How to Dress for Your Body Type and Age
How to Dress to your Body Type and Age
There are many among us that secretly hate our bodies. If you answered to that with a resounding yes, you will also agree why. You find yourself too fat or too thin to slip into an outfit you have your heart on. So, every time you go shopping, you stick to your regular choices in clothing barely daring to experiment.
Just because you are shaped a particular way, doesn’t mean that you can’t look fabulous. The key is to dress to your body type – accentuating your best features and covering up the no-so-attractive parts.
Here is a handy guide on dressing right. We’ve divided the article into two parts: dressing for your body type and dressing for your age.
Dressing for your Body Type
Measure your Proportions
When it comes to body measurements, you need to ascertain the size of:
- Your shoulders
- Your bust
- Your waist
- Your hips
Along with measuring these proportions, you should also try to visualize the lines or shape along which they connect with each other. Ask someone to measure the shoulders, bust, waist and hips for you to get accurate measurements. A cloth tape is a preferable option when taking body measurements.
Body Shapes – Which one are you?
We are all sized and shaped differently. For the sake of convenience, stylists outline 5 basic body shapes. They have been explained below. You can read the parameters to determine which type of body you are. One more way to decide your body type is to stand in front of a mirror in your underwear and look at your proportions carefully.
As the name suggests, this body type is shaped like a pear. It has a heavy bottom. The shoulders and bust are narrower than the hips.
The lower body – hips, buttocks and thighs– tend to be very curvy, fuller and wide and hence are quick to draw attention. In fact, a pear-shaped body is the most curvaceous of all body types. This shape is also called the triangle shape.
This is the body shape women long to have, but very few actually do (Remember Scarlet O’Hara and the tight-fitting corsets?).
The hourglass shape is characterized by a well-defined waist and broad shoulders, bust and hips. The bust and hips are roughly of the same width. Other distinct features include fuller hips and bust, round bottom, muscular thighs and upper arms.
The apple body shape is a roundish figure. This type carries most weight in the tummy area making the midsection look bigger. The waist is not very marked in an apple figure. The shoulders and the hips are quite broad; the shoulders are wider than the hips making the upper body look broader than the lower one. The shoulders are rounded. Apple shapes boast of slim legs and arms. The bust appears fuller while the bottom is flat.
The rectangular body type is boxy and flat in its appearance. The width of the shoulders, waist and hips is even. Being of the same width, the waist is not very well-defined. You won’t find any curves around the waist or the bust; the silhouette is marked by straight lines. The size of the bust is small or average.
5. Inverted triangle
An inverted triangle is like an apple figure in that the upper body is broader than the bottom half. However, it does not carry weight around the midsection. An inverted triangle has a flat midsection.
Also, the body narrows as it moves downwards from the shoulders to the hips to resemble an inverted triangle. The shoulder line is squared and straight. The bust size is large.
Were you able to figure out what type of body you have?
Styling Tips for Your Body Type
The challenge with a pear shaped figure is to balance a heavier lower body with a narrow shoulder line. Thus, the goal is to create an illusion of broad shoulders. A boat neck or a cowl neck can help achieve the look. You can also choose an off-the-shoulder, sleeveless or strapless dress as it draws the eye upward.
Tops and coats with shoulder pads also emphasize the shoulders. To add, deep necklines play up your upper body. Buy fitted and shaped tops; wear them top tucked into your pants. Single out tops with embellished necklines and detailing (collars, pockets) along the bust. Choose outfits with bell sleeves, puff sleeves and cap sleeves.
Emphasize your waist with a belted dress. The belt should not be broad and should be worn at the waist, not the hips. Avoid detailing around the hips such as pleats and pockets as they add volume to an already heavy bottom. Wear dresses that skim over your curves without overemphasizing them.
Women with a pear-shaped body tend to have a small waist and a small/average sized bust. Using a padded bra enhances the appearance of your bust; the breasts look firmer and larger. This will help to draw attention away from a heavy-bottom to a fuller bust line.
When shopping for pants, choose the straight fit or flared pants over skinny pants. They make your thighs and legs look muscular balancing it out with your hips. The skinnier the pants, the wider and bigger your hips and bottom will look. The same goes for skirts; skip the pencil skirt. Opt for an A-line cut.
It is the most flattering both in skirts and dresses as it highlights the waist. Wear high waist-pants. Dresses and skirts that end below the knee or maxi style dresses are just right for you as they elongate your frame.
Coming to choices in colors, settle on a lighter color for the top and a darker one for the lower half of your body. Darker colors have a slimming effect as they help hide extra fat and flab. Go for bold prints.
If you like to layer clothing, wear a long jacket that hits below the hips or mid thigh. Avoid cropped jackets as they expose the hips. You can wrap a fashionable scarf around your neck. Finally, complete your look with long layered necklaces.
