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Dressing for Your Body Type (Men & Women)

Because dressing properly shows that you have good manners...

Source: Frontiers in Psychology Journal Article on Gender Differences -

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this blog is simply a basic guide on how to dress for various body types. In no way is this blog meant to be a comprehensive, concrete solution for what everyone should wear. At the end of the day, wear what makes you feel good.

Not sure how to dress for your body type? Do you feel like nothing fits properly because your weight distribution stays in one area? If this is you, I got you! First things first, determine what your body shape is. Second - TAKE YOUR MEASUREMENTS! Even without purchasing clothing specifically for your body type, you will never look your best in clothing unless you can first choose clothes that fit! Want to take your measurements really quickly? Head over to my blog on how to take your measurements here.

If you're still lost about what your body type is after taking your measurements and reading the descriptions I've placed below for you, try using one of these body shape/type calculators. All you'll need to do is simply enter your measurements and press the calculate button! Here are several calculators that you can use here, here, and last but not least - here!

“Looking your best in clothes is not just about curating outfits that are aesthetically pleasing, but more about putting outfits together that are flattering to your figure.”

Body Types for Women

*Yes, there are a few body types listed below that are not in the picture above.

Apple Figure: If you have an apple figure, you will notice that your waist is most likely not that defined and you tend to carry most of your weight in the abdominal region.

What Looks Good On You? You want clothes that will draw the attention away from your midsection and emphasize your other qualities, such as your legs or shoulders. When choosing clothing that you would like to flatter your body type, it will be best to buy items that accentuate your cleavage (wear a dress or top that has a square or v-neck) or tailor your waist and slim your stomach (wear belts slightly above your waist or clothing that cinches slightly above the waist). Stay away from material with spandex as not to emphasize your midsection with its clinginess. Shift and wrap dresses usually work very well for an apple figure by creating a defined waistline. You can also try dresses that have a higher than normal waist placement for a more dramatic effect. To define your waist and make your legs look longer, try trousers that are high-waisted or straight leg. Blouses are usually best when they are peplum (defines your waist and also gives you curves because of its natural flowy structure), wrap shirts (defines waist), or v-neck (takes the attention from everywhere and places it on the collarbone).

Petite: This is for the ladies who are 5'3 and shorter. We get it, you're slightly shorter than most and you oftentimes find clothes that are too long, too loose, etc.

What Looks Good On You? When it comes to shirts, aim for v-necks or blouses that expose your neck and collarbone, they give the appearance that you're taller. Avoid wearing floor-length dresses that will make you appear shorter than you are. Your hemline should remain above the knee. Avoid shirt dresses, maxi skirts (most times, not always), and baby doll dresses/shirts at all costs. These items will swallow you and make it seem as if you're wearing an oversized curtain instead of a dress.

Hourglass Shape: Typically has a small, well-defined waist. Hourglass shapes also have hips and busts that are primarily the same in size. With this body type, I think about creating an optical illusion. This means that whatever you're wearing should distract someone from a part of your body and draw their attention to another part.

What Looks Good On You? Wrap dresses look amazing on this body type. They really accentuate the defined waist and you have the ability the easily adjust the waist. Jumpsuits will look amazing because they emphasize curves and your waist while also elongating the rest of your body. Wrap tops, v-neck blouses, and t-shirts (preferably tucked in) are good because they draw attention to a defined midsection and balance out the upper/lower torso ratio. You can also belt shirts and dresses to bring attention to your best asset (your waist). Any clothing items with ruching or cinching at the waist are also great options. For bottoms, your best bet is to pick up a pencil or high-waisted skirt because you don't want to lose your shape with an outfit and these prevent that from happening by balancing out your waist to hip ratio. 

You should avoid wearing clothing that is loose or baggy (e.g. baby doll shirts). These clothes will make you appear larger than you actually are and eliminate the shape that you do have.

Rectangle Shape: This body type generally does not have curves. You will also find that this shape oftentimes has shoulders and hips of the same proportion, while the bust size can vary from small - medium-large. You should always wear outfits that separate your rectangle figure and give you a waistline.

What Looks Good On You? Without having a defined waist, you will want to wear clothing that gives the appearance of a waistline. By wearing clothes that give the illusion of a waistline, you avoid looking shapeless. An A-line, flared, or belted dress will be your best bet if you're choosing what to wear to cocktail hour or a gala. This dress will provide an Illusion of subtle curves, while also accentuating your faux waistline. V-neck and circular neck tops work best for you because they draw the eye upward and also show off your collarbone. Trousers and jeans should be high-waisted, slim, wide-leg, or straight because they lengthen the legs, help to bring shape to your hips/bottom, and they don't exaggerate your rectangular shape.

Pear Shape: Pear shape body types usually have small to average bust, while carrying most of their weight in the hips and butt. The hips tend to be wider than the shoulders.

What Looks Good On You? With this body type, you want to wear outfits that elongate the body, giving the illusion that you are not as bottom heavy. As with other body types, you want to wear an outfit that draws attention to your upper half and away from your lower body. Shirts that do not cling to the stomach or hips are best. Shirts or dresses with plunging necklines will accentuate your upper torso which one of your main goals. You may also want to show off your shoulder line by wearing off the shoulder shirts or structured, tailored jackets that come below the waist.

Inverted Triangle: If you have an inverted triangle shape, your shoulders are most likely wider in proportion to your hips. You will also have smaller hips and a larger bust. You will want to minimize the width of your upper body and add volume to your lower body for balance.

