IMAGE & STYLE - how to find the right styles to wear to suit your body shape. Feel good knowing you always look good, despite the shape or size !
As well as wearing colours that complement your colouring, you need styles to complement your body. No body's perfect - we are either too fat, too thin, too short, or too tall !! Then we may have "trouble spots" like bust too big, too small, stumpy legs, thick neck, etc.We aren't all supermodels, and fashion should be fun. If the body is less than perfect, if you feel lumpy, flat, or out of proportion, lets look at some clever ways to bring out good points or disguise the not-so-good. Clothes that flatter can make a huge difference. So invest your time and money in finding pieces that fit well, where you are hard to fit.
What follows is some idea on body shapes and proportions to make it easier to find the correct clothing shapes/styles for your body shape. Use your intuition, and see your self confidence grow.
1. Top Heavy Body 2. straight-up-&-down body 3. bottom-heavy body 4. figure 8 shaped body (the above shapes from a different prospective)
recognise yourself yet? Body Shapes - maybe you consider yourself a mix of one or two. Clothing styles for each shape are explained below -
Most of us have figure flaws. Concealing these figure flaws contributes to good dressing. Develop your own personal style, and don't limit yourself to boring dressing habits. Always look for a balance in dressing and then you can achieve a great total look.
TOP HEAVY or INVERTED TRIANGLE Shape: this shape usually has a large bustline, and sometimes broad shoulder, with hips and bottom more flat than curvy. Some of this shape, though, are very angular with boyish or athletic figures with shoulders broader than their hips. The Inverted Triangle looks better in sharp, crisp styles with fabric texture tightly woven and crisp for blouses, tops and jackets. Looser weaves tend to make you look broader than you need to look. Go for simple designs and good colour and keep away from fussy prints. AVOID - tight sweater and T.shirts, horizontal stripes, fussy frills on shirt fronts, large floral and check patterns, heavy bulky sweaters, short cropped jackets, and too much detail in way of pleats, applique and studs, etc.
TRY TO SELECT - a well fitted bra for a start! Garments designed to create a balance in the total look not accentuate the bust area.Soft lines and a V neckline for shirts and 1 colour outfits will look better.Go for shoulder pads that are not too large, and harmonise / harmonize your belt to the colour of the garment. Dolman sleeves are a good shape.You look great in a simple jacket with straight skirt or leggings.
If you have a BIG BUST, go for neutrals for jackets and bright colours or patterns for skirts and trousers. Go for longer lines and wear a good supportive bra. Tailored single-breasted jackets flatter this shape and waistcoats are great for hiding a large chest. Choose open-neck shirts and V necklines. Keep away from clingy tops, too much detail on jackets, high-waisted trousers and skirts, or boxy jackets. Simple understated looks are much better for this shape.Avoid high neckline and collars and excessive details like pockets, short sleeves, strapless or boat necklines. Look for Raglan or Dolman sleeves, long necklaces,
generous draping on the top. A drop waistline in dresses. Use over-blouses, open necklines, and moderate size belts in same colour as garment.
PEAR shaped, DIAMOND or curved/angular, or bottom-heavy.
This shape usually has large hips and/or heavy legs. Many have sloping shoulders which can be corrected with curved shoulder pads (not squared ones). This shape looks better in simple designs, rather than excessive flounces and gathers.AVOID tight skirts that show every bump, and large checks and bold patterns on your skirts. Avoid trousers with too much hip detail like flaps, studs, embroidery on back pockets. Fancy hosiery will draw attention to the trouble sports, so avoid. Keep away from very gathered or full skirts, large pockets, and jackets that finish at your widest part of hips.
TRY TO SELECT - well designed tailored trousers with simple lines, well cut skirts and great neck or upper part of body accessories will be a good investment to take the look away from the hip area.Jackets need well-placed shoulder pads, but not too big. Look for garments that create a balance and do not accentuate the hip area. Jackets, shirts, and dresses with some detail pin-tucks, buttons, textured fabric will draw attention to top part of body. Wear colours that flatter, but not too dark.All black can be too heavy, but a Royal Blue jacket with a black skirt will be flattering.
