How To Dress For Your Body Shape?
Style | 2021-03-18T07:52:06

How To Dress For Your Body Shape?

Women come in all shapes and sizes and all body shapes are beautiful. The media for decades have inundated us with visuals of celebrities and supermodels, glorifying them as the “ideal body type”. And this ideal body type has always leaned toward the skinny side of the spectrum. However, they are not an accurate representation of what real women actually look like. Until very recently there has been very less visibility of plus size or curvy women on movie screens, fashion shows and editorials. The body positivity movement in recent years has allowed real women with real curves to take centre stage and take pride in their body regardless of its shape and size. Essentially there is no ideal or typical body type but women have been made to believe that if they don’t look a certain way if they don’t fit the mould then they are undesirable. But we believe that all women are beautiful regardless of how the media and society in general view ideal shape, size and physical appearance.

Trends come and go, as does everything else in life. Every decade has seen a certain body type being hailed as the epitome of femininity and beauty. The 50s were a time when Marilyn Monroe was considered to be the sexiest woman alive, a symbol of elegance and beauty. She was curvy and had a perfect hourglass figure. She was a dress size 16. Today, Marilyn would have been considered a “plus-size” celebrity. The 90s were a time when bodies of Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were thought to be the most desirable. Back then being skinny was “ideal” and the most sought after body type. Lately, the trend has shifted towards a more voluptuous figure-a narrow toned waist, bigger butt and thicker thighs. The best examples of this body type are Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Sofia Vergara. It’s pretty evident that the media has perpetuated a culture where women are encouraged to fit into a certain stereotype and women go through great lengths to achieve these trendy body shapes. However, these are unrealistic body goals. It’s time to change this misogynistic and redundant culture and embrace our bodies as they are. Let’s learn how we can dress our body type to accentuate our best and look impeccable in our own skin.

There are 7 major types of female body shapes:

  • Straight shape
  • Pear shape
  • Hourglass shape
  • Top Hourglass shape
  • Oval / Round shape
  • Diamond shape
  • Inverted Triangle shape

We will talk in detail about each body shape and how to dress according to your body shape.

The Straight Body Shape:

The straight body shape is one where the shoulders and the hips are the same widths and the waist is not well defined. This body shape resembles a rectangle, hence it is also known as rectangle body shape. Such a body shape does not have a lot of curves and the bust tends to be small or average.

Celebrities with Straight Body Shape-

Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Gwen Stefani

Styling Guidelines-

The trick here is to accentuate the waist to balance the silhouette and create the illusion of curves. Add volume proportionally to your upper and lower body to create a curvaceous effect.

  • For the upper body- Go for a scoop, V & sweetheart neckline, off shoulder tops, blouses with belted waist and tops with billowy sleeves, structured shoulders or embellishments around the bust and shoulders. Big collars, lace trims, ruffles and puffy sleeves all help add volume to the upper body. Jackets with structured shoulders with nipped in or belted waist draws attention to the waist giving an illusion of hourglass figure. Jackets with embellishments in the bust area like double-breasted pockets, flaps, plackets and button-downs create a broader shoulder line and balance the rectangular body shape. Tops, shirts and jackets should not extend below the hips area as they may make you look shapeless.
  • For the lower body- Trousers with a flared bottom like boot cut and wide leg are a great way to add volume to the lower body. When it comes to jeans, bootcut jeans are the best option. Jeans with embellishments around the waist and hips add fullness to your hips. If you opt for skinny or slim jeans, ensure that they are tight around the waist to create curves. Skirts with detailed hemlines like ruffles, pleating or gathering help add volume. Both pencil and straight skirts work well with this body shape. A-line skirts are a good fit too as long as they aren’t too voluminous or full.
  • Dresses- Go for empire line, princess seam or wrap dresses. Cinch the waist with a belt to create a balanced upper and bottom half. Fit and flare dress work really well with this body shape. But make sure that the details of the upper half such as big sleeves and ruffles are balanced out with a flared hemline at the bottom.


Opt for bright colours and patterns especially when it comes to separates. Accentuate the waist by wearing dark colours or dark coloured belts around the waist area. Colour blocking is a great way of creating a balanced upper and lower torso.

What to avoid

  • Square or straight necklines
  • Fitted sleeves
  • Boxy and oversized shirts and tops
  • Straight fit trousers
  • Bell bottom jeans
  • Angular skirts
  • Boxy or baggy dresses
  • Any shirt, top or jacket that ends above the waist.

The Pear Body Shape:

The characteristic of a pear-shaped body is a wider waist and hip area and a narrower shoulder in comparison. The waistline is wider than the bust area. Such a body type usually has a fuller rear with a narrow waist. People with pear body shape tend to be bottom heavy.

