Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dress for Your Body

So, we all know the different categories our bodies are put into: boxy; pear; hourglass (va-va-voom!); top-heavy; full-figured. How many women have struggled to decide which body type they actually have? Some lucky women may fall into one category, but I choose to believe that falling into two, or even three categories is more likely. The women we see in magazines and on TV and hang pictures of on our refrigerators for inspiration are more than likely "boxy" or "hourglass," but can we start seeing more women that are full-figured hourglass like America Ferrera? She's certainly no Ugly Betty anymore.

What most women need to realize is that they have their own unique body, not one specific body category that the fashion world has defined for us. I'm here to help you figure out which body type you have and what will flatter you.

Boxy (or boyish) means that your bust and hips are around the same size and your waist is very slightly narrower. More athletic women may fall into this category and it usually applies to very thin women, as well. Most women probably don't want to be deemed "boyish" so you want to create womanly curves with your clothes.

      Top: I would recommend a sweetheart top or even a boat or scoop neck. Because your upper body is boxy, the more rounded necklines will help create curves around the bust. As for embellishment, ruffles will also enhance your shape. If you are going to opt for a blazer or coat, aim for one with soft shoulders, shoulder pads are only going to make you look more boxy. A peplum style top will create the illusion that your hips are wider than your waist, giving you a more hourglass figure.

      Bottom:  Because of your thin legs, you can probably pull off the lighter colored pants that most curvy and full-figured girls shouldn't wear, so go for it. High-waist pants with a loose-fitting top will also add curves. You should also try out the trendy palazzo pants. A looser fitting leg will give you curves (but make sure it fits at the waist, don't just buy pants that are too big!). Also try skirts that hit at the waist and flare out giving the illusion of fuller hips.

      Dresses: Ruching is your friend. It will add a little volume in the right areas without making you look big. Avoid dresses that hit at the natural waist since your waist is not significantly narrower. Try something with an empire waist or even a wrap dress.
      Celeb with this body type:
Zooey Deschanel obviously looks gorgeous, but notice that this fit makes it appear like the dress falls in a straight line down from her bust to the floor, which is not giving her curves.

Here, Zooey's dress has a sweetheart top and flares out at the waist. She has transformed her boxy figure into a curvy, more womanly figure.

Pear means that you have wider hips, a small waist, and a narrow bust and shoulders. You might even have what rappers call "junk in your trunk." If you think you're a pear-shape, then you want to make your hips and bottom look proportional to your bust and shoulders.

      Top: Go for layers. Cardigans, cropped jackets and even crop tops will add the necessary volume to your torso to make it proportional to your lower half. If you are particularly fond of your arms, emphasize them and because you have narrow shoulders, show off your sexy collar bone. Light, bright colored, or printed tops paired with a darker colored bottom will make your top pop while your hips will look slimmer. Ruffles will also help add some volume to your bust and shoulders.

      Bottom: Try a-line skirts to put the emphasis on your small waist instead of your hips. Avoid skinny jeans and aim for a boot cut leg (the width at the ankle should be the same as at the knee) to give you a straighter line from hip to foot. I know bootcut pants are not what most young women go for, but add a little heel or a shoe with a pointy toe and your legs will look longer.

      Dresses: Strapless dresses will show off your arms and will open up your chest more, downplaying your hips. A-line dresses will also flatter your figure.
      Celeb with this body type:

Jennifer Love-Hewitt knows she has a pear-shaped body and she loves it! She loves her curves and she's not afraid to flaunt them, but if you want to make your body look more proportional, this isn't necessarily the way to go. Her top still looks very narrow in comparison to her hips, but the little sleeve does add some width.  

Here, Jennifer has made her shoulders look wider with a V-neck and her hips look smaller with an A-line dress starting at the waist. Her body is more in proportion even though she has stuck to a solid, light color.

Hourglass is what most women strive for, whether you're a size 0 or a size 12. You've got curves, curves, curves! This means that your shoulders/bust and hips are around the same width with a tiny waist in the middle! If you have an hourglass figure, you're one lucky woman. You've got that va-va-voom body, but the struggle with an hourglass figure is how easy it is to go from sexy allure to slutty and provocative.

      Top: I know some women are self-conscious of their larger bust, but if you've got it, flaunt it. A big bust doesn't mean you're fat, it may just mean you were born into a good DNA pool. With that being said, don't wear baggy clothes to hide your curves. Make sure you wear a supportive bra - we don't want the girls sagging to your tiny waist and throwing off your curves. It's easy to look provocative with this body type so be wary of your neckline. You can pretty much wear what you want, just make sure it's showing a tasteful amount of cleavage, not half your bra. Layering won't do anything for you except make you look thicker. To emphasize your tiny waist, add a waist belt.  

