How to Dress Based On Your Body Shape (For Women)

As French fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy once said: “The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.”

Now that you’ve learned about the six body shape types of women (and hopefully learned and figured out which one is yours!), it’s time to learn about its body silhouettes.

Body Shape vs. Body Silhouette

The body shape is a person’s natural shape, often most obvious to oneself when wearing the least amount of clothing (e.g. in underwear). For women, there are six common body shapes, previously discussed in this article.

The body silhouette, on the other hand, is what a person’s body shape appears to be based on the clothes worn. For women, the hourglass silhouette is universally considered as most flattering. As such, it’s important to bring each natural body shape as close to the hourglass as possible.

There are a few techniques that, when necessary, can be applied to make a woman appear to have a hourglass shape. These are:

  • Balance the shoulders with the hips
  • Create a waist or give the illusion of a waist
  • Widen the shoulders and upper body
  • Narrow the hips
  • Elongate the body
  • Balance the top and bottom of the body

With these general guidelines and your natural body shape in mind, read on to to learn about about the type of clothes can accentuate your good features and dress in a way that will complement your shape.

1. Hourglass

TM Social media 09242017 Body Shapes

Women with an hourglass body shape should wear clothing that mirrors their natural body shape. Here are few do’s and don’ts to remember:

  • DO Wear garments such as dresses that accentuate your waistline
  • DOHighlight your curves by wearing soft fabrics which drape
  • DOShow off your waist, select great belts
  • DOBelt or shape in your jackets
  • DON’TSelect blouses with a lot of volume around the waist
  • DON’TWear bulky fabrics and construction
  • DON’TWear straight cut clothing and boxy jackets

2. Rectangle

TM Social media 09242017 Body Shapes5

To add curves to rectangular bodies, dresses and jackets with curved construction in a stretch or blended fabric can help. Diagonal lines can also help give an illusion of an indented waist. Here are few do’s and don’ts for women with a rectangular shape:

  • DOWear fluid construction or spandex in the fabric for comfort
  • DOShape the waist of constructed jackets and dresses to create the illusion of a waist
  • DOWear single breasted coats and jackets and edge to edge – keep lines curved .
  • DON’TUse cropped jackets with a boxy fit
  • DON’TUse thick belts cinched at waist
  • DON’TWear double breasted coats and jackets, unless shaped at waist

3. Oval

TM Social media 09242017 Body Shapes3

Ladies with an oval body shape need to build up sloping shoulders and show off skinny bits such as the lower arms, legs, and neck. Some do’s and don’ts:

  • DOUse an internal silhouette that is darker than the outer garment
  • DOUse long vertical lines from shoulder to hem
  • DO Take in sleeves and trouser width to keep arm and leg silhouette slim
  • DOUse over blouses and ruching to soften clinging fit below waist
  • DOTake advantage of fluid and stretch fabrics such as jersey and knitwear
  • DOWear forgiving elastic waistbands and over blouses
  • DOCreate soft folds down the center of the body
  • DON’TTuck in blouses at waist
  • DON’TUse wide belts
  • DON’TWear shapeless tent-like dresses

4. Triangle

TM Social media 09242017 Body Shapes4

A general rule of thumb for women with a triangular shape is to wear darker bottoms and lighter tops. Use of patterns, details or textures on upper torso are also great for accentuating the upper body. Some more do’s and don’ts for pear shapes are:

  • DOMake use of layers on top half
  • DOUse shoulder pads and construction to build upper body
  • DOFit trousers and skirts to widest part and take in waist
  • DON’TWear tight tops tucked into full or pencil skirts
  • DON’TTry tapered pants without a longer jacket, tunic or shirt
  • DON’TWear large prints below the waist
  • DON’TWear cargo pants or patch pockets
  • DON’T Wear jackets which end on the widest area
  • DON’TBuy convex shaped pockets in pants which add to hip width

5. Inverted Triangle

Tm social media 09242017 body shapes2 1

In contrast to the triangle body types, ladies with an inverted triangle shape should generally aim for lighter bottoms and darker tops. Here are more do’s and don’ts for inverted triangle body types:

  • DOBalance lower torso with boot cut or wide-leg pants
  • DOWear skirts or pants with details or prints
  • DOWear skirts with fluid hemlines, wider than the hips
  • DON’TWear a wide horizontal neckline
  • DON’TAdd shoulder pads or epaulets
  • DON’T Wear wide puffed sleeves
  • DON’THorizontal stripes on top half
  • DON’TWear bulky construction, details or large prints above the waist

6. Figure 8

Tm social media 09242017 body shapes6 1

Women carrying a figure 8 shape should aim to wear low to medium rise bottoms to give more more vertical length through their waist area. Other do’s and don’ts for figure 8s include:

  • DOTry a shaped yoke on skirts over tummy
  • DOWear fabrics that drape and shape your body and curved construction
  • DOWear dresses and tops that elongate your midriff area
  • DO Use a “column of color” top and bottom
  • DON’TWear skirts or trousers with a high set-in waistband
  • DON’T Tuck in blouses
  • DON’T Wear contrasting separates
  • DON’TWear wide belts

Clothing is all about creating a visual harmony—it’s about accentuating the best bits and making the wearer look her best. With these guidelines in mind, start mixing and matching clothes (and maybe even replacing some!) to help you look your most flattering. If you need better advice on analyzing your body shape and how to dress, contact Radiance Image Consultancy today. Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for more body shape and clothes tips!