If you’ve ever felt confused about how to dress to flatter your figure, raise your hand. Okay… I can’t see you, but I’m going to take a wild guess that your hand is high in the air right now. Mine, too, friend.
There’s almost too much information on the Internet about body shapes and silhouettes and proportions and what to wear and what not to wear. It’s incredibly confusing and overly complicated!
Today, I want to strip some of that away and talk about 3… yes, just 3 things to focus on when dressing for your body type. I’m going to tell you what you need to know to get dressed confidently and effortlessly. And here’s the biggest secret: it’s not a one-size-fits-all formula. We need to personalize this for you, your unique features, and your style goals. So I’ll also give you ways to do that so you can finally be successful and start getting dressed with less stress and more ease and joy!
❶ Your Natural Shape
Think of your shape like the overall outline of your body. It’s all about the width relationships between your shoulders, waist, and hips.
I want to put some emphasis on the word natural here. We’re all designed with inherent qualities that don’t change much, if at all, as our weight fluctuates. If you were born with a triangle body shape, like myself, then you will always carry wider set hips than shoulders. If you’re an inverted triangle shape, you’ll experience the opposite. Your shoulders will always be wider than your hips. So try not to get hung up on what your shape is or drive yourself crazy trying to physically alter your shape. It’s totally possible to transform your body composition with nutrition and exercise, but it’s very difficult to change your shape.
We don’t need to do that, friend! You just need to learn a few tricks to dress your shape in a way that looks flattering. And there is beauty to every shape. My philosophy is to put together outfits that are in harmony with your features. You want to work with it rather than fighting against it.
All that to say, knowledge is power. Once you know your body’s design, you can start creating well-balanced outfits that bring attention to your favorite areas.
There are 5 basic female body shapes and I don’t think I’ve broken them down on the podcast yet, so let’s do that now!
- Triangle (or pear-shape): shoulders and waist are narrower than your hips and thighs
- Inverted Triangle: shoulders are wider than your waist, hips, and thighs
- Rectangle:shoulders are equal to the width of your hips and you have a straight waist
- Hourglass: shoulders are equal to the width of your hips, but you have a defined waist
- Oval (or apple-shape): shoulders are relatively equal to your hips and you have an undefined waist
To make things slightly more complicated, you can also have a combination body shape. It’s possible to appear one way from the front and another way from the back or side. So it’s really helpful to team up with a personal style coach like myself to get an expert opinion and personalized strategies for your specific figure.
Where you want to widen the appearance of your body:
- Add layers and volume
- Use horizontal lines and prints
- Wear lighter colors
Where you want to narrow the appearance of your body:
- Create definition with the use of belts or peplums and layering below
- Use diagonal or vertical lines and prints to break up the space
- Wear darker colors
To make an area of your body appear narrower, you can do the opposite, wear streamlined silhouettes that glide over that area, use diagonal and vertical lines to break up the wide space, and wear darker colors, which have the opposite effect and help things recede.
Remember, this is the most basic advice I can give you. But it’s hard to give very specific style guidance without having a more 1:1 conversation with you and getting into the specifics of your body type and goals.
Now, we can’t stop here! You might be tempted to Google your body shape and follow the blanket recommendations that you’ll find.But there are still two additional points to consider.
❷ Your Proportions
Proportion is one of the most crucial elements to flattering your figure and creating captivating outfits.
Where your body shape is about width relationships, your proportions are about length relationships. The key to creating great proportions in your outfits is balancing the upper and lower halves of your body and creating a 2:3 or 3:5 ratio from top to bottom.
This is so much simpler than it sounds. But again, the first step is understanding your body’s unique design. If you don’t know your proportions, it’s something you’re going to want to figure out. I explained how you can do this in Episode #30: Why You Struggle To Pull Off Pinterest Outfit Inspo and What To Do About It. And, you guessed it! We cover this in detail in the Wardrobe Refresh Program as well.
I want you to understand and consider your body’s proportions when you’re getting dressed, too. If you’ve tried to follow generic advice for dressing your body shape and found that it didn’t work for you, it could be because it created ill-flattering proportions.
For example, if you have a short-waist and the body shape guide you tried to follow told you to wear crop tops or high-waisted bottoms, you probably felt off. And that’s because you want to lengthen the appearance of your waist to create proportional balance. Crop tops and high-waisted bottoms will do the opposite!
I’m not saying all of this to overwhelm you. But you can’t look at the width of your body and totally ignore the length. It all needs to come together in order to work. The good news is once you figure this out ONCE: you get clear on your body’s shape and your proportions and what looks best on you, you can just rinse and repeat.
We all want to feel effortlessly stylish. That’s how you do it. You know and work with what you’ve got!
❸ Your Scale
And this brings me to the third thing you want to keep in mind when dressing for your body: your scale.
There are 3 points to this:
- Your bone structure
- The size of your facial features
- The overall size of your body (← yes, this one IS weight + height dependent)
Awareness of these points can help you choose everything from the scale of your jewelry to the size of your prints and the width of your heels. Pretty cool, right?
Again, you can use this information to your advantage! If you have a larger scale, you might want to wear larger accessories and construction details so you look well-balanced. Or you might want to wear smaller pieces to create contrast and give your look a dramatic edge.
There’s so much power in this knowledge! And I want you to have it and know exactly what you need to dress and show up exactly the way you want.
So, here’s my challenge for you:
If you don’t know your body’s shape, proportions, or scale, I really want to guide you in figuring it out, aligning that knowledge with your personal style, and bringing it all together to create outfits you LOVE and feel incredible in!
Keep these 3 things in mind the next time you get dressed. Look at how your outfits are working to compliment your shape, proportions, and scale. And let me know if you’re ready to take the next step and get the personalized support you need to do all of this simply and confidently! I promise, it’s easier than you think.
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