How to Dress For Your Body Shape
How to Dress For Your Body Shape

The simple fact is, whatever your body shape or size, not every item of clothing is going to suit you. All of us have parts of our bodies that we want to hide and other parts that need to be flaunted. Dressing for your bodyshape will make you look good and then, you can’t fail to feel good while striving to meet your weight loss goal. WLR guest writer, Cara Frost-Sharratt explains.

How to Dress For Your Body Shape

By WLR Guest Writer Cara Frost-Sharratt

Wouldn’t life be dull if we all looked the same? Luckily, everyone is unique and you can rest assured that there’s no one quite like you anywhere else in the world. Whist this certainly makes life more interesting, it causes fashion designers and retailers no end of headaches, as they try to manufacture clothes that can be worn by everybody.

Dressing for Your Bodyshape

The fact is that, whatever your shape and size, not every item of clothing is going to suit you. This applies to everyone from wafer thin models to individuals of far more generous proportions. However, it is certainly true that those with larger or less common body shapes may have more trouble finding clothes that flatter them. For starters, many shops simply don’t cater to everyone. If you don’t fall into a pretty limited size and height boundary then the choices can be extremely limiting and this can make shopping trips a stressful, rather than pleasurable, experience.

Clothes Shopping on a Diet

If you’re following a weight loss programme then clothes shopping can become even more problematic. You know the size you were before you began the diet and you also know your goal weight.

Many people avoid clothes shops like the plague while they’re dieting, preferring to wait until they have shed more pounds and maybe even a dress size or two. However, life shouldn’t just grind to a halt because you’re currently somewhere in between.

On the contrary, buying clothes that flatter your body shape will enable you to keep track of the progress you’re making. It should also give you the momentum to carry on and achieve your desired weight. 

How to Choose the Right Clothes

People who are dieting and self-conscious about their weight and body image often try to make themselves invisible. They will go to extraordinary lengths to hide their bodies away under baggy clothes until they have had some success with their diet and have lost weight.

It’s true that there’s something comforting about pulling on a big baggy jumper and some jogging pants but this shouldn’t be a daily uniform.

Instead, you should learn how to tailor your wardrobe to your particular body shape and emphasise the positive aspects. Just because you’re on a diet and haven’t yet achieved your goal weight doesn’t mean you can’t get glammed up and go out on the town.

The Importance of Knowing Your Body Shape

Luckily, the likes of Trinny and Susannah, and Gok Wan have helped to boost the confidence of people with a previously negative body image.

They have highlighted the importance of knowing your body shape and then learning which clothes will suit you. Identifying and emphasising the positive bits of your body has shattered the misconception that the only way to dress if you’re overweight is to hide away under baggy clothes.

So, here are the six main body shapes and the lowdown on what’s going to look good on you.

Know Your Body Shape

A Frame or Pear-Shaped Body Shape

Body Shape Pear

Women with pear-shaped bodies tend to carry excess weight around the bottom, hips and thighs, whilst the top half of the body is smaller in proportion. As women get older the shift in weight usually moves towards the middle of the body, which means that you could slowly change from a pear to an apple over time.

If you have an ‘A’ frame or Pear Shaped body, dressing well is all about achieving a good sense of balance between the upper and lower halves. Whilst this has traditionally meant shielding a more voluptuous bottom in flowing fabrics, this can often just accentuate the areas you’re least happy with.

If you’re not comfortable wearing trousers or skirts that hug your buttocks, you should aim for something that at least reveals the outline. Boot-cut jeans are a great choice as they naturally taper out to give a more balanced look. Team these up with brightly coloured tops to lead the eye upwards.

You can also balance out your body shape by creating the appearance of a fuller shoulder. Of course, this isn’t to suggest that you traipse around the shops in search of some enormous eighties shoulder pads.

However, a little discreet padding is fine. You can also concentrate on this area when it comes to exercise. By building up your top half and slimming down the bottom half, you will be able to work with your body shape and create a more streamlined look.


Oval Frame or Apple Shaped Body Shape

Apple Body shape

Oval-shaped women hold most of their excess weight around the middle. This can make other areas of the body seem a little out of proportion so you need to concentrate on minimising attention to the waist and highlighting other features.

Chances are you have a good-sized bust so there are plenty of ways to draw the eye away from the waistline. It’s all about showing off your best bits and veering attention away from the works in progress.

If your boobs are your piece de resistance then choose tops that accentuate them without giving too much away! Have a proper bra fitting at various stages throughout your diet – there’s nothing like an ill-fitting bra to ruin an outfit. Streamline your body shape by wearing the same colour on top and bottom, or very similar shades.

