I always say that if you look good, you feel good. But who’s the judge reading the appearance verdict at your trial? Congrats, It’s you!
The next time you’re in front of the bathroom mirror with your girl squad listing all the things you wish you could change about yourself, try looking for something you do like, and center an outfit around it next time. Acknowledging your strengths is also a good way to increase your personal body image, and you will eventually stop being so harsh on yourself and accept your flaws if you make it a habit.
Although you probably wish you could, you’ll never be able to [100% safely] change the physical features you dislike, so you might as well learn how to work with them instead of against them. Weight loss can help with some areas, but it’s impossible to directly target it, so even if you lose a significant amount of weight, there’s no guarantee that your love handles, or whatever else, will completely go away, they might just shrink a little bit in size.
Accentuating your good features and masking the unwanted ones is basically the gist of dressing for your body shape. Each shape has it’s own general characteristics, and do’s and do not’s to follow if you’re aiming to appear proportionate. If you do a Google search, you’ll quickly see that the names, advice, and amount of body types change from website to website. There’s four main ones, the Ruler, Apple, Pear, and Hourglass, that we have a consensus on but there’s a few alternative names that are commonly used, and some sources list a few extra ones that land between basic four. Having more than just four body types is actually realistic though, because it’s incredibly common to fall mostly under a, let’s say Ruler, but have one characteristic that is exclusive to another shape, like a Pear.
Today, I’m going to keep it simple and go over what to wear, and not wear, for just those four, along with spring/summer outfit inspos for each one. If you do fall somewhere in between them, you can always look at the advice you need under that section. I know it’s a lot to read, so if you want to get straight to the point, look for the bolded sentences to get the key takeaways.
**side note: in some of my pictures theres a distracting white glare on the left middle-ish from an internal lens issue I'm apparently having right now that I can't edit out so try to bear with me on that one, it probably bothers me more than you though**
Before you can start figuring out what will look best on you, you need to know your shape. If you know, or are able to find out your measurements, you can plug them into one of the many “body shape calculators” you can find online. I get into this a little more in the Ruler section, but each website’s shape criteria is a little different, so it’s possible to use two different calculators and get two different answers. Usually it’s pretty easy to figure out by the descriptions, but if you’re right on the fence, you, or a friend, should decide by looking in the mirror and figuring out which areas you want accentuated, etc
Remember: no shape is better than another one, and shop for the shape you have, not the shape you want, you’re only hurting yourself if you don’t
Not to burst your bubble or anything, but if you are sure that you’re one of the few, (8% to be approximate), women with the “ideal” Hourglass shape, you might want to take a second to double check. Mistaking a Ruler body shape for an Hourglass is very common, and it makes sense considering that the two are extremely similar.
With both of these shapes, the hips and bust measurements are pretty much the same, but Hourglasses have a very defined waist, while Rulers don’t have such definition. Some sources claim that such a noticeable waistline is at least 8 inches smaller than the other two measurements, but other sources say 9, and then there’s a whole separate set of sources that say the magic number is 7, or even 6. No wonder there’s so much confusion!
Most of the time, taking actual measurements helps give you a better idea of your shape, but if you’re stuck in this gray area where an inch could change everything, it’s better to ditch the tape measure and look in the mirror to decide for yourself like suggested above. Everyone distributes weight differently, so a waist that is 6 or 7 inches smaller than the bust might look like a clear hourglass on one person, but not so much another.
So, I would say that if you can clearly see that you have a small, defined waist, you’ll probably benefit more from the Hourglass (the last) section of this post, but, if you think your waist could use a little more definition, then keep reading.
Also, if you can’t decide for yourself, or are afraid you might be a little bit biased, ask a friend that you can trust for a honest, neutral, opinion.
Now that we have that cleared up, let’s talk about the most important part: how to dress for a Ruler body shape. The goal when dressing this figure is to add an illusion of curves and a more defined waist, and it’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.
