How To Dress for Your Specific Body Shape

by Feb 3, 2023personal stylist0 comments

Do you know how to dress for your body shape?

It’s important to find clothes that match your style while also flattering the natural shape of your body. Before anything, it’s important to ask the question,  “Do we really know our body shape?”

Maybe you aren’t sure or possibly you are a hybrid of two different shapes. Before building a wardrobe, you have to understand your body shape. Once that is done, you can identify the ways to look stylish, polished, and always confident!

The wonderful part about the human body is that all sizes and shapes are beautiful. This is simply a guide to help you better understand your shape and how best to dress for it. It is just a guideline, no hard fast rules!  

What are the 6 Main Body Shapes?

There are 6 main body shapes, and several others that skew very similar, and you have probably heard of most, but you may still wonder what your true shape is. Some shapes are obvious to understand, while the hourglass and pear have some crossover.

The 6 main body shapes that I am going to cover in this blog post are hourglass, pear, figure-8, oval/apple, inverted triangle, and common/rectangle.

The most important key factor to understanding your shape is to know that you were born with it. Your frame does not change if you are short, tall, young, old, short or long waisted. Your shape will change slightly if you lose or gain weight and as we age, but your natural frame is still the same. This knowledge will help you tremendously when buying new clothes and editing out the old.

How To Determine Your Body Shape

First and foremost, you have to know how to answer the question, “What is my body shape?” Once you can answer that simple body shape question, you’re that much closer to identifying the shape of your body to build a wardrobe that you love.

As you read through this blog post, you’ll find the basic overview of each body shape. You may immediately identify with one, or you may find that you are a combination of two. My Body Shape Masterclass will help you determine your exact body shape!

How To Dress for an Hourglass Body Shape

Hourglass Body Shape

If your shoulder and thigh width is fairly equal and there is a gentle arc throughout your waist, your silhouette is an hourglass. 

To visualize true hourglass shapes think of Sophia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Salma Hayek….those are your visuals.

Many times hourglass women have a larger bust so making the silhouette a bit more voluptuous.

Although it’s seemingly the most proportionate of body shapes, choosing the right style is key.

Some styles that work best for the hourglass figure are:

  • V-neck and scoop neck tops
  • straight or flare trousers or jeans
  • a-line skirts
  • bias-cut skirts
  • belts
  • shorter blazers

There are many styles that work for an hourglass figure so remember that there are no hard fast rules.

Play with styles but pay very close attention to styling and proportions.

For example, if you are petite and have a larger bust you may not want to wear a very high-waisted skirt or jeans. You may opt for a mid rise pant that is slim through the thigh with a slight flare and heels to elongate and balance your silhouette.

Tops with fitted sleeves, short sleeves, or ¾ sleeves are best so as not to add any more fullness to the hip area. **When your arms are at your sides, wherever your sleeve ends is where the eye is drawn to.

Hourglass Styles

Want to learn more about dressing for an hourglass body shape?
Check out my body shape masterclass!

How To Dress for a Pear Body Shape

Pear Body Shape

If your shoulders are narrower than your thighs, then your body silhouette is a pear. 

Famous people such as Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna have this body type. 

This is the body type I identify with more as well, although I tend to go between the hourglass and pear shapes as many women do. 

Usually, the pear body shape is smaller breasted than the hour glass and 2+ sizes bigger on the bottom. (I go from 1-2 sizes bigger on the bottom depending on the piece and/or brand)

Because this shape is not as proportionate as the hourglass figure, we must pay closer attention to proportions and how we style our pieces.

Some styles that work best for the pear body figure are:

  • V-necks
  • boat necks
  • tops with a sharp shoulder or small puff sleeve help balance the shoulders and hips
  • blazers that are shorter
  • pants that slim the thigh
  • higher waist jeans and trousers are good to elongate legs
  • flare and boot cut look great and balance the shape
  • A-line skirts, bias cut, pencil ( but pay attention to the fullness in the top)

Want to learn more about dressing for a pear body shape?
Check out my body shape masterclass!

How To Dress for a Figure-8 Body Shape

Figure 8 Body Shape

Not mentioned much as a common body silhouette, however, the figure 8 body shape is quite common.

It’s similar to the hourglass and Oval (apple) shape, but usually refers to women with a larger bust than the typical oval, and slightly more rounded shoulders than the hourglass with the appearance of a shorter waist.

Think Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie for your visual here. These women’s shapes seem very different to the eye given their difference in size, but the shape is still similar.