With large hips and thighs, you should emphasise the waist and soft skirt over the hips/thigh area. Wear fairly plain straight or A-line skirts. A long blazer minimises wide lines and longer tops over stirrup pants can disguise larger legs. Never wear tight jeans, clingy knits or double-breasted jackets.If your shoulders are too narrow or sloping, go for puffed sleeves, slashed and boat-shaped necklines - keep away from strapless styles. A centre seam on skirts will help narrow the illusion of wide hips, as will soft easing at the waist, but not over the hip.Bring attention to the upper half of the body through good use of colour. Longer skirts are flattering to heavy legs, and tone hosiery to match shoes which need to be kept simple with a slight heel.For thighs that are a little heavy, culottes can be comfortable and flattering. Avoid tight/short skirts, leggings and shorts.
RECTANGLE, LEAN or STRAIGHT (or Angular).No matter how large or slim, if you have this shape you need to be given a more shapely look. You need to look to tightly woven fabrics, like wool, gabadine, linen, Thai silk, in sharp designs. Don't make too much emphasise on the waist area. Sleeves are best kept straight, tapered and crisp. The set-in sleeve will be comfortable and create a straight shoulder line. Instead of gathers on skirt and trouser waist lines, go for darts.Double-knits, wool crepe, or jersey in simple designs without too much volume will flatter. AVOID - vertical patterns, clinging garments, and short cropped jackets that end at the waist. Keep away from big loose garments and contrasted belts.
TRY TO SELECT - interesting patterns and colours (for your skin tone). Well designed garments with detail that draws attention away from the straightness. Interesting accessories in scarves, jewellery, shoes. Keep you belts simple and unemphasised. Bomber style jackets will add shape and drop-waist dresses are excellent. Any garments that can layer will be good.
The best styles for the straight up and down figure should draw the eye out to the shoulder and hip and in at the midsection. With an undefined waistline, you should avoid garments that minimise the shoulder and hip lines, or boxy, square, wide shapes. Take advantage of shoulder pads. Wear long jackets, tunics or vests over long skirts.This angular body shape needs sharp lapels, minimal darts or tucks at the waist, stiff or pressed-down pleats, and straight, cross-over, wrap-around skirts. Look for tailored and tapered designs, simple and unconstructed.For patterns look to stripes, plaid weaves, fine to medium polka dots, modest paisleys, abstracts that are geometric in shape.Fabrics need to be crisp linens and cottons, or wool that retains its shape - twill, tweed, gaberdine. Tightly woven knits and jerseys.Raw silk blended with linen, and blends of natural and man-made fibresthat have "body" - ones that dont drape excessively.
A chemise style or coat-dress, with no waist emphasis would be a good choice of outfit.
HOURGLASS, CURVY, FIGURE 8, FULL-FIGURED shape. The woman with this shape is generally a rounded figure, and the aim is to achieve a balance between the bust line and the hip line. This shape needs to be careful with design and fabric. The cut of the clothes needs to be soft, gathered and eased and necklines should be draped, round, cross-over or ruffled.AVOID elaborate accessories that draw attention to the waist, prints, checks or stripes that are large and bold. Keep away from jersey or knitted clinging fabrics, and wide belts that contrast.Garments that are hugging and tight are not flattering at all. Wearing a too short a skirt puts emphasis on the roundness of the body and shortens the total look. Beware of loose, baggy tops which give a frumpy look.
TRY TO SELECT - accessories that balance the total look, and garments that create a balance. belts that harmonise in colour and complement the garment. Well fitted and well cut jackets with well proportioned shoulder pads, and choose colour and texture that give balance. Check out soft designs in florals, polka dots, paisleys, soft abstracts, multi-coloured weaves. Look at gored, bell or sarong type skirts, soft gathers, and inverted pleats at the waistline. Shawl collars, and lapel-less jackets are good, as are soft necklines. Fabrics could be soft brocades, flannel, lambswool, wool crepe, micro-fibres.
