Welcome to the 3rd post in the Dressed for My Day…My Way series, where we’re learning how to dress our unique bodies in the way that is most flattering as well as pleasing to our own tastes. Our goal is to discover how we can understand the science, do the math, create the art and then wear it with passion. In this series we’re slowly but surely learning how to factor in:
- body shape
- body proportions
- body variations
- & lifestyle
so that you can dress your body for your day…your way! And today, we’re discovering how to best dress our unique body shapes. (If you want to start at the beginning, the first post is here.)
A Little Shapely Review
Remember, shape isn’t everything…but it is vital to understanding how to best dress your body. Knowing your body shape doesn’t tell you:
- where your hemline should be on your pants or skirts
- what kind of vamp your shoes should have
- what colors make you radiant
- what you’ll feel comfortable and confident in
- how to scale prints
But knowing the basic structural shape of your body will help you know:
- where to put vertical lines to lengthen or slim
- where to put horizontal lines to broaden or balance
- where to put diagonal lines to direct the eyes
- where to put curves to follow the female form or add volume
So first, you need to know your body shape. Remember, your shape isn’t about the size of your breast or your booty. And it’s not even calculated by measuring around your body. Your shape is how your body appears to be shaped from the front view.
Really, your body shape is based primarily on:
- the width (diameter, not circumference) of your shoulders
- the width (diameter, not circumference) of your hips or thighs, whichever is broader
- the width of your waist or natural bend
- where your waist or natural bend is located
- and that’s all!
~ If you haven’t already determined your body shape, you’ll want to do that here before proceeding. ~
Have you discovered your body shape?
- Maybe you are a rectangle. Your shoulders and hips appear to be about the same width and are balanced. You are straight through the body and your waist is not significantly distinguishable. You may be petite and small boned (an I) or broader and big boned (an H).
- Maybe you are an hourglass. Your shoulders and hips/thighs are similar in width and appear balanced. Your waist is defined. If your waist (natural bend and smallest part) is high and “shelf-like” and your hips are wider than your thighs then you are an 8. If your waist is more of a gradual slope and your thighs are wider than your hips, you are an X. But either way, you’re an hourglass.
- Maybe you are an oval. Your shoulders and hips appear to be about the same width and balanced. From the front your waistline is not especially distinguishable and extends outward past your hips and shoulders.
- Maybe you are a triangle. Your shoulders are somewhat narrower than your hips or thighs and your waist is defined.
- Maybe you are an inverted triangle. Your shoulders are somewhat broader than your hips or thighs. Your waist may or may not be defined.
Now, let’s see what adjustments you might want to make when selecting clothing for your body.
How to Dress Each Shape
Here’s what we’re looking at. For each shape, we’re looking at:
- Where to put detail – you want to add detail or interest to areas where you want to draw the eye or draw attention. Detail or interest could include jewelry, patterns, florals, interesting hemlines or collars or cuffs, extra color, texture such as ruffles, lace, or pleats.
- Where to add horizontal lines – you want to add horizontal lines to make an area appear broader, wide, fuller or to accentuate a horizontal line that is already pleasing.
- Where to add vertical lines – you want to add vertical lines to an area that you need to lengthen or slenderize
- Where to put curves – you want to add curves to follow the female form or to create more of a female form, or to add volume
- Where to keep plain – you want to steer clear of embellishment or details in areas that you don’t want to draw attention. Keep plain to divert the eye to the areas where you have intentionally put interesting details.
Here’s how that works on each body shape:
(Find your body shape and read through your guidelines, trying to understand how they help you achieve your goals. Keep reading and then come back to the shopping widgets after I’ve told you what to do with them.)
The Rectangle –
Additional tips: Your goal is to add shape, curves. Try dresses and even pants with built in shaping at the waist, such as darts. Or wear a tailored jacket. Above the bust, add large statement necklaces or interesting collars. Steer clear of any detail or horizontal lines along the waist, but add vertical detailing through the body. Create contrast by wearing prints or a couple of solids. Add detailing and prints with curves to create the illusion of a curvier body.
Dresses for you:
Additional tips: Your goal is to accentuate the natural curves in your body and to maintain balance. Great dresses for you include the fit & flare, a form fitted sheath dress or a cinched waist dress. You can wear most anything, but you’ll look your best when you wear well fitted clothes that accentuate your waist and elongate your body. Because you are so balanced, if you don’t define your waist you will end up looking boxy.
Dresses for you:
Additional tips: Your goal is to add definition and to draw attention to your shoulders and above. When you add interest above the bust and use horizontal lines above and below the bust, you’ll add instant definition. Use darker colors in the torso or even through the body. Add a waterfall cardigan or ruffle to create vertical details through the body and create the illusion of a waist. Have fun with your shoes and the jewelry you wear above your bust.
Dresses for you:
Additional tips: Your goal is to balance your shoulders and hips and to accentuate your waist. So a basic rule of thumb for you is to keep it boring down below and very interesting up top. Use horizontals above the waist to broaden your shoulders. Also, wear lighter clothing up top and darker on the bottom.
Dresses for you:
Inverted Triangle Shape
Additional tips: Your goal is to balance your shoulders and hips and accentuate your waist. Look for flared skirt shapes to balance your shoulders. Don’t use any broadening horizontal detailing near the shoulders. Instead add vertical detailing on the lower body, as in an interesting hemline. You’ll probably look your best with darker tops and lighter skirts or pants. Also Raglan sleeves will help make shoulders look narrower. Your tops look great when they end around the hips instead of too high. Wide leg jeans and pants balance your shoulders, but be sure to wear a fitted top with them.
