How to Dress Your Body Type

Knowing  how to dress your body type is a game-changing skill when it comes to building a wardrobe. Mastering 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 on 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 breakdown of each body type
  • Real Life examples to help you understand how to dress in a way that highlights your favorite features.

To start  I want you to take some time to figure out your body type. 

Take Your Measurements

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

Shoulders: Start at the tip of one shoulder wrapping the tape all the way 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 butt.

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

 

Rectangle

How to Dress Your Body Type: Rectangle

A rectangle shape is defined by your shoulders and hips measuring about the same and a waist line with just a little definition. 

Rectangle Formula: Waist ÷ Shoulders or Bust ≥ .75 

If the number is ≥ .75, than your your waist is less than 25% smaller than your shoulders or bust and you fall in the category of rectangle. 

Famous Rectangle Body Types 

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

See How to Dress a Rectangle Body Type Here 

Round

How to Dress Your Body Type: Round

A round shape, also known 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 this means 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 

See How to Dress a Round Body Type Here 

Hourglass

 

How to Dress Your Body Type: Hourglass

See How to Dress a Hourglass Body Type Here 

An hourglass is the easiest body type to determine because your shoulders and hips are close to/or equal in measurement and you have a very defined waist.  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

See How to Dress a Hourglass Body Type Here 

PearHow to Dress Your Body Type: Pear

See How to Dress a Pear Body Type Here 

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

See How to Dress a Pear Body Type Here 

Inverted Triangle 

How to Dress Your Body Type: Inverted Triangle

See How to Dress a Pear Body Type Here 

You are an Inverted Triangle if your shoulders OR bust are larger than your hips. Typically this 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

See How to Dress a Pear Body Type Here 

Frequently Asked 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. 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. 

 

Our Style Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and this post  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 Your Body Type

30 thoughts on “How to Dress Your Body Type”

  1. 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!

    Reply
  2. 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?!!

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

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

    Reply
  5. 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!

    Reply
  6. 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!

    Reply
  7. Great to have the measurements. I always thought I was a round/apple but measurements are showing a rectangle. Interesting.

    Reply
  8. I’m a rectangle, too, close to an hourglass. Quite a surprise! I’m looking forward to this series! Thanks and happy Mother’s Day!

    Reply
  9. I am both a Rectangle and a pear – this was a surprise! I too look forward to seeing what your recommendations are next week! Thank you! This first time I did the wardrobe challenge it was really helpful. Now so excited about this!

    Reply
  10. This was very helpful, because I always considered myself an apple shape, but I really fall between rectangle and hourglass.

    Reply
  11. HI –
    I am turning 60yo this summer, my last child is graduating from college, and I’m facing a bit of a “who am I now?” moment. I’m still teleworking (since long before COVID). I don’t feel like I have a “style”. I recently used your closet-purge concepts and got rid of lots of things from my closet(s).
    I have signed up for your daily newsletters (weekly?) and keep waiting for my style guide to arrive, but it never does. I think it will help me figure out more things to purge and some signature pieces to purchase. How do I get the style guide when email doesn’t seem to work?

    Reply
  12. I have always been an hourglass figure until I lost about 45 lbs. The weight loss combined with age (56 yo) left me with sagging skin (ugh) on a 5′ 1/2″ frame. So now with your measurement guide I’m between a rectangle and hourglass shape. Is that even possible? I’m so confused but I desperately want to figure this out because I NEED a style.Thank you for all the time, effort and love you put into this. I get so much from what you do.

    Reply
  13. Based on the calculation I’m not any of these, however, I’m closest to hourglass-which I’ve always been until complications of PCOS have caused weight gain, especially in regards to my mid section. Do you have any suggestions on who to navigate which body type would be best for me to dress for?

    Reply
  14. So it looks like I’m a rectangle. I thought I was a pear but it turns out that my shoulders are the same measurement as my hips. Such a fun exercise. Looking forward to honing in to my best style. Thank you!!

    Reply
  15. Can I be both an hourglass (.73) and Inverted Triangle (1.05)? My waist is 10 inches smaller than my shoulders and my shoulders are 2 inches wider than my hips?

    Reply
  16. Can’t wait to see about the inverted triangle! In the last few months, I’ve finally taken the time out to understand my shape and what looks best on me, and why.

    Reply

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