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How to make the most of your shape

2013-02-26 17:32:33

Published on 2013-02-26 17:32:33

Although I’m a firm believer that learning to love and accept your body begins in the mind (through how you think and feel about it), part of being body confident is also about making the most of the body you have. When coupled with a healthy attitude towards your body, dressing for your shape in styles that flatter and enhance your natural ‘assets’ is a great confidence boost.

Knowing your body shape is the key to successfully dressing it. Regardless of the current fashion, it’s essential to only select items of clothing that suit your shape (and of course your personality – you can find out more about style and personality in my other blog articles: Express yourself through style and How to change your style). Yet despite this, I’ve discovered that:

- 44% of women don’t know what body shape they are
- 1 in 3 buy clothes they never wear
- 99% of women claim they have bought clothes which  don’t suit their figure

(Figures taken from a survey by Gok Wan)

This led me to the conclusion that there are a lot of women in the UK frustrated with how to dress for their shape and an awful lot of unloved and unworn clothes! So how do you beat the frustration of knowing how to make the most of your shape? These tips will get you started:

Know your shape

Wearing either your underwear or tight fitting clothing such as leggings and a vest top (or nude if you prefer), look at yourself in a full length mirror and notice the overall shape created by your figure. Look at the top half of your torso compared to the bottom half – does the top appear bigger than the bottom or vice-versa? Or are your top and bottom half fairly well balanced i.e. a similar size? If you wear a different size on your top to the bottom, this will give you a clue as to which half is bigger. If you wear the same size top and bottom, this indicates that your top and bottom are balanced.

Here are short descriptions of the main body shapes. Which one is most like you?

Pear or triangular shaped

Larger hips, bottom and thighs with smaller bust and shoulders 

Rectangular or straight 

Waist, bust and hips of similar measurement with an undefined waist

Round or apple shaped

Hips and waist are generally balanced with a generous bust and waist

Inverted triangular

Shoulders are broader than the hips


Balanced bust and hips with a very slim, defined waist – the supposed ‘ideal’ shape.

Balance out your shape

One of the main goals of styling is to balance out your shape. Although this blog post is not intended to give you a full round up of all the styles and shapes to wear for each body type, here are some examples to illustrate how clothing can be used to achieve balance:

women's body shapes

If you are pear shaped, the aim is to make your bottom and top half look more in balance. Wear clothes that make your top half appear bigger – this can be achieved with styles that visually widen or draw more attention to this area such as horizontal stripes, slash necklines, or details like frills. On the bottom half you can minimise the appearance of the bottom and thighs using darker colours and styles that lengthen the legs such as boot cut trousers.

For those with a bigger top half (inverted triangle), detract the eye away from this area with simple, non-bulky styles such as fitted jackets with thin labels or simple tops without fussy detail. Use styles that create more volume on your bottom half like fuller skirts and boot cut or flared trousers.

If you have a balanced top and bottom half (rectangular, hourglass or round) use clothing to create and accentuate your waist. Tailored jackets that nip in at the waist or belts can be used to do this. If you have a fuller chest or tummy, clothing can be used to minimise or draw attention away from these areas. Deep V necks help to minimise a larger bust while an empire line is great way to showcase the narrowest part of your frame and de-emphasise a tummy.

Consider your own shape, what do you need to do to achieve balance?

Train your eye

Every time you put on clothing, ask yourself: do I look balanced and in proportion? Does this outfit accentuate my best features and help me feel confident about those bits I’m less keen on? The more awareness you bring to dressing daily, the better trained your eye will become. This will be a huge asset when shopping for new clothes, as you’ll be able to immediately recognise items of clothing that create the right proportions for you.

Embrace your wonderful body – love and accept it and dress it in styles that suit its shape!

Need more help dressing for your shape? Book a Style Confidence Consultation for my 1:1 help, or if you don’t have enough time for a consultation or need a lower cost option, why not buy my Body Shape Prescription service which gives you a full report on your body shape and how to dress it, all from the comfort of your own home?

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