Stylist’s Secret: Know Your Body Shape (We’ll Show You How)

 By Kristin Hull

body types, body shapes, hourglass, apple, pear, straight, how to dress, body types
Hourglass figure – Selma Hayek, Apple – Queen Latifah, Straight – Cameron Diaz, Pear – Kristin Davis

Knowing one’s body shape is essential to dressing well (and to looking and feeling good). No matter your size, once your body shape is determined, you’ll be able to work with your figure to show off your best assets.

Many will argue that there are more than four body types, which is true; however, most women do fall into one of the four basic types – apple, pear, straight and hourglass. In the photo above, we chose shots that we felt really illustrated each shape. Yes, these celebs may be heavier or thinner than you but the basic silhouette still exists. Using well-known women makes it easy to see what type of outfits flatter their, and your, figure best. Once you identify with a certain celebrity’s body shape, keep an eye on that person and even do some research (in your spare time!) to see their many looks. Simply type “[celeb’s name] street style” into an image search and hundreds of photos will come up. Even they take risks and make mistakes so seeing where they’ve succeeded and where they’ve failed will provide a guideline as to what will look best on you.

Dressing the different shapes is about balancing the body out to create the illusion of proportion. Apples want to emphasize their slim bottom half and pears aim to draw attention to their upper half. The goal of the straight figure is to create curves while the hourglass attempts to keep her curves under control. Each silhouette has its own unique challenges, so pinpointing the one that you most identify with is vital to overcoming those obstacles. Dressing should leave you feeling attractive and confident, and knowing your body type is the first step to getting there.

Before going any further, we need to interject a very important point. None of our body shape advice will matter at all if your breasts look droopy. So before anything else, the first thing you need to do after figuring out your shape is to GET A GOOD BRA. Read how to go about that here.

Below, we’ve broken down each body type and provided info we think will be the most helpful to you. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at themommystylist@mommystylist.com.

Apple Body

  • Who: Queen Latifah, Oprah, Drew Barrymore

  • What: Apple body types tend to carry their weight in the middle, between the hips and chest. They have hips that are narrower than their upper body. Since you’re bigger on top you want to de-emphasize that part and draw attention to your slim bottom half as well as elongate the torso.

  • Wear: Darker colors on the upper half of your body and brighter ones on the lower. Loose, boxy shirts and shift dresses are best, as well as A-line skirts. V-necks draw the eye upward, away from the stomach and long tops lengthen the torso . Straight-leg/boot cut pants will also help even you out – but going any wider than that is a no-no.

  • Don’t wear: Shirts with bold shoulders or your upper half will appear bigger. Avoid tops that are too tight or form fitting as they will hug your “curves” and end up making you look heavier. Just say no to skinny jeans, leggings, big ruffles and wide-leg pants.

Straight Body

  • Who: Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker

  • What: Straights basically have the same measurements from shoulders to hips, including the waist. Yes, they are already balanced, but they often complain of not having curves.

  • Wear: Belts to create a waist and give the illusion that the shoulders and hips are wider than the middle. Also, try pieces that make the shoulders and hips look more pronounced like cap sleeves, exaggerated shoulders (although not as exaggerated as they were in the eighties), skirts with gathers in the hip area, peplums. A quality bra can help create curves, as well as tops with collars, ruffles, or sweetheart cuts. Your bottom half can pull off almost any shape from skinny jeans to flowy wide-legged trousers. Styles with details on the hips and bottom are great for adding dimension to your frame.

  • Don’t wear: Dresses that are tight all over, as these will emphasize your lack of curves. Anything unstructured around the waist can have the same effect (ex. tent dresses and empire-waist tops).

Pear Body

  • Who: Kristin Davis, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Rachel Bilson

  • What: Pears have shoulders that are narrower than the hips with a rounded bottom and a well-defined waist. Their goal is to minimize the hips and/or exaggerate the shoulders.

  • Wear: Wide leg pants and A-line skirts. Boat-neck, square cut and cowl necklines as well as interesting shoulders will draw attention upward. Necklaces, earrings and scarves can do the same. Pairing bright or light colored tops with dark, solid bottoms can help create a visual balance. Make sure jackets are long enough to skim over hips.

  • Don’t wear: Clothing that draws attention to the hips like printed skirts, peplums and jackets that end at the waist. Capri and tapered pants won’t do you any favors.

Hourglass

  • Who: Selma Hayek, Sophia Vergera, Jessica Simpson

  • What: Hourglass body types have hips that are about the same width as their shoulders and a waist that is smaller than both. They often have a large chest. While an hourglass may already be proportioned it is a difficult body to dress because loose garments can make them seem bigger all over while too-tight clothes can make them look trashy. It’s a fine line that isn’t always easy to navigate.

  • Wear: Pieces that will elongate the body and define the waist like v-necks, belted tops and dresses, boot cut and skinny pants (long, not cropped), leggings, jackets/shirts that are fitted at the waist but don’t end at the waist. They can be long and cover the hips but even a few inches past the waist will work too.

  • Don’t wear: Anything that will add bulk to the chest or hips like big ruffles. Shift dresses, baby-doll dresses, boxy tops, tunics, baggy tops  and empire waists will hide curves and make you look heavier and/or pregnant (which is fine if you are but if you’re not…).

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