You may have heard someone say (not going to lie, it was probably me) how important it is to dress for your body shape…but what exactly does that mean?
Although all bodies are unique, they are still human bodies and have the same basic features…hips, bust, waist, etc. The size of your hips, bust, waist, and shoulders end up making a shape and are thus classified into different categories with the intention of helping you dress great based on the size of your features.
There is no one fashion god (sorry Anna Wintour) who decides what the names of these shapes are, so you may see different ‘shape’ names across the internet. Don’t freak out. I’ll help you figure out what conventional shape you fall into AND how to dress for your body regardless of the official shape you are.
Before you take the quiz, though, I want to introduce the 5 body shapes that are most common: pear, inverted triangle, hourglass, rectangle, and apple.
Ready to get started?
I made this really easy quiz. It will help you decide which of the 5 most common shapes you identify with. Under the quiz, I’ll tell you my little secret to dressing for whatever body shape you have, and also provide links so you can read more about your specific shape. 🙂
Yay! Hopefully you took the quiz and know exactly what body shape you are.
But what if you don’t? What if you don’t feel the answer is accurate?
Fear not! Not falling into one of these 5 categories isn’t the end of the world.
Here’s my little secret to looking amazing no matter what shape you have (even if I don’t have a name for it!)
You want to dress in a way that makes you look like an hourglass.
That’s it. That’s my little secret.
First, you’re probably wondering…why an hourglass?? That’s a reasonable question, and the answer goes all the way back to our Neanderthal ancestors.
Back when we were cave men and women, we had two jobs: stay alive and procreate. The people best suited to stay alive were physically fit and healthy, while those more likely to procreate had good features for childbearing and rearing. Now, think back to the hourglass figure. It has a fuller bust (milk for babies!), defined waist (all that exercise running from tigers!), and wider hips (great for pushing out kids!) So, the things that kept us alive many era ago are still ingrained in our subconscious and thus, we are attracted to people with hourglass bodies because they are ‘more likely’ to be able to stay alive and procreate. It sounds really crass, but that’s what we’re working with. That, and the fact that people like symmetry, so a full top that balances out a full bottom is visually pleasing.
With that said, you can use two simple fashion tricks to help you look more like an hourglass:
Trick 1: Draw attention to the parts of your body that DON’T fit the hourglass mold.
Trick 2: Downplay parts of your body that DO fit the hourglass mold.
I know what you’re thinking. That sounds counterintuitive. But stay with me here. Look at the person below as an example.
This woman has wide hips and a smaller top half (she’s a pear!) Her bottom half already fits the hourglass shape, as does her waist. The part that doesn’t fit is her top half. So, using the two tricks above, we need to downplay her hips and waist and draw more attention to her top half. Drawing more attention to her top half VISUALLY makes it look BIGGER, thus completing the top part of the hourglass. Downplaying her hips and waist doesn’t necessarily make them look smaller as much as helps the top half look bigger.
I know that sounds confusing, but we do this ALL the time when getting dressed and don’t even think about it. If you have big hips, you may choose to wear a bright colored shirt and dark pants. That is downplaying your bottom half and bringing the attention to your top half. See…I told you it wasn’t that hard.
Here are a few ways to ‘draw attention to’ and ‘downplay’:
Draw attention to an area with: stripes, prints, patterns, color, accessories, jewelry, detailed clothing, etc. (In the example above, we use a shirt with a bright pink horizontal stripe)
Downplay an area by wearing: darker colors, simple clothing, less contrasting items, etc. (In the example above, we used a dark, neutral color skirt)
For each shape, I’ve gone into way more detail (including lots of pictures and outfit ideas!) about how you can look like an hourglass. Check out the links below to see more examples of what it looks like to use these two tricks of downplaying and drawing attention!