How to dress for your body shape

No two bodies are the same – and losing weight and firming up won’t change your genetic makeup. But how do we decipher our God-given body shape from a bunch of fruits and geometrics? And what does this mean for our online shopping? Read on for more on Apple through to Inverted Triangle, with suggestions of a few flattering outfits along the way.

APPLE

An Apple-shaped body is basically ‘circular’ in the middle, so you might have smaller shoulders, hips and legs, but a large chest and round belly with undefined waist. Try a V-neck top to break the width of your chest and take the line down, preferably in a thicker, stiffer fabric that doesn’t cling such as raw silk or linen. A more flowy V-neck tunic such as this one from Farfetch can also flatter an Apple beautifully when paired with skinny pants or jeans such as these from Witchery. A good rule of thumb is if your top is long and loose you need a slim lower half for balance.

If fun fashion is more important to you than a flattering cut, Apples can rock a strapless dress (Apple Jennifer Hudson is all the proof you need) and this mini from Romance Was Born shows off those slender pins too. As is true with any shape, when it comes to jackets, hem length is key and Apple hems look best when they end at the hip or upper thigh.

Tufi Duek Tunic

Midnight Bloom Dress

Textured Skinny Trouser

PEAR

If you’re smaller at the shoulder and chest but your body starts to go, ahem, Pear-shaped at the hip, then, like me, you’re the other fruity silhouette. It took me years to figure out my figure and now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Once you know how to flatter your bottom half you can go all out crazy up top. Splash out on statement tops that will stand the test of time, like a classic Missoni knit tank, and pair with a flattering high-waist, pin-tucked pleated skirt such as this one from Uniqlo. If Missoni has a couple of zeros too many, opt for a top with theatre or detail around the neck or shoulder line to draw attention upwards – we’re talking pussy bows, embroidered collars, cowl necks. Cinch in the waist and choose flared, A-line skirts (keeping gathering to a minimum). You can work horizontal stripes along the narrow upper area so have a few Bretons handy for your high-waisted flared or boot-cut jeans. Be proud of that derriere like your Pear idol Beyoncé.

Missoni Tank Top

Cotton Slub Stripe T-Shirt

High Waist Dry Stretch Tucked Skirt

HOURGLASS

Probably the most famous shape thanks to Marilyn Monroe and all her phenomenally proportioned successors, the Hourglass has similar sized bust and hips with a well defined waist. While it’s best to avoid high necks, ruffles and bows up top (a generous chest makes these looks Mumsy at best), you can get away with many other styles, including bodycon dresses and straight leg jeans. The ultimate go-to for an Hourglass is the wrap dress. Splurge on one by the Queen of wrap dresses Diane Von Furstenberg or look equally sexy on a lower budget in this beach-babe number by MinkPink.

Striped Wrap Dress

Wrap Midi Dress

RECTANGLE

Rectangles, you may miss out on a fruity description but rest assured you can pull off almost any style. Also known as the more flattering ‘Athletic’, this body shape (with consistent measurements and undefined waist) might feel lacking in curves for some but there are plenty of fix-ups for that, from push-up bras to voluminous skirts. Confident Rectangles can pull of wildly printed playsuits and the voluminous sleeves plus belted waist on this one from Gorman add curves to an up-and-down body. Alternatively, if you’re on the petite side, choose a fancy high-necked Victoriana blouse a la Alexa Chung such as this one from H&M and team it (in true Alexa style) with a pair of teeny denim cut-offs from Gap or Just Jeans. Avoid wearing boxy styles such as boyfriend jackets as this can make you look even straighter.

Camo Paper Cut Playsuit

Washwell Denim Shorts

Cotton Lace Blouse

Mavi Claire Short

INVERTED TRIANGLE

Less talked about but still as relevant is the Inverted Triangle, another athletic shape often seen on female sports stars with broad shoulders and smaller everything else. While you should probably avoid necklines that make you broader on top such as the boat and halter, not to mention puffy sleeves, you can have more fun at the lower end than most other shapes. Draw the attention down in bright or patterned palazzo pants like these from Veronika Maine or try this show-stopping skirt by Tommy Hilfiger with a pared back top from Ted Baker.

Wide Leg Pants

Scallop Top

Pleated Skirt