How To Dress Right For Your Body Type.

Having great style isn’t about reading fashion magazine every week, pinning outfits, and being able to tell the difference between houndstooth and herringbone prints. Having great style is two fold. It’s one part empowering yourself with technical information on how to dress your body as it is right now, and another part knowing who you are, your taste and preferences, budget, and life goals, which all play a factor in your style. But dressing your body type in a way that makes you feel good about your body and embrace it as it is right now is a whole other ball game.

One of my first style clients was in so much pain when she came to me. She shared how her wardrobe was so out of balance. She wore mainly work clothes all the time and was so frustrated having to wear bigger clothes because they wouldn’t fit her large chest. She expressed how she stopped trying and caring and started wearing leggings and athleisure clothes in her spare time. It’s one thing to wear leggings to yoga class and when you’re lounging around the house, and another to feel like you can only wear leggings, because that’s the only thing that fits you comfortably. This is a painful experience for a lot of women.

Why Dressing For Your Body Type Matters.

The relationship that we have with our bodies often informs and dictates our entire life. It determines how we feel about ourselves, whether we feel pretty, worthy, sexy or even dateable. It’s a complicated and messy relationship with a past that ain’t pretty. Every single time we try on clothes we are met with our insecurities. I can’t tell you how many times women have come out of the dressing woman wearing an outfit where the cut, style, material, silhouette doesn’t work with her body type and she immediately blames herself and her body, thinks she has to lose weight and never wants to go shopping again. This is not true. All she needs to learn is how to dress her body type, and find what works for her.

As you may know, I’m a certified Personal Stylist from School Of Style. I learned so much about dressing body types (that I’ll share in this blog post) from co-founder, Lauren Messiah, who says, when we master wearing clothes that make you feel good, to make our bodies look and feel the best they can feel, then:

  • Shopping is not a pain.
  • Going to the store isn’t frustrating because you’re like, oh, that’s cute but I could never wear it.
  • You’re not always wearing leggings in your leisure time.

All of this goes away when you learn how to dress your body. So yeah, it matters when you feel good about how you look and what you’re wearing. Because then, you want to go out and enjoy life.

“If you get to a point where everything is hard to wear, then you don’t want to wear anything and you wind up wearing leggings and stretchy pants and maxi dresses just to hide things, just to get dressed, and get it over with. But the problem with that is, you’re all of a sudden in a style slump, you’re in a rut and nothing feels good anymore and nothing in your life works anymore. It’s really, really painful.” –Lauren Messiah, School Of Style Co-Founder.

The solution is knowing how to master your clothes to make them work for you and your body type. Your body isn’t wrong. You’ve likely just been trying to wear clothes that don’t work with your body type. Betty Halbreich says, “even a woman with the most flattering hourglass figure still looks like a sausage casing in a dress that’s too tight for her.” This isn’t about size. It’s not about her body being right and yours being wrong. This is about empowering yourself with knowledge about your body and what makes you look great.

How To Find Out Your Body Type.

Every woman will fall into one of the five body types listed below. To figure out which body type you are, get a measuring tape and watch this video from Bella Bridesmaids to see how to take your measurements. Which every

  1. Proportional (aka The Hourglass): when your measurements are pretty much the same on the top and bottom or a few inches difference.
  2. Bigger On The Top: when your biggest measurement is your bust.
  3. Bigger On The Bottom: when your biggest measurement is your hips.
  4. Bigger In The Middle: when you biggest measurement is your waist.
  5. No Curves: when all of your measurements are pretty much the same.

Do’s and Don’ts For Dressing Each Body Type.

Proportional Body Type.

The Proportional body type is the hourglass figure. Only 8% of woman have this body type. Although it’s most desired, it’s very difficult to dress. If you don’t dress it properly you could end up looking like a sack of potatoes. Some celebrity examples are: Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, Marilyn Monroe. The goal with this body type is to keep the hourglass frame in tact by wearing clothes that go with the curves of your body.

Only 8% of woman have this body type. Although it’s most desired, it’s very difficult to dress. If you don’t dress it properly you could end up looking like a sack of potatoes. Some celebrity examples are: Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, Marilyn Monroe. The goal with this body type is to keep the hourglass frame in tact by wearing clothes that go with the curves of your body.

  • DO wear anything that defines the waist. Belts are your best friend.
  • DO wear fit and flare whenever you can.
  • DO wear a structured jacket.
  • DO tuck in the shirt for definition.
  • DO use seams to add shape.
  • DO wear a longer necklace to fool the eye for a longer neckline.
  • DO wear stripes and leopard print shoes to bring the eye all the way down.
  • DON’T go too big or too tight because you’ll either look bigger than you are or show off your curves too much (you define your version of too much).
  • DON’T wear anything too short or too plunging.
  • DON’T wear big tent like dresses and empire waists. Anything ill fitting looks sloppy on this body type.
  • DON’T wear anything overly drapey and shapeless.

Bigger On The Top Body Type.

If you’re bigger on the top, you’re busty, maybe you’ve got a large chest, or broader shoulders. The top area of your body is bigger than the rest of your body. Some challenges you may be facing are: you size up on the top when you’re shopping for swimwear, or you have a hard time buttoning your blouses. When this body type isn’t dressed properly, you can look like a walking lollipop like you’re going to topple over. You want to visually add to the bottom portion of your body.

