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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dress for Your Body: Horizontal Shape

This part of dressing your body can be less than fun.  Unless you are the perfect hourglass shape, some of the other ones are less flattering, but it really does help to know.  Have you ever spent hours in dressing rooms, trying on clothing article after clothing article and nothing looks good?  Maybe you’re looking at the wrong kind of clothes.  Knowledge is power… and cute clothes that fit right.  Stand in front of a mirror in your undies and be brutally honest with yourself.  It might save you some stress in the dressing room later.

Hourglass figures have the same size hips and shoulders, with a well defined waist.  You have an hourglass figure if the fullest part of your hips and the fullest part of your bust are the same width and your waist is well defined.  Hourglass figures most likely have a “balanced” vertical body shape.

Marilyn Monroe has the classic hourglass shape.
Hourglass figures should wear:
  • Fitted and semi-fitted clothes
  • Soft, clingy, flowing fabrics
  • Low to medium-low necklines
  • Dresses with defined waistlines
  • Straight and gently flared pants
  • Straight and gently flared shirts
Hourglass figures should avoid:
  • Stiff, bulky, fabrics
  • Baggy styles
  • Very High necklines (unless you have a small bust)
  • Skirts with open pleats
  • Very tapered pants

Inverted Triangles are proportionally large busted or have broad shoulders, sometimes both.  They also have narrow hips and a well defined waist.  Typically, inverted triangles are a long leg vertical body shape with proportionally slim legs.

Hayden Panettiere has the broad shoulders and a narrow waist of an inverted triangle.

Inverted triangles should wear:
  • Flowing fabrics
  • Low to medium-low necklines
  • Set-in sleeves
  • Three-quarter length sleeves
  • A good fitting, well adjusted bra
  • Tops and dresses that flow through the waist
  • A-line skirts
  • Flared pants
  • Stiff, bulky, fabrics
  • Styles that emphasize your shoulders
  • High necklines
  • Big collars
  • Tapered skirts and pants

The triangle body type is also called the pear-shaped. The fullest part of your bust is proportionally narrower than your fullest part of your hips and you have a well defined waist.  Many triangles have narrow shoulders and full thighs.  Typically, a balanced or short leg vertical body shape accompanies a triangle shape.

Scarlett Johansson is the common pear shape, with more weight below the waist than above.


Triangles should wear:
  • Short-sleeved tops
  • Accessories and designs to draw attention to your upper body
  • Shoulder pads to broaden your shoulders. This may sound very 80s advice, but they really do work. However, they should not be visible
  • Medium to high necklines
  • Garments to emphasize your waist
  • Skirts and dresses that are straight or slightly flared
  • Low rise pants to avoid gaping at the waist
  • Boot leg and straight pants
Triangles should avoid:
  • Stiff fabric
  • Baggy Garments
  • Garments that add bulk to your hips
  • Hems or design lines at hip-line
  • Open pleats on skirts or pants
  • Tapered skirts or pants

Rectangle bodies are about the same width at the fullest part of your bust and the fullest part of your hips, but there is little waist definition.  Legs and arms are typically slender.  Bust may be small to medium in size.  A balanced or long leg vertical body type often accompanies a rectangle.  Rectangles often look shorter and wider than they really are, which is why wearing clothes that fit is so important.  Take out any extra bulk!  Rectangles may have been hourglasses when younger or slimmer.

Cameron Diaz has a rectangular body shape.  Her hips and shoulders are similar in width and her waist doesn’t have a lot of definition.
Rectangles should wear:
  • Semi-fitted clothes
  • If you have firm upper arms, short-sleeves and sleeve-less tops and dresses
  • Medium to high necklines
  • Dresses that wrap or flow through the waistline
  • Straight to gently flared flat-fronted pants
  • A-line shirts
  • Shirts with minimally padded shoulders.  Shoulders pads should not be visible.  Just enough to add some curves.
Rectangles should avoid:
  • Clingy Fabrics
  • Fitted clothes
  • Low necklines
  • Baggy tops
  • Baggy pants
  • Narrow skirts

Oval bodies are often called apple-shaped.  Ovals have the overall appearance of being round, especially around the waist-line, as the waistline is undefined.  Ovals may have a large, low stomach and love handles.  The upper thighs are usually full.  Diamond shapes have the same qualities, but they carry their tummies high, rather than low.  The tips are the same though.

