Dressing for Your Body Type

By Shawn Binion

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Whether you’re heading to work, the mall, a baseball game or a black-tie affair, it’s important that you feel comfortable and confident in the way you look in your clothes. Those people with “ideal” body types tend to take advantage of the fact that most clothes naturally look good on them. What about people with less ideal body types? These people tend to face more obstacles when trying to find the right outfit for any occasion. There are a number of different body type categories that a person can fall into, but I will discuss the five main ones for both females and males in this article. I believe that a person should feel great in his/her clothes regardless of the shape of their body. Being aware of your individual body type can help you to wear clothes that flatter your shape on all occasions.

HOURGLASS (Female)
The hourglass tends to be the most coveted shape for females. A person with an hourglass shape has a significantly defined waist and is well proportioned on both the top and lower parts of their bodies. In other words, these people have curvy tops and bottoms. There may be some variations in people with hourglass figures such as the size of their arms or legs. Also, some may have wider shoulders and fuller bottoms.

FASHION TIPS FOR HER
If you are a female who falls into this category, be sure to embrace your curves by using your waist as a focal point when dressing. This can be achieved by wearing snug clothes and accessories around the thinnest part of your waist to really make those curves pop. Avoid clothing that takes away from your midsection and makes you look boxy. Tailored clothing is a plus because it highlights the body’s natural curvature. Contrarily, shapeless clothing can have the tendency of making you look heavy or pregnant. Do not be shy about shaping your bust with a good bra that makes your boobs look nice and perky. Wearing v-neck dresses and tops will also look great on your hourglass figure.

ATHLETIC (Male)
Similar to the female hourglass shape, the athletic body type is considered the most desired shape for males. Athletic shaped males are broad across the shoulders and chest area. They have slimmer, but well proportioned, hips and waist giving them a well-balanced upper and lower body.

FASHION TIPS FOR HIM
If you are a male with an athletic build, then you’re in luck because your body type is easy to dress. Dare to be bold by wearing fun prints, patterns and colors that stand out. Also, trying new trends, cuts, textures and various fabric combinations can be great in complimenting your body type. You also look good in tailored trousers without too snug of a fit.

PEAR/TRIANGLE (Female/Male)
The pear shape is often referred to as the most curvaceous of body types. People with pear shapes are heavier in the lower body. They have thicker hips, thighs and often full bottoms. These features are in contrast to the upper body which has a much slimmer appearance with narrower shoulders.

FASHION TIPS FOR HER
If you are pear/triangle shaped female, tops that accentuate the shoulders can give you a more balanced look. Wearing a bra that adds to or enhances the bust can also help with balancing out your curves. Another tip for making the upper and bottom portions of your body look more even are to wear straight or slightly flared pants with heels. Flared pants, especially with flat shoes, can make your legs appear extra thick. On the contrary, if you would like to further accentuate your heavier bottom area, high waisted pants and peplum style clothing can help with achieving this. Tops and dresses fitting at the smallest part of the waistline will also further enhance your thicker lower body.

FASHION TIPS FOR HIM
If you fall into the pear/triangle category as a male, wearing clothes that deflect attention away from your wider lower body is a good way to compliment your figure. Clothes that add substance to a smaller chest and sloping shoulder line will better balance out your upper and lower body. Structured blazers and jackets will help give the illusion of broader shoulders. Refrain from wearing narrow crew and polo neck tops because they will only make the top portion of your body appear even smaller. Be sure to minimize focus on the stomach by wearing dark, solid colors in this area. Horizontal stripes and other prints are sure to draw attention to your midsection. Also, avoid wearing skinny pants as they will only make the central part of your body appear wider. Straight leg trousers will even out your shape and are a better look for you.

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INVERTED TRIANGLE
Those with an inverted triangle shape can be identified as having shoulders that are wider than the hips. People with this body type lack definition in the waist and hips. They also tend to be larger in the busts area.

FASHION TIPS FOR HER
As a female falling into the inverted triangle category, it is possible to create the opposite effect by making the hips appear as wide as the shoulders. Definitely opt for a-line or pleated skirts to help balance out your figure. Wide legged pants or fit and flare dresses can also assist with making your lower body appear more balanced with the upper portion. Additionally, horizontal stripes and brighter colors on the lower body will add width to this area therefor giving you a curvier look. You probably want to avoid tops that add volume to the shoulders.

