A Guide to Dressing for Your Body Type

A Guide to Dressing for Your Body Type
Published : March 20 , 2023
Latest Update : September 25 , 2023
Tala Irshaid is a certified Fashion Stylist and Image Consultant from London College of Style, specializing in capsule wardrobe styling, fashion editorial... more

Being comfortable in your own skin is essential to prance around with confidence. To achieve that, you need to first understand your body type in order to highlight your body’s best features. After reading this article, I hope you’ll have more clarity as to how to play up your style and celebrate your special attributes. 


The five most common body types

There isn’t really a norm as to what a female body should look like. It all depends on our genetic configuration. Yet there are some general categories that most women can fall into.

These classifications can help you dress up for your body as it gives you some directions to follow. The most common ones are:

  • Apple (aka oval or round)
  • Pear (aka triangle)
  • Athletic (aka inverted triangle) 
  • Rectangle (aka straight)
  • Hourglass


It’s important to note that there can also be sub-types within these types listed above. 

How to determine your body type

While your lifestyle and exercise can alter your silhouette, your bone structure, proportions, and muscle distribution are mostly inherited. Body shape is based on those factors (not on your weight). Understanding and accepting your body type is a lovely step towards self-love. 

You might be able to figure out your body type just by looking at yourself in the mirror while wearing a fitted outfit and observing the below parts of your body (this is the easy way to do it alone at home):

  • Shoulders: Stand up straight and relaxed
  • Bust: Stand normally, and look at the fullest part of your bust without compressing your chest. 
  • Waist: Look for the narrowest part of your waist, usually located just above the belly button. 
  • Hips: It’s the fullest part of your hip, including the butt, just below your hip bones.

Now and after analyzing the above parts you’re able to tell which you fall within which category from the 5 categories mentioned before.

How to dress for each body type

Once you observe your body you will be able to assess, based on the widest and narrowest part of your body, which body type is closest to yours. 

Now let’s go through some tips on how to dress your body shape:

Apple Body Type

Also called a round or oval body shape, an apple body shape is characterized by broad shoulders, a large bust, and smaller hips, with a waistline not clearly defined.

If this is you, focus on drawing attention to your legs with high heels and ultra-high-waisted jeans, and accentuating the shape of your breasts with A-line silhouettes and V-necks.

Wrap dresses, boyfriend button-ups, and any other dresses that either define or take attention away from the waist are a great fit.

Choose fabrics that sit close to your body but do not cling, such as silk, linen, tweed, gabardine, and cotton.


Some inspiration for the apple body shape:



Pear Body Type

Also called spoon or triangle-shaped body, pear body shapes feature wider hips and thighs, and smaller shoulders and bust measurements. These bodies usually present narrow waistlines in comparison to the hips, as well as long, slim arms.

If this is your body type, you could divert the attention away from your hips with full-skirt dresses or embellished necklines. Highlight the waist with fun top shapes, big sleeves, and belted styles.

A-line and maxi dresses are very flattering for women with this body type, especially with hemlines falling just below the knee.

Some inspiration for the pear body shape:


Rectangle Body Type

Also called straight or athletic body type, a rectangle body shape presents fairly uniform measurements with rather straight waistlines. Women with rectangle-shaped bodies can play around with the features they wish to highlight to create the desired balance.

If you want to accentuate your lower body, rectangles can pull off most statement-styled bottoms. Add volume with flowy pleating, colorful prints, or funky flares.

If you choose to focus on the top half of your body, try to draw attention to your arms and shoulders, highlighting your waist. Curvy rectangles look great with crew, cowl, or V-neck tops, while small busted rectangles can favor their upper body with embellished necklines or statement collars. Anything looks good on this body type!

Some inspiration for the rectangle body shape:


Athletic/Inverted Triangle Body Type

Dressing for this type is all about balancing out your broad shoulders by drawing attention to your lower half.

Choose dress styles that add volume and attention to your hips and legs, such as styles with ruffles or pleats below the hips. This not only draws eyes down from the upper body but can create a more defined waistline.

A dress (or top) with the right neckline can also work wonders for you. Deep & narrow is the way to go here and you should avoid wide, square necklines and off-the-shoulder styles.

Some inspiration for the inverted triangle body shape:


Hourglass Body Type

With curvy proportions and a defined waist, this body type is rare. These are curvy body types with even bust and hip measurements, and significantly narrower waistlines. 

If you are within the small percentage of women with this body type, you should show off your waist and accentuate your curves. Wrap dresses, jumpsuits, sheaths, and fit-and-flare styles with cinched waists are great for this naturally balanced body structure. 

Some inspiration for the hourglass body shape:


In conclusion, dressing is about bringing out your own style and expressing it with pride. I hope this guide helps you strip any doubts and embrace your body to its full potential.

Keep in mind that these body types are general classifications – do not worry if you don’t perfectly fit one category. Some bodies are more petite, others have taller frames, and others come in plus sizes.


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