I’m a strong believer that your should wear whatever you like, period. Therefore, I am always a bit reluctant to write a “best-for-your-body-type post”, as I hate any rules that dictate what we should wear. That said, over the years, I have been asked to write a post that offers some guidance on what silhouettes, best flatter specific body types. Being I am only one body-type myself, I can’t possibly know what it is like to walk in someone else body. But, from years of selecting styles and working with all body types in a retail environment, to studying what works well on different women, I have gleaned some insight, as to what styles best flatter certain body types, and am happy to provide some guidance. Since we are in the thick of winter, today’s post focuses on sweaters. That said, the same guidelines apply to other areas of your wardrobe. Please feel free to drop any additional comments or thoughts, in the comment area below. In one post, I am only able to cover the tip of the iceberg, in a very general sense, so your thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated!
5 Basic Body Types
Left to Right: Strawberry, Banana, Apple, Pear, and Hourglass – Plus Petite & Plus Gals, Within These Body Types.
Said to be the most common body type with women. Women with this body type are smaller on the uper half; that is, shoulders and the bust area, while the lower half, buttocks, hips, thighs, and calves are comparitively larger, holding most of the weight. For this body type, look to draw attention toward your upper half, and away from your bottom. Think boatneck, v-necks, cowlneck styles. A slightly fitted sweater with an a-line skirt, or leggings/skinny jeans, will balance out your look.
Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun
“For us pears, a sweater is best if it hits at the waist, to about the hip bone. Longer sweaters tend to hit us at our widest part, bringing attention there. Here, a hipbone-length sweater with a long coat over top – left open. All black on the bottom, with color and print on top, draws the eye UP, away from the bottom. Long cardigans, mid-thigh or longer, are flattering as well – if left open and flowing!”
“Printed sweaters are great because they draw your eye to the top. Steer clear of chunky knits as they will add unwanted bulk.”
I love how Melissa often adds a crop vest or jacket – to create definition at the waist.
Hourglass shaped women, your upper and lower half of your body have the same width. Belts are your friend. They accentuate your figure and your well defined waist line beautifully! Fitted sweaters that fall below the hip, lightweight semi fitted/fitted cardigans, or wrap-front styles work well. Define your waist, and steer clear of bulky shapes that hide your gorgeous hourglass shape!
“It’s no secret that I love wearing turtlenecks! Why? Because they are form fitted, keep me warm, and still give me the silhouette figure. For work, to avoid looking frumpy – but stay warm, I layer turtlenecks under my dresses. The dress keeps my shape, and the sweater provides warmth. I also love to pair a sweater with skinny jeans and OTK boots.”
Bukky is a master with a belt – a must for our hourglass gals! She belted this poncho, to perfection!
Women who have this body type have shoulders, waist line and hip area measuring almost the same. This is also refered to as the boyish/rectangle body type. Wear clothes that give an illusion of a more curvy body. Avoid tight fitting clothes, instead wear semi-fitted clothes, and avoid to much bagginess on top. As for the bottom, choose the skirts or pants that are slightly curvier. For example, skirts that adds flare to the bottom half create an illusion of having more curves down below.
Janeane of DesigningFromMyCloset.com
“Many women shy away from white and cream colors. With the right fit and styling, the lighter sweater can be so figure flattering. I love this cowl neck sweater because it frames my face so well. By pulling my hair back, it allows the dramatic collar to really shine. I added to this face framing detail by wearing a long pendant necklace to provide a vertical line up my body. Since I am short waisted and regular length items appear like tunic length on me, I half tucked this sweater into a metallic midi skirt and pushed up the sleeves to three-quarter length as to visually make the sweater appear shorter on my torso, giving the illusion of a longer leg line.”
Suzanne of AskSuzanneBell.com
“With narrow hips and shoulders, I am always looking to create some definition within my straight shape. Drop waist peplum styles, tunics and long over short are my go-to looks. I love long cardigans, but I leave them open as I, like Janeane, have a short waist, and a belt would hit me right below my bustline, chopping me off. I love how this v-neck tunic opens up my neckline, widening my shoulders. High side slits, allow the tunic to flow over my hips and stomach area, nipping in a bit at the waist, and slightly flaring out at the hip – creating a slight hourglass silhouette. I often will add a loose scarf, to create width across my shoulders. A wide cowl, hoodie, ballet neckline, all work to widen my shoulders.”
