The constant pressure exerted upon us by the media and its images of size zero celebrities leads us falsely to believe that this is in fact how we should look ourselves. Furthermore, irrespective of whether you’re a size 8 or a size 28, everybody is consequently striving to be something they’re not. If your anything like I was, you’ve probably also got that dress tucked away at the back of your wardrobe.
You know the one, it was too good of an offer to miss in the sale, and it’ll be completely wearable when you drop three dress sizes. So your three dress sizes away from your goal weight whereby you’ll not only resemble Sandra Bullock, but in fact emulate her entirely. You’re going to be just as desirable, successful, rich, and maybe even win an Oscar, and this is only achievable with extreme skinniness right?
Wrong!! By all means a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise is the key to well being, and I can’t deny that it does feel great when you manage to shift them few extra pounds, and squeeze into your old jeans. There is however no need to embark upon a quick-fix diet in order to force your body into a shape that it is clearly not supposed to be. The moment you stop these kinds of drastic diets the pounds creep back on anyway.
If you feel like you’re in need of a transformation, then, the key is to embrace your natural body shape and dress accordingly. The confidence and success will follow thereafter. Furthermore, dressing to make the most of your body shape is not age specific, and is a way to help everybody make the best of what they have.
Firstly, in order to choose clothes that accentuate your best assets you need to determine which body shape you actually possess. To keep things simple, body shapes generally fall within five basic groups which are commonly referred to as Rectangle, Apple, Pear, Hour glass, and Triangle. Although everybody possesses different body measurements, the easiest way to establish which group you belong to is to look into a mirror and see which of the shapes from the diagram that your body most resembles. Fig 1.
There is no one area that rectangle body shapes need to minimise, as their bodies are in proportion. However, given that their bodies are straight up and down, rectangles often feel like they have a boyish figure, therefore, opting for clothing that creates the illusion of curves is a good way to project your femininity. A-line or tiered skirts are great at doing this. This pink thistle tiered skirt with embellished detail is available for £35 at Wallis and is the perfect florally print to embrace spring. Fig 2.
Belted coats or dresses are also perfect for creating shape and the shorter your skirt the better to show off your extra long legs. Rectangles should however avoid low rise jeans as they make the torso look longer, as opposed to high waisted jeans teamed with a cropped jacket which would shorten the torso and lengthen the legs.
In this case the waist measures larger than the hips and the chest, therefore most of your weight is carried around the waist area. In contrast to this, an Apple’s best assets will be her breasts or legs, so the key is to choose clothing that accentuates these attributes and avoid adding extra bulkiness around the waist. Although an Apple may feel that a pleated skirt would be a good choice to hide away beneath, this is probably the worst thing for this body shape to wear, as realistically it will add unwanted volume. Stick to flat fronted skirts to avoid this, and opt for knee or calf length. Fig 3. The plus size retailer yoursclothing.co.uk offers a long, black, stylish asymmetric hem skirt for £18, which draws attention to your bottom half and helps to balance out your shape.
With regards to jeans, flared or boot cut jeans are the most flattering as they will balance out the figure, and works best with a V-neck top as opposed to a round neck. Longer length tops and longer sleeves are a great way to draw the eye line away from waist, and elongate the figure.
Pear shapes aren’t necessarily overweight; it’s just that their bottom halves are significantly bigger than their top halves, take Jennifer Lopez for instance. The top half will probably comprise of little breasts and skinny arms, so strappy tops or dresses are easy for you to wear.
A pear shape is a very womanly figure, so the aim is to create structure and curves on the top half to balance out the bottom half. Tight stretchy dresses will emphasise a bigger bottom, so try an A-line dress instead which will flatter the larger hips. This grey rouched sleeve shift dress is available for £38 at Oli.co.uk, and its structure would create interest on the top half yet disguise the hips on the bottom half. Fig 4.
Avoid anything with pocketing on the hips and consider skinny jeans or harem trousers as the enemy. Choose instead flat fronted, boot or flared cut jeans to balance out your bottom half, and layer up the top half with a gilet or cardigan to help accentuate the top half. Jackets or blazers with large collars or lapels are also excellent at adding structure.
This shape is often regarded as the sexiest figure to have. Large breasts balance out the rounded hips and are defined by a small waist. Lots of Hourglasses get their look quite easily wrong as they play down their beautiful shapes with baggy clothes, or contrastively over accentuate their curves resulting in overly sexy daytime looks! Therefore, you have to carefully achieve a balance with the clothing that you choose. Follow the lead of Holly Willoughby who accentuates her hourglass curves in a classic way.
Any item of clothing that is belted or goes in at the waist is the best for making the most out of this shape. Try out a knee length, high waisted pencil skirt to emphasise your curvy hips and tiny waist. ASOS have a high waisted denim skirt for £20, which would work perfectly and also help you buy into this season’s denim trend. Fig 5.
Fun floral dresses that are fitted at the waist and flare outwards are perfect for Spring, along with wrap dresses which will again accentuate your tiny waist.
