Welcome to How to Dress Your Body Shape week!
Understanding your unique body type is a key step in creating a style and wardrobe you love.
So over the next five days we’re going to highlight each one, and 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.”
Rectangle Body Shape Formula
A rectangle shape is defined by your shoulders and hips measuring about the same and a waistline with little to no definition.
There is an actual equation you can use to see where you fall.
Measure your waist and your shoulders or bust and plug those numbers in the formula below:
Rectangle Formula: Waist ÷ Shoulders or Bust = ≥ .75
If the number you get is ≥ .75, your waist is less than 25% smaller than your shoulders or bust, then you fall into the rectangle category.
You are considered a rectangle body shape when your shoulders and hips are proportionate, with little definition in the waist.
How to Dress a Rectangle Body Shape
NOTE: Bone structure dictates body type rather than weight and height. Of course, we consider all of these factors when we get dressed, so these guidelines are just that, guidelines.
Think of it like this:
Body Type is your bone structure, your body composition.
Fit/Size is your proportion; you may be “regular,” petite, tall, or plus.
Weight is a factor that tends to fluctuate for many of us.
It’s helpful to read about all the different body types because the more you understand balance and proportion, the easier it will be to get dressed.
Also, you can absolutely fall into two body types; you’ll want to learn about both so you can start to find your way between them.
For example, I’m a rectangle, but when I have some extra weight, I benefit from understanding how to dress a pair shape too.
The Challenges of a Rectangle Body Shape
The main challenge a rectangle faces when getting dressed is her subtle waist.
Some “experts” will tell you a rectangle lack curves, but I disagree.
Many rectangles, myself included, have curves.
Our challenge is highlighting them in a balanced way which usually comes back to defining our waistline.
Below, I rounded up four images of celebrities with rectangle body shapes to give you a visual.
I included different heights and sizes to show how diverse each body type can be.
Famous Rectangle Body Types
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 and daring v-neckline pulls the eye toward her waist, creating the illusion of a smaller waist.
Of course, you don’t need to go so low.
In real life a tradition v-neck line gives the same effect.
Next, Reese Witherspoon is a true petite at 5’1. In this outfit, she’s wearing a peplum top with long skinny jeans, creating both a cinched waist and a 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 you must be an hourglass if you are curvy, 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.
Of course, her height helps her pull off all 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. She’s also wearing a top with an embellished v-neck, a go-to trick for rectangles.
Finally, her pointed shoes give an elegant, long finish to the line of her body.
The Best Styles for a Rectangle Body Shape
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.
For example, we can create height and curves if we like, downplay what we’re not crazy about, and all that helps us feel a little more confident in how we show each day.
In the range of body types, the rectangle has the most options. However, avoid boxy and shapeless clothes since they won’t do anything for you.
Tops and Sleeves for Rectangle Body Shapes
Look for tops with scoop and v necklines or one that elongates the shoulder line.
A great is example is this v-neck, flutter sleeve top from WHBM.
The v-neck draws the eye in and the detail at the sleeve extends the shoulder, both are simple tricks to make your waist look more defined.
You might also like a few tops from Reader Favorite brand, CeCe, like this tie-neck top with shoulder detail.
We’re also starting to see a return of the peplum top, and I was thrilled to find this one from SPANX in black and white, with sizes up to 3X.
A simple peplum with cinch you in at the waist and add a touch of volume to your hips, also giving the look of a more defined waist.
You may be surprised to learn that wearing a 3/4 sleeve instead of a full sleeve is another way to minimize a fuller waist because it draws the eye up and away.
Think about it like this: a full-length sleeve will end at the waist and extend the line, making your waist appear larger. The 3/4 sleeve breaks up that line.
You can also simply zhuzh up your sleeves to right below your elbow to create the same effect.
Need a Blazer?
A strong shoulder in a jacket or blazer will give the illusion of a more defined waist, like the Queen Latifah example above.
You’ll look great in a one or two-button classic blazer, a wrap style, or anything belted.
Because it’s all about defining your waist.
The option to the right from J.Crew and is a great example of focusing on tailoring and elegant lines.
You’ll notice the jacket doesn’t have any buttons, but the shape of the neck and lapel have a curve to it that pulls the eye in.
It also has a structured shoulder and hits a the natural waist.
However, avoid an oversized style and anything with an extreme puff sleeve.
Also, skip boxy cuts of any kind.
Pants for Rectangle Body Shapes
Lucky for you, you have your pick of most pant styles.
Whether you’re looking for jeans or traditional trousers, mid to high-waisted bottoms will work.
Skip low rise, but, frankly, I think everyone should 🙂
Go with a skinny, straight, boot, or wide-leg cut.
You want to avoid oversized or dramatically full bottoms as they will likely overwhelm your frame.
Dresses for Rectangle Body Shapes
Again, rectangles have many options when it comes to dresses.
Still, your best bet is a fit and flare, a-line skirt, or sheath with a defined waist.
This Tahari dress is ideal, combining all the flattering details: v-neck, structured fit, and side ruching.
You can also easily wear something like this high/low hemmed maxi dress, with a wrap waist.
Rectangle Body Shape Guidelines
Remember, these are guidelines.
If you put something on and it breaks all the “rules,” but you feel great in it – wear it!
Of course, wear whatever you want.
But I’ve found over the years that getting dresses becomes easier the more we understand what feels good on our bodies and why we increase our choices.
Everyone’s body type is unique.
For example, if you fall into the rectangle shape category but have a full bust, you will want to wear a different thing than a petite rectangle with no curves.
Use these recommendations as a starting point in dressing well, knowing you’ll have to adjust for your unique needs.