You don’t want to cut your body in two and draw too much attention to the waist area. ‘V’-neck tops are a great way to create the impression of height and can work for most body shapes but are particularly good for apples. Body stockings and vests and tights with hidden support panels will give you an instant tummy tuck and are great for keeping errant waistlines under control under party dresses. A-line or straight-cut-skirts will create a more streamlined look but choose styles that sit lower on the waist and avoid pockets or pleats.

Dieting and regular exercise can play a large part in regulating and adjusting this body shape and, indeed, it’s particularly important for women with oval-shaped bodies to be aware of their weight and shape. Excess weight around the abdomen can lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as other health problems, in later life.


V Frame or Cone Shaped Body Shape

Cone Body Shape

The ‘V’ frame starts off big at the top of the body but hips and legs tend to be slim. This usually means wide shoulders and a large bust that can appear to be out of proportion with the lower half of the body. If you have a v-shaped body you need to concentrate on creating a more even appearance and a streamlined look.

You can do this by keeping things relatively simple on top and veering away from anything with padded shoulders or a garish pattern. Instead, choose simple cuts and designs that will not attract the eye. Try to redress the balance around the hip area by choosing skirts or trousers that flare out – pleats, boot cut and big pockets will get plus points. Tops that are longer will help to blur the boundary between top and bottom and will also make your body look longer and more svelte.

Problem areas can be tackled and brought under control by a good combination of diet and exercise. It’s also worth paying particular attention to your legs. By working your leg muscles you can create a more even distribution between your top and bottom halves.


8 Frame or Hourglass Body Shape

Hourglass Body Shape

Many people envy the classic hourglass figure with curves in all the right places. However, it’s also difficult to maintain those curves and keep your body in shape.

You really need to choose clothes that flatter your curves and this is a definite example of how bad choices in the clothes shop can have a disastrous effect on your appearance. There’s nothing worse than covering up an hourglass figure in shapeless clothes.

Those curvaceous boobs and hips will simply disappear into your waist and you’ll look like a barrel. Even if you’re not confident about your weight, you should flatter your body shape by choosing tops that taper in towards the waist and skirts that fit well over the hips and bottom. As the weight comes off so your confidence will increase and you can become even more daring with your wardrobe.

When it comes to exercise the idea is to ensure that the figure-of-eight proportions are kept intact. You need to try and tone up an even amount all over your body, rather than concentrating on specific areas.


H Frame or Athletic Body Shape

H Frame Body Shape

The ‘H’ frame is characterised by a broad waist and shoulders and little definition between the widths of the top and bottom halves of the body. The key to working with this body shape is to try and create the illusion of defined areas and the best place to start is the waist. If the waist appears slimmer then the rest of your body will look more in proportion. 

Choose clothes that draw in at the waist, such as flared skirts and fitted dresses. Try to avoid anything that highlights the shoulder area or drops straight down your body, as your shape will be completely engulfed. Don’t choose tops that finish exactly at the waist, as you want to lengthen the body. Instead, go for longer shirts and jumpers that cover the waist and create a more streamlined effect.

If you choose a scoop or ‘V’ neck top, this will create a diversion away from the shoulders.

When exercising, concentrate on toning up your waistline to create a more defined look. Avoid resistance exercises to the shoulders and upper body, as this will only increase this area more. However, by toning up legs and thighs you can help to accentuate your waist and create a more curvaceous lower body.


Ruler or Straight Body Shape

Ruler Body Shape

The ruler shape refers to bodies that are pretty much even from top to bottom, so no great discrepancy between shoulders, bust, hips or waist.

Whilst this body shape is easier to manage and control than some others, it does means there’s no one feature in particular that can really be highlighted. Ruler-shaped women don’t tend to have dramatic weight gain or retention in any particular area but you have to be careful to dress well, as this is a boyish shape and clothes can look uninspiring.

Not many people are completely happy with their bodies and the general bone of contention with ruler women is that they’d like a few more curves. There are ways to create the illusion of curvaceousness through clothes.

Choose feminine colours and shapes that draw attention to slim hips. Low hung, fitted jeans, tapered trousers and pencil skirts all work well but baggy trousers can end up looking shapeless and swamping your figure.

Avoid plunging or low cut necklines unless you’ve got something to support them – small boobs can look even smaller in these. Instead choose scoop neck or polo neck styles that are well fitted, or wear a padded bra to add a bit of substance beneath a dress or top. Layering different styles and fabrics can add interest and help to create a more defined shape.

Dieting and exercise should revolve around a general programme of fitness, rather than trying to tone up or decrease any particular part of your body. 

Keep up the Good Work

In order to lose weight successfully you need to have a great deal of will power, which means that dieting is as much psychological as physical. Feeling good about yourself is a positive first step on the path to achieving your goals.

By dressing in clothes that flatter your shape you will become more familiar with your body and how to choose outfits that suit you. It can also be a real boost for your diet. If you look good now, just think how fabulous you’re going to look when you’ve reached your weight loss target.

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