How to dress for your body type - tips and tricks to make the most of your shape

Dressing for your body type just got a lot easier...

Body types dressing for your shape, models photographed in their underwear, showing different body shapes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pear? Apple? Strawberry? If you’re struggling to find out where your body type fits in the fashion fruit bowl, don't worry, you’re not alone.

Before we dive into how to dress for your body type, let us first caveat this piece by saying that fashion should be fun. Any ‘rules’ are there as a guide only to help you navigate the sometimes overwhelming world of shopping. So, if you actually feel your best in pieces that are the polar opposite of the recommendations for your body type - don’t worry. And if there are styles you'd like to try, but have areas you're less confident with, there's always the best shapewear to give you a helping hand. But one thing that's almost certain, the pieces that flatter your body shape best will be the ones you reach for time and time again and will likely form the basis of your capsule wardrobe.

Key body types 

If you've ever wondered, 'what body shape am I?' A quick online search, is likely to leave you more confused about body types than you were in the first place. Alongside the usual fruity favorites, there’s talk of lesser-known shapes like a banana, spoon, and even an inverted triangle. Here we will be looking at what stylist Susie Hasler considers the “five key body types.” They are:

  • Apple
  • Strawberry
  • Rectangle
  • Hourglass
  • Pear 

How to find out which body type you are

“The best way to find out what body shape you have is to use a professional personal styling service like Styled by Susie,” says Susie. ”Otherwise, look in the mirror while wearing a fitted outfit, so you can clearly see your body shape as a silhouette. You’ll be able to see where you might be broader, where you might be narrower, where you may need balancing out.”

If you’re struggling to make a judgment on your silhouette alone, fashion guru Bradley Bayou has come up with a simple way to figure out your body size based on measurements for your shoulders, bust, hips, and waist. All you need is a tape measure and a calculator.

How to measure your body 

Here’s how to measure your body: 

  • Shoulders: Measure from the tip of one shoulder on one side all the way round to the other. Hold the measuring tape high up to the widest point so that it almost slips off (you may need to enlist a helping hand for this one!).
  • Bust: Make sure you are standing upright. Hold the tape measure taut around the fullest part of your chest (but don't squish!).
  • Waist: Measure around the smallest part of your natural waist, just above your belly button.
  • Hips: Measure around the fullest part of your bum - this should be just below the hip bone.

With these measurements and an idea of your silhouette in mind, you can shop to flatter your body depending on the shape you best fit into. 

How to dress for your body type

Pear-shaped body type

You have a pear-shaped body if…

  • Your hips are at least 5% wider than your bust or shoulders
  • You have narrow shoulders and a small waist
  • You tend to gain weight easily on the bottom half 

How to dress a pear-shaped figure

“Pears should avoid anything that adds volume on their bottom half,” advises Susie. “So avoid white jeans, pleated or mesh skirts - as well as V necks because they can make the shoulders appear narrower.”

Instead, look for tops that draw attention to your top half. Think bold colors, busy prints, and detailing like ruffles. Team these with simpler pieces on your bottom half, as this will help to balance your shape. Pears tend to have smaller waists, so don't forget to highlight this and show it off. 

"I start with proportions. I use clothes to balance them. If a client is heavy around the hips I keep it simple around there and balance that with action, fun and definition elsewhere around the neck, bust and shoulders," says personal stylist, Anne Hamlyn of Dr Dress Me.

Key wardrobe staples for a pear-shaped figure 

  • Tailored blazer
  • Bardot neckline dresses and tops
  • Bootcut jeans
  • A-line dress

Best buys to suit a pear-shaped figure

composite image of cut out of green blazer and model wearing blazer to demonstrate what suits different body types

(Image credit: Reiss)
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Reiss Brooke Pale Green Tailored Blazer


RRP: $390 / £238
Sizes: US: 2-10 / UK: 6-14

A tailored blazer should be one of your wardrobe essentials if you have a pear-shaped figure. The structured shoulders will widen your top half, helping to balance your frame. By opting for a single button blazer you're drawing attention to your waist, creating a narrowed center point. Not a fan of green? Check out our rundown of the best blazers for more inspiration.

composite of how to dress for your body type a model wearing a floral shirt dress

(Image credit: Boden)
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Boden Kitty Midi Shirt Dress


RRP: $180 / £120
Sizes: US: 2-22 / UK: 6-22

Offering a fresh take on the classic shirt dress, this would work just as well with trainers on the weekends as it would dressed up with heels for the office. The shaped top half and defined waist makes the most of your shape, while the flared skirt skims over hips and thighs. 

body type: Pear shape, composite image of model wearing a boat neck green top and the top as a cut out image

