Dressing for Your Body Type

Before shopping or creating outfits, it is important to understand your body type and what styles flatter your shape. Rather than putting on baggy clothes to cover yourself up, pick styles that show off your best features and disguise the ones that you dislike. Part of your body insecurities might be enhanced due to the fact that your clothes do not fit you properly. Rather than blaming your natural curves, remember that everyone’s body is different and while there may be styles that you don’t pull off well, there are plenty of others that you do. To find the ones that do, first identify your body shape.

First, lets review our five most common body types:

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Your upper body is smaller than your lower body.

Women with pear-shaped bodies should find clothes that emphasize their small torso and minimize their hips. Try to balance your upper and lower halves.


Avoid patterns or light colors on your lower half, which tend to make features look larger. Also steer clear of clothing that is baggy, which hides your shape.

Styles to look for:

  • Wide leg or bootcut pants in dark colors
  • A-line skirts
  • Tailored shirts and jackets
  • Tops that draw attention to your upper body and create volume (with ruffles, patterns, colors, etc.)
  • Add layers and statement jewelry

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Your upper body is larger than your lower body.

Women with apple-shaped bodies should look for clothes to draw attention to their legs and camouflage their wider upper bodies. Pick styles that elongate the upper body.


Avoid tops that are made from flimsy fabrics or that have busy patterns. Rather than giving you your desired structure, these will hide your body and make it look rounder. Also avoid tucking your shirt in.

Styles to look for:

  • Skinny, straight-leg, or bootcut pants
  • V-neck tops
  • Empire tops and dresses
  • Shift dresses
  • Clothing with structure

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You have an athletic build with shoulders, waist, and hips that are all about the same size.

Women with rectangle-shaped bodies should find styles that show off their arms and legs while creating the illusion of curves.


Avoid wearing too many fitted garments at once, and pass up cropped tops and jackets. Styles like these will make your frame look more boxy and masculine.

Styles to look for:

  • Bootcut jeans or wide-leg pants
  • High-waisted pants
  • Flared skirts to create the illusion of hips
  • V-neck or sweetheart necklines
  • Tops with ruffles
  • Layers
  • Fitted jackets
  • Fabrics that drape

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Your shoulders and chest are wider than your hips.

Women with wedge-shaped bodies should wear clothes that show off their legs and minimize their broader upper bodies by creating a balance between their upper and lower bodies.


Avoid tops with boatnecks or very thin straps, and those with a lot of ruffles. These styles draw more attention to your wider upper-body and broad shoulders.

Styles to look for:

  •  High-waisted pants and skirts
  • Colors on bottom
  • Wide-leg pants to balance your wider top half
  • Cowl-neck and v-neck tops
  • Drop-waisted dresses
  • Choose flowy fabrics

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Your waist is small, and your shoulders and hips are similar in proportion.

Women with an hourglass shape should look for styles that show off their curves and draw attention to their smallest areas.


Avoid baggy clothing and too many layers. These styles will hide your curvy shape and make you look larger.

Styles to look for:

  • high-waisted skirts and pants
  • skinny or straight leg jeans
  • V-neck tops
  • Fitted dresses and tops
  • Wrap dresses or belted dresses that accentuate your small waist

Keep in mind that these tips are only to help you find clothes that flatter your figure and help you feel more confident in your own skin. Disguising your larger areas does not mean that they are unattractive! We all have parts of our bodies that we are dissatisfied with, so rather than focusing on them, focus your attention (and the attention of others) on your favorite parts. Check out the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and Marie Claire‘s website for more on body confidence!


If you would like to learn more about dressing for your body type, SheKnows has tons of resources ranging from picking out the right jeans to the right handbag for your shape.