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How To Dress for your Body Shape


I have literally styled thousands of women in my 15 years of working as Head Stylist and Creative Director of Style Machine. In those years I’ve styled countless models for editorial shoots and contributed seasonal trend reports for titles including Vogue, Harpers Bazzar, Ok Magazine, The Daily Telegraph and Woman’s Day. I was assigned as Head Stylist on The Voice and dressed the talent for shows including X Factor, A Place To Call Home, Sunrise and The Morning Show. I’ve personally dressed many of Australia’s much-loved celebrities including Margot Robbie and Samantha Armytage and Internationals Keira Knightley and Lily Cole (and a little inside info, most celebrities do not own model physics) And of course, the many women who lead vastly different yet busy lives and come in every shape and size there is. The details of their stories are never the same yet the outcome they wish to achieve rarely changes. Women want to look great, feel good and run their lives without missing a heartbeat.

I can give you a million reasons why people seek me out and my job, without a doubt is to firstly listen, to both the spoken and unspoken and then use my skills to empower. How do I do this you ask? A few ways, but first, let me tell you the goal for most of my clients. Women are busy, women love to look put-together yet effortless, styled yet relaxed, modern not “trendy” and in every case, without a doubt a woman wants to feel comfortable yet still in control of her look if not a little bit sexy. A tall order for a regular weekday? Absolutely not. I am here to share with you some secrets to achieving all of this although if you find you need help, having a stylist break it all down for you can be the best way forward in having a great working wardrobe that you love, is easy to style and looks great.

Having a full understanding of your body shape isn’t complicated when you know how, although if you don’t, it can be like getting in your car and driving somewhere you have never been before without any directions. You can easily get lost.

So here are a couple of simple tips to apply to each body shape to get the best out of your shape.

THE RECTANGLE: Balanced on top and bottom, but boxy, with little or no waist definition.

Lucky you, rectangle bodies are the easiest type to dress, as most clothes will fit beautifully as they drape off your balanced figure. You will have a wide range of clothes to choose from. A rectangle body shaped person can wear clothes in layers, as your shape does not have areas that create unwanted volume. You can either opt for straight clothing lines to show your beautiful angled body or add dimension at the right places to create a waist. To attain a feminine look, you can use the concept “slim plus volume”.

  • Go for dresses that will give you a defined waistline like wrap dresses, belted dresses and shirt dresses.

  • Add definition to your bustline by wearing a contrasting colour on top half.

  • Go for dresses with A-line skirts to add a feminine touch.

  • Try dresses with details on the waist.

  • Enhance your curves by adding some horizontals in the dress, like horizontal stripe prints.

THE TRIANGLE: Small bust and/or narrow shoulders with full hips and/or thighs.

With killer curves, clothes need to be a little considered creating a beautiful balance that will work with your shape and not against it. Choosing the right fabric and cut is more important for you than any of the other shapes. Once these simple rules are understood and applied life can be lot easier when choosing clothes. Having a shape that has curves means wearing clothes that work with your curves or you risk looking

potentially larger. This may mean getting a fabulous alterations master on board to tweak pieces, so they are perfect for you, call it couture!!

  • Fitted Tops Provide Definition.

  • Dark-Colored Flare Bottoms Balance Proportions.

  • Show Off Your Upper Body with an Off-The-Shoulder Dress.

  • Sleeveless Dresses Visually Balance Your Pear-Shaped Figure.

  • Belted Dresses: The Key to a Defined Waist for Pear Shapes.

  • A Wrap Dress is Your Most Versatile Choice.

THE INVERTED TRIANGLE: Large bust and/or broad shoulders with narrow hips.

With broad shoulders you need to be mindful of the lines that can be created from clothing, choosing flattering options is important to avoid an even wider shoulder line. With the rest of your body pegging in from here, clothes can have a draping effect which can be fantastic although if not worn properly can create bulk. You have amazing legs, cute bum and little hips so you want to make the most of them. The main thing you are probably looking for is to create a bit of curve on the straight lines of your bottom half. You can create curve with the right clothes as well as more balance.

Style Tips:

  • Go for narrow lapels (folded flap/collar) tapered to the waist.

  • Go for fabrics which are flat-textured and will drape well.’

  • Open necklines and collars, like halter necks, v-necks and scoop necks

  • Wear soft feminine textures to soften the shoulder line

  • Look for tops that will accentuate the waist, like tops with banding or nipping at the waist or wrap style tops, tuck in your tops to bottoms to show this off.

  • Wear tops that accentuate a vertical line, so go for V-necks and keep your shirts unbuttoned

  • Also find tops that balance the bust with your hips (if you have a large bust)

THE HOURGLASS: Equally balanced on top and bottom, with a trim waist.

Being an hourglass there is only one thing to mainly think about when dressing for your body shape and that is to work with your curves. You may find that some of the brands out there customise their designs for the “model” shaped body shape which can be curve-less although once you understand that these styles will not be doing you any favours and can in fact make you look larger, you can then start to look at the styles that show off and work with your curves

Style Tips:

  • Look for snug, tailored pieces. Everything from your casual t-shirts to your button-down

  • Wrap tops tend to draw attention to your waist.

  • Stick with short, shaped jackets. Look for belted jackets, trench-style coats, or other fits that draw in toward the waist. Short jackets that stop just above your hips accentuate your curves in a flattering way.

  • Look for V-necks, V-neck halters, sweethearts, and scoop necks. Narrow necklines slim down your bust.

  • Stick with solid colour by having contrasting shades above your waist and below your waist, or you can stick with a single, solid colour top or dress to keep your bust evenly balanced with your hips.

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