Health & Wellness Articles

Clothes That Flatter Every Body

How to Choose the Best Fashions for You

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Fashion comes and goes, but style is timeless. The best way to always look your stylish best is to learn which silhouettes flatter your body type. When you highlight your assets, you'll feel more confident and your beauty will radiate from within. So whether you've recently lost weight or just want to update your wardrobe for a fresh, new look, read on for some shopping rules that will make your trip to the mall fun and successful.
 
How to Figure Out Your Body Type
To figure out what type of body you have, stand in front of a full-length mirror. Imagine drawing a line around yourself on the glass. What shape is left behind? Most women are one of 4 common body types: pear, apple, hourglass or rectangle.
 
Your Body Type: Pear Shape
If you have a smaller bust and arms, a well-defined waist and tend to carry weight in your hips, butt and thighs, you're probably a pear shape. This body type is the most common, so it should be easier for you to find clothing that flatters your figure! When dressing for a pear-shaped body, you should try adding a bit more volume up top by choosing pieces that minimize your bottom half to help balance everything out.
 
What to Wear: Draw attention away from your extra-curvy lower body by highlighting what you've got from the waist, up. You can do this by choosing jeans and trousers that are darker in color, and pants with lower, thicker waistbands to help minimize your bottom. In order to visually add more weight to your bust, shoulders and arms, look for tops that are slightly A-line with details like stripes, polka dots and other eye-catching embellishments. A sweetheart neckline is also a good bet because it will enhance your bust, drawing the eye upward. Low-slung tunic tops are also great for pear shapes! These trendy tops minimize the look of wider hips. Scarves and belts are also good accessories for you, but make sure you wear them just below your natural waistline in order to create a look of more weight on top as well.  
 
What not to Wear: Pear shapes should avoid faded jeans as they bring more attention to the hips, waist and butt. Tops that cling to your body tightly may sound like a good idea since they accentuate your smaller top half, but they'll also make your bottom half look even bulkier--so skip them! You should also minimize any attention-grabbing details on your pants, like extra pockets and big prints. Pockets and busy patterns create the look of additional weight, which will result in your body looking disproportional.  
 
Your Body Type: Apple Shape
If you tend to carry most of your extra weight around your midsection, you're most likely an apple shape. In order for your body to look its best, you should choose clothing that creates contrast, using angular lines to offset your body's rounder, softer look. Plus, pieces that skim over the tummy and hip areas will make you look lighter. Structured garments with some stretch will also help you accentuate other areas like your strong legs or curvy bust.
 
What to Wear: When it comes to tops, choose wrap-styles that give the look of a thinner waist, and blouses with seaming, pleating or ribbing to distract eyes from your midsection. Deep v-necks and tops that gather under the bust will create the illusion of a smaller waist, as well. You should also stock up on some straight-leg jeans and trousers. These types of pants will make you look like you have a much more proportional body. Higher-waisted pants with stretch are also an apple shape's best friend! This type of pant will hold your tummy in, resulting in a seamless look.
 
What not to Wear: Avoid excessive prints, patterns, extreme A-lines and pockets on your shirts. Embellishments will just make your entire top half look heavier. Also, no matter what you do, never choose oversized clothing in order to conceal your softer tummy. If you choose unflattering pieces like this, your body will simply lack shape, creating a bigger, boxier look that you should avoid if you want to look your best and feel your most confident!
 
Your Body Type: Hourglass Shape
If your bust and shoulders are the same width as your hips, you have a defined waist and any extra weight you carry is evenly distributed throughout your body, you most likely have an hourglass shape. Women with hourglass figures should exaggerate this very feminine silhouette, not hide it. If this is your body type, you'll want to wear pieces that fit snugly around the smallest part of your waist which will bring out your naturally proportional look.
 
What to Wear: Curvy hourglasses can wear and look good in just about any type of skirt, but voluminous full circle or tulip skirts will make your tiny waist look even tinier! Pencil skirts will also cling to and accentuate your curves in all the right places. When picking out the perfect pants, buy those that are boot-cut or have a bit of flare and fit well through the thigh area. When looking for tops, opt for those with nipped waists to showcase your smaller midsection. V-necks and other shirts with lowered, slimming necklines will work wonders for downplaying a curvier bust, too. Dark colored belts are also a great bet for an hourglass shape and should be worn around the narrowest part of your waist to allow your curves to shine.
 