Celebrities with Pear Body Shape-

Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, Beyoncé 

Styling Guidelines-

This type of body shape is heavy at the bottom, so to create balance add more volume to the upper body while emphasising the smaller waist and de-emphasising the hip area.

  • For the upper body- Go for wider necklines such as square, cowl, Sabrina, off shoulder, scoop and bateau neckline to help visually broaden the shoulder line. Embellishments like ruffles, lace trims and big collars around the shoulder and bust area are a great way to accentuate and add volume to the upper body. Fitted and crop tops are great because they accentuate the smaller waist. Cropped and mid-thigh jackets with broad or structured shoulders work well with this body shape. Go for jackets with embellished details around the shoulder and bust area to draw attention to your upper body.
  • For the lower body- Straight, bootcut and flared trousers work well to de-emphasise the lower half. Mid and high waisted trousers help to accentuate the waistline while minimising the hip area. For jeans, opt for mid to high rise jeans with straight, bootcut or flared fit. Fitted and flaring skirts such as A-line, tulip or bias skirts are excellent to balance a pear-shaped body. Make sure you go for the knee-length or midi skirt as they optically elongate the lower half. 
  • Dresses- Fit and flare dresses such as A-line and X-line dresses are an excellent choice to de-emphasise the lower body while accentuating the tiny waist. Dresses with a wider bottom and embellished waistline can help balance the hip area and make it look more balanced.


The best option for pear-shaped bodies is to wear darker coloured bottoms and lighter coloured uppers. Also avoid embellishments, patterns and bright colours on the lower body that draws attention to the hips and bottom half.

What to avoid

  • Narrow collar tops 
  • Peplum, ruffles and other embellishments around the hip area
  • Hip-length coats and jackets
  • Tapered trousers
  • Skinny fit jeans
  • Pencil and tight fitted skirts
  • Boxy dresses
  • Too fluffy and embellished skirts

The Hourglass Body Shape:

The hourglass body shape typically has similar bust and hip measurements and a smaller waistline. The lower body is in proportion to the upper body. The hourglass shape is characterised by its well-defined curves.

Celebrities with Hourglass Body Shape-

Christina Hendricks, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara

Styling Guidelines-

It is easier to dress an hourglass figure because the lower and upper body are naturally balanced. The trick here is to follow the natural silhouette of the body.

  • For the upper body- Opt for oval, lower and wider necklines such as square, off shoulder, sweetheart, square and v-necks. Structured and fitted sleeves follow the natural silhouette of the body and highlight the shoulder line. When it comes to shirts and tops, go for fitted or belted ones that accentuate the waist without adding volume to the bust area. Well fitted and cinched in or belted jackets are great for such body shape. The length of the jacket should be kept hip length so that it accentuates the natural curves. 
  • For the lower body- Given the balanced nature of this body type, the best choice of trouser is high waisted, slim fit ones. Wide-legged, straight, flared and bootcut trousers work well too. Mid to high rise jeans help to elongate the legs and accentuate the natural curves. The fit of the jeans can be skinny, tapered, wide-legged, straight or bootcut. Both pencil and full skirts like A-line, flip and bias are good choices as they highlight the smaller waist and follow the natural curves of the body. Make sure the skirts are high waisted and are knee-length or longer. This helps maintain a balance between the upper and lower body.
  • Dresses- Fit and tapered dresses such as a wrap, shift and panelled waist dresses help accentuate the natural shape of the body. Adding embellishments like ruffles, pockets or peplum at the waistline can create an even more curvaceous effect. Dresses with full and voluminous bottom can optically create a narrower waist and draw eyes to your waist and hip area. The dress length should be kept knee length or longer to accentuate the legs.


To highlight and accentuate the narrow waist, wear darker shades around the waist. The balanced nature of this body type means that you can experiment with different colours, patterns and fabrics as long as the clothes follow the natural silhouette of the body.

What to avoid

  • High neckline tops
  • Wide and embellished sleeves
  • Boxy tops
  • Straight jackets 
  • Low rise trousers and jeans
  • Straight cut skirts
  • Too fluffy or embellished skirts
  • Boxy or straight dresses

The Top Hourglass Body Shape:

The characteristic of top hourglass body shape is a well-defined waist and a bust area that is slightly larger than the hips. Such body types usually have rounded shoulders that are aligned with the hips. The upper body is proportional to the length of the legs. The broad shoulders, narrow waist and rounded hips create an extremely curvaceous silhouette.

Celebrities with Too Hourglass Body Shape-

Dita Von Teese, Jessica Chastain

Styling Guidelines-

This is a fairly balanced body shape. We need to accentuate the waist while balancing the hips with the bust to create a beautiful curvy silhouette.

