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Dressing the Oval Shape this Fall

September 10, 2019

Hi gals! I mentioned to my email subscribers yesterday that I was spending the day with a friend helping her pick out some new clothes for her specific body shape. We had a blast shopping together. And I actually ended up being more help than I had imagined, after doing my research and getting my cheat sheet prepared. Ha! So today I thought I’d share with you all my attempt at styling the oval shaped body for fall.

The game plan

Last year I did a style series called Dressed for My Day…My Way, in which I nailed down how to distinguish the various body shapes and how to dress them. So you might want to check out those posts if you haven’t already. And if you’re an email subscriber and have the code (it’s in the daily emails) you can access the freebies that go with these posts.

Everyone seemed to enjoy that series and I got a lot out of researching and writing it. But yesterday was my first attempt at dressing a body shape different from my own hourglass or X. I had such fun doing it that I think I’m going to put together style ideas for each body shape over the next couple of weeks. These will be posts like today’s, in which I provide style “bulletin boards” with fall fashions for the rectangle (H), hourglass (X), triangle (A) and inverted triangle (V). Today I’m sharing a set of style bulletin boards for the oval (O) shape.

The client

My friend is an interior designer and needed outfits that look professional, current and youthful. She’s in her 40s and a recent empty-nester. Like me, she identifies as a classic style essence, but doesn’t want to look frumpy or matronly. To earn her clients’ trust, she needs to look modern and even a little edgy. But comfort is important to her, too, since she frequently has to get down on her hands and knees or up on ladders.

Before we began shopping, my client (well, that’s what I’m calling her in this post!) and I talked about some rules for dressing her body shape. We also talked colors. She chose black, grey and brown as her neutrals. She selected red, blue and potentially teal as her signature colors.

the oval or O body shape

Basically, an oval body shape is characterized by little to no waistline. Hips and shoulders are generally in proportion, but the middle is slightly wider or more pronounced. This is actually the rarest body type, and often an oval shape will turn into an H or rectangle shape as she loses a little weight. But the style tips are similar for both body shapes.

Often, but not always, an oval shaped woman also has a large bosom. So there’s the need to work around that, too.

The Cheat Sheet

Before I met my client at the mall, I reviewed my own blog posts from last year and came up with a cheat sheet for our day. Here are the rules we tried to shop by for the oval body shape:

  • bypass the waist – don’t belt or draw attention there
  • draw focus to the face and legs
  • look for open necklines, preferably v-necks
  • stay clear of closed or high necklines
  • look for empire waistlines, just below the bosom
  • look for dresses or skirt hems to finish at the knee in order to show off calves.
  • pants & jeans should fall in a straight line from hips – no skinny jeans or tapered pants
  • no pleats at the waistline
  • select straight, bootleg or trouser fit jeans and pants
  • wear heels if possible or pointy toe flats
  • select blouses with soft drape in the front
  • avoid pocket detail near the waist or hips – no cargo pants
  • absolutely NO tapered leg styles of pants
  • look for longer line jackets and cardigans that skim past the waist
  • wear jackets and cardigans open to create slimming vertical lines
  • wear brighter cardigan or jacket over darker tops or dresses
  • steer completely clear of horizontal lines – waist bands and stripes and seams
  • utilize the column of color under a third piece
  • put details above the bust to draw attention to face
  • utilize vertical lines through the torso when possible
  • put detail under the knees with interesting hemlines or shoes
  • place horizontal lines at shoulders or just under bust
  • look for high rise jeans for support and slenderizing shape, but you won’t tuck into them

That’s basically the very list I jotted down on notebook paper and carried with me for our shopping trip. It really helped to have those “rules” as we looked at things.

Style Bulletin Boards for O or Oval Shape Body

Let’s look at some of the types of outfits my client and I put together. In fact, some of these are the exact items she purchased. But all of these items are appropriate for the O or oval shaped body.

All of these are shoppable bulletin boards! Just shop through the captions or the shopping widgets below them. These are affiliate links, so if you purchase anything through them I potentially earn a small commission, but at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting what I do here!

Casual for the Oval Shape this Fall
jeans // shirt // cardigan // shoes // earrings

It’s amazing the difference straight leg jeans make for the oval shaped body. And the good news is that styles have moved that direction. Even cropped or ankle length straight jeans work beautifully, especially since it’s smart to draw attention to the lower legs. (Oval shaped bodies often have beautiful legs!)

