How to dress for your body type for women

Written by samantha volz
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How to dress for your body type for women
Determine your body type and find your style. (kids clothing image by Nenad Djedovic from

Very few women fit the stereotypical "perfect" female body shape: moderately tall, with an hourglass figure. For most women, dressing for style and comfort is a matter of finding what fits and flatters their individual body types. Fashion consultant Caryn Franklin defines five different body types: slender (small, slight form); top-heavy (large bust and slender hips); pear-shaped (large hips and smaller bust); curvaceous (large bust and curvy hips); and apple-shaped (no waist, large stomach and hips). Women with any of these shapes can learn to dress for their particular body type.

Skill level:

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    Emphasise your body's natural curves if you consider yourself a slender woman. Wear fitted clothing and clingy fabrics that will accentuate your natural shape; even if you have ill-defined curves, these types of fabrics will bring them out. Straight shirts and dresses with defined waistlines will contribute to this emphasis. Avoid bulky fabrics or tapered trousers that could add the appearance of bulkiness to your form.

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    Work to balance your top and bottom if you are a top-heavy shape. Wear flowing fabrics (especially tops) that will not show your exact shape; these flowing garments will give your bottom half the appearance of matching the size of your heavier top. Avoid stiff fabrics, high necklines or big collars that will draw more attention to your heavier top.

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    Make your upper body appear larger to balance your form if you are pear-shaped. Wear jewellery and other accessories that draw attention to your upper body. Tops with higher necklines and short sleeves will keep attention on your upper body. Straight-leg, low-rise trousers give your lower body a smaller appearance. Avoid baggy garments that can add bulk to your lower body.

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    Accentuate your waist area if you are a curvaceous woman who has a figure shaped roughly like an hourglass, with large bust and hips. Wear dresses and trousers with defined waistlines to accent your waist. Gently flared shirts and trousers will hide any bulky areas in your waist. Wear medium to low necklines to bring more attention to your bust and waist.

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    Draw attention away from a large stomach and hips if you are an apple-shaped woman. Wear jewellery such as earrings and short necklaces to put an emphasis on your upper body. Wear flowing fabrics like silk or chiffon that do not cling to your body shape; these help hide bulky areas and give your body an overall balanced appearance. Wear a single colour throughout your outfit to create uniformity and balance.

Tips and warnings

  • Whatever your body type, wear a well-fitting bra to support your bust line. This will help to either emphasise a small bust or make a large bust appear more balanced with the rest of your body.

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