  • For the upper body- Go for narrow and deep necklines such as v-neck and shawl collar as they visually minimise your bust and balance your torso. Tops and blouses with nipping or embellishments at the waistline help to balance the hip area creating an illusion of fuller rear. Opt for fitted and tailored tops and shirts that end at your natural waistline to accentuate the hourglass silhouette. Fitted jackets which are cinched or belted highlight the smaller waist and create more curves. Tops, shirts and jackets should end at the waist or just at the hips to ensure that it doesn’t add unnecessary bulk around the hip area.
  • For the lower body- Trousers with flared, bootcut or wide-legged fit are flattering options for such a body shape. Mid to high rise trousers give the illusion of longer, slender legs and balances the upper and lower body. Go for trousers that have detailing and embellishments around the waist area such as pockets and whiskering to add more volume to your hips. Same goes for jeans. Mid to high jeans with a flared, straight or wide-legged fit are great options. When it comes to skirts you should opt for a pencil skirt with a bit of flare at the bottom or A-line or a full skirt to create a true hourglass look.
  • Dresses- Just like hourglass figures, fit and tapered dresses go well with such a body type. Cinch in the waist with a belt or select pieces with embellishments around the waistline to really accentuate the natural curves of the body. A-line and flared, fuller bottom dresses are really flattering as they balance out the wide shoulders while highlighting the well-defined waist. Make sure you keep the length of the skirt knee length or longer.


Colour blocking, patterns and embellishments go really well with such a body shape. Go for darker colour tops and lighter colour bottoms. To further accentuate the waist wear darker tones or belts around the waist. 

What to avoid

  • High and wide necklines
  • Boxy shirts and tops
  • Straight jackets
  • Low rise trousers and jeans
  • Straight cut skirts
  • Heavily embellished skirts
  • Boxy or straight dresses

The Oval/Round Body Shape:

The oval body shape is popularly known as the apple shape and it’s one of the common body types. This shape is characterised by a large bust, narrow hips and a fuller or wider midsection. The waist here is not well defined and the hip area is flatter compared to the bust and it’s accompanied by slender legs.

Celebrities with Oval Body Shape-

Amy Schumer, Drew Berrymore, Jessica Simpson

Styling Guidelines-

The key to dressing an apple-shaped body is to de-emphasise the fuller midsection, creating a defined waist and adding more volume to the bust and hip area to give the illusion of hourglass curves. Adding fullness to the bottom half creates a more balanced silhouette as the upper half tends to be bulkier in comparison.

  • For the upper body- Go for low and wide necklines like v-neck, sweetheart, scoop, or square. Such necklines help to elongate the body, break up the neck and take away the attention from the midsection. Embellishments and details around the shoulders and neckline take the eye upwards. Accentuate the upper body and arms with fuller and detailed sleeves. Choose tops and shirts with embellished necklines that accentuate the bustline. The fit should be tapered at the waist and flared at the hips as it creates a curvaceous effect. To de-emphasise the wider midsection, opt for diagonal lines, big prints and texture in bold colours. Jackets are a great way to create more curves and hide the midsection. Wrap style and tailored jacket with structured shoulders are flattering options. Fitted, straight, empire and waterfall jackets all look great on such a body type.
  • For the lower body- Trousers with flared, flowy, bootcut or wide-legged fit balances the midsection and brings the eyes toward the slender legs. Details such as side and back pockets add more volume to the waist. For an apple-shaped body, opt low to mid-rise trousers as they create the illusion of fuller curves. As for jeans, wide-legged, bootcut and flared jeans are more flattering compared to skinny or tapered fit. Darker jeans work best as they help accentuate the slender legs. Low to mid-rise jeans has the midriff and prevent more bulkiness. Full, tiered, flared or bubble skirts look good as they add necessary volume to the lower half. Knee or calf-length pencil and A-line skirts are flattering too.
  • Dresses- A-line, empire waist and bias-cut dresses are great as it balances and elongates the body length while hiding the midsections. Wrap dresses look beautiful as they cinch at the waist and create a more curvaceous silhouette. Use belts to draw the eyes to the waist and keep the hemline flared to balance the shoulders. Details and embellishments around the neckline, shoulder and sleeves help to disguise the tummy area.


To balance the proportions opt for darker bottoms and lighter uppers. Diagonal lines, prints and bold patterns are a great way to disguise the wider midsection. Dark and bold belts can help create a more defined waistline and give the body an hourglass shape.

What to avoid

  • High and narrow necklines
  • Fitted sleeves
  • Crop and fitted tops
  • Double-breasted and belted jackets
  • Skinny jeans
  • High rise tapered trousers
  • Tiered or ruffled skirts
  • Tight fitted dresses

The Diamond Body Shape:

The diamond body type has broader hips than shoulders, a narrow bust and a fuller waistline. Such body types carry more weight on the upper leg area. The arms and legs tend to be shapely and slender while the waist is undefined and often times the widest part of the body.