Casual Work for the Oval Shape this Fall
jeans // top // jacket // shoes // necklace

Go wild with your shoes! Because my client needs comfortable shoes, but also wants to look current and fashionable, we chose wedge heeled sneakers. (She actually got taupe or black, but these would be great for a second pair.) Fun!

Office Professional for the Oval Shape this Fall
top // pants // cardigan // shoes // necklace

I titled this bulletin board wrong. It’s supposed to be Office Professional for the Oval Shape this Fall. Oops. Several of these items are Nic & Zoe. It turns out that most if not all of Nic & Zoe styles are absolutely perfect for the oval shape. I own and love these pants, so yes, other body shapes can wear them, too. But the straight leg is perfect for oval shapes. And they do a great job with flowy tops, geometrics and toppers for the oval shaped silhouette, too. They’re a little pricey, but do go on sale occasionally. And these are versatile pieces that get the job done.

Office Skirt for the Oval Shape this Fall
top // skirt // shoes // necklace // earrings

This geometric faux wrap sweater will look gorgeous worn loosely over this straight silhouette skirt. It creates pleasing diagonal lines right where you need them. And the skirt hem hits at the knees to show off those gorgeous legs. Add interest with leopard print heels and big earrings.

Also, if you choose to wear dainty necklaces instead of a large statement necklace, layer on several. This necklace set works beautifully.

Dress for oval Shape
dress // shoes // necklace // earrings // cardigan (not shown)

An open neck is usually best for the oval shaped silhouette, but if you must go with a closed neckline add a v-shaped necklace. This dress works well because of the distracting geometrics and the ruching at the waistline. Also the hemline is perfect. The shoes also come in nude if you’d prefer.

I really meant to add this long black cardigan to this bulletin board. Or a long cardigan of a different color would work well, too.

Finally, I have one last easy casual look for the oval shaped silhouette. This look would still work well for my client on work days. But it’s also perfect for more casual outings.

Easy Casual for the Oval Shape this Fall
top // jeans // jacket // shoes // earrings

This beautiful open neck, loose draping blouse is 40% off today and so is the soft jacket.

I really enjoyed helping my friend pick out some new clothes and put together outfits. So I’d like to do it again! If you have a different body shape – inverted triangle or V, triangle or A, rectangle or H or hourglass or X and would like to share a little about your lifestyle and style aesthetic I might style my next bulletin boards for you! Just share a little about your lifestyle, style essence and colors…and of course your body shape…for me in the comments. Then when I style that shape, I might pick you to style for!

I hope this post was helpful. Even if you’re not an oval maybe seeing the outfits worked through like this helped you see what different styling methods accomplish for the silhouette. Let me know if you have questions.

Have a lovely day, dear gals!

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Blessed for My Day

Yesterday on my way home from the mall I took a wrong turn. I ended up driving in the opposite direction of my home. But instead of getting flustered I just pulled into a parking lot and put my address into the GPS app on my phone and made the necessary adjustments.

As I drove the new route home I tried to pay attention to the roads and sites around me. I wanted to learn from my mistake so that I wouldn’t make it again. I don’t want to use a GPS forever! Eventually I want to be able to get around without it.

We all take wrong turns in life occasionally. Especially as we begin a new season of life, a new relationship or job. But the key is to learn from our mistakes and correct our course. Let’s pay attention to the directions God gives us, the precepts of His Word and how they direct us so we can live more consistently in line with His ways.

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever … Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. ~ Daniel 4:34,37

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xoxo, Kay
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29 thoughts on “Dressing the Oval Shape this Fall

  1. I am pear-shaped. Small on top, size 10 on bottom. I also have short legs (I’m 5’3”). I work in an office where we dress business casual and I attend church weekly. My color pallet is jewel tones with no pastels. Cardigans are probably my favorite wardrobe item. My biggest issue is selecting the right shoes.

  2. Boy Kay, this post really hit home with me. I’m certainly an Oval shape. Loved your ideas of outfits. Only thing I disagree with is the empire style. I look like I’m pregnant if I wear that style. Glad you’re learning your way around town. It will just take time. Thanks for your help. Sharon Bryan

    1. Hi Sharon. I’m so glad the post worked well for you. Yeah, on the empire style you need to chose pieces that have a line or separation there, but not any fullness. Make sense? So something like this might work: But that of course depends on personal body variations, too. But generally an empire waist is a cut that an oval shape can wear when needed, for instance, in an evening gown. Thanks so much for sharing. Yes, I’m getting my bearings slowly. Ha!

