5 Common Body Types and Tips for Styling EachMerrick White
This past Saturday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day. The day was first observed in the early 1900s as a Socialist political event, but over time it has morphed into a celebration of women in general, and I like that. People are worth celebrating, and as women it’s easy to get down on ourselves about everything; so it’s good to take a day to think about who we are, what we are capable of, and how special we each are.
In honor of that, let’s learn how to dress for our particular body types — because part of being a successful and happy woman is feeling good about yourself, not only on the inside, but on the outside too. Both are absolutely worth celebrating.
Obviously every body is different, and probably everyone’s body fits into more than one of these five shape categories, but I’ll break them each down and talk about the most flattering pieces and shapes for each basic body type. Then, you can combine and adjust for your specific needs.
Click through to see all the body types and a list of what pieces work best for that body type!
Celebrate Your Shape by Learning How to Dress It 1 of 7
Let's learn about the five standard body types and how to dress them well so your clothing is flattering and makes you feel beautiful! Keep clicking to see them all!
Five Basic Body Types 2 of 7
Here are the five basic body types: hourglass, rectangle, apple, pear, and strawberry. Click to the next slide to go through each body type one-by-one!
Dressing a Pear Shape 3 of 7
Pear-shaped bodies have a smaller bust and wider hips. Try these tips for dressing this body type:
- Choose A-line dresses and skirts on bottom that flow away from your hips
- Accentuate the smallest area of your torso (your natural waist or below your bust)
- Embellished necklines or statement necklaces add volume and draw attention to your top half, which balances your body out
- Avoid details or patterns on your hips (embellished jeans, cargo pockets, etc...)
- For pants and jeans, make sure they're fitted and slim, and then add a jacket that adds structure to your shoulders. Also a belt cinched around your natural waist (under the jacket), keeps your waist defined, even with the jacket.
Dressing a Strawberry Shape 4 of 7
Strawberry-shaped bodies have broad shoulders and wide ribcages. Try these tips for dressing this body type:
- Go for fuller options on bottom, like A-line or flared skirts; wide-leg or flared jeans also are a great choice.
- Cinch your waist in with a belt to draw attention there.
- Avoid anything oversized or boxy on top since it will draw more attention to your broad shoulders and chest.
- Sweetheart, square, and lower scoop necklines are great for you. Be careful with high necklines as they will draw more attention to your top half and make you look wider.
- Avoid cap sleeves, as they will make your shoulders look broader. Go for a longer shirt sleeve, half sleeve, or 3/4 sleeve.
Dressing an Hourglass Shape 5 of 7
The hourglass figure is the ideal body type according to most women. They have a full bust and hips, and a small waist. Try these tips for dressing this body type:
- Play up that tiny waist with fitted-at-the-waist clothes or by adding belts.
- Longer hemlines and higher necklines will keep your outfit from being overly sexy.
- For jeans, be careful with skinny jeans as they can accentuate your wider hips and make you look shorter (although you can still wear them!). Flared and bootcut jeans are your friend and are very flattering.
- Keep your body in balance with equal proportions on top and bottom. Don't downplay one or the other too much.
- If you want to slim down your bottom half, wear tops that hit a little below your hipbone, or wear A-line skirts that skim right over your hips.
Dressing an Apple Shape 6 of 7
Apple-shaped bodies are those who carry their weight around their middle. They typically have a large bust and thin legs. Try these tips for dressing an apple shape:
- Emphasize your best assets, which are your legs and your chest.
- Wear tops or dresses that cinch at the smallest part of your upper body (probably right under your bust) and then flow out to camouflage your tummy. Stay away from any shapeless dresses or tops!
- V-necks and scoop necks are your friends. Avoid halters, boat necks, or embellished necklines — these will draw TOO much attention to your chest.
- Stick to fabrics with structure and weight so they don't cling to your body. Structured jackets are your friend!
- Avoid heavy boots since they'll cover up your thin ankles, and avoid leggings or super skinny jeans, which will slim down your lower half too much and make your top half look bigger.
- Stay away from belts, which will make a line around the widest part of your body, and avoid clingy shirts and dresses which will hug every curve of your top half.
Dressing a Rectangular Shape 7 of 7
Rectangle-shaped bodies are those with little or no defined waist and no curves. We want to play up any curves you do have or create the illusion of curves. Try these tips for dressing a rectangular body shape:
- Use different shapes and fits of clothing that will create curves for you, such as fitted bottoms, peplum tops, or ruffled necklines that will accentuate your chest.
- If you don't have much of a waist, create one with a belt or peplum top. If you have absolutely no waist, don't wear a belt — it will make your waist look wider.
- Structured jackets are great, as long as they have darts or seaming that nip in your waist or have a drawstring at the waist that creates the illusion of a waistline.
- Flared skirts are your friend since they add width on your lower half, giving the illusion of curves.
- This body type can easily become flat and boring if not dressed well, so layer your clothing and add accessories to keep it visually interesting.
Find more of Merrick’s style and writing at Merrick’s Art.