Dress by Body Type: What Kind of Dress Should I Wear?

Real fashionistas know that the key to dressing well is to pay attention to your body and figure out what suits it and makes it look flattering. Our bodies differ, and it’s not always about weight. In fact, a skinny person and an overweight person can also have the same body type. Body shape is almost entirely based on your bone structure, not your weight.

Body type becomes even more important when it’s time to choose a dress. There’s just so much variety in dresses.

So you’re in for an informative session on body types and which clothes best suit them. Use your outfit to balance your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips.

Body Types

There are four types of bodies or figures:

  • Pear or triangle: The pear-shaped body, also called the triangle figure, features fuller hips with a relatively smaller upper body. The shoulders are smaller than the hips. 

  • Athletic or inverted triangle: The athletic body type is straight but not proportional. For instance, the waist may be smaller than the hips, but not very well-defined. The shoulders may be narrower than the hips. 

  • Round: The round body type or apple figure is more uniform and proportioned with shoulders slightly bigger than the hips. This type of body doesn’t have a defined waist. 

  • Hourglass: The hourglass body has an hourglass shape, as the name implies. It’s a curvy body with a bust, hips almost the same size, and a well-defined waist. 

Something to be considered for anybody type: patterns and light draw eyes’s attention, bright colours more than dark ones. Keep this in mind when choosing your clothes, as this can help to drive the eye attention.

Body types
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Dressing for Pear-Shaped or triangle Body

For a pear-shaped body, go with dresses that balance the proportions.

Choose tops that emphasise the upper half and create volume around the shoulders and bust. Look for light colours or prints for your tops.

For trousers and jeans, in a nutshell, it’s all about looking for the right styles, like slightly roomier cuts and darker colours.

A dress with a fitted bottom half and loose upper half will look very flattering for this body type. Avoid wearing strapless dresses, as the shoulders are not that wide, so the bottom half would look out of proportion. 

For jackets and coats, the same principles apply as tops: bright colours can help. In terms of length, go for either crop jackets, as this will avoid adding extra fabric to your hips, or for long coats, especially for those with a belt, as they will help slim down your waist.

Wear belts at the waist rather than at the hips, with garments like dresses, jackets, or high-rise jeans.

Pear shaped body

Photo by Samantha Hurley from Burst

Dressing for Athletic Body

If you have an athletic body but not a very well-defined waist, go for dresses with a lower waist. This type of body is typically slender and can also look good in body-hugging silhouettes. 

Use tops to let your neckline and hips steal away the spotlight. A scoop-neck will highlight your collarbone, while a v-neck will highlight your neck line. Crewneck is also a good option, if you prefer a less revealing top.

Adding volume and curves to your lower half is your key focus for pants and jeans. Boyfriend, cropped, flared are key options to fulfil this aim.

Jackets can add volume near your hips to help balance your frame. On that matter, waist-length options create a structure from shoulder to waist, filling out your top half evenly. Cropped and belted styles highlight the waist, while wraps, with those loose-fitting fabrics, create space around your hips.

With dresses, try to find pieces that have a structure and a well-defined shape. An A-line dress, with its triangle-shaped figure, balance the inverted triangle frame of your body. Look for a fit and flare dress with a fuller skirt as it will help your hips match your shoulders.

Athletic woman

Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst

Dressing for Round-Shaped Body

As a round figure has good proportions, you need dresses that can give the body some curves and some shape.

With tops, we recommend looking for pieces that stress your shoulders, neckline, or bust. Tastefully, of course. Wrap tops can give a more defined waistline, while V necks reveal your collarbone, helping break up a uniformly shaped top body.

For trousers and jeans, high-waisted or belted options can help define the waist, while shapes like boot cut provides a better shape to your bottom half.

An A-line dress or a dress with a flared hemline and cinched-in wait would look great on this body type. Wrap dresses can help reshape your waist, while off the shoulder can help draw the eyes on your shoulders.

Don’t wear form-fitting dresses, as that won’t look very flattering. Instead, wear dresses with some silhouette variety (loose and fitted). Also, avoid horizontal stripes in dresses.

Wear belts to cinch your waist in a dress, skirt, long jacket, or high-rise pant.

Round shape

Photo by Pegleess Barrios from Burst

Dressing for Hourglass Body

Hourglass bodies feature a well-defined shape, so dresses with a cinched-in or defined waist naturally look flattering because they stress those curves. So this may include fitted knit dresses, wrap dresses, or dresses with belts for the waist. 

Since the shoulders are almost equivalent to the hips, women with hourglass bodies can wear open necklines or strapped dresses. Keyhole can be a subtly sexy detail to stress your curves without being too revealing. Wrap tops can also help to draw attention to your waistline.

You have quite a wide options for pants and jeans: high-waisted, belted waist or even stretchy are good options, depending on which part of your figure you want to highlight.

For jackets and coats, the same principles apply as tops: bright colours can help. In terms of length, go for either crop jackets, as this will put focus on your bottom half, or for long coats, especially if belted, as they will help slim down your waist and give the impression of longer legs.

While tunic-style or flowy A-line dresses should look fine on hourglass figures, such dresses won’t highlight the curves. Jumpsuit is a good option to show off your curves.

Hour glass body

Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst
Cover photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst