Updated: Jun 24
Dressing for your body type can be described as the process of figuring out how an outfit can look the most flattering on your based on your measurements, which gets placed into one of five universal categories: inverted triangle, pear, hourglass, round, and rectangle. The end goal is to combine your measurements and personal style to accentuate the parts of your body you love, and remove the focus from areas you don’t feel great about (hello mom belly). I know the idea of measuring yourself can feel daunting but finding your body type works better as a guide than a rule — things change (kids, age, activity level). Stick with me here :)
What you need: full-length mirror, flexible tape measure (easily found at your local Dollarstore, pen & paper, and yourself in your underwear. Don't forget to pull down the blinds haha!
Areas to measure:
Shoulders: wrap the tape measure loosely around the tops of your shoulders, at the broadest part above the shoulder blades.
Bust: wrap the tape measure over the fullest part of your bust, holding it just tight enough that it feels secure but comfortable. Don’t worry if you’re measuring while wearing a bra, especially if you normally wear one.
Waist: measure the narrowest part of your waist, which is right above the belly button.
Hips: Same as your shoulders and bust, wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your hips, just below your hip bones and around your bottom.
Once you’re done measuring, your body type might fall into one (or a blend) of these shapes:
Circle (aka Round)
This body shape means your shoulder, bust, and hip measurements are pretty close, and your shoulders and hips might be a little bit narrower. This body type may also have a larger bust as well as an undefined waist. Like the hourglass body shape, bring attention to the whole look by wearing fit and flare, wrap styles, or tops with a deep-V. Wearing baggier tops and dresses might make you look bigger than you are, especially if the top has a detail like ruffles.
Also known as the athletic body type, the inverted triangle is a body shape where the shoulders happen to have a larger measurement than your hips. To give yourself a little more curves on the lower half, go for styles that tend to be fuller and flare at the hips. Think peplum tops, midi skirts, A-line or fit-and-flare dresses. You might want to skip the statement shoulder trend, or any outfit that makes you look wider on top.
The pear shape is a body type where the hip measurements are wider than the shoulders and bust — if you find you need to go a whole size up for your bottoms to fit, this category is probably for you. Waist-cinching pieces like high-waist jeans or pencil skirts (ideally in darker colours), paired with statement blouses or single-breasted jackets makes you look taller and balanced from head to toe. Proceed with caution on bottoms that are printed, bright, and made with a chunkier fabric.
The rectangular body shape just means the measurements are pretty consistent, to the point where you probably could (or did) model at some point. Different from more top-heavy body types, prints, texture, bold colours, fuller silhouettes and expert tailoring is a friend of the rectangular body shape — just be careful to get anything you can’t “fill” out, like tops with demi-cups.
The hourglass is a body type where the waist measurement is the smallest, the shoulders and hips are roughly the same and you might have a larger bust or bottom. While this body type is often called ideal, it’s not the easiest dress since one unflattering piece can throw off the entire look. Celebrating the defined waist with a statement belt or wrap dress is always a great outfit choice, along with pieces that are fit and flare. Baggier silhouettes don’t look great on this body type, save the shapeless (i.e. really comfortable) pieces for weekends at home.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Dressing by body type is a fun, reliable way to add to your personal style by finding women’s clothes that look best on your body shape. The best part? Your body type is mostly based on your bone structure — your size may change, your body type won’t.