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An Easy Guide to Dressing for Your Body Type

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

The Well Dressed Life Guide 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

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

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

You are a Round Body Shape Type If… 

Round

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

A round shape, also known sometimes as an Apple 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 

You are a Hourglass Body Shape Type If…

Hourglass

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

An hourglass 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

You are a Pear Body Shape Type If…

Pear

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

You are an Inverted Triangle Body Shape Type If… 

Inverted Triangle

Your shoulders OR bust are large 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, 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

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 and hips, 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.

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. 

52 Outfits in 2022!

An Easy Guide to Dressing for Your Body Type
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 Join Megan Kristel for a comprehensive, 3 hour long, LIVE Virtual Workshop sharing personal style and shopping tips for women over 40 on March 31, 2023.

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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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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