(Image credit: Seasalt Cornwall)
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Seasalt Cornwall Boat Neck Top


RRP: $40 / £25
Sizes: 6-28

A slightly more conservative (and cold-weather friendly) alternative to a Bardot neckline, the boat neck works just as well to show off your collarbones and widen your top half. This beautiful spring green top is the pop of color your wardrobe needs to head into a new season. 

how to dress for different body types Levi's jeans composite image, showing front and back on a model

(Image credit: Levi's)
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Levi’s 725 High Rise Bootcut Jeans


RRP: $69.50 / £95
Sizes: 23-34

Often overlooked for straight leg and skinny jeans, a classic bootcut is really flattering. By flaring out from the knee, this structured pair from Levi's jeans draws the eye down, away from your hips and bum. Choose dark or black denim for a grown-up, timeless look. 

Want more ideas? You can find our full guide to dressing for a pear-shaped body here. 

Apple-shaped body type

You have an apple-shaped body if…

  • Your hip, shoulder and waist measurements are all roughly equal (within 5%)
  • Your hips are the widest part of your body
  • You carry most of your weight on the upper part of your body

How to dress an apple-shaped figure

With apples, keep the focus away from the tummy by drawing the eye upwards towards the shoulders or down towards the legs,” says Susie. “We would advise them to wear scoop or V necks and to wear anything on their bottom half that's going to accentuate their legs. That could be lighter colored or patterned pants, skinny jeans, ripped jeans, or anything that draws the eye down away from the tummy.”

Longline tops, open collars and even drop-style earrings will all help to create the illusion of a longer torso. And, resist the urge to size up. Swathes of heavy, excess fabric will only make you look larger than you are. The best dresses to hide a tummy feature fluid fabrics and waist-whittling wrap fits. 

Key wardrobe staples for an apple shaped figure

  • V-neck top
  • Empire line dress
  • Skinny jeans
  • Waterfall cardigan 

Best buys to suit an apple shaped figure

composite image to demonstrate body type dressing, apple shape. A flowly red blouse with with print as a cut out and on a model

(Image credit: Hush)
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Hush Violette Printed Top


RRP: £69 (international shipping available)
Sizes: UK: 4-18

The floaty fabric is delicate and feminine, enhanced by the sweet ruffle detailing and pretty floral print. This top is light and drapes really well to skim over your midriff area. It can also be partially tucked in to create a figure-flattering, lengthening side drape. 

how to dress body type composite image. Model wearing a pink dress with floral print in an empire silhouette as well as a close up detail shot

(Image credit: Aspiga)
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Aspiga Sandy Midi Dress


RRP: $185 / £120
Sizes: XS-XL

Instead of adding definition to your waist, an empire line dress finishes just below the bust, which helps to narrow your silhouette and gives the illusion of a higher and slimmer waist. The v-neck on this sweet floral print dress also helps to elongate your figure. 

composite image showing how to dress apple body type in a waterfall cardigan on a model

(Image credit: Lipsy / Next)
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Lipsy Grey Waterfall Cardigan


RRP: $32 / £22
Sizes: UK: 6-20

Available in 11 colorways, this soft waterfall fronted cardigan is a great wardrobe essentials piece. Worn as a cozy layer over the best v-neck t-shirts or everyday dresses, the draped fabric will skim your frame. 

composite image for how to dress a body type, skinny jeans with high rise

(Image credit: River Island)
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River Island High Waisted Skinny Jeans


RRP: $65 / £35
Sizes: US: 2-14 / UK: 6-18

River Island have a fantastic selection of jeans for all body types. High waisted jeans and trousers are great for apple shapes as they come up past your midriff and hold you in, offering a smooth finish and secure fit. This skinny pair will make the most of your slender legs too. 

Want more ideas? You can find our full guide to dressing for an apple shaped body here.

Hourglass-shaped body type

You have an hourglass-shaped body if…

  • Your waist measurement is no more than 75% of your hip and bust or shoulder measurements
  • Your hip and bust or shoulder measurements are roughly equal (within 5%)
  • Your top and bottom half are fairly equally proportioned, with clear waist definition

How to dress an hourglass-shaped figure

An hourglass should avoid anything that's too shapeless,” explains Susie. “Instead draw the eye to the waist. If that’s not possible, keep the rest of the silhouette quite fitted—so focus on the legs for example. The key is not to drown the hourglass in too much fabric or anything too oversized. This body shape looks amazing in anything that shows off their balanced silhouette, so that could be a shirt dress, a jumpsuit, or it could simply be a pair of jeans with a T-shirt tucked in.”