FASHION TIPS FOR HIM
The main focus of a male with an inverted triangle shape is to draw attention to the hips while reducing focus on the upper chest. Work on pulling eyes downward by adding a little extra to the legs and reducing bulk on the upper body. Stripes across the stomach area and detailing around the hips are a plus because this helps emphasize the area of your body that needs it. Also, wearing belts and pockets near the hips offer an easy way to create some shaping in this region. Be cautious about wearing tops with graphics and other details. Any kind of details, prints or bright colors on the shoulders will only draw attention to the wrong areas.

When selecting pants, stay away from skinny cuts as they will make you look even wider at the top. Straight or more relaxed slim cuts will balance you out and better compliment your figure. Wearing statement trousers with solid tops are another way to draw attention to your lower body and away from your broad shoulders.

RECTANGLE (Female/Male)
The rectangle body type is one with no significant curves around the waist area. People with this type of shape are usually described as being straight up and down. The rib cage defines most of the body and the person may have a wide chest area with a little extra weight around the midriff. Although people with the rectangle figure may have a straight appearance from the front and back, they may still have a curvy bottom.

FASHION TIPS FOR HER
If you are a female with a rectangle shape and would like a more curvy appearance, pinching in the waist with a belt can help with creating this illusion. Wearing ruffles and frills to add texture and femininity to your figure will help exaggerate curves. A dress with more embellishment at the bust and flares out at the hips can do wonders for your shape. Also, mini-skirts with bright and/or printed tights may highlight your legs and add more shape to your body. Trying out a peplum top or dress with a bra that enhances the boobs may also be a good choice for your wardrobe. To avoid further accentuating your rectangular figure, steer clear of baggy jeans and other shapeless clothing.

FASHION TIPS FOR HIM
When dressing the rectangle shape as a male, opt for clothing that make the shoulders and chest appear wider while slimming the waist and hip area. Bulky shirts, knitwear and scarves can be used to widen the chest and shoulders. Always opt for more padding in the shoulders when possible. Structured blazers and jackets can be beneficial in adding extra weight to your shoulders. Getting them tailored at the sides or thinning the jacket arms will create the illusion of shape in the upper body.

APPLE (Female/Male)
The apple body type is just the opposite of the pear shape. People with this shape are heavy at the top with most of their weight concentrated around the midsection and breast area. Also, they may have smaller breasts with most of their weight gathering around the midriff. It is common for those with the apple body type to be wider in the shoulders but with slimmer limbs.

FASHION TIPS FOR HER
Due to having little definition in the waist, a female with an apple shape should draw attention away from this area. Wearing long sleeves, when possible, can be a good way of diverting attention away from the shoulders and arms. Drawing more focus to the bust and neck can be effective in flattering the figure altogether. Wearing v-neck tops can help with achieving this look.

It is also a good idea to choose flared pants as opposed to those that are straight or skinny legged. On the other hand, straight jeans with heals and a blousy top can be flattering if you have nicely shaped legs. Bottoms should be worn below your hipbone to draw attention away from the midriff. Try to avoid dresses, tops and belts that pinch at the waist. These things will only accentuate curves that you may not wish to highlight. Tops that drape over your curves without hugging them are a great idea.

FASHION TIPS FOR HIM
If you fall into the apple category, you probably want to add more definition to your body when getting dressed. You should opt for clothing that adds length to your torso while shaping the shoulders. Stripes can be a plus for you, but beware of certain kinds. Vertical stripes are effective for adding length while horizontal stripes will make you look rounder.  Be sure your shirts and trousers are a good length and well fit. Ill fitted clothing can make your limbs appear shorter. Lastly, stay away from belts or anything else that draws attention to your midsection.

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TAKE AWAY
The body types discussed in this article give a general overview of the shapes seen among most men and women in our population. You may have a different body type altogether or fall somewhere in between two different shapes. If you do not feel you can identify with any of the body types mentioned, find the one that most closely resembles your own and try some of the suggested tips for that shape. Use tips given for two different body shapes if you feel you fall in between two separate categories. The bottom line is that everyone should feel confident in their clothes no matter what body type he/she falls under. Trends are not for every body type, so know what works best for you. Recognizing your assets and choosing clothes to compliment them is essential to achieving your best look.