One of the biggest challenges in shopping is finding clothes that flatter your body shape. We all know that weight fluctuations can make our faces look very different, but the fundamental bone structure that determines body shape will not change.
There are five basic categories of women’s body shapes, give and take some variations. Just like color preferences and personal style, most of us are combinations of these archetypes. But, by recognizing and paying attention to your dominant shape, you can greatly improve your chances of choosing the clothing items that will flatter your figure and enhance your natural shape and beauty.
Let’s look at the standard shapes and consider a few silhouettes that can work for each.
Flute: Sometimes this is called the “rectangular” shaped body. That means that the line from the shoulders to the waist to the hips is pretty much straight. This describes most models’ bodies because they provide a perfect “hanger” for the garment. The good news is that if you have this type of body you can wear just about anything and still look chic. But if you want to add the illusion of curves, look for skirts or pants with more volume: pleated skirts, ruffles, patterns, and details. You can also achieve this by adding a v-neckline and an eye-catching belt, or by choosing a top with a pronounced waist, like a peplum.
Pear: This is a body shape that carries most of its weight below the waist – in the hips and upper thighs – and tends to have sloping shoulders. It’s the kind of body you see in a lot of classic paintings. The challenge is to create more balanced proportions between the upper body and the lower. Flatter your body shape by emphasizing everything above the waist. That means wearing jackets or dress lines with broader shoulders, square necklines, or horizontal patterns – basically anything that creates some structure in the upper body. In general, emphasize the “portrait” area of the upper chest. A great statement necklace or artfully tied scarf can also do this. Side note: men tend to love pear-shaped women.
Women with his body shape tend to have not much of a waist line – and this is where they often gain weight. They also tend to have great legs! Unfortunately, that often makes them try to cover up or de-emphasize their waist entirely. That’s not necessary. Please, do emphasize your waist, regardless of its size. If you wear a tailored piece, like a top or blazer that nips in at the waist, or a peplum top, you will instantly look smaller in your midsection. And don’t be afraid to wear belts for the same reason. Just as with the pear-shaped body, apples can draw attention to the portrait area of the bodice with wider collars, deeper V-necks, and necklaces (but keep yours shorter than below the bust).
Hourglass: As the name implies, this shape is broad at the shoulders, narrow at the waist, and broad at the hips. It’s the one a lot of women envy. But frankly, it’s often hard to dress. Details like larger ruffles, ruching on the bodice, and pleats often stick out too much. (Pleats will never hang right on an hourglass body.) So, go for what naturally flatters and emphasizes your curves: fitted and darted shirts and dresses, V-necks or sweetheart necklines that draw the eye to your bust line, sheaths and tops in fabrics that drape and hug your curves gently, or fitted bodices and flared skirts. Because bottoms are often a challenge for this body type, look for pants, jeans, and trousers with a greater “pitch” (higher in the back of the waist, lower in the front).
Inverted Triangle: This type is a variation on the flute in that the line from the shoulders to the waist to the hips is also straight, but runs at an angle inward (i.e., broader at the shoulders, narrow at the hips). They frequently have a larger bust, as well. The most flattering necklines are those that draw the eye away from the shoulders and toward the center line of the body or slightly downward. That means things like halter tops, deep scooped or v-necks, and anything that cascades or flutters outward toward the hips can flatter your body shape. This is one body type that can wear bolder colors, details, and patterns below the waist. To balance out the breadth of their shoulders, they can also wear skirts and dresses with pleats and gathers, and wider leg pants, including flowing Palazzo-type pants.
When you considering buying a new piece of clothing, stop and really look at yourself in that item. Take the time to consider how much it will flatter your body shape and bone structure, and take notice of how much it brings your body a sense of visual balance. When you recognize and begin to work towards dressing for your body shape, you’ll be amazed at how much more flattering your clothes can fit and how much your confidence will rise.