Celebrities with Diamond Body Shape-

Queen Latifah, Kate Winslet, Beth Ditto

Styling Guidelines-

The key here is to balance the shoulders and the hips while creating a defined waistline. To achieve this, add proportional volume to the bust and hip area while cinching the waist to create a more curvaceous figure.

  • For the upper body- Wide and low necklines like off-shoulder, v-neck, scoop and u-neck help to draw the eyes upward. Structured, princess or fluffy sleeves help to balance the fuller waist. Tops and shirts with embellishment and details around the shoulder and neck area create a broader shoulder line. Tops and blouses with belted, wrap style or empire waist detail define the waistline and give a curvaceous effect. Jackets with structured sleeves cinched at the waist and flared at the bottom look flattering on this body shape. Pockets and shoulder details create a more balanced figure while hiding the bulky midsection. Make sure the length of the tops and jacket ends just below the waist.
  • For the lower body- Wide, straight and bootcut trousers elongate the slender legs and minimise the midriff creating a streamlined look. Opt for relaxed fit lowers that are cinched at the waist to define the midsection. Straight or flared skirts that fall from the waist are flattering when paired with tops that de-emphasize the tummy. When choosing skirts, go for A-line or gathered ones to skim the bottom without adding bulkiness.
  • Dresses- A-line and X-line dresses that cinch just below the bust helps to accentuate and slim down the waistline. Flared dress with embellishment at the waist creates a more curvaceous figure. Opt for a fluffy or layered bottom to balance the lower body. Empire waist and wrap dresses are also very flattering on diamond body type.


Simple, dark-coloured trousers and jeans are great to accentuate the slender and shapely legs. Avoid bright colours, patterns and gatherings at the waist as that would add unnecessary volume to the widest part of your frame. When opting for a belt, go for a dark and wide one to visually add more definition.

What to avoid

  • High and narrow necklines
  • Tight and fitted tops
  • Crop and peplum tops
  • Short jackets
  • Fitted and tight dresses
  • Skinny and tapered jeans
  • Bold colours and pattern around the midriff

The Inverted Triangle Body Shape-

The inverted triangle body shape is characterised by broad shoulders that narrow down to the hips. Such a body shape has an undefined waist and big bust and is usually on the athletic side. The hips look flat and straight compared to the broad shoulders. The bottom is rather flat and the legs are slender and athletic.

Celebrities with Inverted Triangle Body Shape-

Angelina Jolie, Naomi Campbell, Renee Zellweger.

Styling Guidelines-

The key to dressing an inverted triangle shaped body is to balance the proportions and enhance your strength such as the legs and leaner waist. To balance the silhouette, add volume to the hips and waist while defining the waist and de-emphasizing the broad upper body.

  • For the upper body- To soften the broad shoulders opt for deep and narrow necklines like a scoop, V or U-neck. Asymmetrical necklines also help break up the chest vertically. For smaller bust, halter necks help elongate the upper body. Tops and shirts with short sleeves should be fitted and tailored while the opposite holds true for long-sleeved uppers. Tops with fitted, wrapped and peplum style are flattering on such a body shape. Opt for shirts that are flared from the waist down to add more volume to the hips. When it comes to jackets, select a straight cut or styles with a cinched or detailed waist that flair from the waist down. Pockets and details below the waist are a great way to add interest and volume to the lower body.
  • For the lower body- Trousers such as turn-ups, palazzos, culottes, wide-leg and harems are great as they add volume to the hip and leg line. Look for details such as pockets, embellishments and prints around the waist and hips as they help to balance the broad shoulders. Jeans such as baggy, bootcut, flared, wide and boyfriend work similarly to balance the upper and lower body. Go for skirts that flare from the hip down. Straight, full, ballerina, tulip, bias cut and tiered skirts are great choices. Details like box pleats, panels and stripes around the waist flowing into fuller skirts add more volume to the hips.
  • Dresses- Straight, A-line and shift dresses are very flattering for an inverted triangle body. Opt for belted or nipped dresses that add more waist definition. When choosing a dress, go for one that has details and embellishments below the waist and not over the upper body.


Wear bright coloured and detailed bottoms to draw attention to your slender legs. For the upper body wear darker shades that de-emphasize the broad shoulders.

What to avoid

  • Wide and low necklines
  • Structured and detailed sleeves
  • Crop tops and shirts
  • Cropped jackets
  • Shoulder pads, double-breasted and big collared jackets
  • Darker shade skinny trousers and jeans
  • Tight fitted skirts
  • Tight fit, embellished dresses.

Women’s natural bodies are unique and beautiful, no matter what shape or size. It’s far more important to work on our mental and physical health rather than striving tirelessly to attain unrealistic body goals.