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...

models with different body types standing in a row wearing underwear
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pear? Apple? Strawberry? If you’re struggling to find out where you fit into the fashion fruit bowl, 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. There's always the best shapewear to tackle any areas you might feel less confident about. But the chances are, the pieces that flatter your body shape best will be the ones you reach for time and time again.

Key body types 

A quick online search, and you’re likely to find yourself 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 and objective 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. Teamed with simpler pieces on the bottom half, it’ll help balance your shape. Of course, anything that shows off your tiny waist is a no-brainer too. 

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

body type: Reiss Esther Wool Blend Tailored Blazer

(Image credit: Reiss)

Reiss Esther Wool Blend Tailored Blazer

Specifications
RRP: $475/£250
Sizes: 0-12/UK: 4-16

A tailored blazer is an essential part of any capsule wardrobe and is especially flattering on pear-shaped figures. The structured shoulders will widen your top half, helping to balance your frame. All Reiss coats and jackets are crafted from high-quality fabrics and will last for years to come. 

body type: Jigsaw Primrose Midi Shirt Dress

(Image credit: Jigsaw)

Jigsaw Primrose Midi Shirt Dress

Specifications
RRP: £165
Sizes: US: 2-14/UK: 6-18

Offering a fresh take on the classic shirtdress, 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: H&M Boat-Neck Sweater

(Image credit: H&M)

H&M Boat-Neck Sweater

Specifications
RRP: $19.99/£17.99
Sizes: XS-XXL

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. Wear this versatile cardigan with everything from midi skirts to jeans. 

body type: Levi’s 725 High Rise Bootcut Jeans

(Image credit: Levi's)

Levi’s 725 High Rise Bootcut Jeans

Specifications
RRP: $69.50/£95
Sizes: 24-34

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. 

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

body type: Hush Akina Embroidered Top

(Image credit: Hush)

Hush Akina Embroidered Top

Specifications
RRP:
Sizes: US: 2-14/ UK: 6-18

Leave the tie of this delicate blouse undone to create a figure-lengthening effect. The floaty chiffon fabric, frills and floral embroidery make for a really feminine piece.

body type: Kitri Lenora Pink Peony Print Dress

(Image credit: Kitri)

Kitri Lenora Pink Peony Print Dress

Specifications
RRP: $155/£125
Sizes: US: 2-12/UK: 6-16

Instead of adding definition to your waist, an empire line dress finishes just below the bust. We love this Kitri dress for the neat square neckline and fabulously floral print. 

body type: The White Company Longline Waterfall Cardigan

(Image credit: The White Company)

The White Company Longline Waterfall Cardigan

Specifications
RRP: $129/£89
Sizes: US: 0-14/UK: 4-18

Blended from supersoft cotton with a dash of wool for extra warmth, this cardigan makes a chic layering piece for all seasons. The draped fabric ensures it skims instead of clings to your frame. 

body type: Frame Le High Skinny Colombia Road Jeans

(Image credit: FRAME)

Frame Le High Skinny Colombia Road Jeans

Specifications
RRP: $200/£189
Sizes: 23-34

Frame jeans don’t come cheap, but they are worth every penny for quality denim. This skinny pair will make the most of your slender legs, while the high-waist hugs and hones your tum. 

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 - problem solved!

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: & Other Stories Cropped Patch Pocket Jacket

(Image credit: & Other Stories)

Specifications
RRP: $129/£95
Sizes: XS-L

Don't hide your frame beneath an oversized jacket, show it off with a cropped number instead. Halfway between a shirt and a jacket, this is a great layering piece for in-between days. 

body type: Omnes FSC Viscose Portobello Wrap Midi Dress

(Image credit: Omnes)

Omnes FSC Viscose Portobello Wrap Midi Dress

Specifications
RRP: $103.50/ £75
Sizes: US: 2-12/UK: 6-16

Make the most of your teeny tiny waist with a wrap dress. The bold shade will draw attention to your perfectly proportioned frame. 

body type: Cos Cigarette Pants

(Image credit: Cos)

Cos Cigarette Pants

Specifications
RRP: $103.50/ £75
Sizes: US: 2-12/UK: 6-16

Add a touch of French girl cool to your look with the help of a pair of simple black cigarette trousers. Breton top and trench coat optional. 

body type: Mint Velvet Holly Floral Print Jumpsuit

(Image credit: Mint Velvet)

Mint Velvet Holly Floral Print Jumpsuit

Specifications
RRP: $209/£129
Sizes: US: 2-14/ UK: 6-18

Not keen on dresses? A jumpsuit is a perfect alternative for active days. The wide legs will make you look taller, while the sweetheart neckline adds a feminine feel.

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

body type: Mango Ruched Polka-dot Blouse

(Image credit: Mango)

Mango Ruched Polka-dot Blouse

Specifications
RRP: $79.99/£49.99
Sizes: US: 2-10/ UK: 6-14

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

body type: M&S Collection Linen Striped Midi Skater Dress

(Image credit: M&S)

M&S Collection Linen Striped Midi Skater Dress

Specifications
RRP: $69/£39.50
Sizes: US: 2-20/UK: 6-24

While some body types find that fit-and-flare dresses add too much volume to their frame, that’s not a problem for rectangles. This linen midi is an easy-breezy choice for spring through to summer.

body type: Iris & Ink Brooklyn Satin Midi Skirt

(Image credit: Iris & Ink)

Iris & Ink Brooklyn Satin Midi Skirt

Specifications
RRP: $110/£95
Sizes: US: 1-10/UK: 4-14

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. 

body type: Gap High Rise Cheeky Straight Jeans with Washwell

(Image credit: Gap)

Gap High Rise Cheeky Straight Jeans with Washwell

Specifications
RRP: $69.95/£49.95
Sizes: US: 24-35/UK 2-18

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

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

body type: Mango Flower Print Trousers

(Image credit: Mango)

Mango Flower Print Pants

Specifications
RRP: $59.99/ £35.99
Sizes: XS-XL

A patterned pair of pants is a failsafe closet staple. All you need to add is a simple shirt or jumper and a pair of trainers. 

body type: Whistles Ella V Neck Dress

(Image credit: Whistles)

Whistles Ella V Neck Dress

Specifications
RRP: $299/£149
Sizes: US: 0-14/UK: 4-18

Green is having a real fashion moment, and what better way to wear it than in the form of a chic midi dress? The V-neck will elongate your torso and make your shoulders appear narrower.

body type: Zara Slim Fit Hi-Rise Jeans

(Image credit: Zara)

Zara Slim Fit Hi-Rise Jeans

Specifications
RRP: $39.90/£27.99
Sizes: US 0-14/ UK: 4-18

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

body type: Monsoon Scoop Neck Rib Jumper

(Image credit: Monsoon)

Monsoon Scoop Neck Rib Jumper

Specifications
RRP: $50/£35
Sizes: S-XXL

Scoop necks are as elegant as they are flattering, and this teal-toned jumper will go with everything in your wardrobe. Wear in place of black for a vibrant update.