Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dress your body type

While I may not be interested in making New Year's resolutions, that doesn't mean the rest of you feel the same way. If your resolutions this year have anything to do with dressing well, I'm here to help. Today I'll be focusing on tips to dress your specific body type. It isn't always easy. To be honest, I could write an entire post on each individual body type, but for starters I'll just focus on the main points for each one. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the common names used to describe different body types like "Lollipop" or "Apple," but I understand their usefulness, so for the purposes of this post, please don't be offended by the terms. Just use them to understand your body and how to dress it in the most flattering way.

For starters, let's define the different body types:

LOLLIPOP: Basically a top-heavy body. Large breasts, broad shoulders or back, wide waist, etc. on top of slim legs.

PEAR: Bottom heavy body. Small shoulders, breasts & waist with wide hips & thighs.

APPLE: Neither top nor bottom heavy, this body type is characterized by a lack of definition and is generally all round, with small shoulders, leading to large breasts & a large waist & hips, with legs that do not have much definition.

HOURGLASS: Also neither top nor bottom heavy, this body type is the most accurate in terms of the visual analogy. Picture an hourglass and you can understand this body type pretty easily. Large breasts, small waist, large hips. Also, an hourglass shape is basically what you want to achieve when dressing any body type.

COLUMN:  Athletes generally have this body type- the top & bottom halves of their bodies are similar in size and they lack curves.

Please understand that within each body type there are an infinite number of variations. Some would go so far as to say that a person with very large shoulders and hips would be classified as a "Cello" body type as opposed to an "Hourglass." Or that someone with broad shoulders and a smaller waist on top of slender legs would be called "Cone" shape rather than "Lollipop." I'm not going to try to name every single variation on the above-mentioned shapes because it gets far too confusing. For now, just use the types listed above to determine what your body type is. 

The common goals in dressing ANY body type are to create definition at the waist and to elongate the body. By choosing different styles of clothing you can visually create an hourglass shape. Here's how you do it:

For LOLLIPOP shapes: Balance out the top and bottom halves of your body by wearing fuller skirts and pants and keeping the tops of your garments simple.Wide-leg trousers and a-line skirts will help achieve a balanced look. Avoid tops with lots of embellishment and anything that isn't fitted. Boxy jackets and tops will only accentuate your shape, so look for tops with vertical seaming that will help create a small waist.

For PEAR shapes: Once again, the key is balance, but for pear shapes, the emphasis should be placed on the top half. Wear tops with cap sleeves and wide necklines to help create the illusion of shoulders that are the same width as your hips. As with lollipop shapes, fit is key- don't wear anything boxy and look for pieces with vertical seaming to help define a narrower waist. Embellishment on the top half is fine, but keep the lower half simple.

For APPLE shapes: The key with an apple shape is to choose a focal point- usually the neckline and face are best. Select garments that draw the eye in an upward direction. V-neck blouses and dresses will help you achieve this goal. Jackets and blazers with a single button and vertical seaming (I'm sounding like a broken record) will help define a narrow waistline. Choose pants and jeans with a straight line down from the hip- this will help create a long line.

For HOURGLASS shapes: Always wear clothing that is fitted to the waist. Boxy, drapey clothing will do nothing to accentuate your shape, so choose items that are fitted at the natural or empire waist. Empire waist cinches in the most immediately under the bust and then flows away from the body from there. This helps create the illusion of very long legs.

For COLUMN shapes: The challenge with a column shape is to create curves where none exist. I recommend wearing dresses with clearly defined waistlines and fuller skirts such as a-line and circle skirts. Printed fabrics will help create more curves than solid fabrics will, so keep that in mind when shopping. Also use belts- both wide and narrow- to define your waist whenever possible.

There are exceptions to every rule, but these are some basic guidelines that should keep you headed in the right direction. And there are also some universal rules for any body type:

1.) Keep the size of the print proportional to the size of your body. Petite women should wear small prints and tall women can much more easily pull off a large, bold print.

This small geometric print is fine for a petite woman, but on a larger or taller woman, the print would appear to go on forever and all we would see is the pattern as it repeated over and over.

This large print is fine on a tall woman with the height to carry it, but a short woman would be completely lost in such a large pattern. The dress would wear her, not the other way around.

2.) Straight and wide-leg pants are flattering on ALL body types. Because the pants drape straight down from the hip, they create a long line from the waist all the way to the floor. If you can wear heels with them, all the better, because the line is that much longer.

3.) Vertical seaming always helps to create a waistline. Often called "Princess seams," they create an hourglass shape simply by being cut and sewn to hug the body in a flattering way:

Notice how the vertical seams curve out from the waist? This makes room for the hips and bust while maintaining a close fit.

 Do you have questions about fitting to your body type that weren't answered in this post? Leave a comment and I'll answer them to the best of my ability. Have a great day, everyone!

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