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Dressing for Your Body Type is a Part of Fashion Over 60

By Margaret Manning October 17, 2021 Beauty

I’m not a big fan of the labels that society attaches to women’s bodies and neither was fashion expert, Melanie Payge, when we filmed our fashion over 60 videos. On the other hand, the fact is, when it comes to purchasing clothes, women really do face unique challenges based on their body types.

The first step to looking great in your 60s is to accept your body type. Only then will you be able to apply Melanie’s advice and find a look that is perfect for you.

Understanding Your Body Type Is Essential to Fashion Over 60

At the same time, there is no denying that certain cuts and styles look better on different body types. What looks amazing on a “petite, no waist” woman might look ridiculous on a “pear-shaped” woman, like myself. Here are a few of Melanie’s top tips. I hope that you find them useful, no matter what beautiful body type you have.

Advice for “Petite, No Waist” Women

In some ways, this is the easiest body type to dress. Petite women look great in jeans and are one of the few body types to be able to easily wear dresses with only limited tailoring. As Melanie points out, dresses look especially flattering on this body type because, while our waists shrink as we age, petite women still tend to have nice legs.

On the other hand, petite women need to be careful to avoid baggy clothing, which has a tendency to overwhelm their look. When in doubt, it’s best to stick with fitted clothes instead.

Tips for “Broad-Shouldered, Rounder” Women

While broad-shouldered, rounder women have their own unique charm and beauty, they also face unique challenges when it comes to choosing clothes.

Melanie’s first recommendation for these women is to stay away from anything that draws too much attention to their top. This includes bright scarves or chunky jewelry. Instead, they should consider a tailored jacket that gives form to their top without being distracting.

Dresses are especially challenging for this body type and, as a result, Melanie recommends purchasing straight-cut, tailored pants, instead. Another option is to go with a jacket and skirt combination to give yourself a lighter look, while still matching the clothes to your unique proportions.

Stephen Hadley, fashion designer and Sixty & Me contributor, suggests that women with this body shape should bring focus to their waistline and create the illusion of a little more curve. Tops that have a soft V-neck and that cinch at the waist are great for this, for example.

Stephen also says that wrap blouses also flatter women with a broader upper body. They relax over the chest and shoulders and fold down to encircle the waist and give more definition to the core.

Advice for “Pear-Shaped” Women

For starters, jackets work fabulously for this body type. Just make sure that your jacket goes straight across the top and has a seam. Also, keep an eye out for jackets that accentuate your waist, as Melanie demonstrated in our video series.

Women with this body type need to be especially careful with leggings, which, while comfortable, are one of the least flattering items of clothing around. Instead, choose a pair of pants that come straight down from your hips.

If you love dresses, get ready to do some tailoring, because it is unlikely that they will fit “out of the box.” Or, if your top and bottom are different sizes, consider a skirt and top combination.

Stephen suggests that women with a “pear shape” body type bring the boldness upward. He says that since they have larger hips and a smaller bust, bright shirts and blouses enhance their style and body. Off the shoulder or wide V-neck tops will draw eyes to their slimmer arms and elegant neck.

This body type tends to hold weight in the hips, bottom, and thighs. So, Stephen suggests that women select skirts and dresses with a slimming effect, like A-line skirts and dresses. They will disguise that bit of extra they have below the waist while providing an alluring profile.

Advice for “Hourglass” Women

The Hourglass body type is often desired for its even top and bottom distribution. But Stephen mentions that if you’re not careful to accent the middle correctly you can end up with a stuffy, boxy look.

He says that a tailored fit is a good rule of thumb. Clothes should not hide a woman’s figure – they should enhance it.

He suggests women with this body type should avoid draping too many layers that cover curves. Deep V-neck fitted shirts or button-down blouses with simple sleeves provide a perfect custom-fit.

He says that women with hourglass figures should spotlight their midsection. They should choose bottoms that have a fitted waist and consider accessorizing with wide or skinny belts in fun, eye-catching colors.

Here are Stephen Hadley’s top tips and tricks for getting the best fitting clothes.

Find What Already Fits You Best

Before you go shopping for anything new, take a hard look at the clothing you already have in your closet. Find the garments that fit you perfectly. What do you love about them?

  • Notice the length, sleeve style, and neckline of your best fitting tops.
  • Consider the cut, hemline, and flow of your favorite skirts and dresses.

At the same time, pick out the clothing you like the look of but just doesn’t fit right. What’s different about these items?

  • Are they too large or too tight in specific areas?
  • Do they draw the eye to problem areas instead of enhancing your natural beauty?

Once you’ve audited your wardrobe this way, you’ll be better prepared to find more pieces that fit you perfectly.

Shop for Fit First

Step one in creating a wardrobe full of perfectly fitting pieces is to always shop for fit first. You may find a plus-size top in a beautiful color, a jacket with a stunning print, or a skirt with just the right texture.

And while those details are certainly worth appreciating, they won’t make any difference if the item doesn’t fit you right.

If you’re shopping in local stores, it’s easy enough to try on clothing right then and there. Not comfortable using the dressing rooms? Bring your new items home, try them on, and see how they work for you.

Compare them with your best-fitting pieces. Regardless, be determined that you won’t keep something that doesn’t fit just right.

When it comes to shopping online, many plus-size women have understandable concerns about finding the right fit. That’s why it’s important that you know your measurements before you shop. Compare them with the online store’s sizing guide.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to the retailer directly before you place an order. And find out about their return policy – because you won’t be keeping it if it doesn’t fit!

Alterations Can Make All the Difference

Stick to your rule – if it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. But be willing to acknowledge that even a well-fitting garment might need an alteration to truly fit perfectly.

Finding a skilled, knowledgeable tailor is critical to filling your wardrobe with perfectly fitting attire.

While some of the garments you purchase will be perfect right off the rack, others may need to be taken in, shortened, lengthened, or otherwise altered. These little adjustments can take a dress from so-so to stunning, a blouse from acceptable to amazing.

Accepting Your Beautiful Body

Regardless of your body type, it’s important to accept who you are. Many women purchase clothing anticipating weight loss. Others force themselves to fit into a pair of jeans 2 sizes too small for them. Melanie’s advice is to accept who you are and purchase clothes for your body type as it is now. As she said:

It’s not about losing weight. It’s about accepting your body type and enhancing the things that are positive about your body.

I hope that you found these tips useful! Our body types videos have plenty of examples and are available in our fashion for older women video series. Plus, the series includes dozens more videos on topics ranging from colors and clothing essentials to body types and accessorizing.

What body type are you? What advice would you give to other women who share your body type? What do you think are the keys to getting the most from fashion over 60? Please let me know in the comments below.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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