If you are full-figured, look for garments that de-emphasise the torso. Dark colours are good but don't get in a rut - a bright scarf or jacket can draw attention away from heavy hips. Look for softly tailored long-line styles: chemises, tunics over skirts or pants, shirts and sweaters worn untucked.Padded shoulders add balance. Avoid swing shapes with yards of fabric and don't wear belted jackets - unless its a loose tie-belt. Stiff fabrics, straight lines in jackets and skirts, and boxy cuts, make a soft curvy shape look chunky and shapeless. Look for clothes that are defined at the waist, in rounded and flowing designs. Raglan and softly set-in sleeves, soft unconstructed shapes, and skirts with easy movement are better.
THIN ladies can go for yokes, tucks, ruffles, and pockets. Heavy and/or textured fabrics take away the thin-ness. Best styles for you skim and don't cling. Horizontal stripes, dolman sleeves, a draped sarong skirt, a blouse and vest with a suit or a T.shirt and blazer - worn open - will help fill out a thin frame. Look for double-breasted anything, big scarves, bright colours, big prints, bulky fabrics. Look for double-breasted anything, scarves, bright colours, big prints and bulky fabrics.
RISKS for thin people are wearing skinny long-line knit dresses, scoop necklines, and sleeveless tops. Vertical stripes, and clingy fabric, stretch pants, bulky shoes and
dark hosiery are all "risks". Along with dark straight dresses, deep V necks, bare sholders, halter necks, strapless tops, and tight-fitting garments.If you have skinny legs avoid short skirts, stiletto heels and contrasting or coloured hosiery. Look for longer skirts or culottes.
Lighter toned hosiery and a lower heel will suit you better.
Too Thin? RIGHTS include longer line, double-breasted jackets, bold print overshirts, and pale hosiery. You "fill out" by wearing plaids and patterns, horizontal stripes and textured fabrics. Longer skirts, pale colours, fine shoes. Big soft collars are also good.
Try nipped-in waists, interesting belts, high-waisted pants, and pleat-front pants.THIN ladies can wear generous sleeves, detailed necklines longer and fuller skirts. Diagonal colour blocking adds substance, as does a 7/8th's coat. Any interesting waist detail is good and pale colour adds proportion.
PETITE - you need clothes which won't drown you. Go for clean uncluttered lines. A cropped jacket and one-colour suits help the illusion of tallness. Wear prints in moderation. A print jacket or a scarf over a solid colour looks great and draws attention to your face. Try to skip styles that overwhelm - large shoulder pads, fussy necklines, dolman sleeves, ankle-length skirts, shaggy or fluffy coats.SHORT people look better in one colour outfits or very small prints and simple accessories. V necklines and trouser pants look good.
RISKS for short or petite body shapes are oversized T.shirts, too many colours, baggy shorts, wild large prints, strong bold colours, frills/flounces, bulky fabrics, big collars, horizontal stripes, too many layers, tight knits,
princess-lines, patch pockets and puffy sleeves. keep away from hip-huggers, and heavy textured fabrics in skirts and pants. Avoid bulk, excessive shoulder pads, loose, overscale jackets, and very light or very dark colours worn head to toe.
RIGHTS - vertical stripes give a longer line. Subtle tones are fine for short people as are straight leg pants, solid colours head to toe, heeled shoes,V-necks, open collars and loose tops.Look for straight pleated skirts, straight cut pants and dresses, asymetrical cuts give the illusion of height. Shoes and hosiery need to be colour-matched. Choose modest patterns, fitted jackets, wear red/blue/purples - the high confidence colours (in your correct colour image tones), for jackets and dresses.
If you have a BIG TUMMY go for disguise by wearing spiffy trousers and a sleek dark top to draw the eye up and away. Full pants flow smoothly over a curvy tum and easy pleasts and wide waistbands show no sign of strain. Short skirts and leggings under big sweaters also flatter.Wear well fitting clothes - never too hight or too loose. A deep toned colour suit with a soft toned shirt will take attention away from the tummy area. Don't wear gather or heavily pleated skirts.Use good accessories and pleasant colours. Look to vertical lines and one colour dressing. Creating a focal point near the face helps. Use softer fabrics and go for layered looks.
