Fashion for Your Body Shape: The Basics

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Let me just start by saying that I’m not a believer in dressing to hide any part of yourself. I firmly believe that everyone can wear whatever they want and pull it off with the right blend of personal style and confidence!

I’ve received emails recently about certain outfits I put together on the site and how they’re not appropriate for “curvy” body types. And to that I say, why not?

Who says a size 2 can wear something a size 14 can’t? Who says you can’t wear skinny jeans just because you have hips? And who says what’s attractive anyway? We don’t all think the same things look good, and we don’t all have to dress in accordance with someone else’s rules.

I really feel that you should never be afraid to wear anything based on your body type.

That said, I’ve also received tons of emails from readers wanting me to write an article on style for different body types. I know this is a hot topic in fashion, and I do think that it can be a good jumping off point when you start to develop your own personal style.

Therefore, this article will be an overview on the basics of dressing based on body type and how to draw attention to your best body parts. I’m not, however, going to tell you that you need to draw attention away from “trouble areas.” That’s just not true! And of course, these tips are a general overview, and not to be taken as something you “have” to follow.

Tips for dressing any body shape

Fit is essential.

The most important rule to remember when it comes to dressing your body is FIT. If your clothes are too tight, you won’t look or feel good. If they’re too loose, ditto. Clothes that fit you perfectly will be more flattering than anything else, period.

Black minimizes & white maximizes.

If you want to draw attention to a certain part of your body – like your great legs or strong upper body, wear white or another light color on that part. Light colors create a focal point, while dark colors take the attention away. Stick to light colors and pastels for areas that you want to be seen!

Patterns draw attention.

Just like the color white, you can use bold patterns to draw attention to certain parts of your outfit. To draw attention to your upper body, wear a patterned top with a plain pair of pants or a skirt and opaque tights. Or what about polka dot ballet flats and a funky patterned scarf? The options are endless.

Fashion is all about proportions.

Ever wonder why an outfit just looks great on someone, even though you don’t particularly like the clothes? It’s probably because of the proportions of that look. When an outfit is balanced, it looks symmetrical, something that’s visually pleasing to most people.

No matter what shape your body is, a good rule of thumb in fashion is to pair clothes that are in proportion to each other. For example, if you wear a voluminous skirt, wear a tighter top to balance it out. And tight skinny jeans look good with a slightly baggy sleeveless top. If you wear a low-cut shirt, wear pants or a longer skirt, etc. It all comes back to proportions.

Sparkles & embellishment draw attention.

Blingy belts and statement necklaces are two ways to draw attention to your favorite parts. Do you have great legs? Why not slip on a bright pair of heels? If you love your neckline, try a chunky beaded necklace. What about your waistline? If you love to show off your waist, accent it with a detailed belt over a simple dress.

Confidence is key.

At the end of the day, no matter what clothes you wear, your confidence is what really makes or breaks your look. That’s why I think you should wear whatever makes you happy – it’s the clothes you feel best in that will make your confidence shine through.

So the next time someone tries to tell you not to wear something because your body isn’t right for it, ignore them completely and continue looking fabulous in your own way! Most of all, have fun – that’s what fashion’s all about!

What do you think?

Now that you’ve read my tips, I want to know your thoughts on body types and fashion. Do you swear by the old-school body shape definitions, or do you ignore those rules and wear whatever you want? I’m sure this article might cause a debate, so I’m curious to hear what you think! Be sure to leave a comment.

19 thoughts on “Fashion for Your Body Shape: The Basics”

  1. I totally agree with you that I don’t believe in dressing for your body type. A person should wear what looks good on them and carry it with confidence. I am totally with u for the other tips u gave. I am 5’3 128 lbs and I pretty much wear everything. AND THOSE SKINNY JEANS that I haven’t tried are something I am looking forward to try. But on the other side, I don’t want to see myself wearing shorts because my thighs are not in shape or wearing sleeveless because I am sort of chubby. But otherwise, I pretty much wear anything that I like.

  2. I have mixed views about following rules and not following rules regarding fashion. Now there are so many new ‘body shape types’ introduced everywhere now (hint: Trinny and Sussanah website, and in other media too), but i do know what parts of my body i can show and hide. When it comes to clothes, i find that since i have a flat chest (close to no breasts!!), that close fitting clothes (not tight) look the best on me.

    I do find the body shapes a little too restrictive in terms of criteria, like for example, some people may have parts that fall between two body types, and so sometimes its hard to actually ‘define’ what shape you really are. So i guess here that i pick pieces according to what i want to show and hide. 😉

  3. While I understand that fashion rules are designed to be broken, I sincerely do believe there is some truth to the whole “body shape” thing. Like you said, the guides are there for people who constantly wonder why the specific clothes they pick out look on them, and steer them towards a more flattering direction.

    I myself found body shape guides to be enormously useful, especially when you get into the more in-depth ones using letters like H, X, O rather than ‘pear’ or ‘apple’. There’s a whole website called MyShape that takes your measurements and calculates the precise body shape you are, and suggests fantastic outfits to wear.

    Confidence matters tons though! Everyone loves a healthy self-esteem 😀


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