What to Wear According to the Overall Silhouette of Your Body?

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Understanding your body shape is the first step toward knowing how to dress and drape yourself. Malaysia-based fashionista, Shameena, tells us what to wear, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Recap: Understanding the value of dressing for your particular shape promises more comfort and confidence in embracing your silhouette, rather than struggling against it. The first step is to ask, What body shape am I? In my last week’s column, I discussed properly examining your body, taking your measurements, and what body type you fall into. If you haven’t read my last week column, kindly go through the link given below first to find what shape you are!

Examining your shape allows you the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what these areas are, which will allow you to learn about dressing to flatter your figure from this week onwards exclusively on my column.

What to Wear With the Overall Shape of Your Body?

The five main body shapes (or silhouettes if you will) are Hourglass, Rectangle, Pear, Apple and Inverted Triangle Body shapes. The term “shape” describes the overall silhouette of your body. Meaning – the contours of your body figure based on your waistline. Basically, it is how your upper, mid and lower half are in proportion with each other.

What’s most important here is to take a note of the proportions of your body – the lower compared to the upper half. And then figure out what needs to be trimmed or added to create a proportional body shape or to create more of an hourglass effect.


Let me explain:

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

You definitely have wide shoulders and bust but you do have a waist and little bit of curves. Now, what category do belong to now? You could still be an Inverted Triangle because your upper half, the shoulders, and bust, are despite everything else, the most prominent area of your body figure. Your goal should then be to balance it out by adding more width to your lower body to make your upper body look less prominent.

  • Look for tops with narrow V-necks and nipped in waists that flare slightly at the hip.
  • Shirts with a deep scoop or V-necks narrow your upper body. Layer a lighted collared shell with a V-neck to enhance the effect.
  • Look for deep V-neck wrap style tops. A little flare below the waist will help add curves to your hips.
  • Wear deep shawl collared, particularly in dark colours with a light shell underneath.
  • Look for shirts with vertical details on the upper body. A nipped-in waist and flared bottom will add curves to your hips.
  • Look for jackets with deep V-necklines, a nipped-in waist and flared bottom or hip pocket details.

The Pear Body Shape

The key to dressing a pear body shape is to enhance and add volume (or the illusion of volume) to your upper body while emphasising your waist and de-emphasising your lower body to create a balanced, hourglass appearance.

When dressing a pear body type, look for tops that will help balance your lower half while accentuating your defined waist:

  • Focus attention upward: Pear-shaped women should focus attention on the upper half of their pear-shaped body by choosing slim, fitted tops, button-down shirts, and cardigans.
  • Embellish around the neck: Shirts and dresses with embellished necklines naturally draw the eye upward toward the slimmest part of a pear-shaped body.
  • Layer it up: Layering garments can balance a pear-shaped body by adding visual interest to the top half of the body.
  • Go for an A: A-line dresses and tops emphasize the upper body while slimming wider hips characteristic of a pear-shaped body.
  • Wide is good: Keep the hems of pants, skirts, and dresses wide to visually balance a pear-shaped body. Pointy-toed shoes with a wide-hemmed pants will elongate your legs.
  • Get a little structure: Structured pants are a great fit, especially those that skim the hips and thighs of a pear-shaped body. Avoid flashy embellishments like cargo pants, funky pockets or embroidery.

I had chosen Anarkali (Indian attire) for all body shapes for easy and better understanding of how to create a proportional body shape with all shapes. The key to go ethnic for Pear body type is to draw attention to your slender waist and upper torso.

The Apple Body Shape 

If you have an apple-shaped body, most of your weight accumulates above your waist.  Your back, ribs, and shoulders are broad, and you may feel wider than other body types. A good idea will be not to draw too much attention to your torso.

When dressing an apple body shape, follow your bodyline – avoid details around bust, tummy, and hips. Keep detail in the top and the lower thirds.

  • Keep the clothing line straight to slightly fitted, but fabric soft so you avoid unnecessary bulk around the bosom, waist, and tummy.
  • Keep details above the bust line and below the hip line – for everything in between keep it plain and simple
  • The shoulders need attention so you should balance them from the front and side views
  • Keep your silhouette fitted under bust and as well below your arms and along your waist.
  • Splits at waist works wonder

Rectangle Body Shape

Rectangle body shapes are characterised by the waist, hip and shoulder widths that are all similar to each other. The outline of your body won’t have many curves so you’ll need to use a few style secrets for creating some.

As a rectangle, you will want to create more curves and a pleasing silhouette. You can do this by defining the waist and creating curves on the bottom or top. When dressing a rectangle or straight body shape, it’s better to avoid shapeless clothes.

  • Use strong blocks of colour to help define your body
  • As for most body types, be sure to wear a good bra to define what bust you have
  • Wear tops and jackets that emphasise the waist
  • Choose a coat with a good waist or that is belted at the waist
  • Any jacket tailored around the waist will look great
  • Medium to high necklines usually work well, especially if you have s small bust and long neck
  • If you like to create the illusion of bigger breasts, choose tops with pockets, rushes, pleating and other front details
  • Halter necks will also give the appearance of a bigger bust and shows off your back.
  • Accessorise with belts around the waist. Heavy belts can be really good if you’re also of long waist.
  • If you have no waist at all, then a belt is best avoided
  • 3/4 sleeves usually work really well for a rectangle
  • Blouses can look really good if they are tucked in
  • Shift dresses and empire line dresses work well

Hourglass Body Shape

Out of the five silhouettes, the hourglass has the best proportions – with upper and lower half approximately in line with each other, along with a defined waist.

Your upper and lower body are similar in proportion and set off by a tiny waist.  It is probably the most coveted body type. It won’t take too much to pick out the right ethnic wear for the hourglass figure. Your shape is all about tastefully showing off those curves: not too baggy, not too tight. In short, nothing need to be hidden or enhanced since your shape is already proportional and you can pull off just about any dress you choose!

The whole point of figuring out your body shape is to guide yourself to creating a proportional hourglass silhouette on your frame to de-emphasise parts that you feel self-conscious about and that draw attention and rather give more room for attention to your other fantastic assets such as a pretty face, lovely hands, great legs, etc.

By dressing proportionally in conjunction with your body figure, you’ll avoid the unnecessary ‘heavy point’ that will take the whole centre-stage and leave your best features in the dark.

Now that we had determined and learned about our body shape and its features, next question which arise in mind always is: How to choose good clothes? Or what are perfect outfit ideas?

To me, Good Fit = Good fashion. What is a good fit? Why “fitting clothes” is important? I will be discussing on my upcoming article exclusively on Different Truths. Stay tuned!

©Shameena Abdurahiman

Photos sourced by the author.

#FashionFunda #PerfectFit #Bodytypes #FashionAndFitting #Fashion #DifferentTruths

Shameena is a Self-made independent entrepreneur, Fashion Designer and Stylist, Artist, Photographer, Fitness freak, Poet, Blogger, Graphic Designer, Life strategist and many other things. Her collections cater to a broad range of women, from classic to modern, fusion and embrace all attitudes from romantic to dramatic. She is currently situated in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.