Looking great in your clothes will make a tremendous difference in the way you feel. When you feel like you look great, your confidence levels increase which spill over into everything that you do and helps you show up and be the better friend/mother/employee/employer/wife. It also helps that you aren’t spending time worrying about whether or not your tush is sticking out or if you look 5 months pregnant (when you are actually 5+ years post-partum). Nobody wants to worry about belly flab while walking into their 10 am meeting.
Every woman deserves to feel amazing and EVERYONE has the potential to look beautiful.
A LOT of it has to do with knowing and understanding your body shape. Once you get it, you can then dress for it. This saves time because you know what to look for while shopping, and it saves you money by not buying clothes you won’t wear since they don’t flatter you (which of course you only realize after you get home and rip the tag off).
So before I dive in, let me just make something very clear: body shape has nothing to do with size, and everything to do with bone structure and genetics. I’ve styled women who wear size 2-22 and the same principles apply to each.
Another thing before I start; each of these styles may come with a belly (especially for us moms and even more so for the C-section warriors among us). This does not mean that you are the oval shape. First look at your shoulder width, hip width, and whether or not you have an indented waist. If one is visually wider than the other, then you are either the triangle or the inverted triangle. If you have a belly, it will be secondary to the other. The oval is reserved for those of us whose waist is undefined and whose mid-section is equal to or greater than hips and bust.
Ok, disclaimers aside, now we’re really ready.
So put on something tight and get in front of the mirror. Look at these three points on your body:
These are three points that will determine your shape.
Now draw an imaginary line down from your shoulders down to your hips and note where this invisible line hits.
Ask yourself the following questions and then go through each body part to determine which is you:
Which is the widest part of your body? And do you have a larger bust or bottom, or are they pretty much in proportion?
First up, the HOURGLASS
Do your bust and hip have equal width?
Is your waist well defined (does it narrow)?
Do you consider yourself curvy at your bust and your bottom?
Your key dressing points:
What to Highlight: Highlight your beautiful and feminine shape by bringing in your waist with waistlines, belts, or structured tops/dresses.
Balance: You are in proportion so there’s no need to use clothes with volume to balance out hips or shoulders. It’s natural baby.
Avoid big, long, shapeless tops and dresses. They will just hang over your curves and make you look bigger than you are.
The celebrities that you can binge search to glean style inspiration from:
America Ferrera, Scarlett Johansson, and Sophia Vergara
Next, the TRIANGLE (AKA pear)
Are your hips wider than your bust/shoulders?
Do you have a defined waist and is it narrower than your hips?
Are your shoulders narrower than your hips?
Are your hips and thighs the place where you gain weight first?
Note: You may also have a larger belly with this shape, but that is secondary for dressing purposes.
Your key dressing points:
What to Highlight: Flaunt your little waist with high waisted skirts, belts, or fitted tops (if you have a belly, then just flaunt it higher up by wearing your waist bands above the belly, or by having the waist of the top/dress higher than your belly).
Balance: Then, to balance out your proportions, add volume up top and draw attention to your top using puff shoulders or ruffles, or a structured jacket.
Color: Since darker colors camouflage and lighter colors highlight, wear a color that’s darker than your top for your bottom. And a lighter color or printed top on top. This will draw attention to your top half.
Avoid garments that end in a straight line at your widest part since that will draw attention to your hips.
Celebrities that you can turn to for style guidance?
Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian
Next, the INVERTED TRIANGLE
Are your shoulders or bust wider/larger than your hips?
Do you consider yourself top heavy or broad shouldered?
Are your hips narrower than your shoulders?
Your key dressing points:
What to Highlight: Wearing a-line or flairy skirts and dresses or tops that have a peplum (a cool peplum, not a nerdy 80’s style peplum) will balance out your broader upper body and highlight your waist. Keep your tops close fitting to your body, unless you want your top half to appear larger.
Balance: To balance out your proportions, add volume below your waist and draw attention to your bottom half with style details and/or volume on the bottom. This will draw the eye downward and minimize attention up top.
Color: Since darker colors camouflage and lighter colors highlight, experiment with wearing lighter colored or fun, printed bottoms, and darker simpler tops (By darker, I don’t mean black; I mean darker than your skirt. For example, if the skirt is a pale gray, then wear a darker gray on top.) This brings the attention down to your narrow bottom half and minimizes your top half.
Avoid pairing voluminous tops with pencil skirts unless you want to exaggerate the narrowness of your hips and width of your top.
Celebrities to search for on Pinterest and google images?
Angelina Jolie and Renee Zellweger
Next, the RECTANGLE
Are your bust, hips, and waist, roughly equally wide? (The imaginary line from your shoulders downward is pretty much straight.)
Is your waist fairly straight?
Do you consider yourself to have an athletic build?
You may have a slight tummy. (A thicker, rounder middle would be the oval).
Your key dressing points:
What to Highlight: You probably want to create and define a waist. (If you have a slight belly, then just highlight the waist higher up). A waist belt, jacket with a waist belt, a top with ruching at the waist all serve to bring attention to the waist.
Then add volume up top, down below, or both to define the waist and make it look smaller. A top with a peplum, or shoulder building details (puff shoulders), and a full, flared, or A-line skirts/dresses will all add volume on top and/or bottom. When you add volume on top and on bottom, you create the illusion that you are the hourglass.
Avoid: Overly baggy clothing. However, shift dresses and sheathe dresses that lie close to the body are also a beautiful silhouette that work really well for the rectangle.
Celebrities for outfit ideas (search pinterest or google images): Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson
Next, the OVAL
Is your waist pretty much undefined?
Is your waist about as wide or wider than your shoulders/hips.
Do you carry your weight in your stomach/back area?
What to Highlight: All of your skinny points! Skirts and dresses that taper at the bottom lend a beautiful silhouette to the oval shape. High waisted dresses (maybe empire waists) that flow over the belly are also great because they create a waist.
Accessories: Wearing jewelry close to your face, like a statement necklace and earrings will draw attention upward to your beautiful face.
Avoid: If your belly is really a problem area then don’t worry about defining a waist. Just leave the waist alone. Instead, elongate your frame using long color blocking with cardigans and jackets, taper your skirts and dresses to create a really flattering silhouette, and wear more structured fabrics on top tops instead of thin jersey tops (they tend to collapse on your body and highlight everything.
Celebrities: Lena Dunham, Kelly Osbourne, Drew Barrymore, Elizabeth Hurley, Jennifer Hudson, Oprah