How to Dress for your Body Shape
by Caroline Paris
Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and truth be told, each and every body is beautiful. So the question as to whether one should be defined or even worse, define themselves by a body type is a debatable one. All bodies are unique and a number of things can alter the way in which we look and feel. Having said that, the truth is that there are a few general dress rules that apply to the majority of female body types and when followed, these can ultimately alter appearances, at times, drastically.
Nowadays, a number of new body shapes have emerged, some of them quite specific such as the spoon, the diamond and the athletic, but I prefer sticking to the few more generic ones.
A pear-shaped body is a woman who carries most of her weight in her lower body, which means that she is generally prone to putting on weight in the hips and thighs but is quite slender around the stomach and waist area. Some pear-shaped women have a round bum and hip area but slim thighs, whilst others put on more weight in the thigh area than in the hip.
The rules of dressing will depend on what you want to achieve. Some women might want to conceal their more voluminous lower half whilst others might want to celebrate it and show their curves off. One thing is certain in both cases - ideally, the waist is always defined. A pear-shaped woman will always have a proportionally smaller waist and this deserves to be highlighted. Oversized and more voluminous clothing will obliterate the waist area and render the body to look somewhat shapeless. One recommendation I give is to add either a thick or thin belt and wear it around the belly button.
To conceal and elongate the lower half, a flared skirt or dress is the best option. Be sure to choose a garment that is tight around the waist, so a high waisted number will work best. The flared skirt will elongate the lower half and make it look slimmer. Avoid pleats as these add quite a lot of bulk. Regarding trousers, the skinny fit model will emphasise the difference between the waist and hip area and make the latter look much bigger, so opt for this alternative if this is what you want to achieve.
When it comes to swimwear, a bikini is a better option than a swimsuit, especially for slim pears that might very well be the owners of a super flat stomach. Choose swimwear that can be tied at the sides to accommodate for a wider hip and avoid any horizontal stripes on the lower half.
An apple-shaped woman is almost at opposite ends of a pear-shaped one which means that she carries her weight in the upper part of the body. This shape does not tend to have a defined waist and most often than not she would possess what we can describe as a rounder stomach area. On the other hand, legs and hips are slim and straight without any protruding curves, while breasts are often fuller. The slimmest part of the body is the area just below the bust and of course the lower body.
Most women who fall into this category generally want to add to the illusion of a defined and smaller waist whilst highlighting their toned and slim legs. Trousers look great on this body type, most especially straight and skinny cuts which will highlight further the slim leg and same goes for shorts. I particularly love pencil skirts and a pair of heels, since this can look really great both when worn with a blouse or shirt or with a fitted blazer. Visit these clothing stores to see what you can find.
The voluminous and oversized look will work better on this body type than on a pear although I would still avoid it on more petite frames. When it comes to skirts and dresses, the flared cut is not your best friend, a pencil cut will work better but you might want to avoid anything too tight around the stomach area. Generally speaking, the bust area is a highlight so you may want to opt for cuts that will help show off a nice cleavage. Low rise trousers and crop tops should be avoided as that will definitely not flatter this body type.
In terms of swimwear, a swimsuit is a better option than a bikini. Go for a low cut one which is set to look great on you.
The hourglass body type is literally shaped like an hourglass and is often considered to be the most coveted body shape. It is definitely the most proportioned. The shoulders are generally as wide as the hip area, the bust is full, hips are round but the waist remains small and defined.
The hourglass shape looks great in a variety of styles as long as the waist remains defined. If this is not accentuated, the overall appearance will change drastically and will look heavier and bulkier. This means that oversized silhouettes should be avoided completely and the same applies when it comes to bulky jackets and baggy trousers. The same advice given to pears counts here - waist belts are a great friend to have, while high waisted cuts will define the waist and highlight the area. So whilst you're out and about shopping, why not update your wardrobe with these 10 fashion essentials every woman should own?
Since the bust is fuller here, low cut styles will also work well. So V-necks and even plunge necks are a great option. Stay away from ruffles on the bust area since we aren't really seeking to increase volume if the bust is already quite full.
My favourite looks for an hourglass frame are skater dresses with a low cut bust area, tight-fitting dresses and trousers suits that contain a super fitted blazer. Wrap dresses are great as they define the waist and allow you to accommodate curves. Crop tops can be worn here and actually, showing off a bit of your midriff will further emphasise the small waist. In terms of swimwear, both bikinis and swimsuits can work but ultimately a bikini will probably show off your curves in a better way.
Remember that at the end of the day, these are just general guidelines to help you understand what may or may not flatter your basic shape. A lot of other factors come into play that will condition your ultimate decision. Some of these revolve around your weight, height, age and level of fitness. Muscle tone can play a huge part in the final representation of your shape.
One of the fastest ways to learn more about your individual shape is to try different styles on. Don't be scared. Take a number of different styles into the dressing rooms and observe how your appearance changes. Treat each trip as a learning experience, a chance to discover something new about your body. Here are a few tips on how to choose the right workout and diet plan for your body type.
With summer in full force, visit these swimwear stores and follow my tips above to select the perfect bathing suit or bikini for your shape.
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