How to dress to suit your body shape

This month we’re going to look at some of our different body shapes.

You should have a piece of paper that tells you which category you are in. If not refer back to the instructions in the article ‘The psychology of Clothes’

We have previously spoken about having short legs/long torso or long legs/short torso – some of the following tips that I give you, you may find, contradict what was said. Now when this happens you need to assess for yourself which of your imbalances are most ‘out of balance’ and so more important to correct.

Finding clothes that tick all the boxes for your imbalances is quite hard and you may feel it’s not worth trying, but you don’t have to cure them all, really, you only have to concentrate on the main one or two issues, but life being what it is sometimes means we cannot deal with our major imbalance and so we are left with all the others. If we can balance them out, our major issue becomes less significant, but obviously it takes less work to concentrate on your main one or two issues. So it is helpful (perhaps in your head) to prioritize your imbalances.

So Let us start by looking at:-

Inverted Triangle
For the perfect balanced figure we are looking for the same width across our shoulders as across our hips (see last month’s article on tricks of the trade).With Inverted triangles your shoulders are wider than you hips and we need to address that balance.

It often surprises people who are this shape, because they have spent their lives trying to disguise their hips and tummies – well there is no need, once we take into account the broadness of their shoulders, their hips and tummies will disappear into perfect proportions – hurray! We cannot lose weight on our shoulders! It is bone and no amount of dieting or exercise is going to make them smaller, so we minimize, by not bringing attention to them, no ruffles, shoulder pads, wide lapels, and button detail on the shoulder or puff sleeves. We’re talking about neat, thin weave, V necks and a crisp look.

What we can do – is bring our hips out very slightly (depending on the amount of difference from our shoulders) with just a little detail – think front trouser pockets, on a slant that slightly stick out, more texture on the trousers, belts at hip height, sarong tied on the hip, pleats on trousers.

Remember if we bring our hips out to meet our shoulders then our waist will look miraculously smaller and we can stop worrying about our tummy. Ladies with an inverted triangle figure look fantastic in halter neck evening wear, as this brings the shoulder line in, but be very careful in off the shoulder/slash neck as this only widens. If you do wear anything that brings the shoulders out you must always bring the hips out even further. Back in my last article we talked about horizontals shortening and making smaller – well, on our shoulders we can use this to our advantage as the seam on the shoulder can give the appearance of it bringing the shoulder line in – think fitted waistcoats, cardie’s that are a size too small ( you don’t have to do them up!) – much better than when too large, remember that when the seam falls off the shoulder it gives the appearance of widening the shoulders, which is the last thing we want to do!

So, if you think you are an inverted triangle; which includes athletic figures, broad-shouldered, can have a ‘top heavy’ bust larger than hips, bottom flat


* Sharp, crisp styles
* Texture in fabrics tightly woven and crisp, looser weaves at bottom
* Simple designs
* Simple jacket with straight skirt or trousers
* Kick pleats
* Low heel


* Shoulder pads
* Keep details to minimum if have full bust
* Fussy prints
* Gathers at waist

The next shape to look at is the Pear Shape.

To all intents and purposes this is the opposite of the inverted triangle, but at times harder to dress because we have the temptation to show off our much smaller top halves! Again we need to bring our body into balance so that we can look like those enviable hourglass shapes. Bring out the shoulders to match the hips and our waist will miraculously look smaller – result!

Pear Shape
People with this shape can be divided into two, but the principles are the same. All you need to do to check as to which you are is to look at yourself in a mirror and decide whether you have a curved look or are more angular/ athletic.

Curved pears are smaller on the top and broader on the hips. Your silhouette from the front and side is more curved. From the front your shoulders are curved or sloping and your hips more rounded than flat.

Angular pears are narrow at the shoulders, broad on hips; you have straight shoulders, tummy and a flat bottom. Clothes are often too big on the waist in comparison to the hips.

We’ll begin by looking at the generalities of the shape. We are looking at widening the shoulders and minimizing the hips – the key here is to stop looking at the hips every time you dress and start accepting that they will look in proportion if you bring detail to the shoulders. Pear shaped people often have lovely toned upper bodies with no extra fat and it’s very tempting to show this off – which is fine if you’re sitting down. Unfortunately highlighting skinny uppers gives the impression of the lower half being even larger and so by bringing attention to the shoulders by widening them, and that will in effect minimize your hips.

The sort of attention we’re talking about is puff sleeves, shoulder pads, slash necks and dresses and jumpers that are ‘off the shoulder. For evening wear a stole worn of the shoulder is a great accessory. At the hip area you should keep everything neat and minimal texture, keep belts waist and above, they can look fantastic as they highlight your small waist – just remember to always keep those shoulder details coming out!

You will often find that clothes are too big on the waist and it is always a good investment to find a tailor/seamstress to have them taken in as it will be hard finding trousers in particular that are wide enough on the leg, but small enough for your waist.

Angular Pear shape


* Shoulder pads – straight/ not exaggerated
* Puffed /pleated sleeves
* Shawls and scarves over shoulders
* Peaked or pointed lapels on jackets
* Jackets same size as your bottom
* Layering on top where you require
* Simple designs


* Excessive flounces and gathers
* Items that fit on waist and pull over hip and bottom

Curved Pear shape


* Curved shoulder pads
* Some gathers at waist
* Boat necklines
* Softer fabrics


* Square shoulder pads
* Gathers running completely around the waist
* Slim-fitting tops
* Crisp fabrics

So this article gives us the details on two shapes. With both of them, it is small changes that make a big difference, if there is 6 cm’s difference between your shoulders and hips (either way) you do not have to bring out the other by 6 cams, but just some extra detail to bring the smaller part out more – this can take a bit of trial and error but well worth the effort.

Next month we will look at the Straight body /Softened straight and also the Hourglass that can become round if too much weight is carried.

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