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How To Dress Your Body Type: An Easy Guide

Knowing how to dress your body type is a game-changing skill when it comes to building a wardrobe you love. Understanding it not only makes getting dressed fun and easy but it will save you time, money and sanity. 

I created this comprehensive guide with tips and strategies for the five primary body types. 

For the sake of keeping this simple, I am focusing on Rectangle (sometimes called Straight), RoundHourglassPear (also called Triangle), and Inverted Triangle

How To Dress Your Body Type

How to Dress Your Body Type

Rectangle, Round, Hourglass, Pear, Inverted Triangle

In this article, you’ll find:

  • The mathematical formula you can use to determine your body type.
  • A detailed breakdown of each body type.
  • Real Life examples to help you understand how to dress in a way that highlights your favorite features.

Let’s get started!

First, I want you to take a minute to figure out your body type. 

Discover Your Body Type: Take Your Measurements

How to Dress Your Body Type

For this, you need a tape measure and a calculator. 

Grab a piece of paper and write down each number below: 

Shoulders: Start at the tip of one shoulder and wrap the tape around you.

Bust: Pull the measuring tape taut across the fullest part of your bust and around your back. 

Waist: Measure the smallest part of your natural waist, just above the belly button.

Hips: Start at one hip (below the hip bone) and wrap the tape measure around the largest part of your backside.

Dressing well is about creating balance.

Below is each body type and the mathematical formula to determine where you fall. Knowing this will make getting dressed so much easier. 

Also, please remember every body is unique, so it’s very likely you may fall between two different body types.

Take those numbers and plug them into the formulas below:

You are a Rectangle Body Shape Type If… 

Rectangle Body Type

Rectangle Body Type

Your shoulders and hips are proportionate, with little definition in the waist.

 

A rectangle shape is defined by your shoulders and hips measuring about the same and a waistline with little to no definition. 

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, and you fall into the rectangle category. 

Famous Rectangle Body Types 

Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon, Queen Latifah, and Anne Hathaway are examples of Rectangle body shape
Of all body types, the rectangle body type has the most options in terms of flattering clothing. However, I recommend avoid boxy and shapeless clothes as they’re usually the least flattering for people with rectangle body shapes. 
 

You are a Round Body Shape Type If… 

Round Body Type - How To Dress Your Body Type

Round Body Type

Your shoulders are broad and your hips are slim with no defined waist.

A round shape, also known sometimes as an apple body shape, is defined as broad shoulders, narrow hips, and no defined waist. Your waist is wider than both your shoulders and hips. 

Formula: Waist ÷ Shoulders and Bust = ≥ 1.05

If the number is ≥ 1.05, your waist is more than 5% bigger than your shoulders or bust, and you fall into the round or apple body type. 

Famous Round Body Types 

Round Body Type celebrities
When it comes to dressing a round body type, the key is to create the illusion of a waistline and to balance your hips and shoulders. Wearing a single color from head to toe is one of my favorite tips for putting together a flattering outfit for someone with a round body type.
 

You are a Hourglass Body Shape Type If…

Hourglass Body Type - How To Dress Your Body Type

Hourglass Body Type

Your shoulders and hips are close to the same size and you have a defined waist.

An hourglass figure is the easiest body type to determine because your shoulders and hips are close to/equal in measurement, and you have a very defined waist. So here you have two formulas: 

Formula 1: waist ÷ shoulders and bust = ≤ 0.75 . 

In this equation, you want to use whichever measures more, either your shoulders or bust. 

If the number is ≤ 0.75, then your waist is 25% smaller than your shoulder or bust.

Formula 2: waist ÷ hips = ≤ 0.75.

Your waist is 25% smaller than your hips.

If the number is ≤ 0.75, then your waist is 25% smaller than your hips.

Famous Hourglass Body Types

Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, Christina Hendricks, and Jennifer Lopez have an hourglass body shape

 

Women with hourglass body types have a lot of options when it comes to flattering clothing. I generally recommend avoiding oversized, shapeless pieces and opting instead for pieces that will highlight their curvy features and slimmer waist.

You are a Pear Body Shape Type If…

Pear Body Type - How To Dress Your Body Type

Pear Body Type

Your hips are wider than your shoulders.

Pear shape and Triangle are interchangeable. Simply put, your hips are wider than your shoulders, and your shoulder may be on the narrow side. 