2. Hourglass Figure
Your curves are your best feature and hence you should flaunt them. Highlighting the hips and bust will also draw attention to your waist. Do not wear loose, baggy clothing that will make you look boxy and fat; it will also swallow up your waist. Choose form-fitting clothing.
Wider and deeper necklines flatter an hourglass figure. Shop for outfits with a V-neck. Do not wear turtle necks or button-up tops (buttons to the neck).
Peplum tops look good on an hourglass figure. They are cinched around the waistline and flare at the hips. Wrap tops and wrap dresses are other suitable options as they hug your figure in the right places. To add, you can use belts on a dress to show off your waist.
Women with an hourglass figure usually have fuller breasts. Do not wear a padded bra; it will make you look bustier. Choose a supportive bra that offers structure and keeps your breasts from sagging. Avoid clothing that has any accents or detailing (bows, pockets frill) around the hips and bust; they look bulky and make the figure look disproportionate.
The key is to create an illusion of longer, leaner legs. Pencil skirts are your best bet as it hugs your curves at the hips. Skirts and dresses that hit above the knee are a flattering length. You will never go wrong with your low-waist stretchy jeans and leggings.
If you like wearing jackets, wear a V-necked jacket. It should be fitted and single breasted jacket. Wear it open. Look for trench coats and cropped jackets.
3. Apple – Shaped body
The apple shape is the trickiest to work with because of a heavy midriff. The key is to deemphasize the midsection without downplaying the curves. Dressing up an apple figure involves drawing attention to the slimmer parts of the body. Apple shapes are generally the ones with the best legs; so that’s one of the body features to accentuate.
V-neck dresses flatter an apple shaped figure as they draw attention to the bust line. Look for clothing with embellished necklines and hemlines as they take the eye just where you want it – to the upper and lower part of your body. The hemline can be long or short, depending on your comfort level.
You can also experiment with asymmetrical hemlines as they have a slimming effect. An A-line silhouette is another available option; it draws the eye downward. In addition to the legs, you can also emphasize your toned arms.
Wear fitted long-sleeved tops. You can also show off your arms in sleeveless and strapless dresses and tops. Make sure the sleeves do not hit at the bust.
If you’re conscious of your tummy and want to hide it, opt for the shift dress. Give it a more formal look by pairing it with a blazer. Tops look good when they end just below the hipbone. Wear tops that skim over your curves. Pick layered tops or tunics; they create lean and vertical lines.
You can create the illusion of a waistline by using a belt. Waistlines and Belts should be worn just below the bust, as it is the slimmest part of the body. Do not wear gathered, pleated or tiered skirts. Stock your closet with straight cut or flared pants and jeans.
With an apple shaped figure, you are not only working with a large midriff, but also a big bust. Hence, wearing the right bra is essential. It should be of the correct size, should offer full coverage and support to your large breasts and should lift them up. This will keep your breasts and tummy from looking like one.
Straight and A-line silhouettes in coats and jackets that end below the hips or at mid-thigh flatter an apple-shaped figure.
Want a further slimming effect? Wear dark colors and vertical or diagonal stripes. You can also sport prints and patterns as they help conceal a fat midriff. Avoid materials that cling to your body; opt for those with a firm texture that maintain their form.
The styling tips for an inverted triangle figure are more or less the same as an apple-shaped body type.
4. Rectangular Shaped Body
This figure is more about adding volume than concealing flawed areas. It lacks curves. Your sartorial choices should add all those missing curves smoothing out an angular frame.
First, you will need to wear a push up or double padded bra to make up for a flat chest or small bust. It will add more definition to your bust line. You may also have to wear shapewear, to break the vertical lines and add gentle curves.
The rectangular body shape has several options when it comes to pants. Skinny jeans and pencil pants are the best suited as they accentuate your athletic and lean body. Ruffled pants and those with block designs and prints look good as they create an illusion of thicker legs.
Avoid wearing pants with vertical strips if you are thin; it will make you look thinner. Boot cut and wide leg pants also great outfit options for a rectangular shape. A-line, pencil skirts, pleated skirts, paneled skirts and high-waist ballerina skirts can find a place in your closet. Flaunt your amazing legs in miniskirts and hot pants. Do not wear baggy, shapeless, straight fit clothes.
You can play up your shoulders and lean back with strapless tops and racer back styles. A halter style neckline is also a great way to show off your back. Pick tops which incorporate detailing along the neckline and bust.
This could include frills, collars, ruffles and even breast pockets. Scoop and round necklines add curves. Set in sleeves and Raglan sleeves are also options you can try out for dresses and tops. Both long and elbow length sleeves look good.
Shift and sheath dresses and kaftans complement an athletic body. Wear belted tops to define your waistline. Empire waistlines work very well with a rectangular shape. You can also wear cropped tops that hit at the midsection. Layer your outfit with short leather and denim jackets.
Dressing to Your Age
Another mistake many of us make is not dressing according to our age. We’ve heard a dozen people say “age is just a number” and “fashion is timeless”. Yes, it’s true. But, I am sure, you’ve also rolled your eyes seeing an old woman wearing boyfriend jeans or a breezy bohemian skirt. If only she was dressed in a more age-appropriate manner!
