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You enter into a clothing store and begin to casually browse the garments.

The store assistants watch on in gut-wrenching anticipation as you closely examine one of the items. Gasp! Maybe one of us should ask if she needs help, they murmur to one another.

No, no⸺play it cool, the manager explains to the staff. Let’s see where this is going.

You continue to browse, blissfully unaware. Just when you think you’ve seen enough, you catch something in the corner of your eye. Your head turns so fast it nearly falls off.

There it is. The dress you didn’t know you needed until right now.

Without a moment’s hesitation, you rip the dress right off the rack and storm the fitting rooms. You desperately try to remove your own clothes as they hold onto you like a clingy boyfriend.

You take a deep breath before checking yourself out in the mirror only to realize⸺oh god, it looks terrible on you.

You walk out feeling defeated. Disappointed. You’re left wondering, what’s the best dress style for my body type?

This is Your Body, Get Use to it

Do you ever wish you had a more ‘typical’ body? That you looked like other women?

Well, I’m here to tell you that the idea of an average body type is a myth.

Owner of Evolve Image Consulting, Dr. Carol Parker told Sheknows “There are two myths you must know when it comes to our bodies: One, there’s no perfect size, and two, there’s no perfect body.”

This is backed up by a 2004 study that found people do not have mathematically proportional bodies. And in fact “The shapes and proportions of today's American population differ greatly from the shapes of the generations before.”

The result is that a lot of manufacturers can’t ‘fit’ their customers. It’s impossible!

With that in mind, you need to stop comparing yourself to others. It’s time to accept your body for what it is and learn how to dress for your body. 

The good news is that there is a lot of choice out there, so you’re guaranteed to find something for your body type if you look hard enough.

Joy of Clothes tells us that if you want to look good, focus on the fit of the clothes, not the size or shape of your body. 

Another thing to keep in mind, which Co-founder of WhoWhatWear Hillary Kerr told My Domaine is that not every trend is for every body. 

As I discussed about French style, sometimes it’s better to look past trends and focus on creating a signature style instead.

If you really want to know the best ways to dress for your body type, you need to understand what types of clothes will help you show off your best assets. And help hide the not so flattering parts. 

This way you’ll always be able to answer the question of what’s the best dress style for my body type?  

How to Find Your Body Shape with Measurements

There are five general body types:

  1. Hourglass
  2. Inverted Triangle
  3. Pear
  4. Apple
  5. Rectangle

I say general because even within these five body types there can be a lot of variation (Remember what I said about there being no such thing as a typical body). You might discover that your body shares characteristics with a few different categories.

But let’s keep it simple for now.

If you can imagine an outline of your body, that is essentially what your body shape is. Understanding this will help you determine the best dress style by body type for you and your style.

You want your dresses to sit naturally according to your body proportions in a way that will flatter you and your silhouette. 

Stylecraze says that as important as your silhouette is in determining your body type, it's equally important to know your basic measurements for an accurate picture.

Before you measure, make sure to use a cloth tape. It’s more flexible than metal tape and therefore more accurate. Not to mention comfortable, too. And don’t hold the tape too tight or too loose, it should be firm against your body.

Here’s what you need to measure:

Shoulder

Ask someone to help you with this if you can, otherwise it might be a little tricky trying to get an accurate measurement.

Start at the top of either shoulder and wrap it all the way behind you and around the opposite shoulder until the end of the tape meets the same shoulder you started with. The tape should be close to your shoulder to measure it at its widest point.

Bust

Make sure you’re standing up straight. You want to measure the fullest part of your bust. It’s okay to wear a bra while you’re doing this. Place the end of the tape at the fullest part of your bust and wrap it under both shoulders before bringing it back to the starting point. Don’t let the tape squish your breasts.

Waist

This one can be a little difficult psychologically because a lot of us instinctively want to suck in our stomachs. Just try to relax yourself and stand up straight.

You’re also measuring the slimmest part of your waist, this is not where the waistband usually sits. So start above your belly button and below your rib cage. And then wrap the tape around your stomach back to the starting point.

Hips

You need to get your booty involved in this one. Start below either hip bone and then bring the tape behind you, across the fullest part of your buttocks and back around to the hip you started with. Have a mirror handy to make sure the tape is level.

High Hip

You guessed it, this one’s taken a little higher. Start at the top of the hip curve (about 3” - 4” below your belly button) and bring the tape back around to the opposite hip. Again making sure the tape remains level. 

If you need a little help, this video from Made to Sew will show you how to measure everything right. 

Once you’ve got your measurements, enter them into the Omni Calculator to find out which body shape you are.

What is an Apple Body Shape?

apple body shape

According to SheKnows, if you have an apple body shape then you should display most of the following traits:

  • Your hips, shoulders and waist are roughly the same width
  • You tend to gain weight mainly around your waist 
  • The lower parts of your legs and arms are slender
  • The width of your high hip is greater than your lower hip
  • Your bust is wider than your hips
  • You have a short waist
  • Your thighs and hips are the narrowest part of your body

In summary, Stylecraze says an apple body shape tends to have a heavier upper-body in comparison to your lower body. Meaning, you have broad shoulders and a relatively large bust.

