Body Shape Guide

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Looking and feeling great when it comes to clothes should be easy for any shape.

We give you the ultimate guide to give you confidence when you next hit the stores so that you will look and feel great, no matter your shape, size or style….

The Basics
Body shape can be simple for some, and a little harder for others. If one shape guide doesn’t fit your body shape, try mixing one or two to create a set of rules that suit your body perfectly. This will take a little bit of analysis but its well worth the effort. Keeping this in mind, we have re-written our popular body shape guide, breaking each one into upper and lower body rules.

If you already know what shape you are, click the quick links below to go straight to the recommendations for your body type…

Slim/ Athletic

Your shape is… Apple
You have: Beautiful curves like Jade Jagger, Drew Barrymore and Kate Winslet.

Apple shaped girls are defined by curve and width. Characteristics are full busts, waists and upper backs and often width around the middle leading down to slim legs. For you it’s all about accentuating the positives (like your killer legs) and bringing balance to your shape as a whole.

Apple Body Shape

Apple Girls’ Guide to the Top Bits

Your Goals:
Accentuate slim arms and décolletage (you lucky things), whilst bringing some shape to your waist and balancing the torso.

Create a Waist: Doing so will slim down and balance your entire figure. Think cinched waist tops, waist belts, tailored nipped waist jackets and wrap around tops.

Flesh Focus: Show off your slim arms with great sleeve detailing. Cap sleeves, sleeveless tops and detailing around the shoulders are all great ideas. Remember that your full bust is also a great feature, go for tops that show this off!

Minimise: Darker colours and more matte or basic fabrics on top can help minimise and slim a torso whilst detailing around the neckline or below brings attention to great assets.

Empire: Empire line dresses will create balance and will disguise any areas you want to hide. You can even go with a large print that will keep all eyes on you whilst breaking up your frame and slimming the figure.

Apple Girls’ Guide to the Bottom Line

Your Goals: Accentuate your slim pins and bring balance to your frame by creating flow from your top half to your bottom half.

Cut the Length: Shorter length skirts and dresses show off your great legs so are a good choice. You can always pair these back with more flowing tunic style tops to create some great proportion.

Get the Skinny: Skinny leg jeans and pencil skirts show off your thin legs!

Balance it: Flared and boot cut pants are great to balance out your upper half but thinner leg options should definitely not be frowned at. When it comes to skirts go for something with a little bit of a flare or ruffle for balance and make sure to show off your slim ankles and calves.

Remember… It’s great to be an apple shape because of your fantastic legs and arms. Show them off with pretty skirts and 3/4 sleeve tops.

Your shape is… Pear
You have: The best of both worlds; you’re lean and bootylicious like Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and Tyra Banks.

Characterised by a slim torso, bust and waist with larger hips, thighs and bottom, pear shaped bodies benefit from well tailored and proportioned items. This shape is all about balance, drawing the eye up and elongating the leg.

Pear Body Shape

Pear Girls’ Guide to the Top Bits

Your Goals: Balance is the key word here, and for you it’s all about drawing the eye up and balancing what’s going on below.

Necklines: V neck tops help balance out your shoulders and add shape to the bust area. Detailed necklines are also a great choice. Things like beading, ruching or pleating across the bust will add shape and give a fuller effect.

Strappy: Few people can really get away with the strapless or strappy thing like you can. Embrace it and go with it – everyone else is jealous, I assure you.

Minimise: Minimise the bottom half by going crazy with the top. Think silk, bright colours, detailing and all the rest. These will draw the eye up and when paired with dark basics or solid tones on the bottom will balance your entire figure.

Maximise: Many pear shaped girls would prefer a little more weight along the torso. You can fake this by going for ruching or buy padded bras and enhancers.

Crop It: If you have hips then a great place to emphasise is your proportionally very slim waist. Cropped jackets and waist friendly belts will draw the eye up and accentuate a great feature. Cinched in waist dresses (like dresses with waist ties) and empire line dresses can accentuate the positives in your shape whilst gliding over problem areas.