What Looks Good On You? The goal is to accentuate your bottoms half and legs by giving them dimension and drawing the eye away from your upper torso. When choosing your tops and jackets for your inverted triangle shape, look for pieces that cinch in at the waist and are tailored, or have a waist tie. Short dresses, dresses with streamlined/straight lines, boxy shifts, tunic dresses, one-shoulder dresses, and A-lined dresses are great. Voluminous skirts (tiered, peplum, tulip, bias-cut skirts) also work well to add volume to the lower half of your body. Wearing skirts or trousers with detailing such as pleats or patterns is usually okay because most times they're forgiving on this body type and add depth to your straight frame. Trousers that are wide-leg, high-waisted, straight leg, palazzo, etc. look great by adding shape and also give the appearance of a slimmer midsection.

Blouses and sweaters are best if they make the waist look smaller and defined. Additional tips for blouses include making sure that they have soft shoulders, choose fabrics that drape over you, or dark/bright color tops that aren't necessarily patterned. To be specific, low v-necks, circular necklines, off the shoulder kimono tops, one-shoulder tops, tops with wide straps, or collarless tops are awesome. You may also want to try tunics that fall over the hips because they also add width to your frame.

Avoid anything which creates extra width on your shoulders such as clothing with embroidery, patterns, and shoulder pads (which are trendy now) as these will draw the eye upward and make your shoulders appear even wider.

Body Types for Men

Rectangle: You most likely have a slender body frame with your shoulders, waist, and hips typically the same width apart.

What Looks Good On You? Your outfits should broaden your shoulders and give you a waist (so that you don't appear as a straight board. lol) Structured suits and blazers work well on your body type by adding depth and size to your shoulders. Because your body frame is slender, you are able to wear clothes that would emphasize problem areas for a lot of people. Don't be afraid to step outside of the box and wear color or prints. Pants and jeans should be slim or tapered to define your waist and give you shape. The only REAL rule for your body type is to avoid clothing with vertical lines/pinstripes because they emphasize that straight, board-like body type.

Triangle: This means you are larger in the waist and hips compared to the top portion of your body. You may experience difficulty identifying clothes that make you look proportional. However, if you can confirm your body type and know your measurements, I am here to tell you a few items that will make you look your best every time.

What Looks Good On You? Structured/tailored blazers are your friend and will show off your shoulders. This will give you a more rectangular torso that will balance out your look.

When it comes to trousers or denim, opt for a straight or slim leg in an effort to draw attention away from the center of your body and balance out your silhouette.

You should avoid tapered and skinny fit trousers or jeans because they accentuate the center of your body. By all means, stay away from clothing that obviously shows that your body is not proportionate. Refrain from adding fitted polos or slim fit shirts to your wardrobe as they will emphasize the area of your body that you should be drawing attention away from.

Trapezoid: This is considered the average body type for most men. If you walk into a store, most clothing will fit you just fine or with minor alterations. Your waist is the most narrow part of your body and your collarbone and shoulders are the broadest part of your body. This gives the body an overall trapezoidal shape with the shorter side at the bottom.

What Looks Good On You? Suits and blazers should be tapered at your waist. Trousers and jeans that are slim fit or any kind of close-cut will fit your body type amazingly.

You have the average body type and typically nothing looks too horrible on you. However, what you should avoid is wearing baggy or loose clothing.

Oval: This means your body type is slightly larger than most. You carry most of your weight in your midsection. You want your clothes to make you appear slimmer.

What Looks Good On You? Try wearing clothes that slim your figure. For example, solid and darker colors will assist with creating an illusion of a slimmer physique. Trousers should always be slightly loose in the waist. Shirts that have wide collars tend to work well because they give the effect of a slimmer neck. Suits and blazers should be single-breasted because they have just enough taper and stretch to lay nicely over the midsection without bringing attention to it.

You will want to avoid any clothing whether it's suits, shirts, or trousers if they are fitted. You should also refrain from wearing clothes that have busy patterns. These types of items will draw attention to your midsection instead of slimming and elongating your body.

Inverted Triangle: If you have this body type, you most likely have a well-defined chest and shoulders that are broader compared to your waist and hips. You also will have a narrow waist and the goal of any outfit should be to show off your nice physique.

What Looks Good On You? Slim leg and straight leg trousers/jeans will look great on your body type. Suits and jackets should always be a slim fit to accent your shoulders. Slim fit and v-neck shirts are also best to show your toned/chiseled frame, allow for space in the shoulders (because they usually have stretch), and tailor the waist.

Avoid skinny trousers or jeans as they will emphasize your small legs. If you are one who loves suits and blazers, make sure that your blazers are not structures (without padding) to prevent your upper torso from looking wider than your actual frame.

..... and if all else fails, GET A TAILOR! A tailor/seamstress can be your best bet to make sure you feel and look like a million dollars in your clothes. A tailor can work with any body type, will most likely know what looks best on you better than you do, and will be able to tailor any clothing item to specifically fit your body type.

If you found this short blog helpful or want a newsletter showing picture examples of outfits for each body type, drop a comment below and sign up here to receive emails for newly posted blogs, style tips, and free giveaways! Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @cb2styles. #petite #bodytype #dresswell #cb2styles #invertedtriangle #apple #pear #ovalbody #whatlooksgoodonyou


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