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Dressing for Your Body Shape: The Art of Misdirection

By Edited Feb 23, 2014 0 0

Pears and Apples
Women come in all shapes and sizes, and most of us do not have the ‘perfect’ hourglass figure. However, every woman can learn how to best dress for her body type. Through the art of misdirection you can downplay your trouble spots and emphasize your assets.

Pear Shape

A small chest, narrow shoulders, and wider hips make up the pear shaped body. The goal for this body type is to draw the eye up toward the shoulders and away from the hips. You can do this by adding interest and dimension to your upper body. This can be achieved with jewelry, scarves, and clothing.


Chunky, bright jewelry is very popular right now, especially necklaces. Pear shaped women can use this to their advantage. A bright necklace that is large and/or intricate will create interest and draw the eye up and away from the problem area of the hips.


Just like jewelry, scarves can create interest and make the upper body the focal point. The difference between scarves and jewelry is that scarves also add size and depth to the upper body. For a pear shaped woman, the shoulder and chest area are smaller than the hip area. So, if you cannot make the hips smaller, adding size to the upper body will create the illusion of being proportionate.


In general, a pear shaped woman should keep patterns and/or bright colors on her upper body. Bottoms should be solids and ideally dark. It is the same idea as the jewelry; the eye is drawn to the patterns and colors.

 The cut and fit of the clothing is also important to consider. For pants, boot cut jeans with a mid-rise balance out the hips by adding volume at the bottom of the legs. Trousers are also a good choice because they are straight and do not draw attention to the hips. For tops, shoulder pads and cap sleeves can add the illusion of size and create balance between the top and bottom.

Apple Shape

Women with apple shaped bodies tend to carry their weight in the stomach area, have smaller hips, and an undefined waistline[1].The main goal with this body type is to create balance and keep focus away from the mid-section. This can be achieved with jewelry, clothing, and shoes.


People with this body type, who carry weight in the midsection, often have relatively thin limbs compared to the stomach area. So, part of the strategy to create balance is to draw attention to the arms with the use of jewelry. The eye is drawn out and away from the midsection.

Necklaces can be used to draw the eye up, but be careful that the necklaces are the correct length. Extra-long necklaces are popular, but do not work for this body type because they fall mid-stomach and draw attention to the trouble area. Keep the necklaces short to medium length.


The first step for this body type, and really for any woman, is to buy a good bra that is the right fit This may require the help of a professional, but it is worth the trouble. A good fitting bra will help the apple shaped woman create more of an illusion of a waist. 

Dresses and shirts with empire waists are a good choice for apple shaped women. Just under the chest is the smallest area for women of this shape. Clothes with an empire waist emphasize the smallest area of the body and flow out over the most troublesome part of the body.

 Lower necklines, such as v-shaped, are a good choice for this body shape. It draws the eye up and helps elongate the upper body. Stay away from shirts with ruffles or any kind of design that will draw attention to the midsection [2]. However, sleeves with ruffles and embellishments are fine because they draw the eye out.


The best shoes for apple shaped women add bulk to the bottom half of the body, keeping the eye away from the midsection. Wedges and platform shoes help create length and balance. Boots also create balance and add volume to the bottom half of the body, drawing attention away from the stomach.

Inverted Triangle

The inverted triangle body shape is characterized by broad shoulders, narrow hips and small legs. Balance is once again the goal because the upper body is wider than the lower body. This body type is essentially the opposite of the pear shaped body. Balance can be achieved through the use of clothing, accessories, and shoes.


Tops that are loose and billowy will help soften the shoulder line of the inverted triangle. Anything that adds volume to the shoulders, such as shoulder pads, should be avoided.

Boot cut and flared jeans both add volume to the thin legs of the inverted triangle and help create balance. Leggings, when paired with a billowy top or dress, can work for a woman with the inverted triangle shape. Full skirts are also a good choice for inverted triangles because they add volume and the illusion of curves.


Belts and ties work well for the inverted triangle type to accentuate the waist line. Belts and ties can help create the illusion of curves on a body type that is not typically curvy. Belted dresses and jackets are a good choice for inverted triangles.


The hips of an inverted triangle are much narrower than the shoulders. Volume needs to be added to the lower half of the body to add balance. Boots are a great way to add volume. Chunky shoes such as wedges and platform shoes also add bulk and create balance.


The rectangle body shape is basically a straight body, with little to no curves. The torso is straight and the shoulders and hips are about the same size. The goal with this body type is to create the illusion of curves for a more feminine shape. Clothing and accessories can be used to add curves.


Shirts with details and embellishments such as ruffles add size to the upper body and when paired with a full skirt, the rectangle shaped body has the illusion of curves. Billowy dresses that have a lot of movement can also give the illusion of curves to this body type[3].


Scarves can be used with this body type to add volume to the small upper body. Belts and ties can also be used with this body type to define the waist and add the illusion of curves.

When to Break the Rules

The point of defining body shapes is to make it easier for women to look their best by being strategic about what clothing to wear. However, this is not an end all be all, and it is possible to still look good while breaking the rules. Having a guide is helpful, but ultimately, confidence is the most beautiful thing any woman can ‘wear.’ So, use the rules as a guide, but let confidence be the deciding factor.



 1. www.youlookfab.com
How to Dress the Adorable Apple BodyType, 2010

 2. blog.coldwatercreek.com
How to Dress for Your Shape-Vol. 2

 3. www.3fatchicks.com
Finding Flattering Clothing for Your Body Type






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  1. "How to Dress the Adorable Apple BodyType, 2010." www.youlookfab.com. 13/09/2013 <Web >
  2. "How to Dress for Your Shape-Vol. 2." blog.coldwatercreek.com. 14/09/2013 <Web >
  3. "Finding Flattering Clothing for Your Body Type." www.3fatchicks.com. 14/09/2013 <Web >

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