I have come to believe that people are like fruit. While we may come in different shapes, colours and sizes, we are still fruit. And instead of despairing that we are not a skinny fruit, we should instead, embrace what makes us unique and special!
There are many theories and considerations when it comes to our body shape and size. From the constitutions of the world’s oldest medical systems (Ayurveda and the like) to a more modern-day, sports-science approach (Somatotypes and the subsequent evolution of the Heath Carter Formula), and all adaptations in between.
The parallels between the two specifically mentioned here, are that they both have three main body types—generally speaking, lean and long, larger with high body fat, and the well-built athletic type—as well as combinations of each. Individually, we do, of course, fall between these categories and combinations, and have aspects of all three within us, resulting in an even higher variance of shapes, sizes, and even physiologies.
To keep it simple though, here are five main shapes from a fashion perspective, and the hints and tips to flatter those figures. In short, whether applying it to business attire, casual clothing, party-wear, bold or sensible pieces, colourful or classic apparel, use this knowledge and inspiration to feel confident and “dress to kill” for all occasions.
If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It… Whatever ‘IT’ Is
Keep in mind when reading through and identifying with these types, size is not the key factor here, but the shape created by how your weight is distributed is. Although not every trend is for ‘everybody’ and that’s OK, we have merely listed the ones best suited to you.
The Triangle: You may notice a tendency to gain weight in your thighs and buttocks. You have broad hips and big thighs, with a small bust and waist. Your hips measure wider than your shoulders, and you are typically a little short, with full legs and slender arms.
Your flattering fit: Fitted bust to flare skirt dresses accentuate your best silhouette. This highlights how small you are on top, and falls nicely from the waist down to compliment your curvier bottom half.
The name of the game for triangles, is proportion and elongating the body. A fitted or more structured top gives definition to your shoulders and draws attention to your waist. The same applies to jackets. Go for a cropped style that shows off your small waistline. Down low, bootcut and flared denims are the best for you, balancing out proportion.
The Inverted Triangle: You’re likely to gain weight around your upper arms and breasts. You have a fuller upper body, with broad shoulders and a large bust. Your waist is straight and your hips are narrower than your top half.
Your flattering fit: Jackets with a tighter fit around the waist that widen out at the bottom are best. The defined waist and flare over your hips, gives the impression of lower-body curves, slimming your broad shoulders.
Key components for the inverted triangle is to define the waist with banded tops or those that are ‘nipped in.’ Darker colours work well to reduce the look of the broad shoulders. Avoid shoulder pads or anything that further accentuates them. Remember, you want balance, so full-leg trousers and any embellishments, like pockets, complement your bottom half and sets the overall look.
The Rectangle: Extra weight tends to gather around your stomach and mid-back. Your waist, hips, shoulders, and bust are usually slim and fairly equal in size, resulting in a straight up and down appearance.
Your flattering fit: Skirts with ruffles or any other enhancing details will increase volume, adding shape and filling out your hips, while balancing your upper body in the process.
The main rule of thumb for a rectangle, is to keep the volume on top or bottom—not both. Draw attention to your sculpted arms and shoulder definition. Halter neck tops, racerback styles, and strapless are your power pieces. Add some curve to your waistline with tops that can be tucked in, or even better, a belted top creating the illusion of being drawn in at the waist. Balance below with wide-leg trousers or flared skirts with gathered waists.
The Apple: You may gain weight in your mid-section, your buttocks, and around your face. You have a larger upper body, including your shoulders, bust, and waist. While your legs are shapely and slim, your hips are narrow.
Your flattering fit: Dresses that drop from the waist, ensuring any tight fitting fabric avoids the stomach, and creating the illusion of narrower hips and a longer, leaner torso are best for you.
A general guideline for apples is playing up their full bust or showing off their shapely legs. Flowy tunics, low-cut V-neck pieces, and button-up shirts work well in this regard. If you love your arms, let them out; if not a more fitted sleeve helps to balance out your bust. A-line shift and wrap around dresses are flattering too. Let those legs out in a mini if you really want to pop, otherwise knee length looks great on you, too. Speaking of your legs, leggings and skinny jeans all the way, especially teamed with a loose, flowy top.
The Hourglass: Does your weight spread evenly across your hips, thighs, and chest? Then you may be the hourglass shape. Your bust and hips are in similar proportion and your waist narrows, outlining obvious curves.
Your flattering fit: Tops with a cross-wrapping of fabric that emphasise your waist and further pronounce your hourglass figure are most flattering for you.
As the hourglass, you should define your waist and show off your ultra feminine shape. Fitted or tailored is the way to go up top, ensuring you allow ample room around your bust. A cap sleeve is a cute addition too. Beware of boxy style jackets and flowy shapeless dresses as they don’t do your curves any justice at all. If you love the piece, try a belt, bringing the attention back to your best body feature—your waistline. Jumpsuits can also look amazing on you as long as they draw attention to your mid-section.
Now that you know how to flaunt what you’ve got, it’s no longer difficult to look and feel your best. Most importantly, highlighting your finest features and ‘feeling comfortable in your own skin’ promotes a healthy body image and creates, not only acceptance, but a celebration of your inherent shape and nature.
Featured image courtesy of Dove.