Pear Girls’ Guide to the Bottom Line

Your Goals: Minimise your hips and thighs while making the most of your very slim lower legs and making sure your top half flows through to your bottom half.

Minimise: Darker colours on your bottom half will minimise width and lengthen the legs so when shopping for pants, these shades are the best option. This is a great idea to keep in mind when shopping for denim.

Stretch It: The fact that you have wider hips and thighs with thinner bottom legs means that something with a little bit of stretch is going to give you the best fit. Whilst spandex leggings may not be the go, something with a little elastane will give the best fit.

Band Aid: To minimise a tummy (if you have one) a waist band that sits a littler higher than the average (i.e. two or so fingers under the belly button) will smooth the tummy area magnificently.

Slim It: Pants with prominent vertical seams or more of a boyfriend cut flatter and lengthen the legs whilst slimming the silhouette as a whole.

Skirt Around: Wear skirts that cut off below the knee, particularly handkerchief hems and asymmetric cuts, which bring attention to slim calves and ankles. A line is a key word also.

Remember… It’s great to be pear shaped because you can wear all the tops that others can’t. Stock up on silks and strapless numbers and watch other girls turn green with envy.

Your shape is… Hourglass

You have: Classic curves like Jessica Simpson, Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway.

The hourglass figure will have a wider bust and thighs paired with a thin waist. This curvy shape benefits from showing off your best assets and creating balance.

Hourglass Body Shape

Hourglass Girls’ Guide to the Top Bits

Your Goals:
Showing off your assets stylishly will slim an hourglass frame, bringing the eye to areas you love while helping you skim over areas you’re not so confident with.

Shape It: Wrap around tops and dresses are great for an hourglass as they emphasise your naturally thin waist. The same goes for cinched waist anything or items that belt or cinch at the true waist. Tailoring is your key here.

De Bulk: Thin weight fabrics like matt suiting gives a slimming line to your figure but doesn’t add bulk. Keep this in mind when shopping for knitwear as well – the finer the knit the more flattering the finish.

Support: This includes supportive semi-firm fabrics in a dress to supportive bras that lift the bust or thicker straps on a top that keep a nice line across the shoulders. Because you have curvy figure support is key – keep this in mind when looking for any items.

Neckline: You will find items that come to a V are the most flattering along the neck. This is because they draw the eye down to the décolletage but also slim and narrow your quite wide chest. Because hourglass figures usually boast larger busts it’s also important to keep this in mind, and not make a large bust look completely out of proportion by pairing it with a neckline that is too high.

Matte and Monotone: Keeping colours monochromatic gives a stylish finish and keeps you looking really well proportioned. While you can definitely wear colours and patterns well, care must be taken to not look too over the top. The more muted the better.

Sleevey: Sleeves not only add a little more shape across the shoulders, they are also a great way to flatter bigger arms. Fluted, three quarter and puff sleeves can instantly slim the entire arm as well as adding another layer of dimension.

Hourglass Girls’ Guide to the Bottom Line

Your Goals: To flatter the form without adding any unwanted bulk.

Skirt Around: Skirts are a great way for you to flatter your form if you want to wear tops and bottoms as opposed to dresses. Pencil skirts, knee length straight skirts and high waisted skirts are all good options. Make sure to choose styles with a little stretch for comfort and the best fit.

Pants: Softly flared pants and jeans help balance out the figure below. Hourglass figures may also benefit from skinny leg cuts and wide leg cuts, which are tailored.
Rise and Fall: Mid-rise items are always great and flattering to an hourglass shape as they can cut across and diminish curves in the belly area. High waists too are a great option and a good way to show off your naturally thin waist.

Remember… It’s great to be an hourglass because you have killer curves. Show them off with dresses and skirts which embrace femininity and seduction.

Your shape is… Petite
You have: A cute compact and lean body like Eva Longoria, Kylie Minogue and Natalie Portman.

Petite body types are smaller and often naturally toned. They will have broad shoulders and short legs. You’re compact and small and for you it is all about creating length and curves and, of course, keeping it all in proportion.