What not to Wear: Any clothing with excessive ruffles, frills and busy patterns should be avoided as these details create more bulk where it isn't needed on a curvy hourglass body type. Boxy cuts and stiff fabrics will also make your shape look larger and hide your amazing curves, so keep those on the department store shelf if you wish to look your best!
 
Your Body Type: Rectangle Shape
If your silhouette appears to be straight up and down, you have little or no waist definition, your bust and shoulders are about the same width as your hips and you tend to gain weight evenly throughout your body, you likely have what is considered to be a rectangle shape. This body type is fairly common for women as they age or give birth. And, compared to the other three body shapes, rectangles are incredibly versatile and are able to get away with a variety of looks and outfits. But, because you don't have a well-defined waist, your best bet is to add dimensions when you pick out your clothing. Doing so will break up your silhouette, adding curves to your frame.
 
What to Wear: Women with rectangle shapes should choose pieces that create feminine curves where they don't exist naturally. This means you shouldn't be afraid to go for some fun prints and chunky accessories! Wrapping belts around your straight waist will help you create a more feminine shape. You should also opt for shirts and blouses with details near the top, such as ruffles and ruching, as this will make your bust look fuller. Skirts with high waistlines can also make a rectangle shape appear curvier when worn at the smallest part of the waist, just underneath the bust line. And, lucky for you, rectangles can also typically get away with wearing those trendy skinny jeans! Another good bet is to buy boot-cut pants with a lower rise which will add a curvier look to your hips and butt.
 
What not to Wear: Unless you want to look more masculine, a rectangle should never go for menswear-inspired styles, anything with a straight cut, or baggy "boyfriend" jeans. Also, make sure you avoid any type of pant that is too wide and flared as this can make your body look unbalanced and boxy.  
 
As you can see, while it's fun to try every trendy fashion on for size, it's easy to end up picking the wrong pieces for your body. Now that you know what styles suit your body type best, pay close attention to the guidelines that will flatter your shape and go on that shopping trip!
 
For more fashion tips and tricks for all body types, see Wardrobe Basics Every Woman Should Own.

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Member Comments

  • Great information!
  • 97MONTY
  • I'm pear shaped, wish I was hourglass though.
  • great information.
  • I was a pear shape in my younger heavy years. The apple shape started coming on 20 years ago I guess. But the straght pants leg advise bugs me because my legs have ALWAYS been my heaviest part even as a teenager - I never had pretty and thin legs or ankles or calves even when I lost weight as a teenager. They are not my "asset" as far as window-shopping (in other words, the guys didn't come a-running because they thought my legs looked good.). Soooo plus there's the comfort factor because most straight legs are cut real close to the leg, and when I sit down etc, then I feel like I'm in a sausage casing. These days I'm enjoying the new pull on long skirts (especially the ones that are not slit up the sides.)
  • STEPHIESMITH92
    This is great advice! A lot of women don't like fashion or shopping, I know I was in the same boat. It can be hard finding clothes that compliment your figure sometimes, but I actually started taking some clothes of mine to a tailor. Having them adjusted makes a world of difference! Clothes that fit right feel much better, too. qctailors.com
  • STAYSHEALTH
    Renee, you can achieve a similar result to a v neck (which is really just to balance your shape) by wearing a long necklace with a higher neck shirt.
  • I'm an apple shape and I am so tired of hearing v-necked tops are great. I look absolutely terrible in a v-neck unless it's a blouse with a collar. Forget sweaters and knit tops with v-necks. When are people going to realize that it's not a "one size/style fits all. I have enough trouble shopping for clothes without having that kind of advice thrown up in my face.
  • BLONDY01
    So all but the apple shape say "well-defined waist"...I don't have a well-defined waist because I'm trying to lose weight, but I think I have big hips so am I a pear shape? I still can't figure out my body type.
  • Is it better for a apple shape to wear dresses or skirts and tops?
  • How to choose the best fashions for you, non-body-shaming edition: Find clothes that you like and are comfortable in. Wear them, and ignore the haters.
  • WEB1_PTAYLOR
    This is also a great resource to help you find the perfect clothes for your body, http://bit.ly/1xF
    k4eu

About The Author

Natalie Nichols Natalie Nichols
Natalie lost nearly 30 pounds the SparkPeople way before becoming a health and beauty contributor to the site. A self-proclaimed "girly girl," Natalie couldn't bear to break a sweat when she was younger, but now can't imagine living a life without exercise. In her spare time she practices yoga, enjoys cooking and stays involved in her community. Leading by example, she hopes to inspire others to live healthier and happier lifestyles, too.

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