How to Dress For an Apple Body Shape

So now that you know your shape, let’s get into how to style an apple shaped body.

As you no doubt know from personal experience, this is one of the most difficult shapes to dress. Your instinct may be to try and cover everything up with loose clothes. But this is a mistake, says 40+STYLE.

Your aim should be to create the most flattering silhouette you can. The way to do this is to draw attention away from your waist by emphasizing your cleavage and creating clean, vertical lines. 

How to Draw Attention Away From Your Tummy

You want to create balance and draw attention away from the widest part of your tummy.

To do this, you can either completely skim over your tummy or redefine where your mid-section is.

To redefine your mid-section, tie a belt a little bit above your widest point. This will help create the illusion of a smaller waist.

How to Emphasize Your Cleavage

Of course, you don’t have to draw attention to your cleavage. But if you want to take the focus away from your waist, it needs to go somewhere.

A super simple way to do this is with a v-neck top or dress. A deep v-neck will help create a more elongated torso.

How to Emphasize Your Legs

Hopefully, like many other apple shaped women, you have some great legs to show off, too.

You don’t necessarily need to wear a mini skirt but keep the hem above the knee.   

What Are the Best Dresses for Apple Shaped Bodies?

Successible Life says flowy tunics, midi dresses and A-line dresses make flattering dresses for apple shape women.

polka dot mini dress

Stripe midi dress

A line dress

Lantern sleeve mini dress

WhoWhatWear also suggests empire or smock dresses that will skim over your tummy.

When it comes to choosing the best dress style for apple shape bodies, there are a few details you should look out for:

  • Dresses with waistlines below the bust or at your slimmest point
  • Dresses with ruching, draping or layers
  • Dresses with soft fabrics that won’t bulk up around your bust, waist or tummy
  • Dresses with a v neckline, like I mentioned earlier

What is an Hourglass Body Shape?

Hourglass body shape

Sheknows says you have an hourglass body shape if:

  • Your hips and shoulders are roughly the same width
  • Your shoulders are round and sloping
  • You have a well-defined waistline
  • You have good cleavage
  • Your butt is quite round
  • Your lower hips are wider than your high hips
  • Your thighs are full but narrower than your lower hips
  • You tend to gain weight around the hips and above the waist

This might be the most desirable body shape of all. You lucky devil.

How to Dress Your Upper Body

The most important thing you can do is wear a good bra. You want a bra that will thrust your bust forwards.

Other clothing you should wear includes:

  • V necklines or tops with a deep neckline
  • Coats that highlight your waist and feature a v-neck
  • Single-breasted jackets left open to create a nice vertical line
  • Shirts that emphasize your boobs and that don’t have buttons all the way to the top
  • Small, fitted jackets that tuck in your boobs

Lace up blazer


How to Dress Your Lower Body

You want to emphasize your curves when picking out skirts and pants, so choose pencil skirts because they will follow your curves perfectly.

faux leather mini skirt


For pants, choose bootcut and flared styles to complement your curves too. 

What Are the Best Dresses for Hourglass Figure?

Successible Life suggests the best dress shape for curvy figure women are bodycon dresses, wrap dresses and mermaid dresses.

It makes sense, you’ve got all them curves, so flaunt ‘em! Just make sure the dress sits well in all the right places.

off the shoulder bodycon dress

wrap mini dress

mermaid hem polka dot dress

When you’re looking for a dress, you should also consider v-neck, sweetheart or scoop necklines because they will slim down your bust and draw attention to your waist.

WhoWhatWear suggests having a belted waist will also help you create the perfect silhouette.

What is a Pear Body Shape?

Pear body shape

Sheknows says you can tell that you have a pear body shape if:

  • Your hips are wider than your shoulders
  • You have round, sloping shoulders
  • You have a well-defined waist
  • Your buttocks and thighs are full and round
  • You tend to gain weight around your thighs

You can thank Kim Kardashian for popularizing this one⸺your butt and thighs stand out above all else.

How to Dress For a Pear Body Shape

When dressing a pear shaped body, your goal is actually to transform yourself into an hourglass.

For that to happen, you need to accentuate your shoulders and draw attention to your upper-body and waist, as well as elongate your legs.

How to Create Visual Balance

Joy of Clothes says to make your shoulders look broader, you should wear jackets and tops that finish either above or below the widest points of your hips and butt.

Create visual interest up top to draw people’s eyes by layering, wearing patterns or colors to create the illusion of narrower hips.

As a general rule, you should always try to wear fitted tops and dresses that accentuate your waistline like empire lines and wraps.

To add a little more oomph to your shoulders, wear things like shoulder pads, puff sleeves and cap sleeve tees.

 puff sleeve blazer

What Are the Best Dresses for Pear Shaped Bodies?