To add curves to the upper half of your body, wear tops with wide necklines, dramatic sleeves, and/or embellishing on the shoulders. Shirts with that criteria will lengthen your chest and shoulders, which as a result, makes your waist look smaller. Off the shoulder, cold shoulder, shoulder cut outs, and even bell sleeves are great styles for this, and lucky for you, they’re a major trend right now and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
To define your midsection specifically, choose tops that are fitted or pinched at the waist, and only the waist, because garments that are completely form fitting will enhance your straighter figure as a whole instead of just the middle. You should also be aware of pieces that are too loose, because they won’t give you any shape at all, and will make you look like you are wearing a garbage bag. Belted waists work too, but if the belt is too detailed, it will have the opposite effect that you want it to have.
The same concept goes for bottoms, so look for pieces with detailing on the hips and pockets to make your bottom half appear more volomus. Pants that have multiple pockets, like cargos, are another good way to add curves to your hip area, and bootcut, flare, or wide leg jeans will give you a more balanced look by evening out the bottom of your legs with your hips. Another way to add to your hips and take away from your waist is to wear a simple belt with your jeans, just make sure it’s not too chunky or else it will add too much to your hips.
This white off the shoulder bell sleeve top paired with some wide leg pants is a great spring/summer look for Ruler shapes, and I’m completely and utterly obsessed with it.
Like I mentioned before, the off the shoulder top lengthens my shoulders, and the extra ruffle layer on the very top emphasizes it more, making me look even curvier. This particular shirt doesn’t have a fitted waist like suggested for a ruler shape, but I was able to make it work by tucking it into the pants, which have a pinched elastic waist band.
If you know anything about my style at all, you know if it’s not a crop top, then it’s tucked in. But, tucking in shirts isn’t for everybody, and if you have a shorter torso, then the tuck could make it appear shorter. But, if you have a short torso and like the tucked in look as much as I do, then leaving a small section in the front untucked won’t shorten it as much.
On the flip side, if you have a longer torso, tucking in a top will actually lengthen it. Some people, like me, don’t pay attention or care about the length of their midsection, but if you do, then that’s a good tip to keep in mind.
I’m not really sure if I have a short, average, or long torso, but I do think it looks shorter with the shirt tucked in. I don’t love this outfit any less though.
I topped off this boho summer look with a cream head wrap and my signature round ray-bans. You can’t see my feet, but I decided to ditch the shoes for this one for an authentic summer feel.
Everything you see me wearing, besisdes the sunnies, is from a local boutique here in Tallahassee called Quarter Moon Imports. I’m big on shopping local, and I love this shop because it has all sorts of unique things that you can’t find anywhere else, and, it’s reasonably priced!
Mom shorts and a striped tee knotted at the waist is another fun spring/summer look for a straight figure. The high waistline help shapes your butt and waist, and the knot turns an unfitted waist into a fitted one.
This shirt didn’t come with a knot already sewn in, but taking the time to knot it yourself is crucial if you’re trying to dress for your shape. Generally, horizontal stripes make you appear wider, which is exactly what you want for your shoulders, but having them on your shoulders AND your waist will widen them both, causing you to just look wider instead of curvier. Tying a knot at the bottom will not only give the shirt a fitted waist, but condense the striped pattern so that the only clear stripes will be at your shoulders and put even more emphasis on them.
If you’re out looking for a shirt specifically to tie a knot at the bottom, it might be a good idea to go at least one size up. Adding a knot to a piece of clothing that wasn’t originally meant to have one can require a lot of fabric depending on the material and style, and you don’t want to risk stretching it out or having it look too tight. The bigger and looser the knot, the more fabric you’ll need, so you should also consider the size of the knot you’re wanting to tie. There’s been a few times I tried knotting a few random shirts of mine, but I ended up with a short tail like thing and it looked plain weird. The top in this look is knitted spandex and not very loose, so tying the knot was slightly challenging because of the elasticity. Next time, I’ll probably go to or three sizes up.
The ruler shape is actually the most common shape to have, and the Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, being the second most common. If you consider yourself an apple, then you probably have a pretty decent size chest with broad, round shoulders, and more weight around your stomach and waistline, which isn’t very defined.
Apple shapes also tend to have flatter booties and hips that are more narrow, but they have amazing legs to make up for it. Contrary to popular belief, having this figure doesn’t mean your overweight, it just means you have a rounder silhouette, so that’s why you want to wear clothing that highlights those awesome legs and directs attention away from your middle.