Age changes a lot in terms of your body shape and structure. Hence, what looked good in your 20s may not be fitting in your 60s.
So, here are a few fashion dos and dont’s to make sure you look great at any age.
Pick the Right Colors
Getting the colors right is important. The brighter and darker colors are great options for younger women especially teens and those in their 20s and 30s.
A change in the color of the skin and hair of older women make cooler colors a better selection. A pop of color can always be added in the form of an accessory, a belt around your waist or a scarf thrown about the shoulders. Older women should steer clear of bold and vibrant prints.
Nonetheless, at any age, your skin tone can help determine the best color for you. Choose colors that compliment your skin tone, not overwhelm it.
Get Clothes That Fit
Weight gain is a given for women. With pregnancy and menopause, it’s difficult to keep the pounds from creeping in. Your body shape changes leaving your tummy looking bigger, hips broader and bottom heavier. If you want to look good, dress to your body type.
This applies for younger women too. Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight or too loose for your body structure. For instance, if a young girl with a petite frame wears figure-hugging clothes, there are chances she might look younger than she actually is.
Similarly, short skirts and hot pants wouldn’t look good on muscular thighs as would sleeves tops and dresses with sagging arms. Wearing a size bigger will make you look older.
Leave the Trends, Look for Comfort
Being excessively trend conscious often makes women the victims of fashion faux pas. Women are of the view that not following the latest trends will make them look dull and outdated.
That’s not true. In fact, not every trend looks good on every woman. The secret to looking fashionable and fabulous is adapting the latest trends to one’s personal style, body type and comfort level.
Clean out Your Closet
Your closet may have clothes that you bought as a teenager or in your 20s still sitting there. Although you’ve grown older, they still fit and you see no harm in wearing them. That’s an absolute no-no and you should think about deep cleaning your closet.
You don’t want to look like you borrowed something from your teenage daughter’s closet. Don’t keep dressing like you always did. Don’t wear clothes just because you have them in your closet.
Similarly, younger girls should wait for the right age to wear clothing handed down from their mothers or grandmothers.
Look around to see what others your age are wearing. This way you will never go wrong.
Now that we’ve covered the basics on dressing to your age, here is a list of outfit ideas and wardrobe staples for women in different age groups.
This is the age to experiment and discover your personal style. Balance out your closet with casual and formal pieces of clothing. A pair of jeans (skinny or boyfriend) and trousers that can be paired with crop tops and tees are a must-have in your closet. Get form-fitting clothes that flatter your figure.
Buy yourself a little black dress and a leather jacket for a night out with friends. Ruffled blouses, button-down shirts and blazers will come handy when you need to go out for an interview. Don’t shy away from skirts
The 30s and 40s
In your 30s and 40s, society expects you to look refined and mature. Printed tops and dresses can now safely find a place in your wardrobe. Replace the racy leather mini-skirts with a neatly tailored pencil skirt. Steer clear of heavily embellished, shimmery and sparkly clothing.
Donate all those graphic humor tees stashed away in your closet. Hemlines that hit at the knee are an ideal choice. Buy outfits with breezy silhouettes that skim over curves. Spend on tailored pieces – blazers, pant and skirt suits, midi-dress. They make the perfect office wear.
High-waist, boot cut and wide cut jeans will complement your mature look. Invest in some quality and supportive innerwear. Buy a few pairs of tights preferably black and grey.
By this time, you’ve figured out your personal style. Avoid deep and plunging necklines; a rounded or boat neck work better. Invest in dresses with slightly conservative silhouettes. If you are on the heavier side, wear darker colors as it will make you look slimmer.
Choose smaller prints over bold patters; the latter can look garish and make you look fatter and older. A short blouse, which ends below your waist (but above your hip), can create an illusion of a smaller waist.
Get rid of your t-shirts to make place for knit sweaters. While you can retain a pair of classy black heels for a formal do, switch to kitten heels for the sake of your posture.
At this age, all women want to look good without trying to look younger. Invest in classic prints. While you should steer clear of shimmery sequined outfits, you can always opt for metallics. You may choose bold prints, but not too much of animal prints.
Try layering your clothing with wrap coats, cropped jackets or button-down cardigans. Breathable fabrics with breezy silhouettes add to the comfort level; keep in mind when buying your blouses and dresses. A dark wash straight cut, stretch denim works well for this wardrobe.
You can pair them with tunic topics that add definition without clinging. Stick to classic styles. You wardrobe is incomplete without a white shirt or blouse. Women over 60s can also flaunt neck scarves. If you are fond of skirts, A-line silhouettes that hit at the end or mid calf can be very flattering.
Now that we’ve covered both bases, it’s time you stop envying others and start dressing right. All said and done, the best clothing choices for you are the ones you feel comfortable and confident in.