Formula: hips ÷ shoulders or bust ≥ 1.05 

If the number is ≥ 1.05, then your hips are 5% bigger than your shoulders, then you are considered a pear or triangle shape. 

Famous Pear Shaped Body Types

Alicia Keys, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kristin Davis, and Catherine Zeta Jones have a Pear Shape Body Type

Since women with a pear body type have hips that are wider than their shoulders, you want to focus on adding more volume to your shoulder line to create a more balanced silhouette. The idea is to pull the eye upward, toward your neckline so there’s less emphasis on your hips. 

You are an Inverted Triangle Body Shape Type If… 

Inverted Triangle Body Type

Inverted Triangle Body Type

Your shoulders OR bust are larger than your hips.

You are an Inverted Triangle if your shoulders OR bust are larger than your hips. Typically this is evident when you have extra broad shoulders or a wider upper-body, but you may also fall into this category if you have a large bust and narrow hips.

Formula: shoulders or bust ÷ hips = ≥ 1.05 

If the number is ≥ 1.05, then your shoulder or bust is more than 5% bigger than your hips making you an inverted triangle. 

Famous Inverted Triangle Body Types

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

The key to dressing an inverted triangle body shape is to add slightly more volume to your hips to balance your shoulders and bust. Along those same lines, you want to avoid adding any extra volume or width to your upper body. 

Body Type Questions 

Can I be more than one body type?

Absolutely, you can sit between two types. 

Does our body type change over time?

Bone structure dictates body type rather than weight and height.

But, of course, all factors are considered when we get dressed, so these guidelines are just that, guidelines.

For example, I am a classic rectangle. But when I was younger, and at my most fit and thin, my waist was smaller than my shoulders, hips and thighs, so I could wear pretty much anything.

Now that I’m in my 40s and had my babies, by stomach is not flat like it use to be so I take that into consideration when I get dressed. 

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 most of us. 

I encourage you to read about all of the different body types because the more you understand the concept of balance and proportion, the easier it will be to get dressed. It can help you decide what to wear depending on what body parts you want to draw attention to, as well as well which fits suit your body type best (i.e. skinny jeans vs wide-leg jeans). 

Also, if you fall in between two body types, you’ll want to learn about both so that understanding your body in general is easier and you can start to find your way between them. 

How To Dress Your Body Type: An Easy Guide
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MEET THE AUTHOR

Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Tracy Gray

Saturday 8th of May 2021

Thank you so much for this. I am a rectangle—-never would have thought that. I’m excited to now know what will work great for me!

Nicole

Friday 7th of May 2021

I love the measurements and formulas! I'm an inverted triangle, and was surprised. Can't wait for this series! Thanks so much and Happy Mother's Day!

Naomi Lynn Weiner

Friday 7th of May 2021

I'm spot on Hourglass! Curious where height might figure into this next few weeks?

Megan Kristel

Friday 7th of May 2021

Just another layer of fun! ;)

Oli

Friday 7th of May 2021

thanks for this article, it is so helpful

Gaylon

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I am a rectangle but close to an hourglass. I'm looking forward to this series!

Vickie

Thursday 6th of May 2021

Wow, I am surprised! I always thought I had a round body type, but the math says I'm an inverted triangle!

GEnevieve

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I am so surprised to find out I am an hourglass. Another series I may looking forward to!

Pat

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I am either a rectangle or a pear. The curvy jeans at Talbots fit perfectly! If they ever stop selling them, I'm sunk.

Liz

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I’m a rectangle (and a pear if I use my bust measurement but not my shoulder measurement) BUT I don’t have narrow shoulders so does that make me a rectangle?!!

Deb Walker

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I love that you gave us ways to measure to find our shapes. But I’m confused. My shoulders(not my bust) are larger than my hips, at 1.19, so that makes me an inverted triangle. But for the rectangular shape, I have .77 waist/bust, and my hips are 2” larger than my bust. Do I qualify for the inverted triangle as that measurement is the larger? I’d appreciate your opinion!

Deb

Thursday 6th of May 2021

Meant to put that the shoulder/hip measurement is 1.11, not 1.19. Thanks!

Kristyn Gonnerman

Thursday 6th of May 2021

Clearly hourglass, but that I knew. Looking forward to this!

Betsy Miller

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I’m a rectangle and pear. Can’t wait to read on! Betsy.

Barbara B

Thursday 6th of May 2021

I am a rectangle and I was surprised! Looking forward to the next 5 weeks!

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