Seek out pieces with lycra content that hug your curves to really make the most of your feminine shape. And if you’re struggling to find the perfect fit, buy garments that fit your bust and hips, and have them tailored to your waist—trust us, it will be worth it. 

Key wardrobe staples for an hourglass shaped figure

  • Cropped jacket
  • Wide leg jumpsuit 
  • Wrap dress
  • Cigarette leg pants

Best buys to suit an hourglass-shaped figure

body type dressing composite image of a leather jacket and model wearing a cropped leather jacket from Karen Millen

(Image credit: Karen Millen)
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Karen Millen Leather Jacket


RRP: $662 / £385
Sizes: US: 2-12 / UK: 6-16

Show off your waist with jackets that specifically highlight this area. Shelve baggy and oversized blazers and opt instead for neatly tailored styles that finish at, and draw attention to your waistline—like this amazing leather one from Karen Millen. This helps to enhance your hourglass shape by drawing eyes down your silhouette to your narrowest part. 

Body type dressing composite image of two different sized models both wearing a floral print Mango wrap dress

(Image credit: Mango)
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Mango Flower Print Wrap Dress


RRP: $99.99 / £59.99
Sizes: US: 0-20 / UK: 4-26

A wrap dress is a great way of showing off an hourglass figure. The wrap crossover draws attention to your waist and helps to create and highlight curvy body types. And remember, you can be an hourglass figure at all different dress sizes and this particular wrap dress is available up to a size 24. 

body type dressing composite image showing a model wearing black slim leg trousers

(Image credit: Cos)
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Cos Straight Leg Split Cuff Trousers


RRP: $89 / £55
Sizes: XS-L

Opt for a slim cigarette style trouser over a skinny leg style to help balance your curves. These lovely front split trousers are giving us Parisian vibes. If you're looking to get that chic French look, pair them with a Breton striped tee and a classic trench coat, or check out our list of French clothing brands for more inspiration. 

composite image showing how to dress different body shapes. Dressing an hourglass, a model is shown wearing a khaki jumpsuit, with a close up shot

(Image credit: Hush)
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Hush Dilly Jumpsuit


RRP: £129 (international shipping available)
Sizes: UK: 6-18

Not keen on dresses? A jumpsuit is a great alternative for active days. The wide legs will make you look taller, while the v-neckline adds a feminine feel and helps to also lengthen your frame by drawing the eye up and down the body. The self-fabric belt draws attention to your waistline.

Want more ideas? You can find our full guide to dressing for an hourglass body shape here.

Rectangle-shaped body type

You have a rectangle-shaped body if…

  • Your hip, bust and shoulder measurements are roughly equal (within 5%)
  • Your waist measurement is 75-95% of your shoulder or bust measurement
  • You have an athletic frame, with a small bust and slender legs 

How to dress a rectangle-shaped figure

Lucky for you, rectangles can pull off nearly everything. “We would generally advise them to wear clothing with detail,” says Susie. “It doesn't have to be a print or a pattern - it could be stripes or textures such as a cable knit jumper - or it could be an oversized collar or even just going to town with accessories. It could even be something as simple as buttons on the shoulders or a pocket on the bust of a T-shirt.”

“The one thing I would stay away from for a rectangle would be any type of lower neckline, particularly a V-neck because it won't add a very good shape to the bust or the shoulders.”

Key wardrobe staples for a rectangle-shaped figure

  • Straight leg jeans
  • Ruffled blouse
  • Bias cut skirt 
  • Fit-and-flare dress

Best buys to suit a rectangle-shaped figure

composite image showing how to dress for body type dressing: a model wearing a puff sleeved top in black from Cos for a rectangular shaped body

(Image credit: Cos)
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Cos Puff-Sleeve Top


RRP: $89 / £55
Sizes: XS-L

Straight-up-and-down frames can pull off plenty of detail in the form of ruffles, prints, and colors. This puff-sleeve top will look great styled with wide-leg jeans. 

Composite image to show how to dress a rectangle body type in a floral dress from Hobbs. The dress is blue with a floral print shown on a model and as a cut out

(Image credit: Hobbs)
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Hobbs Marietta Floral Dress


RRP: $270 / £129
Sizes: US: 2-16 / UK: 6-20

While some body types find that fit-and-flare dresses add too much volume to their frame, that’s not a problem for rectangles, who sometimes want help creating extra shape and curves. A fit and flare dress is great for creating the illusion of rounder and fuller hips and as it fits firmly at the waist can give rectangles more hourglass curves. Want to be the best dressed guest this summer, this is what to wear to a wedding—the pretty florals and flared skirt is great for twirling on the dancefloor too. 

