How to dress for your plus size body

It’s commonly accepted knowledge that many women want to appear to have an evenly proportioned hourglass shape. The hourglass figure has been idealized for centuries by both men and women in our culture. Sadly, women have done all sorts of things to alter their bodies to look like they have an hourglass figure. In fact, it was not too far back in fashion history when women wore binding corsets to give them an unnaturally tiny waist.

But I think most people would be surprised to find out how few women have a natural hourglass shape. The definition of an hourglass figure is when the bust and hips are close to the same circumference and the waist is significantly smaller.

Based on a study of 6,000 women, 46% have a rectangle shape (bust, waist & hips very close to the same circumference), 20% were pear shape (bust smaller than hips), 14% inverted triangle (bust larger than hips), and only 8% of women have a true hourglass figure.

You already know that the images we see in fashion magazines of models are unrealistic. The fact is, nearly all images shown in mass media are manipulated using Photoshop, and sometimes the changes are so drastic that the models don’t even recognize themselves!

In terms of the actual clothing though, the real problem happens because fashion designers design clothes to fit the “ideal” hourglass figure, while only 8% of the population can actually wear that silhouette well. The other 92% of us are stuck with clothing that’s too big or too small here, there and everywhere–and it’s unflattering and often uncomfortable. And that’s frustrating! We believe that the best approach is to identify your unique body shape, and wear silhouettes that compliment it.

The “classic hourglass” shape has been overly idealized in women for centuries.
Less than 10% of women actually have a true hourglass figure.

Body Type 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Your Body Shape

Discover Your Body Shape

You are not a geometric shape. We know this. But for the sake of making things visually easy, we’re going to illustrate the differences between the 5 core body shapes in the most simplistic way possible.

Your body shape is determined by genetics, bone structure, and how your muscle and body fat is distributed–NOT by your weight. Your body shape remains basically the same no matter how your weight may change.

There are distinct differences between the most common body shapes. Knowing your individual body shape, and choosing clothing silhouettes that compliments it, is the foundation for looking your absolute best.

Here are the most common body types, and suggestions on how to bring balance to each shape:

Note: Taking your measurements is the best way to determine your size and body shape.

Women come in every size and shape. We are curvy, straight, short, tall and everything in between. Silhouettes that flatter your body shape, sizing that’s customized for your unique measurements. When you dress for your shape, you can dress with the confidence of knowing that you’re maximizing your best assets.

How do you find the Body Shape that best reflects your unique figure? This guide will help you identify your body shape and choose the silhouettes that will help you look your very best.

RectangleHow to dress for your plus size body
Circumference of bust, waist, and hips are very close with little to no curves in between.
Silhouettes: A-line, Sheath, Empire Waist & Wrap Neckline Shapes: Scoop & V- Neck

The rectangle body type has many options and can wear both sheath and A-line silhouettes well; the key is to create the illusion of a waistline. Shape can be created by wearing belted styles of a sheath and A-line dresses and it’s also good to wear a scoop or v-neck to add dimension to your upper body.

TriangleHow to dress for your plus size body
Circumference of bust is smaller than hips and has a small waist and full thighs.
Silhouettes: A-line, Sheath, Empire Waist & Wrap Neckline Shapes: Boat, Scoop & V-neck

Draw attention upward by wearing a wide neckline like a boat neck. An A-line dress will camouflage full hips and thighs and is great for all pear/triangle body types. The ultimate silhouette for a pear/triangle shape with a small to medium bust line is an A-line empire waist dress which, depending on the style, can add volume to the bust. The goal with the hem length is have a balanced distance from the hip line to the hem; for petite frames knee length is good and taller frames mid calf–full length. Keep in mind that if a pear/triangle body type wears an A-line that is too short it can draw attention to the hip line.

Inverted TriangleHow to dress for your plus size body
Circumference of bust is larger than hips; small waist, thin thighs.
Silhouettes: Sheath & Empire Waist (the right kind of A-line) Neckline Shapes: Scoop & V-neck

It may seem contradictory but wearing halter and strapless dresses can help balance out an inverted triangle. V and scoop necklines are good but you want to avoid a wide boat neckline drawing the eye to wide shoulders. Sheath and empire waist is great and don’t hide those slender legs; consider your height but showing off your legs is a must. The right kind of A-line silhouette can help bring balance to your shape. The waist has to be cinched and then dramatic fullness at the hip line. The one A-line silhouette that is not good for an inverted triangle is when the dress fabric has a lot of drape (like jersey or charmeuse). Knits like Ponte that have structure can work, but something more flowy like Matte Jersey will fall straight from the bust and have nowhere to land and your hips and waist are lost. Choose more structured fabrics!

OvalHow to dress for your plus size body
Circumference of bust and hips are close to the same measurement and waist is round; thighs and legs are usually thin.
Silhouettes: A-line & Empire Waist Neckline Shapes: Scoop & V-neck

Draw attention upward by wearing V and scoop necklines. Create an hour glass illusion by wearing A-line and empire waist dresses. Avoid wear belted styles and dresses that have a seam at the waist. Don’t be shy flaunt those legs and wear your dress above knee length (consider your height if you are really tall or have long legs you may want to choose knee length).

HourglassHow to dress for your plus size body
Circumference of bust and hips are close to the same measurement and has a small waist.
Silhouettes: A-line, Empire Waist, Sheath & Wrap Neckline Shapes: Boat, Scoop & V- Neck
The hourglass body type is balanced and it’s what most women wish they had. Wearing fitted dresses and styles that can be belted showcase this awesome shape. An hour glass body type can wear just about any silhouette just keep in mind your height and length of your dress to maximize your look. If you are short you may want to go above the knee to knee length and if you are taller you can wear any length (just consider your leg length for above knee length dresses).