We’re continuing our Body Type Series with How to Dress a Round Body Type. This series is designed to help break down the basic guidelines for dressing all body types. To get started, use this mathematical equation to figure what you are, you may be surprised!
The round body type is also referred to as circle or apple.
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.
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. So, if you gain weight in your mid section, you may find yourself leaning towards round at some point in life.
There are a few things to remember about the round body type.
First, your shoulders are broad, and your hips are narrow, OR your hips are even to your shoulders. You likely have a larger bust, but that is not a requirement. The most important factor is your lack of a defined waistline. This becomes your biggest challenge when getting dressed.
Women with a round body type tend to cover their shape with oversized shirts or long flowy pieces. And, in theory, that’s fine, but often you end up looking larger than you are.
Instead, we’re going to focus on tips that will create the illusion of a waist, highlight your favorite features, and show off your legs.
Below, I rounded-up four images of famous women with round body types to give you a visual.
I included different heights and sizes to show the diversity in the category.
Famous Round Body Types
Let’s start with Eva Longoria because I bet you’d never consider her a round body type because she is petite and teeny tiny (she’s 5’2″). There is a misconception that round immediately equals plus size, which is simply false. She does a great job creating a shape with her clothes. Here, her blazer gives her a strong shoulder, and the buttons pull in her waistline. Dressing in one color helps create a long line to her body, and she’s wearing a perfect pair of shorts to show off your narrow hips and toned legs.
Next, the Queen herself, Oprah. Oprah is a fantastic example of how to dress a round body type. She almost always has some waist-defining element in her clothes. In the dress above, she’s using ruching to create that pulled-in look, making her appear more hourglass and than round.
Isn’t Kate Winslet so stunning? She’s refreshingly candid about her body and the crazy expectations Hollywood puts on women and just a great representation of style over 40.
In the look above, it’s her halter neckline that adds all the value to her dress. It shows off her toned shoulders while pulling the eye in with the blue detail. You easily see how this makes her shoulders look more narrow, balancing them to her hips and pulling the eye in for a more defined waist.
Finally, Melissa McCarthy is perhaps the best representation of a traditional round body type, and she does an incredible job styling her outfits. She is fearless in her choices. The look above shows the importance of fit and balance. Her trousers are perfection, tailored to the ideal length with a wide leg that balances her shoulders and mid section.
See how she draws attention to her waist but clearly defining it with a detail? You may have the instinct to do the opposite by having your top fall off your shoulders and drape over you belly. But that’s when you run into looking pregnant. Instead, don’t be afraid to create an illusion of a waist line with a fitted detail.
Best Tips for How to Dress a Round Body Type
As you can see, there is a lot of variety in the round body type. Of all of them, this is the one you may find yourself stepping in and out of if you gain weight in your middle. For example, at my most fit, I am a true rectangle. No amount of sit-ups or carb-cutting will give me a tiny waist, but when I gain weight, it’s always in my midsection, so I use many of these tips when my weight is fluctuating.
Generally speaking, dressing in one color (or monochromatically) will help create a long line. As will dressing off a “column of color.” That simple means you keep the under pieces of your look one color, like black, and then cut it with top layer, like a white jacket.
What should you avoid?
Exaggerated details on your shoulders or bust line, ruffle front tops, or jackets won’t do anything for you. Skip pleated front pants and skirts; also avoid tie waist pants, narrow legged bottoms, and pencil skirts
Best Tops for Round Body Types
A scoop or v-neck top is universally flattering and especially great for a round shape. You can also wear a wrap, faux-wrap, or ruched side top to create a more defined waist. A peplum that lays flat rather than flares out will also look lovely.
Asymmetrical and halter necklines are excellent options that will minimize your shoulders.
Skip crew and turtlenecks.
For jackets, look for single breast options that sit at your natural waist; this will help give you a long lean look.
Best Bottoms for Round Body Types
Straight or wide-leg pants or jeans work best since they balance your hips and shoulders. The wide-leg will also draw your eye into your waist.
Look for pants with back or side zips to keep your front smooth; the less detail there, the better.
Best Dresses for Round Body Types
The same guidelines for your tops apply to the top of your dresses. For the bottom half, go with an aline or a straight skirt instead of a pencil. Avoid pleats or any fabric or gathering that will create extra volume.
Remember, these are guidelines. I can’t reinforce this enough. Everyones body type is unique. Use these recommendations as starting point in dressing well, knowing that you’ll have to make adjustments for your unique needs.
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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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