Body Shape: Tips to Make Your Style Match Your Figure

Body Shape

Do you find fashion unforgiving? Perhaps clothes look great on hangers but don't suit your figure. The trick to always looking fabulous is to make your style match your physique rather than the other way around. You can't make clothes look flattering if it's designed with a different body shape in mind, no matter how hard you try. Select garments that complement your proportions, and you can't go wrong.

Hourglass body shape (triangles contrasting) — Hourglass-shaped figures have a narrow waist, and the bust and hips are a similar size.

body shape

Classic hourglass figures look amazing in '50s-style dresses with nipped-in waists. Wide belts emphasize curves, and pencil skirts draw attention to shapely hips. Fitted clothes that glide over the body are flattering, and skinny jeans can look great with a loose top. However, avoid teaming baggy bottoms with a tunic top. Aim to define your waist and highlight your bust and hips rather than hiding them.

Apple body shape (triangle plunging) — Apple-shaped figures have narrow hips, and broad shoulders and bust.

body shape

If you have an apple-shaped figure, your arms, shoulders, and legs are your best features. You can wear loose tunic-style dresses with leggings, and peplum dresses look great on your frame. If you want to create the appearance of curves, make your waist seem smaller by tucking a loose top into high-waisted trousers with a flat front. Avoid thin belts; always select wide varieties for a flattering appearance.

Pear body shape (triangle rising) — Pear-shaped figures have smaller bust measurements than hips.

body shape

Fitted clothes that skim your waist and hips, rather than hugging them will look best. If you're wearing a short top, pair it with bootcut jeans. Skirts that gently flare suit you; avoid those that generously stick out. Steer clear of shoes with ankle straps; they'll make your legs look wider. Also, layered asymmetric clothes that drape flatter your frame.

Straight body shape (rectangular) — Rectangular figures have waist sizes less than 9 inches smaller than the bust or hips.

body shape

Keep frills, ruffles, and layers for your bottom half; wearing them higher on your body will make your figure seem unbalanced. Gypsy skirts, boho tunics, skirt hitches, and embroidered details on the thigh area or below look great, and pockets on dresses and jeans flatter your physique. Keep clothing worn on your top half elegant and streamlined; simplicity is the key.

When you match your clothing style with your figure or body style, you will look and feel terrific. Remember to balance your frame when you dress. Aim to play up the parts of your body you especially like and play down those you don't want to emphasize. Always choose garments that suit your physique, and you won't find fashion disappointing.

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42 Responses to Body Shape: Tips to Make Your Style Match Your Figure

  1. Mary says:

    I am short also. Just 5”. Hips 54, bust 44. So I’d say I’m a pear shape. My problem is I have a “booty pop”. My butt sticks out in the back. I never see this when designs are being shown. I don’t own a dress because there’s no “ booty pop” room figured into them. It takes up the whole back of the dress, material puddles just above it and I don’t want my butt on display like that as I’m 65. I already have to split the sides of every shirt or top I own. I would love to own tops or a dress that I felt fit me well. Am I the only one with this problem? And yes, I’ve had this problem all my life, but being a runner for many years only made it more round. So…. What can you suggest ? Is there a style that works well with this issue? Where are the patterns? There are many curvy patterns to accommodate wide hips but not the round butt issue.

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Mary, Thank you for sharing, I will work on this body shape, and think of the dress you can wear. Having two different sizes for your body does make it difficult but not impossible. I have just the thing and I will be sharing it as soon as I can. Buy around 5 yards of 50″ or wider softly draping fabric, such as silk georgette or satin in a lovely print. It must be a print since one colour fabric will accentuate your bottom shape.

  2. Wyn says:

    I think when I was younger and much slimmer I was an hourglass. But post-menopausal, still very short (doesn’t help) and alos overweight with a tummy, I find “apple” clothes look best – skimming from the bust down. Also, A-line skirts look atrocious – extra extra frumpy.
    I find if I narrow skirts in at the hem (tulip shape) I look much better. Hope that hint helps someone.

  3. Irene Erickson says:

    I always thought I must have an apple shape but from these explanations it seems I’m a rectangular figure. Thanks.

  4. Judith Tillotson Smith says:

    I’ve always thought I was an apple shape but your explanation makes me a rectangle which to be fair I have been told once before. I do always go for simple outlines and have always found frills and ruffles unflattering. Thank you!

  5. K. says:

    I still wonder if I have an hourglass or a pear figure. I have wide hips and have a full bust, but it is smaller than my hips. I have a narrow rib cage, so my waist has always been smaller than either. It doesn’t help that I am short, so that all this “feminine glory” is compacted in height.

    Wide belts usually don’t look nice, mom jeans have always ended just under my bust. Having too many layers often looks frumpy.

    Could you write a blog article for petites like me? Thanks.

    • Sarah says:

      Yes, please! Something for petites, especially those of us who are carrying more pounds than we would like. I have a rectangular figure by your descriptions. Thanks!

    • K. If your shoulders are as wide as your hips, you might be an X shape. You could have a big or small bust. This is based on your bone stucture, not your “fleshy” bits, which change as you gain/loose weight. If could have narrow shoulders and a big bust (measurement) you are a Pear shape. It is easy to work out by taking a photo in underwear or tank and leggings. Draw a line from outside shoulder to hip on each side. If they are parallel, you are an X shape. If they go out towards the bottom, you are an A shape (=pear).