Successible Life recommends maxi dresses, shift dresses and A-line dresses as the best dresses for pear shaped body types.

Maxi dress


Shift dress

A line dress

Puff sleeve midi dress

Look for dresses that have an open or v-neckline as well as puffy sleeves like I mentioned before. 

When you’re looking for a dress, just remember ‘fit and flare.’ This will help you achieve an hourglass look.

What is a Rectangle Body Shape?

Rectangle body shape

Sheknows says that If you have a rectangle body shape, a few of these things should sound familiar to you:

  • Your hips, waistline and shoulders are about the same width
  • You tend to gain weight evenly throughout your body
  • Your shoulders are straight
  • Your butt is flat
  • You have an athletic build and a small bust

If you wish there was more shape to your body, you’re out of luck. But you’ll be happy to know that you have the build of a runway model. And that means pretty much anything you try on will fit you.

How to Dress For a Rectangle Body Shape

Even though you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding clothes that fit, you might want to create more curves for yourself by defining your waist.

40+STYLE says the way to do this is to wear clothes that have details on them e.g. you could wear a boat neck top with a pair of wide leg pants and a belt to create the illusion of an hourglass figure.

On the other hand, you could just play up to your long, lean lines with something like a shift dress layered with a long cardigan.

What Are the Best Dresses for Rectangle Body Shape?

Successible Life recommends asymmetrical dresses, halter dresses and wrap dresses as suitable dresses for rectangle body shape women.

asymmetric shirt dress

halter neck maxi dress

wrap midi dress

To add some curves to your silhouette, look for dresses with draping, ruching or a cinched waist. 

Throw every detail you can at your upper-body like necklines, swirls, embellishments, angles and volume to help give your body a fuller looking shape. 

off the shoulder ruffle dress

What is an Inverted Triangle Body Shape?

Inverted triangle body shape

Sheknows says if you have an inverted triangle body shape, a few of these things should ring true:

  • You have prominent, broad shoulders that are wider than your waistline or hips
  • You have an athletic build
  • Your butt is flat
  • Your chest is larger and back fuller than a rectangle body shape
  • You tend to gain weight around your torso and back

Congratulations, you have the body of an athlete. Your shoulders are broad AF!

How to Dress an Inverted Triangle Body Shape

Even though your shoulders are your biggest asset, you’ll want to create balance by drawing attention away from them and towards your slim lower body.

To dress your upper-body, wear things like:

  • Vertical lines and stripes
  • Open necklines, v-necks and scoop necks
  • Soft feminine textures, to soften the shoulders
  • Single-breasted jackets
  • Jackets well-structured at the shoulder
  • Tops that accentuate the waist like wrap styles
  • Tops that finish just below the hip line
  • Dark colored tops
  • Strapless tops
  • Belts to define your waist

To dress your lower-body, wear:

  • Clothes that create width like an A-line skirt
  • Clothes that add bulk, such as those with texture
  • Horizontal stripes
  • Wide-leg, full or bootcut pants
  • Pants and skirts with pockets or embellishments
  • Bold, eye-catching shoes

What Are the Best Dresses For Inverted Triangle Body Shape?

WhoWhatWear recommends flared hemlines like A-line dresses and wrap dresses as the best dresses for inverted triangle body shape women.

A line mini dress

A line mini dress

 Wrap dress

Polka dot wrap dress

When looking for dresses, your goal is always to add volume at the hips.

Best Dress Style For My Body Type Key Takeaways

  • There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ body shape, so learn to love your body and how to dress for your body.
  • Measure your shoulders, waist, bust, hips and high hip to find out which of the five basic body types you fit into; Apple; Hourglass; Rectangle; Pear; Inverted Triangle.
  • If you have an apple shaped body; you have a heavier upper-body in comparison to your lower body with broad shoulders and a relatively large bust. Your goal is to draw attention away from your tummy and towards your cleavage or legs. Flowy tunics, midi dresses and A-line dresses are the best dresses for apple shape women.
  • If you have an hourglass shaped body; you have a well-defined waist with a round butt and full thighs. Your goal is to maintain your natural proportions and avoid bulky clothing. Bodycon dresses, wrap dresses and mermaid dresses are the best dresses for hourglass shape women.
  • If you have a pear shaped body; your butt and thighs are reaching Kim Kardashian proportions. Your goal is to draw attention towards your upper-body and elongate your legs. Maxi dresses, shift dresses and A-line dresses are the best dresses for pear shaped body types.
  • If you have a rectangle shaped body; you have a straight, athletic looking body. Your goal is to create the illusion of curves. Asymmetrical dresses, halter dresses and wrap dresses are the best styles for rectangle body shape women.
  • If you have an inverted triangle shaped body; you have broad shoulders and an athletic build. Your goal is to draw attention away from your shoulders and add width to your lower body. A-line dresses and wrap dresses are the best dress styles for inverted triangle body shape women.

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This post was featured on Links à la Mode fashion roundup by Independent Fashion Bloggers.

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