Style Tips for Figure-8 Body Shapes:

  • Figure 8’s can wear many different styles like the 2 shapes above. 
  • Avoid voluminous styles in anything as it will make your shape shapeless.
  • You want to draw attention to the waistline while elongating it a bit so don’t wear anything too high-waisted. 
  • Mid-rise, slim or straight bottoms are good, even a skinny or taper is great. 
  • Peplum tops, sharper shoulders, collared shirts, are all great for this silhouette.
  • Look for a thin or trouser style belt, nothing too wide, to accentuate the waist. Look for jackets with a defined shoulder, and accessories are important to draw attention more to the neck and face area while elongating the torso.
Figure 8 Styles

Want to learn more about dressing for a figure-8 body shape?
Check out my body shape masterclass!

How To Dress for an Oval/Apple Body Shape

Oval Body Shape

If you’re slimmer on top, widest in the middle with no waist definition, and have smaller hips and thinner legs, then you are an oval body shape. 

Visualize Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Hudson. With this body silhouette, there are so many great ways to create the illusion of a waist, and the ability to really enhance your slimmer legs and arms.

Best fashion advice for someone with an oval body shape:

  • Look for drapey tops and show a little skin on top. Don’t cover up too much. 
  • V-neck, scoop neck, boat neck tops should all work for you. Keep in mind that faux wrap top styles can work sometimes, but drapey tops with rouging, small prints, and interesting details should all work for you best. 
  • Wear skinny or slim pants as these will always be the best pant silhouette for your body shape. Your pants need to fit slimly through the leg, helping create balance. 
  • Use layers, scarves, shawl cardigans, and coats to divert the eye from the midsection.
  • Stay away from buying big. Just because your middle is larger, your tops need to fit at the shoulders and should skim your midsection. The sleeve length needs to be right as well.
Oval Styles

Want to learn more about dressing for an oval body shape?
Check out my body shape masterclass!

How To Dress for an Inverted Triangle Body Shape

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

The Inverted triangle body shape is where your shoulders are the widest part of your body. This body silhouette is usually slimmer through the hips and thighs. 

Like the oval shape, tops are very important for the inverted triangle. To divert attention from the width of your shoulders, pay close attention to your necklines. V-neck, scoop, collared shirts, and sleeveless tops are all good choices to make. 

Spaghetti straps and boat necks will only accentuate your shoulder width more. If you want to show off your shoulders opt for a one-shoulder top, or even a strapless top with a fuller pant leg or skirt. 

Adding volume at the bottom is important to create more balance in the figure. Inverted triangles have several styles of pants to choose from. Think straight leg, bootleg, flare, and even wide-leg pants. Skinny pants will only accentuate wider shoulders and a less defined hip and thigh area.

Inverted Triangle Styles

Want to learn more about dressing for an inverted triangle body shape?
Check out my body shape masterclass!

How To Dress for a Common/Rectangle Body Shape

Column Body Shape

If your shoulder width and the widest part of your hip area are approximately the same with little to no waist indentation, then you are a column/rectangle. Usually, the rectangle refers to women who are petite to average height and a column refers to taller women, but they mean the same thing.

With this body silhouette, we need to create shape by truly defining a waist like Kate Middleton below with the belt and Cameron Diaz with the rouging of the leather dress. The belt accessory and the design detail in the dress both create the illusion of shape effortlessly. 

Fashion advice for dressing a common/rectangle body shape:

  • You will need to get creative with trying different belts, using colors and prints, accessories, and layers to help create shape and balance.
  • Peplum tops and fitted blazers are perfect for this shape. You should stay away from anything that is too voluminous. 
  • If you love a drapey blouse, then tuck it into a straight or flare leg with a belt. Tops with exaggerated shoulders or sleeves are good for this silhouette as long as it’s not paired with a skinny.
  • To create shape, we need a little volume on top or on the bottom but not both, or the effect will be shapeless. Try to avoid wearing one solid color on top and bottom unless you divert the eye with jewelry, a belt, or a layering jacket.
Column Styles

Want to learn more about dressing for a column body shape?
Check out my body shape masterclass!


Thinking that it’s time to get some assistance in identifying your body shape? This is what I’m here for! Once you truly identify your shape the flood gates open as to why pieces in your closet work or don’t work for you. No more guessing. Having this knowledge is power, and I would love to help you understand it even better.

Join my body shape masterclass!

This masterclass will teach you everything from understanding your body shape, styles that are most flattering for your natural body shape, and tips on how to best enhance your body beautifully.

Book a consultation

It’s hard work creating a wardrobe you love and align with, and even more so making it work for you on the daily and for those surprise occasions that come up. If you’d like to chat for 30 min to see how we can possibly work together to help you truly find your style and confidence through dressing, I’m just a click away.

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how to dress for your body shape
how to dress for your body shape

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