How to dress a RECTANGLE shape
Rectangle shaped bodies have been called many other things over the years including ‘athletic shaped’ and ‘boy body shaped’. I don’t have a problem with the athletic shape thing, but boy body??? What is the difference between the body of a boy and a girl (literally, pre-pubescent they look pretty much the same). Although, to be fair, I also wouldn’t want to have a ‘girl shaped body’. That’s weird. So, let’s just call it rectangle and stick with that.
Now it’s time for me to tell you how great a rectangle body is. Did I just see an eye roll? Pull yourself together woman, I’m serious. You know why? Because rectangles can pretty much wear anything.
Let me explain. Rectangles are usually thinner and straight up and down. In other words, there are less curves to deal with. You know want that results in? The perfect frame to showcase clothing.
Have you ever wondered why 99.9% runway models (except Naomi Campbell who is an inverted triangle) are rectangles? It’s because it’s easier to put clothes on a rectangle than any other body shape. They look good in pretty much anything.
You know that friend who can wear a sack and look great? She’s probably a rectangle. Or has a ton of self confidence (which outranks any fashion rule btw).
Keep reading to find out:
- What a Rectangle shape actually is (pssst, if you’re not sure, check out this post and take our quiz!)
- Celebrity Rectangle examples
- What to wear
- What NOT to wear
- Sample Capsule Wardrobe
Please note that this post contains affiliate links. I use affiliate links in the form of clothing suggestions in order to help you best discover (and locate!) clothing that will work best for your body shape. If you click on the affiliate links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost for you. Thank you for supporting us, so we can continue to give you quality content. ~LF
You’re a Rectangle If…
You know you’re a Rectangle shape because you have these two attributes:
- Your bust and hips are pretty much equal widths
- Your waist is pretty much the same width as your bust/hips (or within an inch or two)
If you’re still confused about your shape, check out my original blog post on shapes (and how to dress any shape no matter if you fall neatly into a category or not)
Celebrity rectangles are all over the place because they are so easy to dress.
You see where Gwyneth Paltrow’s dress starts to flare out? Well, her body just keeps going straight down from there. The flared dress gives the illusion of a waist (by making her hips more pronounced).
Natalie Portman uses color blocking to give the illusion of a defined waist.
You thought Kate had the perfect hourglass shape? Not so! It’s all a trick. See the picture on the right? She didn’t just grow curves once she became royal (she just got a stylist).
The Main Idea:
In the original blog post about DRESSING YOUR SHAPE, I talked about my easy secret to always knowing what will look good on you regardless of shape. The secret is to always wear clothing that make you look like an hourglass. If you missed the post, you can read it here.
Essentially, dressing for your shape is all about using clothing, jewelry, and other accessories as an optical illusion to make us appear a certain way.
The optical illusion is formed when we distract the viewer away from one part of our body and attract their eyes to a different part.
In the image below, you can see that her hips and chest fill out the hourglass, but the waist area does not come in. This means that we have to use an optical illusion to give her a defined waist. I call this: creating a fake waist.
Rectangles, you can get away with pretty much anything, sartorially speaking. With that said, your best looking and most attractive outfits are going to include the optical illusion of a waist.
Keep reading to discover how to create a fake waist.
What to Wear:
Remember the main idea here: we need to equally add volume to the top and bottom of the body to make the waist seem smaller (and more defined).
Here are several other cheats (aka: sneaky ways) to defining a waist:
- Use color. Just make sure the color change happens at your fake waist (like the picture of Natalie Portman above).
- Use gathering or ruching. This can make it look like you have a waist.
- Use seaming. Seaming is where two pieces of fabric come together. Creative seaming (like in the last jacket shown) can make you look more curvy than you are.
- Use a belt. Sometimes it helps to visually draw a line across your fake waist (the smallest part of your torso, remember??) using a belt.
Here is what to wear (and how to fake a waist), when it comes to different types of clothing:
- Tops/Blouses: Choose shirts that make your top half seem bigger (thus making your waist smaller). You don’t necessarily need volume to do this. You can simply choose a boatneck, square, or wide V-neck neckline.
- Blazers/Jackets: You can wear any jacket that you want as long as 1) your waist is defined in some manner and 2) any volume on the top of the jacket (puffy sleeves) is evened out at the bottom of the jacket (peplum) or with the pant/skirt (flowy skirt) choice.
- Skirts: Just like the tops, you don’t want the skirt to overpower the outfit. The skirt should even out what’s going on up top. High waisted and A-line skirts are your best choice.
- Pants: Keep your proportions equal. Bigger top means bigger pants…just don’t forget to wear a belt or make sure the shirt/pants are fitted at the waist. Any rise of pants works for you as long as you don’t neglect the waist!
- Dresses: When looking for dresses, it’s all about the middle detail around your ‘fake waist’ (surprise, surprise, right???) Color blocked dresses, ruched (gathered) waist dresses, fit and flare dresses, and wrap dresses are all perfect for your shape.
- Accessories: Belts are your friends. A good rule of thumb, is to choose belts that are compatible with your size. If you are a bigger build, choose wider belts. If you’re a smaller build, choose skinnier belts. This keeps the belt from overwhelming or underwhelming you. You can wear any jewelry that you want. Woohoo!
- Purses: Take your pick of purses except for cross body bags.
What NOT to Wear:
- Tops/Blouses: Anything baggy where your waist isn’t accentuated. (Like the baggy shirt and low rise skirt shown below)
- Blazers/Jackets: Avoid jackets and blazers, like traditional pea coats, that are straight up and down with no seams or detailing around the waist. They will make you look like boxes. (Exception: if the boxy jackets end above your waist or if you belt them)
- Skirts: Avoid skirts that are much more voluminous than your top. (Think: tank top with peasant skirt)
- Pants: None! Go crazy!
- Dresses: Almost nothing.
- Accessories: Avoid belts that don’t fit your body size!
- Purses: Cross body bags that cut your body in half and take away from your fake waist are bad.
Sample Rectangle Capsule Wardrobe:
A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothing where each piece can be worn with every other piece to make a maximum number of outfits. Below, we have put together a capsule collection for a Rectangle with classic style.
You’ll notice that I tried not to pull anything over $200 to keep this wardrobe budget friendly!
Ps. Don’t forget to look under the collection to see how to put these pieces together for a week’s worth of activities!
Here are just a few combinations you can make for an entire week’s worth of activities.
Monday: (work) Dress + blazer + belt (over blazer at waist) + heels.
Tuesday: (work, then school meeting) Button up shirt (tucked in) + skirt + earrings + black flats.
Wednesday: (work) Black bodysuit + crème pants + blazer + heels.
Thursday: (work, volunteering) Dress + belt + black flats.
Friday: (work, after work dinner date) Black bodysuit + skirt + jacket + earrings + heels. Take off jacket for date.
Saturday: (playground with kids) White top (tucked in) + black pants + Soludos mules.
Sunday: (baseball game, book club) Button up shirt (untucked) + crème pants + belt (over shirt at waist) + black flats.
The Big Take-Away:
Just because you don’t have a defined waist, doesn’t mean it should stop you from being a complete bad a$$ (I mean, did you see my celebrity rectangles above!?!?!) Focus on creating that fake waist and then accent the heck out of it!
Or…ignore all the rules and go fashionista on the world (Natalie Portman is really good at that if you need examples) 😉
And most, importantly, you’re gorgeous. Never forget that.
PS. Now that you know the rules, you can break them. 😉