TOO LARGE? Risks - horizontal stripes are a horror! Loud aggressive prints draw attention as do too tight and puffy sleeves. Steer clear of bulky fabrics, cropped jackets, outsized collars, any colour change or line that cuts you at your widest point (bust, hips, or waist), and big bold prints, plaids, checks are out. Avoid waist definition, and anything too snug. Keep away from tiny accessories and light hosiery, flat and stilleto shoes.
Fabrics like mohair, loose knit, heavy tweeds will make you look fuller. Chokers and short necklaces will make the neck look wide and you dont need that.
RIGHTS for the larger lady include V necks, long lapels, longer jackets, blousons, one colour top-to-toe to elongate, shoulder interests to get attention, soft draped looks and asymmetrical cuts.Diagonal fastening or draping a scarf shawl over the shoulder grab attention.
Simple tailored clothes for business and uncluttered casuals for weekend wear like a slim legged pull-on pant would be good choices. Straight tunic tops, belts at the hip, and a duster coat or jacket are all suitable for the larger person.Go for dark toney hosiery, and bold patterns in blouses and scarves. Try easy jackets and tops that end below your widest point (under your bottom or longer). Bold accessories balance best with your size, and solid dark colours on the lower half with brightest colours near the face. Loose fitting clothes.
If you are TALL you can carry off the most wonderful clothes and dramatic prints. Wear a longer jacket, flared skirts, full coats and swing skirts. Make sure your accessories are dramatic and keep away from small prints and tiny buttons. Wear wide lapels and wide belts.Pale colours, contrasting wide belt, and huge shawl collars look great on tall women, as do double-breasted jackets as it can absorb the length. Substantial jewellery adds focus. For those tall, but with a big bottom and heavy hip - go for simple pants, well-cut, generous fit skirts, firmer fabrics and darker colours.
RISKS - high polo necklines only emphasise the neck, so avoid. Keep away from sleeveless tops, vertical stripes, tiny little prints and stockings and shoes in same dark colour.Wearing all black only, makes a tall person look taller, so best to avoid. Large checks are a risk, along with horizontal stripes, tight stretch pants or skirts.
Wearing all black makes you taller so is a risk. A tall person with a big bottom and heavy hip needs to look for simple pants, well-cut, generous fit skirts, and darker colours and firmer fabrics.Leave the long chains alone, and avoid open, plunging or bare necklines.
RIGHTS for TALL body shapes include volume and layers at different lengths to minimise height. Look for 3/4 length coats, long-line jackets, full gathered skirts, wide-leg pants, big belts, big prints, shoulder interests, and contrasting colours in hosiery and shoes to break your long vertical line.Wide lapels, broad shoulder line and nipped-in waist give points of interest.The design features of the ywllow suit (left) with 3/4 length coat, above the knee skirt and super high-cut waist provide proportion.Wide leg pants (right) give balance to a tall shape, and a shawl scarf across one shoulder adds width.The outfit (top right) here works for the too tall -- the pale colour, the contrasting wide belt, and the huge shawl collar.
SMALL BUST - blousy tops and layers and a loose fit instantly add more generous curves! Look for interesting patterns, horizontal designs and extra details and trims on pockets and lapels.AVOID open or deep necklines, and don't wear skin tight tops, or clingy fabric tops.Wear soft fabrics that give a flowing look. Detail like tucks, applique, decorative buttons, frills, pockets are good. Make sure the jacket shoulder line is well positioned as a poorly fitting jacket only accentuates a problem - it is not an asset and doesnt cover any flaws.
LONG WAISTED people are the lucky ones who can wear elaborate sashes and belts. Empire or high waistlines look great. Go for short jackets of bolero to high length and loose boxy styles. Wear your skirts above the knee. To break the torso length use buttons and interesting trims AVOID long jackets and long skirts, and don't wear tight-fitting sweaters or jumpers. To shorten the long waist look, wear your tops or shirts in a more blouson manner (blouse), which softens the look.
THICK or THIN ARMS - always cover thick or thin arms with a top. Never wear tight-fitting sleeves. AVOID jersey and knitted materials.WIDE SQUARE SHOULDERS - always wear soft lines, dolman or soft set-in sleeves and a soft yoke. AVOID sharp lines like cape sleeves or big square sleeves and large shoulder pads. Keep away from fabrics with horizontal stripes or patterns.