Fashion for Your Body Shape: The Basics

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.

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. how about suggest some ways to make our body more curvy =)?
    i don’t know if others have this problem, but women all want to have a better body! right? 😉
    Do you know any simple ways to make women have bigger breats, curvy butt and skinny weist? thank you!!

  2. I totally agree with the confidence thing. Anyone can put on a cute outfit, but it won’t look great, and people won’t compliment it unless you can ‘work it’ and be completely confident in what you are wearing. A skinny girl might look good in her skinny jeans, but people will be more likely to pay attention to the girl who actually has a butt and thighs wearing skinny jeans if she is confident in her outfit, and it fits her and looks good.
    On the clothes that fit thing, I can’t agree with you more. Wearing too tight jeans with your love handles spilling out (even if you wear a loose shirt that hides them) does NOT look good, and does NOT make you look skinnier. No one knows what size you are, so wear what fits and looks good. Same goes for bras, if they are too tight, and your shirt clings, it will make your back look fatter than it is.
    Good article Zephyr!

  3. how about suggest some ways to make our body more curvy =)?
    i don’t know if others have this problem, but women all want to have a better body! right? 😉
    Do you know any simple ways to make women have bigger breats, curvy butt and skinny weist? thank you!!

    Oh & btw, this post is really helpful!

  4. I love this article & totally agree with you..
    In fact, you’re the one who convinced me to finally try skinny jeans, despite having hips and thicker legs. & 1. I love the way they look & feel and 2. I get tons of compliments every time I go out in them!

  5. After reading the first comment I was curious as to what the “Trinny and Susannah” site was about and I just looked at it. They have a slideshow of what to wear for thick ankles and calves and it’s kind of silly. I have some of the most muscular aka thick calves (I have one pair of miracle skinny jeans, many I can’t even pull up high enough to button because of my calves hahaha) and I guess I know some of their rules by default like with the skinny pants, but for real, I just wear what I want. Like your article said, if I feel good I’ll look good. There’s no need for rules especially when they’re more negative. Thanks for posting this article!
    no love for the strong legs lol

  6. What do you think about bathing suits. I really feel comfortable in a one-piece. I’m not over weight but thats what I like. I’m going on my band trip to the beach this year. Should I wear a two-piece to fit in or feel comfortable and wear a one-piece?

  7. I really love this article. It doesn’t try to pinhole anyone into a certain type or tell you that you absolutely can’t wear something.

    I’ve never really been fond of body type definitions. I myself kind of fit in between some of the old-school definitions, which can be very frustrating.

  8. Just my $.02– 😉

    Charlotte– you should go with a one piece and be comfortable, in fact …why not try a monokini, they’re a cute, chic & comfortable alternative sort of step between a one piece and a bikini.

    & Sharon– maybe try a push-up corset & shapewear/lifting tights?

  9. The only time I really get to dressing up is when I go out, and since I’m extremely skinny, the way clothes fit me are essential. I’ve got proportional, toned legs, but I’m short, so a couple of rules I swear by are:

    1. Reveal just about enough skin, and accessories optimally- If I’m wearing a short skirt, I make up with a full sleeves- with usually something funky like a tie, or a boat neck with a layered necklace. And if I’m wearing a revealing shirt, I stick to leggings and boots, or a pair a perfectly fitting skinny jeans, and balance it off with a pair of funky shoes- not always heels.

    2. Fits and Lengths- while it is important that whatever you wear fits you well, it’s also important to keep lengths in mind! I’m short, so I always make sure my jeans end up folding a little at the bottom- makes me look taller. Similarly for shirts- Short shirts look good on me only if it’s a cling fit, for a not-so-loose-and-not-so-tight fit, I like to keep it a little long! Also, one big fashion no-no, is wearing bold patterns around your bust area, if you’re on the heavier side.

    3. Be comfortable- when you stand in front of the mirror for the few minutes that you do before you head out, you cannot judge your comfort levels. It shows up when find yourself either running to the restroom every 30 seconds to adjust your dress, or searching for those teeny-weeny moments when no one’s looking and you can pull up your sleeve, or fix you bum. That’s when you know, it’s time to throw away a certain set of clothes!


    I hope that added to this article!

  10. I love it, and i completely agree with you! You shouldn’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t wear! It’s completely ridiculous to let others control or affect you! I tell my best friend all THE time to wear THE things she likes, that fit well so that she feels great. Cause thats the only thing that matters in fashion.

  11. i really like the advice in this post. i’m on the thin side and i think all of these tips can be useful. i think it’s really more about what you put into clothes, how you use them. to have them not have them wear you.

  12. I think that everyone should just try things on to get a feel for their body. Body types aren’t universal, your body is your body and theres not way to categorize it.

    I happen to be REALLY busty( DD naturally) but I have a very small waist and a rather small behind. I thought I couldn’t wear skinny jeans without looking like a weird lollipop sort of thing. I tried them on, and they actually looked pretty good.

    Of course there are no-no’s, like: dont wear barely there shorts if your behind isn’t barely there, or dont wear a top that cant comfortably fit your bust.

    Personally I live by trying things on. I’d have no clothes if I went by “body type.”


Leave a Comment