  3. Yay to hairbrain ideas! I’m a V shape with a menopause tummy, auburn hair, I like soft and comfy but not big and baggy. I mainly wear solids but like a little something special that makes it all look unique. No heels higher than 2″ & I have to go to a 8-5 office job daily but it’s a business casual atmosphere with jeans on Fridays.

  4. This post was extremely helpful to me because my body shape is like this one….too big in the middle. I really appreciated this information, and it made me realize that when I’m dressed like your examples in this blog, , that’s when I’m most comfortable. You do such good research for your posts, and I appreciate all your preparation!! You do a fantastic job! Thank you! Thank you!

    1. Ah, you’re so very welcome. I enjoy it really. I’m glad you saw yourself in this post. It’s very helpful to see how pieces work together. We were both a little amazed yesterday when she would put something on and we could actually see the science of it all working! Ha!

  5. Kay, I loved this post! Please do a post for a rectangle shape! I would love to see what you come up with! I am similar to you in hair color and skin color so I really pay attention to your styling! You are taller with more of an hourglass shape than me, though. But I would love to see this post!

  6. Pear shape where I ‘m small on top like a 0 or 2 and a 6 or 8 on the bottom. I’m also short at 5 feet 2”.
    I lam more classic style than anything else.
    I don’t work outside the home but travel frequently with my husband. I often need business casual clothes for different meetings and events. I also want to look my best in my everyday life A good pair of nice jeans and cute tops and maybe some jackets are a necessity of everyday life. I do still have a waist although I have more around the middle than I would like. Thank you.

  7. Hi Kay! I am loving your blog…you maintain a focus on inner beauty while still helping us figure out what to wear on the outside! I’m a true hourglass shape, which is supposed to be ideal, but it is SO frustrating to me! I’m 5’5”, 130 lbs so wear a curvy 4 or 6, but my bra size is a 30H…no, that’s not a typo! I know all the “rules” for an hourglass, and most are designed to accentuate our curves. The problem is, if I’m not careful, I can easily look too “voluptuous” and in my opinion, immodest. How do I look attractive without being “too attractive”? I’m a homeschooling mom of 9, love autumn colors and casual/classic clothing.

    1. Great! You gals are giving me a real challenge! Hahaha! And I have just the opposite problem, of course! But I will definitely work on this. I’m delighted that so far you gals who have volunteered your info cover the full spectrum of shapes. Yay!

  8. Kay, you are spot on with the ideas for the oval figure. Even at my skinniest, a tucked in shirt didn’t look good, and V-necks always look best on me. Thank you for this post. I think the series will be so helpful to other women.

    1. Great to hear that I got it right, Kathleen. Thanks so much for reading. I’m glad this worked for you. And yes, I’m looking forward to creating more of these.

  9. I so very much enjoy your blog! Especially the Blessed for my Day The scripture you used today is one that a read and studied in my quiet Rhine this morning. Thank you

  10. I so very much enjoy your blog! Especially the Blessed for my Day The scripture you used today is one that a read and studied in my quiet time this morning. Thank you

  11. Great post! How about a 60+ retiree that is basically stay at home/golf/sporting events for grands. 5’5′ How about an 8 shape, not quite an X and almost a pear. Very casual style but like very sleek style. Thanks for this series!! You’re awesome!

    1. Thanks so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And indeed we can all find some lessons in each body shape. Yes, I’ll be working on an X shape soon. Thanks for sharing. I’m taking notes and getting to work on it!

  12. This was great. I went and read other post to try and figure out my shape. My shoulders and hip are about same with my waist going in. But. I have a big caboose. So a lot of rules for 8 shape don’t really apply for me. I definitely get frustrated with clothing. I have learned I just need to try things on. For example I love the duster cardigans on others but my big caboose pushes it out in back for a unflattering bump. Definitely not a steam lined look for me. I have found the best professional look for me is pencil skirt with v neck shirt. But with everything getting so much more casual I don’t have a good look more casual. I loved today’s post with multiple looks! I can’t wait to read about the other looks! Thanks.

    1. Hi Kristin. Yes, it sounds like you are an X or hourglass. And then you have what we call a body variation, which is you, ahem, caboose! And you’re spot on that you should stay away from the longer cardigans. So that’s exactly why it’s important to keep your body variations in mind. And while I can style a shape, I have to have more details to style those variations. So I’ll work on this one, too. You gals are giving me some good challenges.

