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Personal Styling Tips for Different Body Shapes

As a designer with over 12 years of experience who started in the alterations business I know how dressing for your body type can have a huge impact on your overall look. It can make or break an outfit. We all have different body types but there are certain traits we have in common. The first thing you need to do is find out what body shape you have, once you’ve established this you can then start to create a wardrobe that not only reflects your personal style but also accentuates your best body features.

5 Most Common Female Body Shapes

As a general rule there are 5 most common female body shapes. These are:

  • The Hourglass
  • The Inverted Triangle
  • The Triangle (also called pear)
  • The Rectangle
  • The Round (also called apple)

To determine your body shape you can use this free handy online calculator. You just need a tape measure so you can input your bust size, waist size, high hip and your hip size. Please remember it’s just a general guide as we’re all different but it should give you a good idea of your body shape to get you started. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can be a mixture of two different shapes.

The Hourglass

Main Characteristics:

  • Narrow waist
  • Bust and hips same size and quite large

Famous people with hourglass bodies include Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Kardashian. 

How To Dress For An Hourglass Body 

If you have an hourglass figure your main aim should be to accentuate your assets. As your body is quite balanced you don’t need to focus on balancing out your body but in order to keep your body balanced, avoid anything bulky. 

Avoid adding too many ruffles to your top half otherwise you may appear top heavy. Opt for dresses and tops that accentuate your waist. 

Clothing options for the hourglass figure: 

  • Pencil skirts 
  • Boot cut trousers 
  • Scoop neck tops 
  • V-neck tops 
  • Fitted waist style tops 
  • Shoes with rounded toes or bows 
  • Jackets or coats that are belted at the waist 
  • Classic trench coats 
  • Tailored blazers 

Designers to look out for are Alexander Mcqueen, Dolce & Gabbana and Roland Mouret.  


The Inverted Triangle

Main characteristics:

  • Broad shoulders
  • Larger bust
  • Smaller bottom half
  • Small hips

Famous people with inverted triangle bodies include Cindy Crawford, Dolly Parton and Rennee Zellweger.

How To Dress For The Inverted Triangle Body

If you have the inverted triangle shape you may wish to draw attention away from your board shoulders or larger chest and redirect the attention to your slimmer lower body. This can help to make your hips look more shapely.

In order to balance out your body you’ll want to reduce the volume on your upper half and increase it on your lower half.

To accentuate your often lean legs use vertical stripes. Stick to open collars and necklines and wear soft textures to further soften your shoulders. Don’t do up your jackets to help create a vertical line. Avoid anything that adds width to your shoulders such as shoulder pads, embroidery or buttons.

You could wear darker colours on top and lighter colours on your bottom half.

Clothing options for the inverted triangle figure:

  • Halter neck tops
  • V-neck tops
  • Scoop neck tops
  • A line or full skirts
  • Full leg width trousers
  • Bootleg trousers
  • Flared style dresses
  • Jumpsuits
  • Single-breasted jackets
  • Eye-catching shoes

The Triangle (Pear)

Main characteristics

  • Hips are wider than shoulders
  • Larger bottom

Famous people with a pear body shape include Rihanna, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez.

How To Dress For The Triangle (Pear) Body

A person with a triangle body shape needs to aim for the opposite of the inverted triangle body shape. Instead of trying to accentuate your lower body the aim is to accentuate your shoulders and upper half.

If you have a triangle body shape you may tend to store weight in your hips and thighs. Opt for brighter colours on your top half and darker colours on your lower half. This helps to focus the attention on the upper half of your body.

The good news is that you can choose from several different types of neckline as they will all look good on you. However, if your aim is to create width across your shoulders opt for Bardot style tops or boat necks.

To keep the focus on your top half accessorise with jewellery, scarves and hats.

Clothing options for the triangle figure:

  • Tops with shoulder pads
  • Puffy shoulder tops
  • Tops with big collars
  • Patterned tops
  • V-line tops
  • Jumpers with a tie waist
  • Long cardigans
  • Boot leg trousers
  • High rise trousers
  • A-line skirts
  • Flare style dresses that nip in at the waist
  • A-shaped knee length coats
  • Jackets with shoulder pads

The Rectangle

Main characteristics

  • Hips are similar width to shoulders
  • Less defined waist
  • Minimal curves
  • Small bust

The rectangle body shape is the most dominant of all of the body shapes. Famous people with a rectangle body shape include Natalie Portman, Cameron Diaz and Nicole Kidman.

How To Dress For The Rectangle Body Shape

Dressing a rectangle body shape can have its challenges as you may tend to put on weight around your stomach area, especially after menopause. The main aim with the rectangle body shape it to create more curves.

Asymmetric styles are perfect for the rectangle. You’ll want to avoid shapeless clothes as they will just hang off your body. As a general rule you have two main options for dressing a rectangle body. You either embrace the fact you have no curves and aim for long lean lines or you aim to add curves. 

Use block colours to define different areas of your body. Choose tops and jackets that emphasise your waist. You can wear tops with shoulder pads but make sure they’re only small so as to not overwhelm your top half. Choose tops with medium and high neck lines.

Clothing options for the rectangle figure:  

  • Boat necked top 
  • Halter necks 
  • Belts 
  • Any shape sweater 
  • Tight skirts 
  • Shift dress
  • Empire line dress
  • Midi-length shirtdress
  • Wide leg trousers 
  • Flared trousers 
  • Tailored jacket 
  • Belted coat 
  • Classic trench coat 

The Round (Apple)

  • Undefined waist
  • Tend to put on weight on the stomach area
  • Average size bust

Famous people with a round body shape include Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Hurley and Catherine Zeta Jones.

How To Dress for The Round Body Shape

As far as body shapes go the round or pear shaped body can be one of the hardest to style but you can achieve a flattering look with a few simple tricks and tweaks. A lot of women often make the mistake of trying to cover their pear shaped body with baggy clothes. This often results in making them look much larger than they actually are.

The main aim when it comes to dressing a pear shaped body is to create a nice silhouette shape. As with all of the other body shapes the main aim is always to create balance.

For the pear shape this means drawing attention away from the widest part of your body, normally your waist. There are two ways to do this, either hide the tummy area completely or redefine your mid-section. You can do this by having a high waisted belt.

Stay away from clingy materials and opt for looser clothing items.

Clothing options for the round figure:

  • V-neck tops
  • Tops that are ruched in the middle
  • Woven tops
  • Long sleeveless vests
  • Long tops
  • Textured materials
  • Patterned tops
  • Flared trousers
  • Straight trousers
  • Knee length structure pencil skirts
  • Pleated shirts that start below the waist
  • Tunic style dress
  • Shift style dresses
  • Off the shoulder jumpers
  • Tailored jackets with v shape top
  • Single-breasted jackets
  • Blazer 


But all these above in the style of you, if its reflects your personality. Don’t feel like you have wear a pencil skirt because you are an hourglass and you cant stand skirts. 


This chapter is for you to understand and have it in the book if you want to find it. There are numerous articles, blogs and books out there that covers more or less all above. 

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