      Bottom: High-waisted skirts and anything that hits at your natural waist will enhance your curves. Try and opt for skirts that hit no shorter than right above the knee - it will squish and shorten your torso when you want to look long and curvy. Straight leg pants are the best option for you and if you do decide to go skinny, make sure they aren't sticking to your calves.

      Dresses: Fitted dresses are great for showing off your curves, especially if you've got a flat stomach. If you have a fuller figure, you can still wear a fitted dress, but look for something with ruching or even a wrap dress. It will flatten your stomach and show off your curves at the same time.
      Celeb with this body type:

What woman has ever looked at Beyonce and not thought, "I want to look like that." She truly is the Queen B. Even back in 2007 she was the epitome of the hourglass figure and she certainly isn't a size 2. Even though she has an hourglass figure, she also has a very athletic body. This gold dress shows off her curves, but she's exposing a little much.

Since then, Beyonce has become the Queen of Class. She knows how to show off her curves and show the right amount of skin at the same time. The ruching towards the middle and the at-the-knee hem elongates her body and shows off those amazing legs!

Top-heavy could mean several things. You could have a top-heavy hourglass, or even what's considered an inverted triangle - a large bust and shoulders with a narrow waist and hips and lucky you, you probably have killer legs.

      Top: Do NOT NOT NOT wear spaghetti-straps. To quote Clinton Kelly, it will look "like carrying around 2 honeydews with some dental floss."Also, don't wear boat necks because it will emphasize your broad chest. Wear necklines such as V-necks, crew necks, or cowl necks. A peplum style top will make your hips look bigger in proportion to your larger chest. A minimalistic approach is better for you so no ruffles or ruching!

      Bottom: The brighter, the better. Call attention away from your chest and make people look at your body as a whole. Wear wider-leg pants like a boot cut or palazzo pants to even out your figure. Full skirts, particularly ones that hit at the waist will give the illusion of full hips. You want to make your lower half look a little bigger to draw away from your top.

      Dresses: As a rule, pick out something with an obvious waistline. A dress that flares out at the waist would be ideal. Try to stick with a more tailored look - a flowy, floppy dress that separates right below your bust will just hang down and make everything below it look small.
      Celeb with this body type:

Yes, this is a great color on Demi Moore, but no, this is not a good style for her. The cap sleeve and pretty straight line of the dress make her shoulders and chest look large and she's hardly a large woman. 

This is a much better look for Demi. Her dress flares at the waist for a full skirt making her hips look larger than her shoulders and emphasizing her small waist. Her shoulders didn't get smaller from the last picture, but this is a great example of what the right style can do to transform your body.

Full-figured, or what I like to call real size, means you've got a little extra meat on your bones. Embrace it - you've got more to love! You've got curves and you may want to hide them, but instead, know how to make the best of them.

      Top: Find some structure in tailored clothing. You may have to pay a little more to get some nice tailored clothes, but it's worth it so you can be your best self. Blazers and structured jackets will add angles to a more circular build. Your body is soft and round, so your goal is to add structure, especially on top. 3/4 length sleeves will allow you to add some fun accessories or even a cap ruffle sleeve for a girly touch. V-necks will draw a little more attention to your collar bone and elongate your torso. Make sure to wear a supportive bra so your curves are distinguished. You can even try a belt at the waist to draw attention to your smallest area.

      Bottom: Boot cut and flared pants will distribute your curves in a more flattering way. They create an even line from your midsection to your feet. Above-the-knee skirts will show off your legs and draw attention away from your midsection.

      Dresses: Ruching is a good option for dresses. It will conceal your tummy and create the illusion of a waist. A monochromatic dress or even all over look will allow you to accessorize and draw attention there (and to your face!)
      Celeb with this body type:
You've got to love Queen Latifah for loving her body and being such a role model and inspiration for full-figured girls and women. Unfortunately, this was not the best dress choice. It's pulling at her widest points and makes her midsection look quite round. 

Here, Queen Latifah epitomizes dressing for a full-figured body. Her outfit of neutral tones keeps your attention on her whole body. The belt draws your eye to her waist, which is clearly smaller than her bust or hips. The subtle V-neck and glamorous earrings draw your attention up even further to what is most important, her stunning face.


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