Basic Guide to Smart Dressing
Welcome to the beginning of a beautiful relationship with your body and fashion! This guide is here to celebrate the beauty of all women in all our various shapes and sizes. Learning more about, and embracing your specific body shape will allow you to dress with more confidence and style. Smart dressers know how to make the best of what they’ve got.
Shopping for clothing can be very frustrating; who has never been disappointed and even depressed to find that they do not measure up to the industry’s standard sizes? I hope this basic guide will help you make the best fashion choices for your unique body. Many more specific tips will follow.
- Use a tape measure to determine your measurements: shoulder width, bust, waist, hips,sleeve length. (They are essential to keep in mind when choosing clothes on our website.)
- Be kind! Each measurement is important only in how it relates to your other measurements.
- Once you have noted down this information, consult the descriptions below to find which body type and recommendations suit you best.
- Remember that adjectives such as “big”, “small” and “average” will be in relation to your other measurements.
There are 5 basic body types and all are based on the relation between shoulders and hips. This determines whether you have a Straight or a Curved body and it's a good starting point to understanding how to dress yourself in the best way. Please keep in mind that body shape has nothing to do with your height or weight. Tall, petite or plus size women can all share the same body type.
Curved or Straight Hips?
1) Pear or Triangle shape
Characteristics: Small bust, narrow waist, bigger bottom half, elegant neck and proportionately slim arms.
Remarks: Stop obsessing over your thighs! You have one of the easiest silhouettes to flatter! The idea is to draw attention to your upper half while camouflaging your lower half.
Emphasize the positive: your slimmer upper half will look great in fitted tops, padding or embellishments on shoulders and bust. Dresses, jackets, coats that hug the bodice and flare out at the hip are great solutions for you. Broad lapels will balance out your bottom half. Wear lighter colors on top.
Minimize the negative: Wear dark colors on your bottom half; avoid all detail below the waist - keep it as plain and fluid as possible;
Avoid pockets, low slung belts, color edged jackets will all widen the hips
Avoid stretchy or clingy fabrics, particularly in light colors
2) The Hourglass
Characteristics: Shoulder width and (curved) hips are roughly the same size; well defined waistline;
Remarks: forget about trendy minimalism, your secret to looking great is showing off your curves!
Emphasize the positive: pencil skirts fitted to your proportions, fitted jackets and tops, dresses that elongate the waist, wrap tops and dresses, single-breasted jackets and coats,
Minimize the negative: avoid big belts, batwing sleeves, loose clothing, chunky knits, stiff fabrics that do not adapt to your curves.
3) The Inverted Triangle
Characteristics: Broad shoulders, little waist definition, slim (straight) hips, long, slim legs.
Remarks: your heavy upper torso is sitting on top of a lovely pair of legs that should be shown to their advantage. Also, you silhouette is made for tailored looks that will give shape where needed.
Emphasize the positive: you’ll look great in form fitting skirts with flared hems to balance out your shoulders; long necklaces; draw the eye down to your bottom half with color or print or any kind of embellishments on such as hip pockets; asymmetric styles add interest at the hipline; empire-line tops that highlight the slimmest part of your torso, under the bust; wrap tops that flare a bit at the bottom hug and separate your breasts while creating the illusion of wider hips; medium thick high heels will flatter your legs and are more in proportion with your top half.
4) The Apple Shape
Characteristics: broad shoulders, waist/tummy is bigger than bust, flat or small backside, nice legs.
Remarks: This silhouette tends to hide her body in big, shapeless, black garments. Don’t give up on yourself, there are plenty of ways to redefine your shape with the appropriate clothing!
Emphasize the positive: focus on your top half, wearing lighter colors on your torso; get fitted by an expert and invest in good bras, the foundation of your wardrobe. Your tops should have empire waists or be slimmer under the bust line where your torso is the slimmest; leaving a few buttons open at the top of your shirt creates a more flattering line; wrap dresses or tops;
Jackets should have fitted waists and open V-necks; always buy jackets to fit your shoulders (not your tummy), you can wear a scarf to cover the gap in the middle. Long, slim coats (above the knee if you are short, below the knee if you are tall) worn open with contrasting color outfits underneath reduce the width of your silhouette by creating a shape divided into 3.
Skirts should be flat in the front with side fastening to avoid bulk on the tummy. High or low wedged shoes are fashionable and durable choices that flatter your slim calves and ankles.
Combining solid colors and prints, or plain fabrics with textured ones can re-shape your silhouette, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Minimize the negative: tight tops, big, square t-shirts, pleated waists, puffer jackets, batwing sleeves, chunky shoes.
5) The Rectangle
Characteristics: Your hips and bust are balanced; your waist is not very defined; your bottom is more flat than round;
Remarks: this androgynous silhouette is the star of every catwalk. The key to dressing a Straight body type is to proportionally dress the top and bottom of your body while enhancing your waist. If you are comfortable doing so, you can wear form fitting clothing (such as a tube-type dress) and create a waist by adding a wide, dark belt. However, to create a more curvaceous effect add volume (or the illusion of volume) proportionally to your upper and lower body by mixing and matching suggested separates.
Emphasize the positive: draped dresses create curves, flared skirts balance out your shoulders; pencil skirts with fluted hems; big hip pockets on skirts or dresses give the illusion of a smaller waist and bigger hips; wide lapels or collars will diminish your broad shoulders; cuff bracelets and big watches fill the gap between your sleeve hem and hand.
Look for tops that will add curves to your upper half and create a more defined waist: tops with nipped or belted waists, boat-neck tops, wide V or U necks, structured shoulders, princess or flutter sleeves, embellishments around the bust and shoulders, tops that are full, rushed or flowing around the bust. Look for bottoms that add curves to your lower half while creating an hourglass effect: go for details such as embellished pockets & flap pockets, full, tiered or bubble skirts, mid to low-rise waists with wide waistbands.
Minimize the negative: shapeless, floaty dresses; platform shoes; three-quarter sleeves; shoulder pads; chunky heels (will make your legs look like toothpicks)