Petite Body Shape

Petite Girls’ Guide to the Top Bits

Your Goals: To keep the eye moving from top to bottom, to create flow from your top half to your bottom half and of course to not swamp your delicate figure.

One Tone: One colour top to toe will create proportion, lengthen the figure and all the while give you a great silhouette.

All in Proportion: Tops that are shorter in length, cropped jackets that don’t fall below the hips and items that are detailed just under the bust all give you a sense of proportion to your body. This means a perfectly balanced frame.

Chiffon and Sheer: Over wraps and tops in a sheer fabric (like chiffon, lace and tulle) allow you to add layers to an outfit and a little curve to your body, while still keeping the line of your body clear. It’s something that Kylie uses all the time – think a sheer chiffon caftan with a plaited waist tie over skinny leg denim.

Petite Girls’ Guide to the Bottom Line

Your Goals: Give your silhouette a little length.

Hemline: When you have little legs it’s important to keep the hemlines just right. If you are going to go with a floor length dress or skirt then make sure it has a dynamic front slit that will draw the eye up and give your legs a little length. However, the best length dress or skirt will be a cocktail or mini; here the proportion will be just right.

Line Work: When it comes to pants, the slimmer the leg the more lean and long your frame will look. Embrace skinny leg denim as the base of your outfit and your figure will benefit.

Cuff It: Make sure that the cuff of your pants doesn’t skim the floor as this will just draw the eye down instead of up. Instead pants that cut off at or taper into the ankle are the best choice. If not make sure your pants are at least a centimetre off the floor – this will make your legs seem longer.

Footwork: Neutral coloured heels, peep-toe heels and shoes in the colour of your outfit are great for making you appear taller. Ankle boots are also great for this, as are knee high boots worn over skinny denim because it makes it look like those legs go on forever!

Remember… It’s great to be petite because you can pull off all those strappy, skimpy cuts in tops, dresses and skirts that we are all dying to try.

Your shape is… Slim/ Athletic
You have: A sporty body like Cameron Diaz, Mischa Barton and Keira Knightley.

Slim and athletic types will be straight up and down, perhaps with not much of a bottom or bust. You’re straight and narrow and for you it is all about creating curves, curves, curves!

Slim Athletic Body Shape

Slim Athletic Girls’ Guide to the Top Bits

Your Goals:
Curve, curve, curve is the call of the day!

Strap and Strapless: Strapless bodices, form fitting shapes and strappy complex necklines are all something that smaller frames can get away with. So do it!

Print It: Little prints, contrasting colours and mixed and matched prints all add texture, which means curves in all the right places.

Shape Maker: Anything that creates shape is your best friend, such as pleating, detailing, beading, prints, pleats, ruching, silk and knitwear. All of these items create curves on the bust and hips which make them great options for slim girls.

Bold and Beautiful: Large jewellery (particularly necklaces) and bold colours around the neckline and top half keep all eyes on you and add a bit more depth to your frame. Choose colours that are punchy yet complement your skin tone.

Waisted: The illusion of a waist can be created in a number of ways, from belts around the waist to well-cut tailored jackets which flare out just below the waist.

Don’t Swamp: Tailored items will always look best on you, while boxy items will just swamp your body. You need tailoring to create form. This goes for the bottom half too.

Slim Athletic Girls’ Guide to the Bottom Line

Your Goals: Embrace your slim lines or make a little more curve – the choice is yours.

Curve Creator: On the bottom your curves can be enhanced with belts, pocket detailing as well as A-line and full skirts. Pants can be patterned and textured and high waists are definitely not a problem for you.

Bias Cut: Bias cut dresses and skirts hug the body in all the right ways and hang in all the right places. What you are left with is the feeling of curve even where none exists.

Silhouette: Skinny leg denim or pants will show off all the curve you have and give a long lean look. They’er also a great choice for layering with other pieces to create more depth. However, if curve is what you are after, high waisted and boyfriend cut pants are the way to go. And the ever obvious puff and tulip silhouettes in dresses and skirts.

Remember… It’s great to have a thin/ athletic frame because the trends off the runway actually work on you! Take advantage of it and be brave with fashion.

Anya Merryfield

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