Dress to flatter your figure

Want to look as put-together as a runway model? Dress to flatter your figure.

Story highlights

  • If you have an apple shape create contrast by using angular lines
  • For an hourglass shape it's all about exaggerating your silhouette, not fighting it
  • Use clothing to create curves for a straight up and down, athletic shape
Your Type: Apple shape (you tend to carry weight around the midsection)
The Strategy: Create contrast by using angular lines to counteract the roundness and softness
Look for:
Wrap tops, which will give the illusion of a smaller waist
Seaming on blouses and anything with a corset-style structure
Pleating and gathering under the bust that draws the eye vertically down the tummy
Deep v-necks and scoop necks
Drapey empire styles, provided they're not too voluminous (that'll only make the area look bigger)
Straight-leg -- rather than skinny -- bottoms build a sense of proportion with your upper half
Higher-waisted pants and pants with a bit of stretch; these have a girdle-like effect and hold your stomach in
Extreme A-lines, or anything too blousy that lacks shape
Busy details like pocketing on your top half, patterns that don't match your overall size (larger frames can carry off bigger prints, and vice versa)
Your Secret Weapon: Wear a stretchy tank top underneath your garments to create a smooth, seamless base
Your Type: Pear shape (smaller on top, heavier on the bottom)
The Strategy: Achieve balance by adding a bit of volume to your upper body and minimizing your lower half
Look for:
Darker colored pants that have a stiffer fabric or some stretch, which will have a slenderizing effect. (A leg that falls straight down from the widest part of you is best.)
Seams that run down the front of the leg, which create a leaner leg by "bisecting" it
Fluted skirts that flare out a bit at the bottom
Lower and thicker waistbands that help minimize the bottom
Tops that are slightly A-line with a bit of blouse to them
Low-slung tunic tops (wear the belt below your natural waistline) and ¾-length jackets and tops that stop around the knee or mid-thigh
Any fading or whiskering on your denim, which will only highlight trouble areas
Too-tight tops, which will accentuate the difference between your upper and lower halves
Attention-grabbing pocket details on the hips and thighs
Your Secret Weapon: Have the pocket fabric removed from the inside of your pants, which will minimize bulk.
Your Type: Hourglass shape (curvy around the bust and hips, with a smaller waistline)
The Strategy: It's all about exaggerating your silhouette, not fighting it
Look for:
Simple, solid shapes that will highlight your waist.
Thick belts, pencil skirts, a little volume around the shoulder to make the waist appear even smaller
Wrap tops, scooped and boatneck necklines. Pants should be bootcut or flares that fill well in the thigh.
Avoid: Ruffles, frills, lapels, busy patterns; any straight, boxy shapes
Your Secret Weapon: A fitted vest that flares out at the waist
Your Type: Athletic/boy shape (straight up and down)
The Strategy: Use clothing to create curves where they don't exist naturally
Look for:
Details at the bust such as ruffles, wraps and rouching -- these add fullness up top
Sleeveless tops and halters; they show off toned arms
High-waisted skirts; they should begin at the smallest part of your waist, just underneath the bust
Bootcut pants and jeans, with a lower rise for maximum curviness
Avoid: Menswear-inspired styles, straight cuts, "boyfriend" jeans
Your Secret Weapon: A ruffled blouse tucked into a high-waisted skirt