  13. Love this type of post- and I think this might be my shape. Although I’ve been wearing the wrong jeans- I wear a lot of straight skinny’s. Also taking notes, thank you.

    1. Great! Glad this is making sense to you. Yes, my friend “client” yesterday was wearing the wrong jeans, too, and she was itching to go home and “burn them!” Ha! I think you may be amazed at the difference the right jeans can make. And the good news is that straight let jeans are definitely in and available right now. Let me know if you try some and see a difference.

  14. What a great idea Kay! I would say I’m an hourglass shape. I waffle between hourglass. I’m 62 yrs old, 5’3 and 121 lbs. I’m a classic style but love adding some trendy pieces and accessories to stay current and interesting. I normally shy away from edgey just b/c I’m normally not comfortable in edgey. My lifestyle is casual with dressing up for lunch and dinner dates and church. I’m a Grandma who is fairly active and feels younger than 62., I’m blonde and blue-eyed with a medium cool skin tone. My go-to neutrals are navy, gray and cream and white or black if I’m tanned. My signature colors are in the aqua to teal and blues family, hot pinks and jeweled purple.

    1. I meant to say I waffle back and forth trying to decide if I’m an hourglass or a pear because my shoulders and hips are so close to the same size, with the hips being just a smidge larger by maybe a half inch or so. I feel I could fall into either category . My waistline is definitely smaller and well defined.

  15. Hi Kay,
    New subscriber here. I’ve been reading your posts about body shapes. I’ve always been a reverse triangle — learned that long ago — with broad shoulders, narrower hips, and no defined waste. But since gaining quite a bit of weight since the pandemic, and being less active, I wonder if I’ve become an oval. Of course, my bone structure hasn’t changed — shoulders and hips are the same, but the weight is mostly around my mid-section, and some in the upper body as well, like my arms.
    I’m short to boot — used to be 4’11”, but post-menopause, I think I’m starting to shrink. Pants have always been an issue, hard to fit because of my hip size, and height. Because my waist was straight and a bit thicker, they always seemed to be baggy in the crotch area. Blazers never worked for me either, with the broad shoulders and (used to be) muscular arms, I could never find one that fit comfortably. Right now, I’m enjoying the open cardigans, and have purchased a few to go with different outfits.
    I see a lot in your posts about jeans. I used to live in my jeans, but since the weight gain, I’ve given up on them, they’re just not comfortable any more. I have several pairs of leggings in different colors that I’ve turned to in the absence of jeans for the greater part of the year, until it gets too warm to wear them. I find them much more comfortable. With the stretch in them, I find they move better with the body. I always make sure to wear a longer top with them so that I’m appropriately covered.
    I wear a variety of colors — love color!!, not much of a neutrals gal. Mostly dislike beige and brown, was never able to wear black or gray until the last several years when I stopped coloring my hair and let it go gray. I used to be a brunette (medium brown), I have green eyes, and my skin is fair. Black and gray now look much better on me than they did when I was younger, but white has always been out of the question — I never looked good in it and still don’t, at least not close to my face.
    Favorite colors are olive and/or sage green and purple. I also like red a lot, (whether bright fire engine red, or a deeper wine or burgundy) and do wear it occasionally, paired with either black or gray usually, sometimes with navy. Blues are not a big color choice for me, but I do have some in my wardrobe. Pink and/or orange also do not really appear in my wardrobe, but recently I’m really liking the yellows, golds, and mustard colors that have been popular over the last few seasons, and I have added a few pieces in those shades.
    In the summer, I enjoy wearing capri pants, though it can be hard to get the length right. I mostly wear lightweight t-shirt style tops with them, with the occasional tank top thrown in if it’s really hot and humid. I have a couple of pairs of shorts, but wear them infrequently, unless I’m just hanging around the house.
    Also wanted to say a quick word about the prices of the items you recommend. I know they’re good quality, but may not be affordable for some of us. I certainly can not afford to pay $100 for a sweater or a pair of jeans. Perhaps you could do a post or two about how to shop/what to look for in some of the more reasonably priced stores. I’ve been shopping at Kohl’s almost exclusively for the last few years, and I think I look as good as anyone else. Also come to mind — Macy’s, JC Penney, Belk, maybe even Amazon or Walmart, just to name a few.
    Looking forward to seeing more.
    Thanks for all this!!