself if you have the skills).
HIPS & BUM
We ALL have hip dips, so let's stop making them a thing to be embarrassed about. However if you are less confident about this area, you can smooth it out with a ribbed knit midi skirt - one of my favourite things to wear! You can also achieve the same effect with a thicker material like a denim pencil skirt, and with ruching. We've all seen the famous TikTok leggings.
Bias-cut skirts are great for those of us with curves as they really show them off. A-line skirts can be hit and miss, so try those on and see what you think.
If you want to look curvier in this area, try pleated skirts as the extra bulk will make your hips and bum look bigger. As you can see from the photo below, I really don't need this extra material around this area but I love pleated skirts regardless!
I feel less confident about my arms so I love to wear bardot necklines. They draw attention away from my arms without covering them entirely, so I don't get too hot, and they also emphasise my shoulder and collarbone which I think is a really sexy area to draw attention to.
If you love your arms and want to show them off, you can really wear whatever you want! It's often photos that make us feel bad about our arms. No matter how slender they are, if your arm is near the camera it can look disproportionate to the rest of your body. Try to remember to hold your arm a little away from your body, such as by placing your hand on your hip, to show off your shape.
Speaking of arms, halternecks are a great way to show them off! They are extra-flattering because not only are your lovely arms out and you can stay nice and cool, but they have the added bonus of drawing attention to that lovely shoulder/collarbone area again. They are also a nice neckline for your...
Trinny & Susannah would tell you to never wear high necklines if you have big boobs because it will make them look like an extension of your chin. (They did not hold back, those two.) They also advised not to wear too much fuss and frills around the bust, which I do agree with for me personally - I find it can make my bust look even bigger and it doesn't suit my increasingly minimalist style, but if you like the ultra-girly look, then go for it!
I personally think a halterneck looks lovely on a bigger bust because it draws the eye towards the collarbone rather than the boobs, whereas a turtleneck jumper might make them look quite big because it's a large expanse of material. However, I wear turtlenecks all the time - I find the right bra makes a huge difference and you can also add a pendant, which is a clever trick to draw the eye down in the same way that a v-neck or plunge neck might.
I'm not a fan of my legs, hence I am a MASSIVE fan of midi and maxi hemlines. However, there are ways I get them out without feeling bad about myself. Firstly, try a mini skirt with a pair of knee-high or over-the-knee boots. I add a pair of tights to smooth my legs out, but you can go bare-legged if you prefer.
Another thing you can do is wear something chunky on top, like an oversized jumper, and something slimmer-fitting on the bottom like a pair of leggings for a nice casual look that makes your legs look more slender. I would finish off with a pair of chunky boots to balance the outfit properly, otherwise you may look top-heavy.
I also love midi dresses with a slit like this green one I wore on New Year's Eve in Scotland (Hogmanay). They give you a peek at my legs but they're not completely out so I don't feel too exposed. A heel also helps make your legs look more toned.
If you love your legs and want to show them off, you can of course wear all the mini hems you like! The only problem with this is when it gets cold, so I would recommend getting a some leather trousers or skinny jeans (zip it, Gen Z) to show that you still have amazing legs even if we can't see them.
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