What’s Your Body Shape? No Fruit Names Allowed!
I have always chuckled at the answer, “I am round. Round is a shape.” Jokes aside, no two people are built exactly alike and this is what makes us special.
Especially as we get a little older, it’s important to be familiar with our body shape. When it comes to fashion for women over 60, knowledge is power. As a result, a tape measure is a necessary item in your style toolbox.
Have you ever taken your true measurements, ladies? Are you average, petite or tall?
Where do you carry your weight? Are you fuller on the top, on the bottom or in the middle?
We all carry our weight somewhere on our frame. So, let’s define what your shape is today – not 10 pounds in the past or future – and move forward with purpose.
Every Body Shape Comes with Opportunities and Challenges
We are who we are, so, let’s embrace our genetics and work with what we have. Clothing can become our ally when we want to highlight our assets or disguise our liabilities – that’s called “styling!”
One of the biggest mistakes people make when dressing is not understanding their specific body type.
Quite honestly, where to shop, what to buy, and what to pay are all valid questions, but, before you tackle them, you must answer the dreaded question…
“What’s My Body Shape?”
Here are the basic body terms I use with my clients:
- Fuller on the top – Simply put, your bust and/or shoulder measurements are fuller than your hips and bottom.
- Fuller on the bottom – You are fuller at the hips and bottom and smaller on the top.
- Fuller in the middle – There is a little extra in the middle – this could be from numerous things, like Super Bowl food.
- Curvy – You are a curvy girl with a full bust, a defined waist and full hips, resulting in the ultimate hourglass figure.
- Not curvy – There is very little difference between your chest, waist and hip measurements.
Don’t forget that your tape measure is your friend!
You wouldn’t buy a new table without knowing both the size of the room and the size of the table. Shopping for your clothing should be approached the same way. This is true whether you are shopping with a personal stylist or by yourself.
I have yet to walk into a department store and see signs saying fuller-on-the-top department on the left and fuller-in-the-middle department on the right, so you have to be your own advocate for both in-store and online purchases.
Let me give you a few styling tips for each body type.
Fuller on the Top
If you’re fuller on the top, the biggest mistake you can make is to shop at stores that specialize in draping. If you are shopping there, your whole style might be built around draping loose fabrics in the attempt to hide – also known as tenting!
Here’s the bad news: you’re only creating a more obvious imbalance, making yourself appear even larger on the top and smaller on the bottom.
We call this the light bulb silhouette!
What we’re going for here is the hourglass silhouette – big, small and big.
A great way to accomplish this silhouette is to look for solid color jackets, sweaters or blouses with a bit of structure in the tailoring to define the waistline.
I recommend that you be measured by a bra-fit-specialist every two years. This is one clothing category for which you should not assume your size.
Get it right from the get-go! The girls must be locked and loaded in order for your clothing to fit you properly.
Try to steer clear of the skinny-style pants, which will over-accentuate your larger top and create an imbalanced look.
Instead, look for a boot-cut trouser with a little bit of a flare. This will help to balance the width of your shoulders or bust-line to achieve an hourglass look.
Fuller on the Bottom
If you are fuller on the bottom and slimmer on the top, we’re going to do the reverse.
You can add volume on top, by incorporating color, texture, shine, a wider lapel, shoulder pads or even horizontal stripes.
Your goal is to elongate and balance your shape by accentuating your top half.
Don’t wear long tops that cover your bottom. This will shorten the look of your legs and draw attention to your bottom half.
Choose tops that sit above the hip and give you a waistline. Try a structured jacket with interesting details or prints that will direct attention to the top half of your body.
Embellished or embroidered tops are great for centering the focus on your slim upper body. Scarves, earrings, and necklaces are also fabulous attention-grabbers, keeping the eye of the beholder at eye level with you!
Ladies, you can play down your fuller bottom by keeping your pants simple and unadorned. No booty bling, bedazzling or patch and flap back pockets!
Diminish the fuller-on-the-bottom challenge with a darker trouser and pointy shoes to elongate the leg.
Often, women who are fuller on the bottom struggle to find pants that fit both their booty and their waistline.
The first line of defense is to shop for the “curvy” fit. If you are left with a gap that could fit your cell phone, head to the tailor to nip in the waist for a well-tailored, professional fit.
As I mentioned before, your tailor is your friend. You need to know one. Even most dry cleaners can shorten sleeves, hems and take in a waistband.
Be sure your sleeves are just below the wrist-bone and your hemlines never drag on the ground.
For the women that find that perfect fitting pair of black pants, buy two and tailor one for flats and one for heels.
You are not well dressed until you are well tailored!
Bigger in the Middle
This is another body type that commonly falls victim to draping.
If you have a slim lower body and carry weight around your middle, your goal should be to minimize your midsection by highlighting your shoulders and legs.
Opt for a top with structure to balance your middle section. A button-front jacket or blazer creates a long vertical line. Look for a one-button fitted jacket with a low button stance.
A loose, non-clinging, but not oversized top, which falls vertically is the best way to de-emphasize your midsection.
On the bottom, look for pants that rise a bit higher and take advantage of Lycra or “fit panels” to avoid the dreaded muffin-top.
Women’s pants are available with these styling details; you just have to specifically look for them when shopping.
Ladies, don’t forget the all-important shapers that can rake in and contain just about anything. There are two options for controlling your extra-in-the-middle.
You can attack the problem from the top down by wearing an over-the-head shaper. This should fit over or under your bra-line and be tucked into your pants.
Alternatively, you can attack from the bottom up with pull-up shapers that end high under the bra-line.
The point here is that your middle needs to be fully covered in one way or another. This will ensure that it is not exposed from the front and the back.
Remember that you have to look good when you leave the room. So, before you leave your house, check yourself in your full-length mirror – both front and back!
You’re an hourglass! Congrats to you! Your goal is to look for items that follow your natural curves and accent the narrowness of your waistline.
Do NOT hide in shapeless garments!
A single-breasted shapely blazer or cardigan sweater creates a waistline and a strong V shape from the neckline down. Be sure any v-neck blouses or sweaters are not cut too low.
Shapely girls come in all heights – be sure your lengths are correct. Because you have to purchase a jacket to accommodate your curves first, check with the tailor to measure and adjust the sleeves.
The same goes for hemlines. Curvy girls need to be conscious of the length of their skirts and dresses, both standing and sitting.
Sit down in front of your full-length mirror, cross your legs and check for side gaps in coverage.
Don’t attempt to wear clothing that doesn’t fit your chest or hips, as you’ll look like you are playing dress-up.
Use substantial fabrics, with texture or patterns, to help create volume. Layer whenever possible and try asymmetrical hemlines. This creates movement and depth.
Use scarves to add color and interest. You can use those huge scarves that most women do not know what to do with. Lucky you!
Just because you aren’t curvy doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a tailor!
When in doubt, tailor it out! Boxy jackets and baggy pants are not the way to go for you. Tailor them down, show that you care and are well appointed!
Still struggling? Let’s spend some time on the phone or Skype! Just book your FREE consultation here.
What is the biggest challenge that you face when buying clothes for your body type? What questions would you like me to answer in a future article? Please join the conversation.
Doreen Dove empowers women to use style as a tool to take strategic control of their image. She is an image consultant, personal stylist, professional speaker and author. Her book, Confidence is Always in Style, provides in depth expertise to help women identify and express their most authentic image with humor and clever insight.