Composite image to demonstrate dressing rectangle body type in a bias skirt from Ghost, shown as a cut out and on a model in a sage green silk bias cut

(Image credit: Ghost)
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Ghost Luna Satin Sage Green Skirt


RRP: $125 / £69
Sizes: XS-XL

Clingy in the best possible way, a gorgeous midi cut silk skirt will create curves even where there aren’t any. Team with a slogan t-shirt and plimsolls for the day, swapping for a cami and strappy heels for the evening. 

composite image demonstrating how to dress rectangle body type with a model and a cut out of the GAP high rise cheeky straight cut jeans in dark indigo

(Image credit: GAP)
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Gap High Rise Cheeky Straight Jeans with Washwell


RRP: $69.95 / £39.9
Sizes: US: 23-35 / UK: 23-34

A cool alternative to your trusty skinnies, straight-leg jeans are just as wearable. This indigo blue pair are good for the planet as well as your wardrobe, having been manufactured with minimal water. 

Want more ideas? You can find our full guide to dressing for a rectangle body shape here.

Strawberry-shaped body type

You have a strawberry-shaped body if…

  • You’re broader on the top half
  • Your bottom is relatively flat
  • You have narrow hips and slender legs 

How to dress a strawberry-shaped figure

To balance out your frame, steer clear of anything too fussy or voluminous on the top half. Horizontal stripes and roll-necks are best to avoid too. Choose bust-boosting V or scoop necks instead, which will make your shoulders look narrower.

”Strawberry shapes look great in lighter colors or patterns and anything that shows off those slender legs,” adds Susie. If you prefer plain black pants or jeans to something jazzier, a pair of eye-catching shoes will have the same effect.

Key wardrobe staples for a strawberry-shaped figure

  • Wide leg pants
  • Scoop neck top
  • White jeans
  • V-neck dress

Best buys to suit a strawberry-shaped figure

Composite image for how to dress a strawberry body type, showing wide leg green trousers on a model and as a cut out

(Image credit: Me+Em)
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Me+Em Wide Leg Ponte Trousers


RRP: $195 / £125
Sizes: US: 2-12 / UK: 6-16

The idea is to draw attention to and widen your lower half and these bright green trousers certainly do that. In a comfortable ponte fabric, these gorgeous spring bright green trousers draw inspiration for the luxe loungewear trends that have been the fail-safe style of recent seasons. Dress up with heels for evening and down with trainers in the day.  

Composite image of how to dress a strawberry body type with a v-neck dress from Next. The dress is red with a floral print and a tie waist detail

(Image credit: Next)
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Next Long Sleeve V-Neck Dress


RRP: $65 / £45
Sizes: US: 2-18 / UK: 6-22

This red floral print dress with contrasting border print trim is the  boho dress to add to your wardrobe this season. Wear now with boots and a faux fur gilet for a cut winter aesthetic and pair with ankle boots and a leather jacket in the spring. The V-neck will elongate your torso and make your shoulders appear narrower. The added tie detail in the middle will also help to balance your silhouette, drawing the eye down the body making you instantly appear longer and leaner. 

Composite image showing how to dress a strawberry body shape in a pair of Zara high rise slim fit jeans in light blue, shown on a model both full length and as a detail shot

(Image credit: Zara)
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Zara Slim Fit Hi-Rise Jeans


RRP: $45.90 / £27.99
Sizes: US: 0-14 / UK: 4-18

Good news—strawberry shapes can pull off all shades of denim, even less forgiving light blue and white jeans. This straight-leg pair is not only an absolute bargain but will make your behind look rounder too. 

composite image of two t-shirts from Uniqlo demonstrating how to dress a strawberry body type

(Image credit: Uniqlo)
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Uniqlo AIRism Scoop Neck T-Shirt


RRP: $14.90 / £12.90
Sizes: XXS-XXL

Scoop neck t-shirts, like the best v-neck t-shirts, are some of the most flattering silhouettes for a strawberry and these deep scoops from Uniqlo are a great wardrobe basic to stock up on. With a range of colours and a great body hugging fit, these are lovely for layering under slip dresses too. 

Sibelle Mehmet
Junior Digital Writer

Sibelle Mehmet started as a junior digital writer at GoodtoKnow and Woman and Home in April 2019.

Prior to landing her first job as a digital writer, Sibelle completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London and is also a graduate of the University of Edinburgh with an MA in English Literature and History.

As well as writing extensively about the latest celebrity, showbiz and royal news, Sibelle also covered a wide range of topics from trending beauty products to have on your radar, to the latest fashion styles compounded on the catwalk.