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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

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 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

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 

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

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

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

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. 

52 Outfits in 2022!

How To Dress Your Body Type: An Easy Guide

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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.


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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Debra Brainerd

Monday 14th of August 2023

I appreciate the body type scenarios, but I would love to see more suggestions for us women who need to camouflage their middle without looking frumpy and without the clothes looking too large, which is how I find myself looking.


Wednesday 21st of June 2023

I appreciate this article. I just turned 60 in January; not knowing when you will get this, today we are in June. I have a pear shape . Because of a stroke 32 years ago, I have a blind eye, a balance problem and can’t wear heels . Thankfully, I know what colors to wear. I weigh 135 and I’m 5’1”. Currently, I wear size 10 pants when bought from a consignment shop and my shirts are medium. I’m telling you all this to ask what style pants I should wear since my thighs are bigger than I wish they were. Until I was in my 40s or 50s, I was probably 10-15 lbs lighter. I’m asking what pants because I’m sure I already draw too much attention since my balance is off and my sight is not good. Oh, and are skirts just above the knee appropriate for my age?

Thank you.

6 Ways to Elevate Your Style in 2023 – Sincerely, Hope

Thursday 6th of April 2023

[…] Knowing your body shape is so key, You always want to dress in a way that best compliments your shape. Furthermore, you also want to keep in mind how a garment fits and avoid “too tight” or l”oose fitting” clothes . I’ve linked an article below from The Well Dressed Life that provides a how-to-guide for dressing for your shape. […]


Tuesday 10th of January 2023

I am between an hourglass and inverter triangle. My bust and hips are the same size.

Belinda Rachman

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

I did the math. I have no idea if I am a rectangle or a pear.

Sara K

Friday 22nd of April 2022

I couldn’t find the link for the inverted triangle advice?

Theresa Z

Thursday 23rd of December 2021

I enjoy reading about all the knowledge you share. Thanks. I am an older woman who certainly can learn more. I am more round in this journey in life. This has been very helpful.


Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

Loved the information but how do we access the "how to dress..." part? The link goes nowhere. Thank you!

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 22nd of December 2021

Thanks for letting me know. I just fixed the links!


Tuesday 21st of December 2021

What do I dress as since my extreme hourglass all my life if I have gained weight in my buns and belly in my mid-fifties??!! I know I should emphasize my waist but not with belts, I've decided, but with how a blouse or jacket is fitted toward the waist!! I keep all horizontals up high!! I wear interesting jewelry!! I am on a walker so I wear long skirts (I look much taller and thinner) and I wear shoes that match my hemlines(neutrals) so people don't notice my legs or feet!! Any other idea's? Thank you!! Have a very blessed Merry Christ-mas!!


Saturday 26th of June 2021

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.

Beth Humbel

Wednesday 26th of May 2021

Will there be more of this series?

Denise Zachar

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

I am definitely a rectangle. Thanks for the formulas.


Monday 17th of May 2021

I'm definitely a pear, which is what I have thought all along!


Friday 14th of May 2021

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?


Friday 14th of May 2021

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!!


Wednesday 12th of May 2021

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?


Tuesday 11th of May 2021

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.


Wednesday 12th of May 2021

I'm the same, Madlynn, at 5'4". Need help for short girls with thick legs/ankles, please

Mara Pearse Burke

Monday 10th of May 2021

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?

Megan Kristel

Monday 10th of May 2021

We don't have a style guide but we do have a shopping list of classic pieces. If that is what you are looking for please send an email to [email protected] and we can forward it to you.


Sunday 9th of May 2021

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


Saturday 8th of May 2021

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!


Saturday 8th of May 2021

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!


Saturday 8th of May 2021

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

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!


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! ;)

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