Women with Apple shapes who want to cover their midsection will often look for the baggiest top to do the job. However, you want to be careful not to wear tops that are too loose, or else you will lose shape completely. Long flowy shirts are still a good choice, but they aren’t the only way to hide your waist. Garments with embellishments on the shoulders and chest will put the focus on the upper body too, so don’t be afraid to try on a top with a ruffle at the shoulders instead of seeking out the biggest plain tank top on the rack.
Naturally, the eyes are drawn to the endpoint of a line, which is why you should pay attention to hemlines. You’re going to want a shirt that falls a few inches below your waist so that eyes will be lead down to your hips or legs. This rule can also be applied to jackets and cardigans, and if you’re tall, the longer styles, like knee-length, will make your entire body appear more narrow. If you are petite, long jackets can make you look shorter, and take away from your legs. Height aside, layering an open-front jacket or cardigan over another top will cover the sides of your waist and give the illusion that you have a more defined waistline than you actually do.
Other ways to draw the attention upward is to wear deep v-necks, statement necklaces and scarves. The deep v will create a line from your chest to your shoulders, while showing off your cleavage, and bold necklaces and scarves that sit on your chest will make the focus point in the upper region of your body.
A general style that is great for Apples is empire waists, because they give you shape from the smallest part of your waist up, while covering the rest of your middle. If it’s an empire waist sundress, it’s even better because it shows off your legs as well.
The fact that the lace detailing is only on the bust of the dress I’m wearing makes it even better for your shape, because it creates a focus point right where you want it. I put a black sun hat with it too, so that the eyes will continue to be drawn upwards.
Since Apple shapes are known for their legs, you might think that skinny jeans are the best fit because the snugness will show off your form, however, because the legs are usually one of your smallest parts, tight pants will make them look even smaller, and therefore make you look top-heavy, especially when paired with a voluminous top. To avoid that and appear more balanced, wear pants with a straight, boot leg, or wide leg cut. Your legs will still look small, and you’ll look more proportionate. If your wearing a normal length top, stick to low-rise waistlines instead of high-rise, because high-rise styles lead the eye directly to your waist. You can probably get away with wearing a high-rise pair of jeans if it’s paired with a longer, looser, shirt, but the shape that the high-rise gives your thighs and butt might still bring attention to your waist.
Another thing to avoid when dressing an apple shape is big chunky belts, because they’ll also bring unwanted attention to your waist, however, giving a dress a makeshift empire waist with a small, plain, belt at the tiniest part of your waist will give you more shape, and the illusion of a waist.
Warm weather gives you the perfect opportunity to show off your legs with some shorts. Denim cutoffs with a lace up top, knee-length cardigan, and sun hat create a perfect spring/summer look for several occasions. You could wear it to brunch, the pool, or even a theme park, and the hat and cardigan make it easy to transition if needed.
This outfit puts your legs in the spotlight. The top half is dark and color coordinated, and the contrast that occurs when the cardigan reaches your skin will make your legs pop The fringe at the bottom puts extra focus on your legs, and it’s balanced out by the hat. This look has a lot of black, which isn’t normally what you want to wear when it’s hot outside, but the fabrics are sheer (top) and mesh (cardigan), so they are light and breezy, plus, you can always take a off a layer.
This shape, which also has a fruit related name, the pear shape, is almost the complete opposite of the apple. Instead of narrow hips, Pear shapes have narrow shoulders, and a smaller chest to go with it. On the other hand, pear shapes are known for their full hips, defined waist, and large, round butt. As a Pear, you probably have thicker thighs too, but your flat stomach makes up for them.
When getting dressed, you want to put on clothes that will balance your smaller top half with your larger bottom half, while also putting emphasis on your waist because it is your best feature. For your upper body, fitted tops that hug your waist are a must, and it’s a plus if there’s embellishments or designs on the shoulders, neckline, or chest to bring out the smaller portion of your body.