Dresses for you:
If you’re a subscriber you have access to the above charts as printouts through the email you received. I encourage you to print out your body shape and no other. Don’t confuse yourself by trying to learn all the body shapes and their goals…unless you’re wanting a job as a stylist or something. Ha! Really, it’s just too confusing to try to remember all of this. You only need to understand your body shape and how it affects your shopping and styling goals.
So here’s what you might do if you’re up to the challenge and/or really want to use this information:
- Print out your shape guide. Make additional notes on it as needed, including the additional tips I offered here.
- Take a little cyber shopping trip. With your body shape guide handy, sit down in front of your computer or pad or phone and shop the links below your body shape. I’m providing you with dresses that work in your shape guide. That’s just to get you started. Now, keep in mind that some of these dresses would need some additional styling to really work best for you. Think about what jewelry or belt or scarf you might add to make the dress work best for your body. Then look for other clothing that would work within your “rules” or guidelines. You don’t have to buy anything (unless you want to, of course!). But you’re just getting into the habit of looking for clothing that will work for you and not against you.
- Head to your closet. I’m not suggesting you throw anything out…yet. Because we’re just getting started in this multi-step process. So don’t get ahead. Something in your closet may appear against the rules right now, but you may learn other rules that help you utilize that piece in a new way. Still see if you can identify pieces in your wardrobe that do fit your new shape rules and, more importantly, identify why they work for you.
- Stay tuned. Remember, shape is only part of the equation. We’re far from being through this discovery process. Stay tuned for the other components. And if you’re not a subscriber to my email list, become one. That way you get all the printouts that go with these posts.
I hope you enjoyed this post. My bet is that I’ve created more questions for you than answers if this is new material to you. Honestly, when I first researched body shapes I got so confused! But as I studied it and thought about the “why’s” behind the rules, it became crystal clear. I think it will for you, too. Then you’ll be able to go shopping and style your closet with a new awareness of what you’re creating.
Next week we won’t have a Dressed for My Day…My Way post because I’m preparing for some time away right now, and these posts require a lot of time. But I promise we’ll get back to it the next week.
Have questions? Ask them! I’d love to hear from you!
Blessed for My Day
No matter how things shape up for you today, may you feel the blessing of the Lord on your life. Whether you experience success or failure, prosperity or loss, new life or death, may you see God at work in all things to make you more like Christ. Maybe you’ve invested a lot of time and effort and even money into a venture or investment or project that isn’t shaping up the way you thought it would. May you hear God speak into your situation louder than your own emotions. Or maybe you have a relationship that has taken a different shape, an unfamiliar shape. I pray that regardless of the changes in any human relationship, you will feel the presence of God all the more. Dear one, life does not always follow the path we chart, but we can trust that God is not taken by surprise. He will light your path and lead you on it if you will just acknowledge Him.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
Psst! Don’t forget to share this post on Pinterest and/or Facebook if you enjoyed it. Thanks, sweet gal!
10 thoughts on “Dress Your Body Shape – Dressed My Way”
I’ve always known my body shape but it was very helpful to see the how’s and whys of dressing for my type. The dresses were right on, Ive picked these styles before. Now I look forward to other types of clothes , esp bathing suits ugh! Love the articles and the end message is right on for what I needed now.
Great! Isn’t it interesting that we tend to gravitate toward the very clothes that probably look the best? I think that’s because as time goes by and we get compliments on certain styles we begin to realize that they work best. I’m glad you’re enjoying the series. 🙂
Your articles are the best ones I’ve seen on explaining body shape and how to dress! I can’t wait to see the rest of the series! Hope your time away is fun and relaxing!
Thanks so much Dianna. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. Thanks for reading! 🙂
I had written before thinking I was an oval because my waist is not defined anymore (weight gain) and my shoulders and hips are similar in width. But now I am confused because I read today from you that an oval has a waist that from the front “extends outward past your hips and shoulders” and mine doesn’t. Could I be a rectangle even though I am not skinny like the picture of a rectangle person?
Thank you again for this wonderful series!
Hi Pamela. Yes, this can definitely be a bit confusing. If you are an oval your mid section will be wider in diameter than your hips and/or shoulders, as in the illustration. If you are a rectangle, your mid section is relatively the same in diameter as your hips and shoulders. And this doesn’t have to be exact. It might be good to bring another pair of eyes in on this. Remember, your body shape is really about your silhouette from the front view. And yes, you can be a rectangle and not be skinny. If you look back over the handouts that went with the post where we calculated our body shapes, you’ll see that I differentiated between two types of rectangles: an H, which is a little stockier, and an I which is slender. So you very well may be an H rectangle.
I’m glad you’re enjoying the series despite the confusion. Better to work through our frustrations than throw our hands up in the air, huh? Thanks for reading. Let me know if this helped. 🙂
Thank you Kay. Yes your explanation did help a lot. I really appreciate it!
I have a question about the 3rd bullet point in “How to Discover your Body Shape. It says to use a ribbon a foot long to make a circle. Am I misunderstanding the instructions or is the ribbon possibly supposed to be longer? I am also struggling with the same determination of shape as the other commenter, so will try the suggestions in your reply. Thanks for all of the info!
Ah, you caught an error! That bullet point should say to take a ribbon about a yard long. Whew! A foot would be impossible. Oh my! So I corrected it now. Thanks for pointing that out. Hopefully that helps.
Dear Kay, A big thank you to Jan for pointing out the foot versus yard description of ribbon. A foot barely covers my thigh! Ha! Thanks so much for this series. I’ve always considered myself an apple shape but maybe I am a rectangle. I have to get another pair of eyes . Hope your vacation is restful and happy. God bless.