Jennifer Hudson has an apple shaped body.  Apples aren't necessarily "big" girls.  Jennifer Hudson has maintained her apple shape even with all the weight she's lost.  Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie also have apple shaped bodies.
Apple shapes should gravitate toward:
  • Ear-rings, necklaces and other focal points designed to draw an observer's eyes up towards your shoulders and face
  • Shoulder pads to emphasize your shoulders. This may sound very 80s advice, but they really do work. However, they should not be be visible
  • Semi-fitted and loose fitting clothes
  • Good fitting, well adjusted bras
  • Support underwear
  • Tops and bottoms in the same colors
  • Low necklines
  • Un-tucked tops
  • Tops and dresses that flow through the waistline
  • Straight flat-fronted pants in soft, flowing fabric
  • Straight and slightly flared skirts
Apple shapes should avoid:
  • Clingy fabrics
  • Fitted clothes
  • Fabric with large patterns
  • High necklines
  • Large lapels
  • Belts
  • Tucked-in tops
  • Pleats
  • Narrow or tapered skirts
  • Narrow or tapered pants

Body shapes change as we age, gain weight, lose weight, take up new lifestyles and exercise habits.  Just because you fit into one shape now, doesn’t mean you have always been that shape, or always will be.  All body shapes are beautiful.  Knowing how to choose the right clothing will help you accentuate the great and draw attention away from the not so great. 

Good Luck!



  1. Thanks for sharing this bit of information. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Great Post! I never can figure out my shapes whether it's face or body. Hi There! New follower from the hop. Would love it if you could hop over to and follow back!

  3. Oh thank you so much for sharing this (and providing examples). I never know where I fit into these categories, but I have a better idea now and know how to target my shopping! Thanks!

  4. I enjoyed reading this! I've struggled with my post 4 kids body shape. This lead me in the right direction until I get the unwanted pounds off to return to an hourglass.... if it ever happens!

  5. Thanks. Those are really good tips. Wish my shape was an hourglass. Maybe you could do a post on face shapes too.

  6. Hmmmm, I am declaring myself an hourglass even though my waist is thicker than it used to be. My boyfriend always says that I am well proportioned so it must be true ;-)
    these are great tips!

  7. Good tips. I liked the celebrity examples. I've admired many famous women's bodies without really thinking about their different body types and that they have to think about these things too. Some days I wish I could just stumble into the wardrobe and makeup trailer and not have to think about it though. :)

  8. Great post and tips!!

    We are hosting a link party called “Help a Momma Out” every Tuesday! This would be an awesome link up! I would appreciate if you'd add it. Thanks in advance for your consideration :)


  9. Good advice and the part about body types changing is so true!

  10. Thank you thank you! I think all along I knew my body shape, but haven't always been sure why clothes don't look right, they just don't. Now I know what NOT to wear. I never looked great in them anyway ;)

  11. Well thank you for helping out the clueless (that being me)! Great post. I will be featuring you on this weeks Amaze Me Monday :D

  12. I am a pear, and let me tell you: I wore a clingy dress, and it was AWFUL! I got rid of the dress. I looked like I was wearing a moo-moo. Just terrible! Too bad I didn't have this post BEFORE I made that fashion mis-hap! Great explanations and pictures!

    Living So Abundantly: New meme starting tomorrow, July 7, 2011, Give Back Thursday--come join the fun!

  13. This is a great synopsis. I'm either an inverted triangle (broad shoulders) or a rectangle - no waist definition. Thx!


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