Avoid overly tight stretchy dresses or skirts as these will probably make you look too bottom heavy and out of proportion, and halter necks and frilly tops are also a definite no no as these will contrastively make you look too top heavy.
If however you prefer jeans rather than dresses, then, like with the Pear shape mentioned above,
boot or flared cut jeans are excellent at balancing out your hips. I would also suggest high waisted jeans to again accentuate your waist, but do avoid these if you have large breasts because obviously you’d look too top heavy. Skinny jeans are also wearable on Hourglass shapes so long as you have slender thighs.
Triangle shaped ladies are top heavy and subsequently have breasts or shoulders that are bigger than their waists or hips, therefore resembling that of an inverted triangle. Therefore they need to draw emphasis to their bottom halves as opposed to their top halves. So obviously steer clear of puff sleeves, structured tops, or shoulder pads. V-necks are good at drawing the eye down from your chest, as is adding an open cardigan over the top of your outfit. Although Triangles should ideally wear long flowing tops to balance out their figures, it is also possible for them to wear fitted tops, but make sure they are made from stretchy fabrics as not to add to the top heaviness.
Flared or pleated skirts are great at adding volume, so A-line skirts are a good way to balance out your body. Also opt for asymmetric dresses to create the illusion of having a smaller top half, and dresses with a bodice style top and flared bottom are completely made for the triangle body shape. Try Warehouse’s silver, one shoulder, mesh frill dress at £40. Fig 6. Again to add emphasis to the bottom half choose wide leg jeans, or even cargo pants, but by no means wear high waisted trousers as these will only emphasise the top heaviness.
Plus Size Fashion
The information above has hopefully helped you to identify your body shape and consequently taught you which items of clothing are the most flattering for you to wear. As mentioned earlier the body shape guide aims to help all ages and also incorporates all sizes. For instance, you could have a Pear shape body and be a size 8 or a size 18. It is however in fact more difficult for a size 18 to find clothes than a size 8 given that most high street retailers stop at a size 16. Stores like Marks and Spencer and Next have fortunately started offering up to a size 20 in their ranges, but this is still isolating many people who require bigger sizes.
Many plus size women who are eager to spend money on new clothes feel disappointed with the plus size offerings available on the high street. Moreover, these women feel that they are missing out on the whole shopping experience, and are consequently forced to shop from plus size retailers online. Shopping online is convenient but most ladies like to try on their clothes before they buy them in order to ensure they flatter their body shapes, and are of the correct size. Furthermore, the process of returning items to an online retailer can be deemed by many as a hassle or too time consuming.
Although there are the few disadvantages associated with purchasing online, there are some exceptionally good plus size online retailers to choose from. Sixteen47.com is a plus size retailer created by Helen Teague and Dawn French, which offers fashionable and affordable clothing in sizes 16 to 47. The difference with their sizing is that they focus on the fact that everybody has different proportions, and even offer a special sizing service for those who are very tall or short. I recommend their coral fluted summer tunic at £65, which is perfect for Spring. Not only does it have on trend shoulder detail but the sleeves are also a great cover up for those who feel a bit insecure about their arms. Fig 7.
Furthermore, Sixteen47 formally had boutiques on the high street and a representative for the company kindly informed me that he reason for their closure was due to the fact that the 16+ industry is a niche market and therefore they weren’t achieving sufficient economies of sales. Keeping their boutiques on the high street would have incurred prices beginning at around £150 to counteract production costs, therefore the company decided to retail solely online in order to provide quality clothing at affordable prices to their customers.
Alice in Wonderland
The recent release of Tim Burton’s 3D version of Alice in Wonderland has taken the fashion world by storm. Resulting in various fashion designers and beauty brands producing Alice inspired items. Temperley London have just released their ALICE clothing line, and Urban Decay have created the Alice in Wonderland eyeshadow palette costing £28, which features 16 shades which capture the colours of Wonderland. Fig 8.
Here are my three favourite tea dresses which are perfect for capturing the Alice trend this spring.
Topshop’s blue and white spot bubble sleeve tea dress is a steal at only £45, and is the perfect way to add some curves to a Rectangle figure, or even as means to add structure above the waist and flatter the hips of a Pear shape. Fig 9.
2) Spare cash
Sixteen47’s blue floral tea dress has got spring written all over it and costs £89. This dress works on most body shapes, but would particularly flatter an Apple shaped silhouette as it will draw the attention away from the bigger waist area and instead create the illusion of a more equally proportioned Rectangle shape. Fig 10.
Alice by Temperley’s stunning Carrie pale pink and grey printed silk cotton dress is available for £240 on Net-a-porter.com. It’s perfect for those of you who want to invest that little bit more to ensure a quality piece. Its tie-belt detail around the waist also means that it would ideally accentuate an hourglass figure, and would look fabulous teamed with this season’s nude high heels to elongate the legs. Fig 11.
(Article inspired by Joy Wilson’s shape guide at bodyshapefashionadvice.com)