How to Dress for Your Body Type

Two Parts:Identifying Your Body TypeDressing Each Body Type

Women come in all shapes and sizes, so how do you find clothes that are flattering your specific body type? The key is to know your proportions, and use fashion to accentuate your best features--and hide everything else!

Part 1
Identifying Your Body Type

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    Determine what type shape your body is. Pay attention to your curves. Look at how they connect your bust, waist, and hips.[1]
    • The body types as describes below describe women's bodies, not a girl who has not gone through puberty. Although it is sometimes possible to determine body type prior to maturity, it is only after growing a bust, hips, and so on that it will become evident.
    • Measure the sizes of your bust, waist, and hip. Depending on the size of each part (in inches), you can determine which shape your body is to find clothes that properly fit[2]
    • There is no "best" or "worst" body type. A certain type may be fashionable in your particular locale, at this period in time, but this does not mean your body type is "bad".
    • All body types have pros and cons. Knowing your body type is about dressing to look your best.
    • Even model's bodies fall into one of these categories.
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    See if you have an apple body type. Generally described as "top-heavy", this is generally about 14 percent of women where the bust is three or more inches bigger than the hips. Just by looking at yourself in the mirror, you can see if you are an apple body type.[3]
    • Slim limbs, specifically the arms, but wide shoulders are usually a strong characteristic of this body type.
    • Weight is concentrated around your mid-section and chest, giving the appearance of a bigger bust and protruding stomach, at times.
    • If you naturally have a smaller bust, then weight can gather around your midriff.
    • Just below the mid-section, your waistline can have little definition, thus giving rise to the “top-heavy” description of this body type.
    • Though your top may be on the heavier side, your legs should be slimmer.
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    Consider whether you are a "pear" type. Being the opposite of an apple body type means you are a pear body type. This one is bottom-heavy (or triangle) with about 20 percent of women having hips significantly larger than bust.[4]
    • You’ll notice if this is your body quite quickly, as your lower body: hips, thighs, and sometimes your behind are more noticeable.
    • Shoulders are narrower, sloping, and not as broad.
    • Usually described as the most “curvaceous” body. It’s a simple one to notice just by looking at your legs as they are sometimes noticeably more wider, muscular, and fuller compared to the rest of your body.
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    Consider whether you're a straight/rectangular body type. About 46 percent of women are this shape where the waist is about the same as hips and waist. Your silhouette isn’t as curvy as the pear or apple bodies. Instead, you’ll look fairly straight up with flat shoulders.[5]
    • Unlike the prior two body types; the best way to determine for a rectangular type is to measure. Upon measuring, you’ll notice that your waist is one to eight inches smaller than your bust.
    • Standing straight up, you should not notice any significant curves around the waist area.
    • Your rib cage will define most of your shape, as there will be no waist definition to add curves.
    • Despite being rectangular, you may still have a curvy bottom (similar to a pear bottom), or a wide chest with a little bit of extra weight around the midriff.
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    Look at whether you have an hourglass body. This is the least common with only 8 percent of women. The hip and bust measurements are usually equal, with a narrow waist.[6]
    • Unlike other body shapes, the hourglass figure a significantly defined waist.
    • Your curves are flattering in the right places. Fat is usually evenly stored throughout.
    • Looking in the mirror your hip line and bust line are the same width.
    • You can still have an hourglass body even when: slightly fleshy upper arms, wider looking shoulders, and a slightly fuller bottom.
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    Know that your current body shape can be modified somewhat by diet and exercise. Your genetics do determine how body fat is carried on the body; this predisposition cannot be altered. However, if you are not carrying around excessive weight, your body type will not be quite as exaggerated or obvious. Slender women look more similar to each other than obese women.
    • You cannot "Spot Reduce". Toning a certain body part is possible--you can do core exercises to help flatten abdominal muscles . But your body will not do it in just one place. On women, when women lose weight the change is most dramatic around your chest, hips, and posterior whether you want to or not.
    • You cannot "Spot Increase". Likewise, short of surgery, you cannot increase parts of your body. Doing chest exercises or using skin creams will not make your bust larger. While chest exercises firm and tone up the bust line, this is not quite the same as increasing your bust.
    • Certain body types have a predisposition to gain or lose weight in certain areas. For example, a woman with an hourglass figure will tend to gain or lose weight in the bust and hips, and not the waist. But a woman with an apple shape will tend to gain in the hips, and not so much in the bust--even if it is the same amount of body weight.
    • Cardio and resistance training are most commonly used to alter body types. By knowing if you retain fat more or lose it quicker, you can create an exercise plan to cater to your bodily needs.[7]
    • Remember that clothes are meant to flatter your body, not your body to flatter your clothes. Actresses, models, and the like dress to look wonderful no matter what the underlying body type is. In fact, models do not necessarily look good in everything. When a designer is putting together a photo shoot or runway show, they pick the model that best shows off the clothes...models are not interchangeable.
    • What is the ideal body type changes through history. In America during the Victorian period, the "Hourglass" was perfection, and required women to don corsets to get that look. In the 1920's, the ideal woman's body was the boyish "Rectangular" type requiring women to wear girdles and flattening larger chests. [8]
    • Different cultures and subcultures see different body types as ideal. An African-American woman in America may be praised for a shapely, round posterior. However, the same quality in a woman in Japan may not be.
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    Look at your genetics. Family genes play a large role in your body type. Look at other women in your family to see a common trend. If the women in your family tend to have a certain body type, chances are good you do as well. Remember, it is not just your mother's family, but your father's as well!

