Find Out Your Body Shape and How To Dress It Right

Your body type is the overall shape of the body when you look at it straight on. An easy way to determine that is by looking at the measurement of the bust in relation to the measurement of the waist and hips. Based on these three amounts, each of us will fall into one of the four basic body types: hourglass, oval, triangle or rectangle. It's important to note that these body types refer to shape and not size or height. You can be any size or height and be any of these body types. Our fashion expert Genny Iannucci will show you how to dress to your body type to look your very best and avoid costly shopping errors.


Body Type: Rectangle

By definition a rectangle’s bust and hip measurements are equal. The waist definition can range from minimal to slightly define. Typically someone with this shape finds that the waistline on garments feels a little snug.

The goal when dressing a rectangle shape is to create the illusion of a more defined waistline by adding some curves above and below the waist.

On this model, Paula, Genny went for a dress that drew the eye across the shoulders. If your shoulders appear broader, your waistline will appear smaller. Shoulder accents, gathers and pleating on widely set shoulders will do the trick! 

If wearing a necklace, keep it close to the base of your throat.

Dresses and blouses that come in just under the bust line will highlight the narrowest part of the upper body and give more shape and curves to the upper torso. Avoid straight cut dresses with a defined waistband. These can be very difficult to fit. Instead opt for dresses that flow through the waist area. For an easier fit through the waistline, Genny says to look for fabrics with stretch. Side ruching adds some soft curves to this silhouette and also gently gives shape through the waistline.

Select your dresses and skirts in fabrics that have drape and movement. The soft folds that are created will add some curves to your shape.

Get the Look:

:::How to Dress Your Body Shape: Rectangle:::

Body Type: Hourglass

By definition, the bust and hips on this shape are similar in measurement and you will have a well-defined waist. Typically you wear the same size top and bottom.

The goal when dressing an hourglass is to define your curves without over emphasizing your bust, waist or hips. Over emphasizing any of your curves will throw your shape off balance and you can appear top or bottom heavy.

Genny chose a structured blazer for Gillian in this look. When shopping for blazers, Genny recommends that hourglass women look for pieces that have built-in shapes that follow your curves. Boxy shapes mask your curves and will create the illusion of added weight. On the flip side, items that lie tightly against your curves will make you look heavier overall. Single breasted jackets with small to mid-size lapels, higher arm holes, defined waist and strong shaping are best for you!

Genny also chose this light fabric — almost cotton-like — dress for Gillian. Because of hourglass' curvy shape, they should avoid heavy, stiff fabrics or overly textured fabrics that stand away from your curves and add weight. Opt for lighter to mid-weight fabrics with drape that fall gracefully off your curves.

Look for dresses with a defined or contoured waist. If necessary add a belt but avoid over cinching the waist, which can make you look top or bottom heavy!  One to two inch-wide belts work best.

Get the look:

  • Long-sleeved striped dress, black onyx necklace, silver cuff and ankle-strap pumps from Le Chateau
  • Red faux leather handbag from Winners
:::How to Dress Your Body Shape: Hourglass:::

Body Type: Triangle

Triangles have a bust measurement smaller than their hips and will have a well-defined waist. Typically someone with this shape will wear skirts and trousers two or more sizes larger than their tops.

The goal when dressing a triangle is to balance the upper torso and the hips by creating the illusion of width through the upper torso while visually minimizing the hips.

Genny used a lot of pattern with Cathy's outfit. It’s beneficial for women who fall into the triangle shape because playing with pattern and colour adds width through your upper torso. Wear your lighter and patterned pieces in your upper half and wear solid pieces or darker items in your lower half. Light colours and patterned pieces appear to advance and make the area they cover look larger. Look for items that add horizontal width across your upper frame like horizontal stripes, boat necks, wider lapels, epaulettes, scarves and necklaces that sit at the base of your neck.

Since the lower half of the body is the most challenging to address with this body type, Genny recommends A-line and full skirts — they are an easy fit and glide past your hips! Clean and simple styles are best. Avoid pleats and gathers that can add bulk to the lower part of your body. You can wear straight skirts, but ensure that the skirt falls straight down from the widest point of your hips.

The best pants for a triangle are flat front, flares, boot cut and wide leg.

Get the look:

  • A-line skirt, jeweled sweater, scarf and jewelry from LOFT
  • T-strap shoes and clutch from Winners
:::How to Dress Your Body Shape: Triangle:::

Body Type: Oval

The oval shape is when the bust and hip are similar in measurement. Waist measurement is larger than the hips and bust. Typically you find it challenging to get pieces to fit through the waist/tummy and you'll go up a size or more so that the waist fits.

The goal when dressing for an oval shape is to create the illusion of a trimmer waistline and minimize the tummy.

Dress your upper body in cardigans and jackets in mid-weight fabrics that have some drape. Overly stiff fabrics will add bulk. Look for cardigans and jackets that fall straight from the shoulder.

Tunic style blouses and dresses work well for this shape but avoid overly loose styles which can add visual weight! Remember to wear blouses and tops un-tucked, ending anywhere from just below the fullest part of your tummy to the top of your leg. Don’t wear anything that’s too clingy!

Avoid significant details such as belts and double breasted detailing that only serve to draw attention and add bulk to the tummy. However, oval-shaped women feel good about showing off their gorgeous legs. Knee length straight cut skirts or straight leg trousers work well with this figure.

Get the look:

  • Blue bandage skirt, floral halter blouse, faux leather-sleeved cardigan, handbag and silver jewelry from Melanie Lyne
  • Open-toe bootie from Town Shoes
:::How to Dress Your Body Shape: Oval:::
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