  • DO wear wider straps.
  • DO be careful of how you wear skinny jeans. If they look too tight and too skinny and what you’ve got going on the top is too busy and loud, you’re going to look top heavy.
  • DO opt for something with a straighter leg, flare, or something more bootcut on the bottom.
  • DO wear all one color to be more slimming.
  • DO wear layers.
  • DO keep black up top to visually balance your body.
  • DO add a leather jacket that lays nicely on your chest and make sure your jacket is cut above the waist.
  • DO wear white on the bottom to draw the eye down and distract from the chest.
  • DO try peplum tops that give you waist definition.
  • DO distract and pull the attention to the bottom with nice, loud, bold shoes.
  • DO wear jewelry that draws the eye down.
  • DO wear a loose blouse to create the waist.
  • DO wear pants with texture, stitching, and detail to shift the focus away from the bust. Give people something to look at on the lower half of your body.
  • DO wear tops with an open neckline. Think cowlneck, v-necks (not too deep), things that show a lot of skin and openness up top above the chest helps create balance.
  • DON’T wear tops that don’t fit.
  • DON’T wear tops with a high neckline.
  • DON’T wear thin spaghetti straps.
  • DON’T wear baggy tops and tent-like tops.
  • DON’T wear tops where the fabric falls off the boobs and hides your waist and shape. This makes you look larger than you actually are because the fabric will just hang off your body.

Bigger On The Bottom Body Type.

For this body type, you tend to carry weight on the lower half of your body. The trick is to draw more emphasis to the top to look more balanced. Some signs that you have this body type are: pants will fit you in the thighs and butt and then gap in the waist, or you buy bigger swimsuit bottoms. Celebrity examples of this body type are: Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, and Jennifer Lopez.

  • DO add textures, sequins, thickness, shine, print on the top.
  • DO wear a single button blazer that accentuates your tiny waist, and pushes out the sides to make the top half look more full.
  • DO find a jacket with a slight shoulder pad to add structure on top.
  • DO wear a high-waisted pant when the waist portion looks more like a corset, which helps the waist look tiny.
  • DO wear matte materials on the bottom to tone it down.
  • DO wear darker colors or stiffer material on the bottom.
  • DO wear pointy pumps to slim the bottom half.
  • DO add colorful, prints, ruffled tops with 3D details on the top.
  • DO use structured bags. Smaller bags stand on their own.
  • DO wear shiny, sparkly shoes.
  • DO use bright tops to fill the top half of your body.
  • DON’T wear thick fabrics on the bottom like tweed or puff.
  • DON’T wear bottoms that are loud prints, colors, neon leggings, because it magnifies the area you want to balance.
  • DON’T cover up your whole butt with a top or boxy fabric.

Bigger In The Middle Body Type.

This is the body type that you dress to look smaller in the middle. If the stomach protrudes out more than the rest of your body, then you don’t have a defined waist. Again, rely on your measurements, not your mirror. I can’t tell you how many women think they are a bigger in the middle body type because they are self conscious about their stomach. Some celebrity examples of this type are: America Ferrera, Lena Dunham, and Kelly Osbourne. The goal with this type is to fill the top and bottom half and make a new waist for yourself.

  • DO wear trouser cuts. Something wider and flowing, even a boot cut jean is helpful.
  • DO try wearing wedge heels or pointy toe pumps with flare cut jeans that goes over the shoe so it slims you out and lengthens you.
  • DO wear a single button jacket. This mimicks a v-shape and the top half of the hourglass shape.
  • DO use belts. Maybe some ruching on the top part just above your waist.
  • DO wear shapes that make the hourglass shape. Wrap dresses fake a waist as do A-line skirts.
  • DO wear a deep v-neck and bring attention upward to your face.
  • DO wear a high-waist pant, v-neck or statement necklines or an all over print jacket.
  • DO use heels to elongate your body.
  • DO wear a hat and scarf with a jacket draped over your shoulders like a plaid print with gray.
  • DO wear printed t-shirts to hide the trouble areas.
  • DO wear a side tuck t-shirt that’s not all white. The tuck creates a diagonal look for the eye.
  • DO wear white jeans.
  • DON’T wear a tube dress or tube tops.
  • DON’T wear leggings and skinny jeans because your body will look very out of balance.
  • DON’T wear round toe shoes that make you look shorter.
  • DON’T wear shorts that make you look disproportionate.
  • DON’T wear anything that cuts off the body.

No Curves Body Type.

You are a no curves body type if your measurements are almost identical. You have a boyish frame that’s most likely straight up and down. Waif-like. The goal is to add interest to the top and bottom half of your body to create more of a balance. Celebrity examples of this type are: Kelly Ripa and Kate Moss. Also, to let you in on a little secret— all clothes are based on this body type — which is where a lot of the frustration comes from with the other body types. Again, the problem is the clothes, not the body. Here are some do’s and don’ts for the no curves type.

  • DO wear thin straps.
  • DO wear things that add volume. Think mini skirts, ruffles on shirts and shirts that are bigger than your size to make it look like you have more up top.
  • DO add pockets and textured jeans.
  • DO wear thicker fabrics like corduroy and thicker knits.
  • DO show a little bit of skin. Off the shoulder cuts gives you the illusion of curves.
  • DO wear sweetheart necklines.
  • DO wear mini skirts with a diagonal cut.
  • DO wear a crop top over a lined turtleneck for texture.
  • DO wear detailed, 3D embroidery to give you more on top.
  • DO wear lacing and details on side of your jeans to add more to the bottom.
  • DO wear things that are backless, sexy and short because it won’t come off as too much.
  • DON’T wear garments that you can’t fill out.
  • DON’T wear pants or jeans that gap or don’t fill out in the seat.
  • DON’T wear anything too baggy or things out of proportion.

There you have it! Next time you go shopping, pull up this blog post and play with the do’s and don’ts of your body type when you’re in the store so you can see for yourself what looks great on your body type. Now that you have this information, you’ll feel much more confident in dressing your body as it is right now and wearing clothes will start to feel good and fun again. Just like playing dress up when you were a little girl.

Stacy Hamm
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