  6. Laura says:

    I would love to know how adding menopause belly to this mix affects the types of clothes that flatter. These shapes emphasize the look from the front and not from the side also. I was always super thin and now I am suddenly an hourglass with menopause belly and 35 pounds overweight that won’t come off. My entire wardrobe has to be redone and it’s really frustrating. My high hip measurement got a lot of weight also. Any advice appreciated as I refashion all four seasons. Thank you.

  7. Patricia M Burckhardt says:

    Your explanation is great. I always thought I was more rectangular but with your explanation, I’m an apple. Go figure. I’ve always had wide shoulders but narrow hips and my waist has always been larger than I wanted. Now I know what to aim for when looking for clothing. When I was young, I was very thin but I always had bigger shoulders and narrow hips so I got so confused with any other explanations of shapes. Thank you Mayra.

  8. Ivlia Vespasia says:

    How about a curvy hourglass? Was hourglass for years until new meds made go up 6 dress sizes. Now I’m a sort of hourglass with a bulge in the middle. Curvy from the front but from the side the curves are suddenly in the wrong place. I am also short which doesn’t help. Wear shaped dresses that give the illusion of curves by their design, nipped in waists don’t work.

  9. Barbara Clark says:

    I’m the rectangle shape mostly. Can you show me some styles of clothing for my body shape

  10. Deborah says:

    I am a lot hap-pear now with my shape than I used to be before. Thanks!

  11. Joy says:

    Always considered myself pear shaped but looking at your descriptions, I think I might fit into straight body shape, too…I lost some weight.
    I follow you on Pinterest, YouTube & subscribe to your news letter.

  12. Ana Laura Coloccini says:

    I am an inverted triangle. What should I wear?

  13. denise williams says:

    I have a big bust, tummy and bum… Help

  14. Irene Erickson says:

    Good explanation but I’m still between shapes!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Irene, the important thing is that you are aware of your body shape. That is half the battle to dress with well fitted garments. Just out of curiosity what shapes do yu find yourself in?

      • Irene Erickson says:

        hmmm. very narrow shoulders, big bust, waist is only about 4″ smaller than bust, hips 7″ bigger. I’ve always thought I’d be an apple since I’m fuller in the entire center but I don’t have broad shoulders. I think I might be a pudgy rectangle!

    • kathy says:

      same here.

  15. Maryn King says:

    At last I know what my shape truly is. Lost 35kg and was sort of round and bulging.
    ….only to find out I’m an hour glass shape yippy. All that hiding away for so many years. I have a new lease on life since loosing weight and now finding my shape just adds to my joy

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  19. Deanna says:

    I think I’m a rectangle & if I’m correct I’ve been following the rules I always look better in jeans with embellished pockets with a flap and snap or button I have no junk in the trunk so I need help back there. Any other tips from anyone on how to make it look like I’ve got a butt. Of course when little tiny butt’s were in and big butt’s you tried to get rid of I had a huge rear I couldn’t get rid of now I’d like it back literally. Great tips

  20. Rita Kelechi says:

    Soooo very happy to find and be connected to So Sew Easy. Thanks a lot.

  21. MoiMoi says:

    Facial shape is a huge factor when determining suitability of a neckline style.

  22. simplybyti says:

    You missed me! I’m an inverted triangle. It is certainly a more rare body type, but we don’t fall into any of the above categories.

  23. Andrea says:

    The best explanation of body shapes I have ever found is at InsideOutStyle blog. She describes 7 shapes: A, V, X, 8, O, H and I.

    I always thought I was an apple (O), because I have a tummy, but through her website I discovered that I am actually an H (rectangle), because while my tummy sticks out to the front, it doesn’t stick out to the sides. So viewed from the front I am more or less straight up and down (i.e. my shoulders and hips are the same width with no significant waist).

    Her tips on what to wear for your shape are the best I’ve come across and now I always go back to her website if I’m unsure about a particular style.

    • Hazel says:

      Thank you for this, I’ve had exactlythe same problem finding something to accurately describe my shape. H is much more representative. I’ll look at InsideOutStyle blog next. Thanks again.

  24. Chris says:

    I’m a blob, too. Always thought I was an apple, mostly because my weight is across abdomen. But I read these again today – but thought about it newly (an apple with small boobs is not an apple) and realized I’m a rectangle! I’ve always been a rectangle only now just a heavy-in-the-middle, blob-type rectangle! Right away the clothing recommendations clicked because they’re what I’ve always tried to use, and now I know why.

    I’m not suggesting your body type for you of course. Only saying what happened when I gave up my preconceived notions and thought about it all over again from scratch.

    Thanks, Mayra and Deby.

  25. JANET says:

    AND if we are a blob?

  26. joanie says:

    Once again, my body shape, inverted triangle, is not mentioned.

  27. Libby says:

    I’m going shopping to use these tips today! thanks.

  28. marysews says:

    At 38″ – 34″ – 44″ I’m not sure if I’m a pear or a rectangle. However, I tend to just wear whatever I want, and look best in long dresses that flare from tank top styling.

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