by Joanna Davis
All women are unique, with shapes and sizes as diverse as the endless bounty of nature. Each shape is different and benefits from different style advice. Of course, it would be absolutely amazing if each of us could all have our own fashion professional to tell us what to wear and what cuts, patterns and styles would perfectly flatter our individual body shape. However, as we cannot do a special post for everyone, we have pared it down to a few basic body types to help you identify your shape and get the straight story on dressing for curves.
For the next few weeks our episodes will focus on how to dress depending on your specific body type. We will give you advice on which styles you should pick and which ones you should purge, plus which patterns and cuts will flatter your curves if you happen to have a fuller figure.
So let's have a look at the different shapes and try to figure out which one describes your figure the best. You may find that you fall between two shape types - this simply means that you can take advice for both types and see what works best for you.
Also simply referred to as curvy, the hourglass is characterized by an equal weighting around the hips and the bust, with the narrowest part being in the middle at the waistline. This usually means you have broad shoulders and wide hips. The hourglass figure creates a subtle ‘S’ curve in the figure which already has a nice and proportioned balance. The trick is to choose clothes which highlight your midsection without throwing off the balance between your upper and lower body.
Quick hint: Choose fabrics that are soft and fitted. Try to avoid baggy or stiff fabrics that can distort your shape. Also, accessorise with belts or cinched fabrics to highlight your waistline. Also, check out our blogpost Going vintage with style for some classic tips on how to pull off this look.
No, this doesn’t mean that you’ve gone all wrong. Pear shaped women are characterised as being similar to the hourglass but having more developed hips in relation to the bust and typically a smaller shoulder frame. Pears usually develop more weight around the hips, butt and thighs and can therefore be described as bottom heavy. The main idea here is to de-emphasise your hips and focus the attention upward to try to create more of a balance.
Quick hint: Choosing darker colours for pants or jeans accompanied by heels can lengthen and minimise the impact of your hipline. To widen your upper body, choose tops with a wider neckline and experiment with shoulder pads or designs that have more material in the shoulders.
The strawberry shape is basically an inverse of the pear, having more of the mass upstairs compared to the hips and waist. This shape can be due to having large breasts or wide shoulders accompanied with narrow hips, thus creating a kind of heart shaped or top heavy appearance.
The strawberry shape though typically genetic can sometimes appear spontaneously due to breastfeeding, or sometimes as a consequence of overly ambitious cosmetic surgery.
Quick hint: In opposition to the pear, the trick to balancing this shape is by de-emphasising the bust and drawing more attention to the hips and waist. Wearing dark colours can create a slimming effect up top. Opt for higher necklines to take attention away from the bust and choose skirts or dresses that give more body to your lower half.
The apple shape can be described as being at the opposite end of the spectrum to the hourglass. The apple shape is characterised as having a large waist with narrow hips and narrow shoulders. This body shape tends to have a midsection which is much less defined than the hourglass. In larger women, apple types typically put on more weight above the hips, thus creating a much rounder appearance. The trick here is to take the attention away from the midsection.
Quick hint: When choosing tops, avoid high necklines that add more area to the mid-section. A classic V neck or lower cut (let's not go crazy here) can draw the eye and focus the attention upward. Look for skirts with higher waistlines, this will help to hide your tummy and draw attention to the narrowest part of your mid-section.
All women add weight differently; this is mostly to do with genetics but in some cases can be a consequence of lifestyle choices, such as diet or childbirth. The important thing is to identify which shape best describes you and how best to work with it.
Everyone knows someone that can described by each of these types. Join us for the next coming weeks as we take a more in-depth look at each of these shape types and hone in on what patterns, cuts and styles can really emphasise your body shape, as well as the body shapes of your friends. It's time to make you a local style expert in how to dress to express!