As more and more people embrace body positivity instead of obsessing over the “ideal” body, fashion standards are becoming much looser. Just search the #bodypositivity (or “bopo”) hashtag on Instagram; you’ll find images of millions of women in every race, shape and size imaginable, wearing clothing that used to be frowned upon if you didn’t have a model’s body.
Finally, women are being encouraged to love themselves at every size instead of being told what parts of their body are flawed and should be hidden. Granted, we still have a long way to go but this is nonetheless, a VERY exciting time to be a female!
So with the #bopo movement at an all time high, it can be really helpful to know exactly how dress right for your body shape. Because all our bodies are unique, let’s first talk about how to actually figure out your body shape and then, get into what looks best on you.
The first and most important aspect of dressing right for your figure, involves know what your figure actually is. Here are the four main body shapes for women:
- Hourglass: If you have an hourglass figure, you have a full chest and hips that are about the same width. Your waist is well defined and you have obvious curves.
- Pear: Pear figures have hips that are wider than their busts. As such, their necks, shoulders, and arms look petite. They also have well defined waists and tend to gain weight below the hips.
- Apple: Apple body shapes carry much of their weight in their chest and on their stomachs. They tend to be wide-shouldered and their waists aren’t as defined. Apple shapes also tend to have shapely legs.
- Ruler: Also called the “rectangle,” “banana” or “straight” body shape, your hips and bust are equally wide. Like the apple shape, your waist isn’t as defined and you tend to gain weight on your stomach. The difference however, is that your shoulders and legs are slimmer, and your bust is smaller.
How to Dress For Your Body:
Hourglass: On your top half, belted clothes—such as sweaters, jackets or snug tops — are a good pick because they show off your defined waist. Choose tops with narrow necklines and without embellishment to deemphasize your wide bust and keep the attention on your waist. On the bottom, high-waisted shorts and pants serve the same purpose. Flared pants visually lengthen your legs, and pencil skirts are a great replacement for them for office wear. For formal occasions, choose belted wrap dresses or add a belt to a plain dress. To further focus attention on your waist, choose simple, neutral-colored shoes. Stick with shoes that match your curves, like open-toed shoes or wedge sandals.
Pear: To emphasize your petite upper body, choose fitted tops in bright colors with embellishments near the neckline. Belted tops are a good choice for you; as is layering your clothing (by wearing a tank top or cardigan). This draws more attention to your top half. If you want some bling, pair a colorful necklace with a plain top. Flared jeans and pants should be your go-to bottoms as the wide cut around the ankles matches your wide hips, making them look more proportional. High waisted shorts are also your friend; choose shorts made from structured fabric to smooth out your curves. Choose pointy-toed shoes or knee-high boots—they’ll lengthen and slim your legs.
Apple: In terms of shirts, choose flowy tops and structured jackets to give your upper half a nice shape. A v-cut neckline will help to lengthen your top half. Unlike hourglass and pear shapes, steer clear of belts at your waistline—go for an empire waistline look instead that will be tight just below the bust. Emphasize your legs with slim-fitting pants like skinny jeans. Choose mid-rise pants to avoid any uncomfortable bulging above or below the waistline. Trouser pants also work well as office wear because they help balance out your top with their wide legs. Flats or kitten heels also draw attention to your legs; as do strappy heels. Definitely rock some colorful shoes!
Ruler: Fitted, but not snug tops, are the best bet for ruler figures. Paired with a belt, they give you a curvier appearance. Wear clothes with curves—structured button-down shirts, one-shoulder tops, and the scooped neckline are some examples. Full and A-line skirts are good choices for you; as are boot-cut pants. If you want to show off your slim legs, pick slim-fitting pants and skinny jeans. Ruler shapes have many choices when it comes to clothing for the lower half! Chunky shoes will help you attain a curvy look in your outfits. From Birkenstocks to Timberlands, you have loads of options! If nothing else, round-toed heels for the office are a great choice!
In the end though, regardless of whether or not you choose to “dress right,” just be sure to wear what makes you feel comfortable. While “the right outfit” is a great way to be fashionable, nothing is more attractive than a women rocking what she loves with confidence!