The primary factor that will determine how good you look in a particular outfit is your body type. It may sound harsh, but you should accept the fact that no matter how much you like a piece, outfit, or trend, if it doesn’t flow with your body structure, it won’t look good.
The good news is that EVERYONE looks good with something. With our help, you will know how to identify your strong points as well as your weaknesses, and ultimately know how to dress according to your body type.
This guide is directed to women of all ages and backgrounds. Don’t worry if you are a man, we are working on the guide for men too.
For more advice on how to always look great, check out our complete guide on the basics of fashion.
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Different body types and what to wear for each one
We all have different body structures, for example, some of us have short torsos and long legs, others have broad shoulders, and so on.
A Rigorous classification of every body type is impossible since everybody is unique. Still, there are certain traits common to different body types that allow us to classify most of them. At the end of this section, we go through what you need to do to identify which of the following most resembles your body type.
Most likely you will be a combination of at least two of the body types, so be open to mixing some of the suggestions.
Apple Body Shape
The Apple body takes its name precisely due to the fruit as it closely resembles it.
It is characterized by 3 things; narrow hips, a wide and full midsection, and a large bust. Also common but not essential is that omen with apple bodies usually have round and wide shoulders, small tighs, and are prone to gaining weight easily (fat stores mainly in the midsection). A real-life example of the apple body is presented below.
Having an apple body shape means that you want to accentuate your bust and legs and at the same time conceal your midsection.
Start by wearing push-up bras or similar as underwear, and try to wear slightly fitted clothes that fit your silhouette particularly well in areas such as the waistline, and below your bust and arms.
Also in those areas, avoid printed fabrics or colours that widen your appearance, for example, stripes and light colours. Instead, go for darker and/or plain alternatives. Light colours on your lower body are also a nice suggestion.
Traditional dresses are ideal for you. Dresses that flow freely, those with wide hems, and with a straight cut will adapt gracefully to your body. Make sure your neckline and shoulders are exposed or have attractive details in order to draw the eyes away from the midsection.
For tops, try wide and low necks of all shapes and forms, short sleeves or longer loose ones (NO fitted sleeves!) that have eye-catching designs to draw attention to your arms (for example – flare sleeves), and avoid crop tops or similar tops that end above the hips. Long tops extending below the hips look wonderful, and NEVER tuck your tops.
Bottoms with details on the hemline allow for a sexier look of your legs and make sure to avoid clinging or high-waisted pants. Your best bets are mid-waist bottoms, those with flat fronts, and also flared bottoms.
Flared skirts also work, but these should be high-waisted and in combination with tucked tops. Below the knee skirts look very feminine and flattering with almost every popular skirt type looking good. Only tiered skirts are a no-no.
Pear Body Shape
Apple is not the only fruit featured in body types, as we also have the pear shape body. You can see the relationship more clearly here.
Pear shape bodies are known for their wide lower body and hips, as well as narrow shoulders and small bust. Kim Kardashian’s body is a perfect example of it.
Dressing for pear bodies can follow one of two routes; the first aims to draw attention away from the wide lower body, and into the narrower upper body.
This can be done by wearing tops with flashy designs (or that show some cleavage) in combination with non-skinny bottoms. Also, wear visually appealing jewelry around the neck, or darker colours on the lower body and lighter colours upstairs. Avoid belts or pockets on your thighs.
Dresses that are wider at the bottom, such as the A-Line, are perfect to conceal your hips and flow beautifully with waist embellishments. NEVER wear straight-cut dresses.
Also, try going for tops with wide collars and sleeves. The latter ones preferably short and voluptuous (for example, with shoulder pads). Tops with striped patterns, crop tops or other tops that end above the waist, and well-fitted tops will help your upper body look wider. Short jackets look particularly attractive on this type of body.
As for the bottoms, medium to high waist pants/skirts, flared, straight, or loosely fitted will shift attention away from your hips. Just as with dresses, skirts that are wider at the bottom (and definitely not straight skirts) will help you achieve the desired look.
Having said this, girls with pear bodies know how attractive their hips and legs are, so they might choose to draw extra attention to them. This is the second route to follow for pear-shaped bodies.
In this case, you should follow the complete opposite advice. Pencil skirts and dresses, tight jeans, mini skirts, and similar apparel that adjust tightly to your body are desired.
For reference, you can look up Kim Kardashian’s outfits as she usually wears stuff for this purpose.
Rectangle Body Shape
The Rectangle Body Shape is characterized by (approximately) equal measurements of the bust, waist, and hips, making the rectangular shape very clear. It is a non-curvy and lean type of body, most common among tall girls.
If you have this body structure, enhancing your waist is a must, this will break your rigid look and allows for a more curvy look. This can be done either by making the waist look smaller or by making your upper and lower body bigger.
For the former, try using belts and darker colours in that area and avoid tucking your tops or short tops (like the crop top). On the other hand, you can add volume/curves around your waist by wearing tight clothes and light colours.
Dresses that pull in your waist such as the wrap dress, as well as belted dresses are ideal. This body type also flows greatly with shift and X-line dresses. Avoid anything other than similar well-fitted dresses with a slight flare and enhanced waist.
Pleated skirts, bubble skirts, or skirts with flared hemlines or voluptuous styles are welcome. Both short and long ones work, but try to avoid straight or pencil skirts since these only work when they naturally mold to your frame.
Tops with both narrow and wide/low necklines look good (NEVER rectangular or straight necklines) so it all comes down to how much attention you want to draw to that area. Go for tube tops, off-shoulders, scoop necks, and tailored coats.