A silhoette that works really well for pear shapes is a fitted top and a loose bottom, so if that sounds like your style try a dress with an empire waist, or a snug top paired with a voloumus skirt. You’ll still be able to see your curves, but you will also be slightly masking the thickness of your thighs, bringing the attention up toward your waist, which is your best asset. If skirts or dresses aren’t your thing, go for some pants with a wider leg to make your entire bottom half proportionate. However, on any type of bottoms, you are going to want to avoid pockets, details, patterns and anything else that will draw attention to the hip area. Another thing to avoid unwanted attention at the hips is jackets and cardigans that end around your hips or thighs. It’s less obvious, but if wearing a cardigan that stops there, the human eye will naturally go that direction. You also want to avoid anything that clings to your lower body.
This sack jumpsuit by itself isn’t the best choice for a pear shape, but giving it structure by putting a thin black belt around the waist makes it pretty much perfect. Adding this accessory is the key to defining your waist, making the top more fitted and shaping the fabric that’s draped around your leg. The loose leg holes will minimize your thighs, and, because you have the butt to fill it out, it won’t look like you’re wearing a potato sack. This is a spring/summer look that is sure to stand out.
For something a little less edgy, try something similar to this navy bubble skirt and floral off the shoulder top. The volume of the skirt downplays your hips, butt, and thighs, and the neckline and cut outs on the shirt widen your shoulders, making you look proportionate. The skirt also has a fitted high waist that outlines your small midriff so your curves are clearly visible.
The colors and prints play a role too. The dark shade of the skirt slims your bottom down, and the print emphasizes your top, creating a clear contrast that makes it really easy to see your shape.
You probably know a lot about the Hourglass because it’s natural balance gives it a reputation for being the “ideal” figure. It seems to be the one everyone strives for, which is kind of ironic because only about 8% of woman actually have a “true” hourglass. If you happen to be in that 8%, then your top and bottom half are equal to each other, but your waist is significantly smaller.
A lot of people envy those with this shape, because they think that they can where whatever they want without having to think about it. However, that’s not entirely true. While Hourglasses do have a little more leeway when it comes to getting dressed, they have to put the right combination of clothing together to keep their balance, or else there could be a risk of look bulky.
If you’re an Hourglass trying to find something to wear, you can never go wrong with something fitted. Tops that cling to your body and are pinched at the waist will allow you to show off your awesome curves. It’s best to keep it somewhat simple though, because too many embellishments or other details can add unwanted weight to certain places. You also want to wear garments that are fitted at your waist naturally, because adding accessories like belts can be distracting and take away from it. It’s fine if a piece has a belt or tie that is attached, as long as it isn’t too chunky.
To avoid looking boxy, You should also look for pieces with vertical necklines, like v-necks, instead of horizontal necklines because they will create a line leading to your waist. Crop tops and similar styles look especially good on you because the hemline leaves your middle exposed and shows just how small it is. If you really want your waist to be the center of attention, pair a crop with a high waisted anything. It will look as if there are two arrows heading toward each other to the same finish line, which is your waistline.
A bandeau with mom shorts is a good example of this, and it’s a great way to put show off your shoulders without looking bulky. I love wearing outfits like this to the beach or the pool, because I can make things easier on myself and wear my bathing suit as the top.
Speaking of high waisted, you’re really lucky when it comes to bottoms, because you can pretty much wear any style, fit, or rise if you pick the right top to go with it. Even though you can wear anything, bottoms the are fitted and/or high waisted will look the best on you.
My top pick is a button down denim mini, because it hugs your waist at the top, and curves slightly outward toward the legs to define your natural curve. Since the skirt has a row of buttons straight down the middle, I chose to pair it with a white scoop neck halter top so that line extends all the way up to a statement necklace.
This look is cute, but kind of plain, so if you want to add a little something, try a pair of decorative shoes or a statement bag. If done correctly, everyday accessories can turn a white t shirt and jeans into something Instagram-worthy!
If you were unsure about the best way to flatter your body before, I hope you have a little more insight now, or at least a couple of spring/summer outfit ideas in general!
I’d love to know any personal experiences you’ve had with clothing or shopping for your shape!
Also, Style Babe now has it’s own Instagram account, so if you want more outfit inspos and quick style tips, follow @stylebabe.aw
Looking Good = Feeling Good = Positive Self Image = Positive Selfie Image (: