Train your eye to choose clothing that flatters your individual shape, not an idealized form. Get to know your body and its unique measurements. When you learn to balance your proportions and accentuate your assets, you will achieve effortless style and will have the ability to look as good as any fashion magazine model.
BODY TYPE 1: Triangle
Often referred to as the "pear", you have narrow and sloped shoulders, and larger hips. Most have a slim torso and rib cage and your waist may be smaller in proportion to your hips. You also have a fuller bottom and legs. This is the most common figure type.
The key is to draw the eye away from your widest hip area. Your best styles will accentuate your neck and slim upper body and minimize your lower half.
Tops: Avoid a short boxy line on top. Your best tops will focus on widening your shoulders. Choose ballet and boat necks, puff sleeves, dolman and batwing sleeves. V-necks and blouses with princess seams that accentuate your waist. Stay away from crop tops and anything that stops at your navel or above - it will cut you in half thus accentuating your lower half!
Dresses: Empire waisted and babydoll styles as well as kimono, dolman and flutter sleeved. Wrap dresses that accentuate your waist and draw attention to your neck and shoulders with a v-neck style.
Skirts: Choose a circle or a-line skirt with a lower waist and minimal waistband. Straight skirts work well worn just above the knee in a fabric that drapes well.
Pants: A straight cut with a bootleg or slight flare is your best bet. Choose a lower waist pant that has a flat front - no pleats or pockets placed across your widest part! High waist pants that are at or above your navel can mold around your hips and butt and give the appearance of bulk. Capris should also have a slight flare at the bottom.
Fabric and Color: Darker colors will recede and make you look smaller, so generally darker bottoms and lighter tops work nicely. Bold, large prints can work well for taller Type 1 women, but stick with smaller prints if you are average to petite.
BODY TYPE 2: Hourglass
You have well proportioned shoulders that are in line with your hips and a waist approximately 10" smaller. Curvy describes you the best and you have a small to average, defined waistline and an average to full bottom and many have of you have great legs.
You can wear any type of clothing that stays in proportion to your height and weight. Find clothing with shape and soft, fluid fabrics to highlight your curves.
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Tops: Almost anything goes. Best bets are fitted blouses, halters, wrap tops, and blouson. If you have a fuller bust, avoid breast pockets, pleating or ruffles in that area.
Dresses: Tank and sheath dresses, nipped-waist and bias, wrap, strapless and anything that highlights your curves.
Skirts: Pencil and bias cut skirts look great on your body-type. If you are fuller in the stomach and hips, avoid excess material or horizontal pockets in this area.
Pants: A straight cut with a bootleg or slight flare is your best bet, but you can opt for slimmer styles if your hips and thighs are average to small. Choose a lower waist pant that has a flat front.
Fabric and Color: Experiment with color, prints and texture to see what fits your personality and stature. Choose fabrics that drape well and are not stiff. You want to highlight your curves, not hide them or create a boxy midsection.
BODY TYPE 3: V-Shape
You may describe your figure as boyish or athletic, but you are lucky to have the model type body that looks great in almost every style. Your shoulders are broader than your hips. Your waist is average and less defined and you have narrow hips, a smaller and sometimes flat bottom with slimmer legs.
Your narrow hips give you choice and versatility. If your shoulders are very broad, you will want to add volume to your hips for balance and stay away from styles that exaggerate the shoulder area.
Tops: V-necks, U-necks, sleeveless and tanks with wider straps. Avoid tops with a horizontal line or widening effect near the top such as puff sleeves, boat necks, epaulettes, or fussy details.
Dresses: Avoid high waistlines and empire seams or ruffles near the top. Look for details like bold prints, pockets and pleats on the lower half to add fullness and keep it simple on top.
Skirts: Torso skirts with soft pleating, tiers and gathering are your first choice because they add volume and balance your figure. Stay away from any style that gathers at the natural waist or appears to cut you in half, thus exaggerating the upper body.
Pants: Your choice - with narrow hips you can wear them all.
Fabric and Color: Experiment with color, prints and texture to see what fits your personality and stature. Create interest on the bottom half with prints and color and keep the top simple to downplay the shoulder area.
Michelle Lieck is the owner of [http://www.ladylanguage.com] an online boutique committed to helping women look and feel good in their clothing. The site offers contemporary, affordable women"s apparel and an area that allows women to shop by their body type.
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