How to dress an INVERTED TRIANGLE Shape
When I was a competitive swimmer in my childhood, aka: pre-puberty (before the hips joined the party), I was as inverted triangle shaped as you got.
I may have been only ten, but I knew something looked off when I looked in the mirror (why is my head so small? Why are my shoulders so big and the rest of me is tiny?) However, being ten, I wasn’t quite smart enough to figure out that it was because I WAS A CHILD and SWAM 24/7. This is all quite funny now.
Although I’ve grown up (and have consequentially become an apple, spoon, and hourglass during different life stages), it is still a very personal thing for me to help women who have a negative body image because they are inverted triangles.
If you loathe your wide shoulders or big bust, YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT IT ALL WRONG. Your shoulders and bust are a positive, not a negative. In fact, you look incredible, so there are no negatives….only glorious opportunities. One of those opportunities is that you can go crazy with what you wear on your bottom half.
Flamenco skirt? Pleated pants? HORIZONTAL LINES on a pencil skirt? Yup, you can do it all.
Pretty great, right? And this is only the beginning.
Keep reading to find out:
- What an inverted triangle shape actually is (pssst, if you’re not sure, check out this post and take our quiz!)
- Celebrity inverted triangle 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 an Inverted Triangle If…
You know you’re an inverted triangle shape because you have these three attributes:
- Your shoulders and/or bust are/is the widest part of your body
- You have a defined waist
- Your bottom half is smaller than your top half
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 Inverted Triangles:
Celebrity inverted triangles are more common than you think (and no, they’re not all athletes).
Charlize Theron (or should I say, her stylist) is so good at wearing appropriate clothes for her shape and posing her correctly, you’d never know her shoulders were much wider than her hips. The picture on the left is more recent and the ruffles around her hips and down, make her look bigger on the bottom (to even out the width up top). On the right is an early career picture where she makes the classic mistake of wearing a tube top dress and the result is (obvious) wide shoulders and small hips.
The world of fashion is super weird, and these two outfits are no exceptions…but try to forget about the quirkiness of the looks and focus on Naomi Campbell’s body shape. The picture on the left makes her look like an hourglass (look at all that volume at the hips!) while the one on the right highlights her true inverted triangle body shape.
Jessica Alba can rock pleated pants (or a pleated jumpsuit) like no other because of her inverted triangle shape. Notice how this jumpsuit accentuates her waist AND makes her hips look bigger without making her shoulders look bigger (ideal!) (PS. is anyone else really curious as to what she’s pointing at in this photo?)
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 bust and waist fill out the hourglass, but the hips don’t. This means that we have to use an optical illusion to give her wider hips while keeping waist and top the same size (ie: not making them visually larger).
What to Wear:
Remember the main idea here: we need to distract away from her top and waist (that keeps them at their normal size) while making her hips look wider.
IMPORTANT!! You don’t necessarily need to combine a million ways to fake a waist as shown below in the garment examples. Just choose one per outfit (example: you wouldn’t wear a peplum shirt with pleated pants, but you would wear one or the other.)
Here is what to wear, when it comes to different types of clothing:
- Tops/Blouses: Remember, we are trying to draw the attention away from your top half and to your bottom half. You can do this by choosing items with defined waists and ruffles/peplums/volume in general below the waist. V-necks, scoop necks, and crew necks will be most flattering on your figure. Drop sleeve (that means the seam for the sleeve is lower on your arm instead of being on the top edge of your shoulder) tops are going to smooth out your shoulders and make them look less wide.
- Blazers/Jackets: We want to do the same thing with blazers that we did with tops. Look for blazers with more detail and volume below the waist. Tuxedo jackets and narrow lapels will look best on you. You will also look good in anything drop sleeve.
- Skirts: Okay, this is wear things start getting fun. Feel free to go crazy with skirts. Colors, patterns, ruffles, volume, and fun details are all going to be your friends. This draws the eye from your wide shoulders to your bottom half and visually makes it look bigger (thus completing the hourglass). You can wear skirts that fit at your waist or your hips well.
- Pants: Again, go ham. Colors, patterns, and volume are all your friends. You are incredibly lucky because you can wear trends that a lot of people can’t: booty shorts or just shorts in general, jogger pants, pleated pants, paperbag pants, etc. AND you can wear low rise pants actually work for your body type. If you don’t like volume around your hips, opt for wide leg pants.
- Dresses: Forgive me for sounding repetitive, but keep the attention on the bottom of your dresses! Ruffles, stripes, and patterns are going to look best at the bottom of your dress instead of the top. Look for V-neck, scoop, and jewel necklines (they will draw the eye down instead of out). Love sack (and other loose types of) dresses? Simply wear a belt and your done!
- 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. If you want to do something fun with your jewelry, focus on your fun watches, bracelets, and rings.
- Purses: Cross body bags and other bags you carry lower (ie: not up under your arm) are going to be best. Hell, you can even get away with fanny packs.
What NOT to Wear:
- Tops/Blouses: Strapless and off the shoulder looks are not the best for you. Dolman (or batwing) shirts should be avoided as it makes your top half look bigger. Also avoid shoulder detailing and patterns around the shoulders.
- Blazers/Jackets: Wide lapels and boxy jackets are not good for you. Also stay away from excessive shoulder pads (all quality jackets have a little padding).
- Skirts: Avoid tight body con and pencil skirts unless they have a pattern, bright color, detail that makes them stand out.
- Pants: Tight skinny pants and jeans with no details are not doing you any favors (unless you have some sort of top as mentioned above combined with it).
- Dresses: Strapless tube dresses are not good (remember early Charlize!!??) Also not good? Dresses that are baggy up top and then body con (or just fitted) at the bottom.
- Accessories: Wear statement earrings and necklaces (if it’s a short necklace) with caution. Remember, you want the attention on your bottom half, not your chest area.
- Purses: Short shoulder bags worn right under the arm are a no-no.
Sample Inverted Triangle 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 an Inverted Triangle 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) Button up shirt + navy pants + white blazer + heels + bracelets + watch + belt (in pant belt loops).
Tuesday: (work, then school meeting) Blue dress + heels. Swap heels for wedges for school meeting
Wednesday: (work) Pink dress + watch + heels.
Thursday: (work, volunteering) Button up shirt + navy pants + wedges + watch.
Friday: (work, after work dinner date) White blazer + jumpsuit + heels + belt (over blazer at waist). Take off blazer and put belt over jumpsuit, and add bracelets for date.
Saturday: (playground with kids) Navy tee + linen pants + mules.
Sunday: (baseball game, book club) White t-shirt (tucked in) + blue skirt + wedges + watch.
The Big Take-Away:
Keep it simple up top and go crazy with your pants and skirts. Seriously, have some fun.
And most, importantly, you’re gorgeous. Never forget that. xoxo, Leslie
PS. Now that you know the rules, you can break them. 😉