How to Dress a Rectangle Body Shape

Last week, we kicked off our How to Dress Your Body Type Series by sharing the mathematical formula you can use to help determine your body type. The feedback from our community has been fantastic, with so many of you sharing your surprising results.

Today, we continue to dive into the topic by breaking down the best tips and recommendations for each body type, starting with the rectangle.

You might also hear a rectangle referred to as “straight.” To fall into the rectangle category, your shoulders and hips are proportionate, with little definition in the waist.

NOTE: Bone structure dictates body type rather than weight and height. Of course, all factors are considered when we get dressed, so these guidelines are just that, guidelines.

For example, I am a rectangle. When I was younger, and at my most fit and thin, I could wear anything. That’s not the case anymore in my 40s, BUT these guidelines help me find the most flattering pieces for my current shape.

Think of it like this: 

Body Type is your bone structure. 

Fit/Size is your proportion; you may be “regular,” petite, tall, or plus. 

Weight is a factor to consider which tends to fluctuate for many of us. 

I encourage you to read about all of the different body types because the more you understand balance and proportion, the easier it will be to get dressed. Also, if you fall in between two body types, you’ll want to learn about both so you can start to find your way between them. 

How to Dress a Rectangle Body Type

 

The main challenge a rectangle faces when getting dressed is her subtle waist. Some “experts” will tell you they lack curves, but I don’t agree. Many rectangles, myself included, have curves. Our challenge then becomes highlighting them in a balanced way which usually comes back to defining our waistline. 

Below, I rounded-up four images of famous rectangles to give you a visual. I included different heights and sizes to show just how diverse each body type can be. 

Famous Rectangle Body Types 


Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon, Queen Latifah, and Anne Hathaway are examples of Rectangle body shape

Let’s start with Kate Hudson. She is about 5’6 and the most “typical” of the rectangles with her thin and athletic build. In this picture, her exaggerated v-neckline pulls the eye toward her waist, creating the illusion of a smaller waist.

Next, cute as a button Reese Witherspoon, is a true petite at 5’1. In this outfit, she’s wearing a peplum top with long skinny jeans, which creates both a cinched waist and curve at the hip.

The stunning Queen Latifah is my favorite example because she is tall, 5’10, and considered “plus-size.” Interestingly, people often assume that if you are curvy, you must be an hourglass, but she is an excellent example of a curvy rectangle.

You’ll notice the perfect placement of her blazer button with a strong shoulder. This combination creates a beautiful shape, elongates her neck, and shows off her stature.

Anne Hathaway is also on the tall end of the spectrum at 5’8. I love this unexpected look because it shows the variety of styles a rectangle can wear, especially pieces with asymmetrical detail, texture, and pattern. Her height helps her pull off all of this at once, but you can mimic the general theories she’s combining.

For example, the skirt and blouse create contrast, and her waistband sits at the smallest part of her waist. She’s also wearing a top with an embellished v-neck a go-to trick for rectangles.

Finally, her pointed shoes give an elegant finish to the line of her body.

The Best Styles for a Rectangle Body Type 

For all body types, you want to focus on balance and highlight your favorite features. We have a lot of power in our choices once we know what we’re doing. We can create height and curves if we like, we can downplay what we’re not crazy about, and all that helps us feel a little more confident in how we show up each day. 

In the range of body types, the rectangle as the most options. However, you want to avoid boxy to shapeless clothes, they won’t do anything for you. 

Tops for Rectangle Body Types

Look for scoop or v-neck tops, blouses with collars, and any top with detail around the neckline. 

A strong shoulder in a jacket or blazer will give the illusion of a more defined waist. However, an oversized shoulder or extreme puff sleeve may make us look too broad for the rest of our shape. So if you go with a strong shoulder your waist should be defined too, like the Queen Latifah example above.

Pants for Rectangle Body Types

Whether you’re looking for jeans or traditional trousers, opt for high-waisted bottoms with a straight, boot, or wide leg. You can also pull off a skinny bottom if your top has volume. 

Dresses for Rectangle Body Types

Rectangles have many options when it comes to dresses. Still, your best bet is a fit and flare, a sheath with a defined waist like a seam detail, side ruching, and kind of detail cut asymmetrically, and you can have fun with shoulder detail as long as your waist is fitted.
Do not wear trapeze-style dresses and avoid anything that falls off your shoulders or bust into a straight shape, d

Remember, these are guidelines.  I can’t reinforce this enough. Everyones body type is unique. A full size rectangle with a bust is not going to want to wear the same thing as a petite rectangle with no curves. Use these recommendations as starting point in dressing well, knowing that you’ll have to make adjustments for your unique needs. 

Our Style Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

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How to Dress a Rectangle Body Shape

9 thoughts on “How to Dress a Rectangle Body Shape”

  1. Torso length is a huge consideration, as well. I have a short torso and a rectangle frame – accentuating my waistline is the absolute worst thing for me to do, unfortunately.

    Reply
    • Please remember these are just guidelines. If you have a short torso you still want to focus on elongating necklines, v-necks in particular. You also want to create the illusion of a waist, so you can wear a drop waist, or a shift dress. Avoid crop style tops and jackets, keep your tops untucks (though you can sometimes half tuck) and generally let your jackets and tops hit at your hip bone to lengthen your torso.

      Reply
      • Thanks for adding this! I am a short-waisted, rectangle as well and appreciate any styling suggestions you give!

        Reply
  2. Can you give some examples of what a petite rectangle with no curves would wear and how that would be different from a full size rectangle with bust?

    Reply
    • Reese Witherspoon is a petite rectangle with no curves. The same tips apply for any rectangle, pull in your waist line or create the illusion of a curve with details (like the peplum), v necks will bring the eye in to your waist, a strong but not over powering shoulder – all the same tips.

      Reply
  3. Oh my gosh! I just read this and realized that I am a rectangle shape. I never would have thought it but I now see that I do have the smaller waist and some of the suggestions you made I also know that I wear and feel ver confident in. Honestly, never would have thought! Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Thank you for this post! As a curvy petite (4’10) this is SO helpful and love Reece and Kate and Anne’s style (but didn’t know why) so love that you used them as examples. LOVE these posts thank for all you are doing for all of us – you make it so easy!

    Reply

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