One of the most popular questions we hear around OSA is, ‘How should I dress for my shape?’
Or, ‘Which styles will best flatter my body?’
Or, ‘I’ve gained (or lost) weight and the styles that used to work, don’t anymore.’
Or, ‘I’m short.’
Or, ‘I look frumpy.’
Or a variety of other questions and comments that all come back to body shape.
Body shape is incredibly individual. Ask 100 women, and you’ll get 100 different responses.
However, there’s enough in common that the 3 steps we’re going to talk about will put you firmly on the road to knowing what styles will flatter your shape best. And most important, which styles to steer clear of.
And knowing what to avoid is as powerful (and empowering) as knowing what’s going to look great on you.
But before we dive in, let’s chat about a couple of don’ts.
What To Avoid:
We look at body shape differently around here. We don’t compare ourselves to fruit and vegetables. We definitely don’t refer to ourselves as geometry shapes (triangles, rectangles, circles, etc.)
Why? You Ask…
When I first started styling women and body shape would come up, I heard a lot of, ‘I’m an apple. My shoulders are too wide.’
Or I’m a pear. My hips are too big.
Never once did anyone say, I’m an apple, and I love that my shoulders and bust are bigger than my hips and thighs.
No matter how awesome I thought the women looked, the majority of their self-assessments were negative.
Now, just imagine what happens when all we think about, all we talk about, is what we don’t like about ourselves.
It sucks the joy out of getting dressed. It sucks the fun out of fashion.
And we don’t have enough time in the day to address the ramifications all those stinky words have on our self-esteem and self-confidence. But it’s safe to say, it is absolutely no good.
Instead, What If We…
We’re not rose-colored-glasses-wearing-Polly-Annas, who only whisper about things we don’t like. It’s just not the #1 thing we focus on.
Nope. Instead, our first step is to pick our favorite feature (Step #1). Then, we accentuate the heck out of it (Step #2).
If you want more info on choosing your favorite feature, watching the replay of last week’s Style School will help.
And make sure to snag your copy of the companion Shopping Guide below. It has a ton of pictures and suggestions on how to amplify what you love.
A Quick Note On Picking Your Favorite:
Picking your favorite feature may come easy to you. If so, great!
You may like so much about your body that picking only one feature sounds ridiculous. Even better, baby!
Or it may take you a bit. And that’s okay too.
It may help to think about your favorite outfit. What feature does it accentuate? Is that the reason you feel amazing when you wear it? If so, you likely have the perfect starting point.
It’s okay to take some time. (Not too much, though.) There’s no prize for reaching the finish line first, but it is the basis for loving your closet and does make everything style soooo much easier.
After you’ve picked your favorite feature and have some ideas on how to accentuate the heck out of it, you’re ready for Step #3, horizontal balance.
What’s Horizontal Balance?
Yeah! I’m so glad you asked…
Simply put, when your shoulders/bust and hips are roughly the same width.
And creating the illusion of horizontal balance is about 80% of a successful outfit.
Find The Balance:
Most complaints about body shape sound something like; my shoulders are too wide, my bust is too big, or my hips are too big.
FYI – they are not too big. Thousands of years of evolution or all those years of subscribing to Marie Claire trained our eye to search for symmetry.
Fortunately, creating the illusion of balance is so much easier than you might think.
Once you have your ideal shapes in mind, you’ll be able to immediately toss aside styles that won’t flatter your shape. And fill your closet with pieces that flatter your body and fit you perfectly.
Popular Body Shape #1 – Broad Shoulders and/or Full Bust With Narrow Hips:
Pictures are worth a bajillion words. So, I’ve popped in some examples below and how each style helps create the illusion of balance.
The second skin top accentuates the bust and biceps and shoulders, while the A-line skirt adds volume to the hip and thigh area to create the perfect balance.
I love tulle skirts! So much so that if I can pop one into an article or style session, I absolutely will. They are so fun, so flirty, so feminine.
Not to mention versatile; casual, dressy, edgy, the list goes on and on. If you don’t already have one and it fits into your lifestyle, rush out and pick one up today.
Depending on the top you pair with this romantic little number, you can accentuate a ton of different favorite features. Arms, waist, collarbones, or décolletage.
Is your eye immediately drawn to her waist? Yep, that knot closure has done its job. This style will immediately accentuate a tiny waist. While the faux wrap style adds a bit of volume to narrow hips and thighs.
I love this shape for a couple of reasons. The first is that the skirt is the perfect length to accentuate her legs while not getting crazy short. And the yolk will add volume to a smaller bum.
Popular Body Shape #2 – Delicate Shoulders/Bust & A More Voluptuous Hip/Waist:
We talked a ton about empire waist tops and dresses in the Are You Plagued By A Pesky Middle? article a few weeks ago. So, I’m not going to beat that drum too long or loud. However, if you missed it, you can catch up here.
However one point, I want to emphasize is shoulder or sleeve details. They will add the illusion of volume on top, again creating balance.
Pencil skirts are so super flattering and will accentuate an awesome bum. To add needed volume to the top, I would pair it with a bulkier top made of thicker fabric. Some added details would do the trick too. Like ruffles around the neckline or pouf sleeves.
And that, Sunshine, is a wrap.
If you skimmed to the bottom, yes, I see you :-), here’s a quick recap.
The Key To Dressing To Flatter Your Body Shape:
- Avoid focusing first on the negative
- Pick your favorite feature
- Accentuate the heck out of it
- Turn up your horizontal balance radar and pick styles that create the illusion.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or mind-blowing epiphanies, so leave a comment below and we’ll get the conversation started.
‘Til next week.
Hugs & happy shopping.