Now, we’ll be honest, we’re not miracle workers. We can’t stop you from buying and wearing your latest faddy fashion finds, that responsibility lies firmly with you I’m afraid, but what we can do is steer you in the right direction. One of the most important factors for dressing well is establishing what body shape you have. Work that out and you are halfway to dressing amazingly all the time.
There are four basic body shapes and within these are multiple variations. To avoid confusion we are going to stick to describing the four main categories, because we believe everyone should be able to recognise their own shape or elements of their shape within these four alone. So, let’s take a detailed look at the four body shapes:
Women with an apple shaped body carry most weight around their mid section. They are generally well proportioned elsewhere and usually have slim legs and arms, but the challenge lies with the fact that there is very little definition around the waist. The mistake a lot of apple-shaped women do is to try and cover up their ‘problem areas’ with an excess of fabric, which unfortunately only makes them look larger and actually highlights the area further.
Answer this quick checklist to see if you could be an apple.
- have rounded shoulders?
- have a rounded tummy?
- have slender, good shaped legs?
- feel uncomfortable when tops are tucked in?
- have an average to larger sized bust?
- have a relatively flat bottom?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then you are an apple and you share a body shape with the likes of Elizabeth Hurley, Catherine Zeta Jones, Mariah Carey and Katy Perry. The secret to dressing an apple is to balance out your shape and draw attention away from the tummy area.
How can I do that?
- Keep details to either below the hip line or above the bust line.
- Avoid unnecessary bulk around the breasts, waist and tummy.
- Balance out your shoulders.
- Wear soft, lightweight fabric around the apple area and save tighter fabrics for your best areas; legs and arms.
- Don’t wear thick belts around your middle, as this will only draw attention to the area.
- Avoid wearing low-slung trousers or shorts – high-rise is the way to go.
- Emphasise your bust with plunging necklines and chunky necklaces.
- Wear dresses or tops that flare out from just below the bust line.
The pear shape is the most common body shape amongst women and it is estimated that around 60% of UK women between the ages of 18 and 30 are pears. Famous pear-shaped women include, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Alicia Keys. In the past it has been considered the most difficult and drab body shape to dress and pear-shaped women often feel a lot of negativity about their body image. However, with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj promoting a larger backside it has become a much more fashionable and much lusted after body shape. Women who have a pear- shaped body carry most of their weight on the bottom half; meaning their thighs and bottoms are the largest parts. If pears do not dress correctly for their shape they can often look unbalanced and bottom heavy.
Read this checklist to discover if you are a pear.
- have a clearly defined waist?
- have to wear a larger size on your bottom half than on your top?
- have larger thighs, hips and bottom?
- have narrower shoulders than hips?
- have a smaller top half and small bust?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions then congratulations you are a pear. Yes, you have a fashionably large derriere, but other positives include a small waist and beautifully feminine back and shoulders. To highlight these features you need to elongate your figure in order to balance out your lower half.
How can I do that?
- Wear clothes that make your shoulders look broader; shoulder pads, structured jackets, cap sleeves, boleros etc.
- Accentuate your small waist by keeping clothes fitted or by ‘nipping in’ with a belt.
- Jackets and tops need to end either above or below the widest point of your hips and bottom.
- Avoid details around your thighs and bottom, for example don’t wear jeans that have pockets in these areas, as this will only accentuate them.
- Keep pattern, colour and layers to your top half in order to create visual interest and draw attention away from your lower half.
- Boot cut trousers are your best friend. They are wider at the calves and ankles, which help give your legs proportion.
The most womanly and curvaceous of figures, the hourglass is considered by many to be the ideal feminine figure. If you look at catwalk models today you certainly wouldn’t know it, but the hourglass figure has long been associated with sexy screen sirens, just think of Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner and more recently Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria. Curves is the key word for an hourglass shape, with fuller hips, bust and thighs, but they also have an amazingly defined waist, hence the name ‘hourglass’. Many hourglass-shaped women try to cover up their curves and in doing so end up making themselves look heavier and shorter. In actual fact what they should be doing is showing off what nature gave them, by defining the waist, lengthening the legs and following the curvature of their body.
Check these features to see if you are an hourglass.
- have a well-defined waist?
- have a soft, curved bottom?
- have a rounded, fuller bust?
- wear the same size top and bottom?
- often find waistbands are too large?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions then you are a sexy, curvaceous hourglass. Contrary to what you may believe, you need to wear clothes that are shaped and fitted to those gorgeous curves.
How can I do that?
- ALWAYS wear a good, supporting bra. Not only will this make the most of your assets, but it will also lift your bust and create more definition in your waist.
- Draw attention to your shoulders with necklines that are wider and lower, time to show off that cleavage ladies!
- Wear jackets and tops that nip in at the waist. Tailored styles are best or belted jackets or trenches that can be drawn in at the waist.
- Soft fabrics will skim over your natural curves.
- Don’t overcomplicate. Avoid too much embellishment like ruffles, frills etc. If you wear them in your larger areas it draws attention, if you wear them in your smaller areas it hides and draws the attention away.
- A-line, pencil and fully flared skirts were made for you, wear them lots!
The complete opposite to the hourglass figure, the straight body shape is literally straight up and down and can sometimes appear quite boyish. But fear not, as it is actually the easiest shape to dress and many clothes are designed with this shape in mind. Straight bodies are well proportioned, often athletic, with lean limbs, a straight waist, a flat bottom and a small chest.
Answer these questions to determine if you have a straight body.
- have a small bust?
- have a flat bottom?
- have little or no waist definition?
- wear the same size on your top and bottom half?
- have a straight shoulder line and ribcage?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions then lucky you, because you are a straight, which means you can pretty much wear anything! This is the shape most commonly found in fashion magazines and on fashion runways with fellow celebrity straights including, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, Kate Middleton and Uma Thurman. However, if you would prefer a more feminine silhouette there are clever tricks you can use to create curves and the illusion of a waist.
How can I do that?
- It’s all in the details. Darts, pleats, embellishments you name it, you can wear it.
- Wear layers in the areas you want to appear bigger.
- Wear structured clothes that add shape to your frame, for example always choose bootcut trousers over skinny legged styles if you want your legs to appear more shapely.
- If you are confident enough to wear cropped tops, then go for it, as this will create the illusion of a bigger bust as well as defining your waist.
- Wearing a waist belt will also help give your body more definition and curve.
Once you have determined what body shape you have, it will make shopping trips a lot easier, make deciding what to wear each day a breeze and best of all you will look AMAZING all of the time!!