How to make fashion’s most well-known appearance categories work for you.
Destiny Powell and Jasmine Tillman
According to most authorities on the subject of fashion, there are four body types that a girl can have. The circle, the triangle, the hourglass and the rectangle are the titles given to women around the world. The logic goes that women should dress according to their body shape for their own benefit so that the clothes they wear will “compliment their shape.”
Although in recent years there has been a lot of critique of this approach to viewing your body, as a fashion student and teen who has struggled with self-esteem throughout her life, I have found that the guidance given to me by these ideas has made me feel more confident about what I am wearing. Although this won’t be for everyone, if you’re looking for some basics on what to wear and what not to wear, here’s our breakdown.
This describes women who carry their weight on their stomach. It’s not a pretty concept, but it happens!
Women with this body shape should avoid anything that draws attention to the middle, aka your “problem area.” To do this, clothes should fit loosely around the midsection and more snugly elsewhere.
Your friends are slim-cut pants, which are long and lean. These let your trim legs take the center stage. A shift dress hides your stomach, by giving you a clean straight line from shoulder to knee. A tunic shirt, which is a relaxed cut like a shift dress, glides over the stomach.
Even an empire-waist dress which is a waistline that rests below the bust — will emphasize a narrow rib cage and camouflage the stomach.
This is found in women who are larger at the bottom than on top, also known as “pear-shaped.”
The most common body type in fully-grown women, the triangle shape is defined as shoulders and torso that are narrower than the hips. Women with this body shape should avoid wearing shapeless, oversized sweaters, skinny jeans and pants.
What you’re looking for is definition of your waist, which accentuates your feminine curves. Skinny jeans are trendy at the moment, but with your wide hips, a boot cut will even out your shape in a more flattering way. Look for a darker pair which will slenderize the thighs, while creating a longer and slimmer silhouette.
A tailored jacket or structured jacket (you don’t need to get elbow pads, I promise) plays up the shoulders, which evens out the lower body’s proportions. A boat neck top with a wide neck line broadens the shoulders to offset fuller hips – hello, sailor.
This shape is found in women who are curvy but also evenly-proportioned – large boobs and large bottom, but a small waist.
Women with this shape should avoid shapeless or “boxy” styles, like baby-doll dresses, tunics and oversized cardigans. Look for high-waisted pants, as these hit at the natural waistline and draw the eye to a thin middle.
One of the best pieces an hourglass girl can invest in is a wrap dress. These create a diagonal movement across the body that is really flattering. V-neck tops, close-fitted blouses with an open neckline, flatter curves without exaggerating them. And pencil skirts are classic silhouettes which work the best on an hourglass figure because it accentuates the waist and skims over the hips.
The fourth and final body shape is the rectangle, also known as a “boyish shape.” Do you go straight up and down? This is you.
Although you might not always feel as feminine as other shapes, you have a lot going for you, and a lot of clothes look great on you.
Try to play up your figure with straight leg pants and tight, simply tee shirts. As you are so straight, there are no weird body lines for you to worry about.
Another option is to create some curve with your clothes. To do this, wear boot-cut pants which slim the hips and give impression of all-round shapeliness. A fitted jacket or a nipped-in blazer creates a waist and the appearance of fuller hips.
A feminine top with ruffles and wispy sleeves adds volume to the bust and shoulders, making the waist look smaller in comparison. A flared skirt contrasted with a tapered waist gives the illusion of the hourglass figure.
No matter whether you take our advice or not, remember that experimenting with clothes can be fun and empowering. Find the style and clothing choice that works for you.
And the biggest rule of fashion? Rules are made for breaking.