Part 2
Dressing Each Body Type

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    Dress for the apple body type. To dress successfully for the apple body, you need to direct attention away from your mid riff, and wear clothes to accentuate other parts.
    • Follow your bodyline and keep details on the top and lower third of your body. With this body type, it is easy to wear shirts, blouses or dresses with slight V-necks with out looking too fancy or over the top.
    • Draw attention away from your waist and shoulders/arms (wear long sleeves), and draw attention to your bust and neck (e.g. v-necks).
    • Choose flared pants over straight-leg or skinny pants, and to help balance out wide shoulders and/or a heavy upper body. Wear bottoms just below your hipbone to draw attention away from your mid riff.
    • Avoid dresses and belts that pinch at your waist. This will most likely accentuate curves that you may not wish to show off.
    • Wear tops that drape over any curves if you wish.
    • Enhancing a feature that is further away or you can cover it with dark colors.
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    Dress for a pear body type. The trick to dressing this body type is to wear anything that adds to your shoulder and bust area. Keep attention to your upper body, by minimizing the lower half.
    • If you’re a pear body-type, there are things you can do to make your hips and butt look slimmer, if you want to make their butts bigger!
    • Balance your top with your bottom. Try to wear tops that accentuate your shoulders a bit more.
    • Avoid pants or tights that narrow your legs.
    • Wearing a bra that adds to or enhance your bust should be considered.
    • Wear straight-leg or slightly flared pants with heels. Skinny pants that hug your ankles can make your lower body take on the appearance of an upside-down triangle. Flared pants can make your legs look very thick, perhaps bowl-legged, in comparison to your upper body.
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    Dress for a straight or rectangular body type. With this body type, you may have a long, thin body that tends to lack curves. It is sometimes referred to as a "boyish" profile. Your aim is to wear clothes that flatter your thin profile, break up, your silhouette, and create curves that move up and down from the waist area.
    • If you have this body type, you can "pinch" in your waist to exaggerate curves. For example, add a belt to your dress.
    • Go for ruffles and frills to add texture, volume, and femininity to your figure. For instance, a dress with a lot of embellishment at the bust will often give some "weight" there that makes that area look a bit bigger.
    • Steer clear of menswear clothing. For example, dressing in baggy jeans and track clothes will make you look like "one of the boys", but not a potential girlfriend. Instead, opt for the skinny jeans that are made for your body type, and wear track clothing made for women at your workout session.
    • Stock up on miniskirts and bright tights to make the most of your great legs. They will also add more shape to a straight body.
    • Use shapewear. A Rectangular body type benefits from shaping undergarments. For example, a bra that adds a cup size will balance out your angular features without much effort at all.
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    Dress an hourglass body. Avoid anything that makes you look "boxy"! You have admirable curves, so embrace them.
    • Use your waist as the focal point when dressing. This means to wear snug clothes and accessories around the thinnest part of your waist. Directing attention here will make your curves stand out even more.
    • Dress to flatter your beautiful curves by following your body’s outline. Tailored clothing is usually more flattering. Shapeless or drape-y clothing tends to over-focus on the bust make hourglass shapes look heavy or pregnant.
    • Balance your top and bottom while accentuating your waist. Draw attention to your waist with belts and dresses that pinch at the mid-section.
    • Women with curves can end up revealing too much bust. If a neckline is too deep, or is inappropriate leave those clothes on the rack.
    • Shape your bust. If you have an hourglass shape, you probably have plenty of bust; your main concern should be to wear a supportive bra so that your chest looks perky, not droopy and saggy.
    • Embrace V-neck dresses and tops. While many necklines work well for well-endowed women, V-necks are typically quite flattering. Just be sure you do not show more cleavage than appropriate to the situation.


  • No matter your body type, making your legs look longer is generally flattering.
  • If you're a petite woman (short and skinny) avoid full-length coats and maxi dresses - they'll just swamp you. Choose cropped jackets, shorts, and mini dresses to keep your petite frame in perfect proportion. Dressing in one color or wearing vertical stripes will make you look taller. Try high heels too! # Elongate your legs.
  • Book yourself a professional bra fitting; it's life-changing and will make your chest look fantastic!
  • Choose colors and patterns wisely. If there are any curves, handles, or lumps that you'd prefer to hide, wear solid dark colors (black, navy, dark purple) over them.
  • Consider all your options. Don’t be so quick to turn something down because you aren’t used to wearing it. Step outside your comfort zone every now and then!
  • Wear bright colors or patterns on your hot spots to draw attention away from your trouble spots!
  • Dresses or tops that wrap around your waist and cross over your chest are only a good idea if you have an ample bust; otherwise, it can make your bust look disproportionately tiny (if you're pear-shaped) or your chest and shoulders look flat and square (if you're straight-shaped).
  • If you have a flat stomach and aren't shy about showing it, cropped tops will make your chest look a little bigger in relation to your waist.

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