The Essential Guide To Dressing For Your Shape

I personally think that whole “pear, apple, triangle, hourglass” stuff is absolute bunk. I’m not ANY of those shapes & nor are most people I know. I have small boobs, broad shoulders, a slim waist, long torso & big thighs. I am not a fruit or something you can study in geometry classes! Really I think it’s just laziness on the part of most fashion writers & it doesn’t do anyone any favours. We need to move away from this antiquated way of thinking! We need to regard each part of our bodies individually & work out how to dress them! Can I get an amen?!

It must be said that this guide is basically about disguising the parts of you you don’t like. While I don’t encourage dissection of one’s flaws (& I wouldn’t see many of the things listed below as being “flaws”), here are some simple ways to hide the parts of you you’re not so keen on. (Acceptance is the next step, wink wink!)

This is a very short piece — the sort of thing you can print out, highlight the parts which apply to you & then chuck it in your bag for whenever you go shopping & get stuck.


Big boobs: Wear a v-neck top. It may seem counter-intuitive to some that the bane of their life is on display, but quite frankly, if you cover it up, you’re not fooling anyone & it looks awkward. You could also try a scoop neck with detailing around the neckline, which will shift the focus.

Big arms: Try a batwing or fluted sleeve ending just below the biggest part of your arm.

Big belly: Any vertical detailing is your friend, as is anything with a knot-front which rests just over the stomach.

Long torso: Learn to layer! (See this & this!) You can also wear a small item over the top, like a bolero jacket for example, to break up the long lines.

No waist: A ballerina-wrap cardigan will help create an ‘artificial’ waist. Bonus points if it has a diagonal stripe pattern.

Small boobs: Any kind of detailing around the chest will help you out. You can also try playing up something else, like your arms or back, by wearing a sleeveless or backless top.

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Big booty: Big pockets on the butt will divert attention. A deep waistband will make your bum look half the size, while wide-cut legs will hide a saggy bum.

Short legs: A narrow stripe (or pinstripe) will elongate your leg. No waistband will do the same thing. One trick I often use is to wear trousers where the hem touches the ground — with a high heel on my foot, I look like a giant, & no one knows why!

Big belly: A big waistband will help hold you in. Go for flat-fronted trousers or any which fasten at the side. & if all else fails, wear magic knickers!

Saddlebags: 3/4 pants with a cuff will draw the eye to the bottom half of the leg. Otherwise, try a bootleg, flare or wide-leg cut.

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Big boobs: Thin lapels & one button at the waist will make you look slim & draw attention to your waist.

Big belly: A small, busy print will help detract from a big stomach — or you can wear something loose.

No waist: Go for something very well-tailored or for a jacket with a single button at the waist.

Saddlebags: A long jacket will cover your saddlebags quite well. Otherwise, a short jacket that ends near the waist will help distract the eye.

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Big booty: A well-cut pencil skirt will hug your curves & keep your bum perky! A fishtail shape will help even out your proportions, & a fluted, floaty skirt will lead the eye downwards.

Big belly: A wrap skirt can be worn as tight or as loose as you want to accomodate your tummy. Try a skirt with a high waistband to hold you in, then wear a shirt over the top.

Saddlebags: An a-line skirt is your best shape & pretty much foolproof!

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Big boobs: Try a scooped neckline or a wrap-dress. A wrap will lift & separate while also drawing attention to your waist.

Big arms: A big sleeve or one with a flare is your best bet.

Big belly: Gathering around the stomach area will minimise the area.

Small boobs: Go for a plunging neckline (no one else can wear these) or a backless halter-neck.

Big calves: Wear a dress all the way to the ankle, or one that ends just below the knee.

Wide shoulders: Try a strapless dress (the line will balance you out) or a shirt dress.

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Evening Dresses

Big boobs: A strapless dress with excellent support will make you look superb. Those with a youthful d├ęcolletage (usually the under 40’s) can get away with a deep v-neck dress.

Big belly: Anything with detailing across the stomach area will help you — a belt, a pattern, sequins etc.

Big arms: A loose draped sleeve will disguise the size of your arm very well, as will a small pattern (rather than a solid colour).

Big hips: The trick is to balance them out. You can do this by wearing an a-line shaped dress or something strapless.

Small boobs: Look for a dress with extra detailing across the bust or something tight — you can always stuff your bra with chicken fillets!

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Big boobs: Try a balcony bra style, a halter-neck (for super-duper cleavage) or just make sure your bathing suit has hidden cups or some other kind of support.

Big belly: A one-piece with detail focussed near the waist will make you look much slimmer, while a tankini gives you the option to cover or bare your belly. Some people recommend a strategically-placed sarong, but I don’t think that fools anyone.

Small boobs: If you have small boobs with a great stomach, make that the focus of attention with a simple bikini. If not, you could try a padded halter-neck (this will help you create a cleavage, or at least some kind of illusion) or a top with detail around the bust.

Saddlebags: A bikini which ties at the side will be good on you, because it won’t cut in so much. Try a high-cut leg (will make you look sleeker & slimmer) or a strapless top — the big line will help balance you out. You can also try covering up with a sarong.