Adding volume to your lower body is simple and easy. Flared jeans/trousers (keeping the flare thin) are the quickest solutions, but you can also go for any low to mid-rise bottoms that are NOT straight-fitted.
Hourglass Body Shape
The Hourglass body shape is arguably the most flattering and balanced body shape. It has a narrow waist and broad shoulders and hips at approximately the same width.
Women with this type of body are very privileged, as the main concerns here are just to maintain the body structure or to not look excessively curvy.
The best advice for women with hourglass bodies is to stick to apparel that adjusts to their bodies. No need for adding or reducing volumes into certain parts, and no need for fancy cuts to compensate for anything. Well-fitted clothes and a quality bra will do the work for you.
To maintain your body structure, go for round or oval necklines in your tops, and avoid unnecessary cuts on hems or sleeves. Corset tops or tube tops look especially flattering.
Slim and high-waisted bottoms are the way to go on the lower body.
Anything other than straight skirts looks good, with (high-waisted) pencil skirts being a popular alternative. T same goes for straight dresses. Our suggestion is that you try a wrap dress.
Inverted Triangle Body Shape
Last but not least, we have the inverted triangle shape. As the name suggests, this body type consists of a wide shoulder line and a progressively narrow frame as you go downwards.
What girls with this type of body need are to balance the difference in width of both sections of the body. As previously stated, this can be done either by making the top look narrower or by making the bottom look wider.
Skinny and slim trousers and pants are to be avoided at all costs. Instead, try baggy trousers, wide-legged pants, flared or harem bottoms, or similar alternatives. Lighter colours are preferred to draw attention to that area, as well as, pants with big pockets or other eye-catching details.
For the upper body try tight-fitted sleeves when these are short, and flared sleeves when these are large. Avoid wide and low necks as these make your shoulder look wider. Asymmetric, V-neck, and Halter tops look very good on these types of girls.
Finally, your dresses should be dominant from the hips below. Any dress with flared skirts, no matter how simple they appear, is ideal. The same goes for the skirts alone; combine flared skirts with some of the tops suggested above for an even better result.
Understanding your body is key
The best way to know which body type you have is by measuring key parts of it. Only 4 (sometimes 3) measurements are required; shoulders, bust, waist, and hips (same measures we use in our clothing reviews).
Once you have your measurements, you can just input the data in an online body shape calculator and that’s it!
The role of height when dressing up
There are numerous ways you can arrange your outfit so that you either look taller or smaller. Girls that want to portrait a different height, as well as those that wish to avoid portraying the opposite, will benefit from the following advice.
*Advice on wearing/avoiding heels is omitted here for obvious reasons*
If you want to look taller, what you want is your legs or torso to look longer. Adequate colour manipulation is a good start. Matching the colour of your pants with your shoes, wearing only one or close tonalities of the same colour, and wearing vertical prints will do exactly this.
But this is not the only way; exposing large parts of your legs will make them appear longer, and wearing long single-piece outfits creates the illusion that you are taller.
Try wearing above-the-knee dresses and skirts, high-rise bottoms (pants, skirts, everything!), long coats, maxi dresses, pointy shoes. Overall go for well-fitted clothes.
On the other hand, if you wish to appear smaller than you are, you should follow the exact opposite advice (multiple pieces outfit, below-the-knee dresses, medium to low rise everything, horizontal stripes, etc…). The goal is to shorten the apparent length of your torso and legs.
Apparel such as midi dresses and skirts, ankle pants/trousers, and ankle straps/boots all “cut off” your leg’s length making them look shorter. In addition to this, oversize clothing helps to further shorten your look by creating additional volume in the horizontal direction.
Combining this advice with the appropriate heels or flats, allows you to have some control over your height while enhancing the positive traits of your body type.
Colour combinations based on your body colour
Last but not least, you have to remember that your body is not exempt from colour rules. Both your skin and your hair colour play important roles when combining colours.
You can think of the skin tone as the following spectrum.
Moreover, every colour can be divided into pale and warm, based on how transparent your skin is. We now give you a list of hair and clothing colours ideal for each end in the spectrum. Follow the advice of the one closest to your skin tone.
- Very Fair: Hair colours – Blonde, Silver, Gold, Red || Clothing colours – Light/Pastel, Silver, Gold, Neutrals (Black, White, Grey, Beige, Brown, Navy)
- Fair/Medium: Hair colours – Light Brown, Rose Gold, Red, Yellowish Orange || Clothing colours – Light Yellow, Spring green, Pinkish Purple, Blush
- Medium: Hair colours – Dark Brown, Brown & Silver, Brown & Gold, Amber || Clothing colours – Purple, Royal Blue, Dull Yellow, Dark Green
- Medium/Morena: Hair colours – Brown, Amber, Brown & Gold || Clothing colours – Emerald, Orange, Pink, Dark Red
- Morena: Hair colours – Copper, Jet Black, Ashy Blonde, Amber || Clothing colours – White, Pink, Ruby, Black, Dark Purple
- Very Morena: Hair colours – Jet Black, Dark Purple, Sea Green, Toasted Ombre || Clothing colours – Royal Blue, White, Fuchsia, Emerald.
Start seeing results now!
Even though we covered a wide variety of aspects and provided a lot of information, the great news is that you can expect to see big changes in your appearance quickly.
Just by following a few of these tips at a time, a whole new image of yourself will take the world by surprise 😀 At the same time, you will get the hang of what best works for you and what doesn’t, what to purchase and what not to.
It is a process but remember to pay attention to the details as you go along. These will ultimately make the difference.
Thanks a lot for hanging around until the end, hopefully, the information was useful for you. Please share your thoughts and opinion in the comment section down below. Stay tuned for more content coming to Vintage Shape that will help you develop your own style!