In The Fine Art of Dressing, by Margaux Tartarotti, the author uses a rather creative way to talk about dressing your body type by comparing the most common shapes to classic masters. For example, she calls the pear shaped figure a Modigliani because of the artist’s propensity toward drawing portraits of women with narrow shoulders and full hips, butt and thighs. I love her approach because it underscores how the prevailing view of beauty has changed over the centuries and continues to change. Just consider the modern trend of implants to create a larger, lifted and rounder buttocks. Having just come from Las Vegas, I can tell you that bodycon, short for body-confidence, is a true trend. Figure hugging and curve showing dresses were everywhere. Our different shapes and sizes are what makes us uniquely beautiful.
In this blog post, the second in my Dressing Your Body Type Series, I will cover the first thee of six body styles and talk about ways to work with that figure type for the most flattering looks. This is not about covering up what one might see as a deficit, but instead it is about balancing out your figure in the most advantageous way. If you missed Part I: The Fundamentals, take a moment to read that now. You can also watch my video on this topic on my YouTube page. Watch that here: https://youtu.be/U_yiCAkyHdg
Pear Shaped: Defined by a small neck; narrow, sloped shoulders; a small bust; a defined waist; and full hips and thighs
Key Figure Balancing Actions: Draw attention to the upper part of your body with color and style. Add width to your shoulders with shoulder pads to even out the shoulder/hip ratio. Accent without cinching your waist. Draw attention away from your hips and thighs.
Ways to do this:
- Make sure your bottoms do not fit too close to your hips and thighs and choose pencil skirts that get slimmer toward your calves to avoid looking like a box. Choose either firm, lined and tailored fabrics or soft and flowy fabrics with a nice drape, avoiding lightweight or inexpensive fabrics.
- Wear shoulder pads and choose tailored tops that use darts to point toward a waist without clinging to it. Avoid cinching the waist because it will only emphasize your bottom curves. Have your tops hit below the hip line if you are tall and at or above the hip bone if you are shorter.
- Choose darker, neutral colors for your bottom.
- Choose wider necklines like boatnecks and Cowel necklines that can be worn over the shoulder to give the illusion of broader shoulders and draw attention away from sloping shoulders. Avoid drop shoulders.
- Avoid large tote handbags or crossbody bags that hang right at the widest part of your body. Choose instead a shoulder bag that sits higher up on your frame.
- Use accessories and colors that will draw the eye to your slender neck and face.
Best styles to choose from: empire waist dresses and tops; 3/4 length jackets or tops with a short, tapered skirt; tops that hit at your hipbone; cinched waist under a 3/4 or long vest.
Here are some other examples of good styles from our Boho Chic Collection. Notice the empire waist top on the right with the full bodice to allow room for a fuller hip paired up with a narrow bottom. In the middle is a good example of a 3/4 length cardigan. A good idea for this look would be to belt the tee underneath to “hint” at your waist without cinching it. On the left is a good example of a longer, maxi style jacket in a draped fabric with a top that falls at the low hip, paired up with a narrow bottom.
Diamond Shape: Defined by slim shoulders, small bust, thick waist, full hips and thighs
Key Figure Balancing Actions: Focus attention on your torso, above your waist. Balance your shoulder and hip ratio. Draw attention away from your lower body.
Key Action Steps:
- Elastic waists are your friend. Choose tapered cuts that narrow toward your lower leg to avoid a boxy look. Avoid maxi lengths. Avoid wide bottoms like palazzo pants.
- Wear shoulder pads. Choose tops that are fitted over your bust but then flare out starting at the middle of your rib cage, giving you the extra room you need for your waist.
- Jacket hemlines should hit below the broadest part of your hips. Be sure they don’t pull across this area
- Wear dark or neutral bottoms
- Accent your slim torso with colors that flatter your skin tone. If you aren’t sure what are your best colors, watch my video series on Determining Your Best Color Palate
- Avoid stiff fabrics and opt for softer fabrics with a nice drape and also avoid bottom details that add girth like pockets that stand out
- Choose neckline details like boatnecks and Cowl necks to balance your shoulders and your hips
- Avoid handbags that sit at your hips and choose shoulder bags instead.
Best styles to choose from: Empire waist dresses; longer tops with narrow bottoms; trapezoid dresses; long, layered vests; and jackets with narrow bottoms.
Here are some good styles from our Sympli Spring 2023 Collection. On the left, our Pleat Hem Tank Dress is a great example of a dress that hints at a waist without cinching and also narrows at the bottom. The look in the middle is a longer, tunic length top that falls well below the widest part of a Diamond Shaped body with narrow but flowy pants. On the right, we have again chosen a tunic length top and a legging to accentuate narrow legs. We also love the fabric in our Sympli line, as it is the perfect weighted travel knit that drapes rather than clings. We also like these small handbags from HOBO for this body type as well.
Round Shape: Defined by a fuller neck, larger bust, wide rib cage, rounded back, larger tummy, and narrow hips leading into slender legs.
Key Figure Balancing Actions: Use Part I: The Fundamentals to make your neck look slimmer and longer. Draw attention away from your round middle. Bring balance to your upper and lower torso. Draw attention to your slender legs.
Key Action Steps:
- Focus on straight skirts as opposed to full skirts to draw attention to your lower hips and legs, and choose pants that have a straight or narrow leg.
- Choose fabrics that drape rather than those that are stiff or clingy. Avoid fitted tops. Your jackets should be long enough to cover your round middle and stop just at the top of where your hips and legs narrow.
- Choose shapes like dolman, raglan, and kimono sleeves that will give you extra room for your arms and bust. Over blouses are a great choice too.
- Draw attention to your lower body with color and prints and downplay your upper body with neutrals and darker colors.
- Larger busted women should wear larger prints to help balance your figure. If you want to wear a brighter color for your top, just downplay it with a neutral jacket.
- Use the optical illusion of the diagonal line that we discussed in Part I to visually slim and elongate your neckline
- Choose a handbag that hangs at your lower hip. Avoid shoulder bags and backpacks that will add extra girth to your torso
- No belts for this figure type and make sure accessories create a vertical and not horizontal line (long scarves and necklaces). Don’t let scarves or necklaces hit right at the fullest part of your bust.
Best Styles To Choose From: Tunics and narrow skirts, especially those that show off your legs; longer tops with Bermuda shorts or slim cropped pants; flowy jackets over monochromatic outfits.
Below are some good styles from our Spring 2023 Sympli Collection. On the left, is a great longer jacket paired over a tunic length, sleeveless top. The monochromatic tops help minimize the upper torso and the pants narrow at the bottom to emphasize a slender leg. In the middle, the flowy jacket is paired over a tunic length top and matched to a narrow bottom to accentuate the legs. On the right, the eye is drawn to the lighter colored bottom and the cropped length that shows off the legs while the longer jacket and top draw attention away from the upper torso.
To join me in a live discussion of this topic with examples from my store of styles that work with each body type, watch my Wednesday Wardrobing Live Video tonight at 6 p.m. You will need to ask to join our VIP Facebook Group to watch live so do it a little before the video start time. If that time doesn’t work for you, you can catch the video on my YouTube Page.
Happy Dressing Your Body Type!!
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