4. Petite Banana
Cyndy, AKA My Stylish Petite Mom
“I think petites can wear everything, proportion is the key. Nothing worse than rolling up too long jeans and jackets. Stay clear of bulk, it makes a petite person look overwhelmed in fabric. Oversized looks can be OK, but the fabric needs to be draped and light; like in a sweater or top. I look for smaller versions of what I like. This blanket scarf here, is a smaller version of a huge blanket scarf, making it work proportionally. Most retailers offer petites; lately I’ve been shopping Anthropologie Petite and Talbots Petite.”
Petite sized sweater dresses are another way to wear a sweater, and not feel overwhelmed.
This petite-sized fur vest, adds structure to her dress.
More on Petites
Petites can be any of the above – in petite sizing. The key being; stick with petite sizing. These garments are proportioned just for you, so take advantage of the shorter sleeve, length and higher waist. Thick knits may make you appear wider than you are. Go with thinner knits or cashmere for a body skimming look. For belts, stick with skinny belts and consider a color that matches your sweater to elongate your torso. A long sleeve lightweight v-neck cardigan in a thinner knit is flattering and can be worn multiple seasons. Best length hits at the hip. Avoid chunky knits, heavy turtlenecks, tunics – you’ll tend to get lost in those. You can still do a tunic, just keep it in a thinner knit and pair it with a fitted bottom like leggings.
Are You a Broad Shouldered Banana?
Not all banana shapes have narrow shoulders. Dolman style sweaters and deep necklines are great for drawing attention to the center of your body, and away from your shoulders and arms. Add a long pendant necklace to pull the eye toward the middle of your body, and focus off the shoulder area. Kimono and Batwing style are your friends as well!
Apple-shaped gals normally have slim legs and thighs where as there bust and abdomen fall out of proportion as compared to the rest of the body. Look for pieces that make your shoulders and waist appear narrower, while showing off your legs and chest. Longer tunic-length cardigans that skim your figure and don’t cling are great for doing just this. V-necks are great for drawing attention to your chest, as do wrap styles. Sweaters with dark colors and small patterns are also good choices. This cold shoulder sweater and skinnies, is perfection on Kanesha!
Kanesha Baynard of BoldLivingToday.com
“I love turtlenecks and cable knit sweaters, especially ones with peekaboo shoulders. I’m a short waisted apple shape – on bottom I am all about skinnies, to show off the legs!”
Thank you to Dawn Lucy, Melissa, Janeane, Bukky, Kanesha and my Mom for generously allowing me to share your gorgeous selves and style in today’s post. To follow Dawn Lucy, Melissa, Janeane, Bukky and Kanesha, I’ve linked their websites above, and here for you:
Dawn Lucy Ross @FashionShouldBeFun | Melissa @YummoMummo.com | Janeane @DesigningFromMyCloset | Bukky Dare @BukkyDare.com | Kanesha @KaneshaBaynard.com @BoldLivingToday.com
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Keep this as a guide, but never let anyone tell you what your should or should not wear! We each have our own unique styles, and personalities, that shine through in how we present ourselves to the world!
Go out and be you!
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Suzanne I Truly enjoyed this write up. I think you should do more of this. Thank you so much for including me.
Thank you Bukky! I am happy to hear you enjoyed the post…it was fun putting it together – with a little help from each of you fabulous ladies! Thank you for being a part of the fun! XO Suzanne
Helen james says
Hi Suzanne, great post, i am a petite pear and you are so right about pitItes sticking to the right size, to easy to get swamped particularly in Winter! Sometimes i will even pop into the girls department as i am small enough to do so! Love your Mum In these shots too! Have a great weekend H xxx
Hi Helen! Thank you for your wonderful comments…I had no idea you were petite size, you never look overwhelmed in your outfits! Great idea on the girls department. I know some petite gals who shop kids shoes as well, the prices are way better in the kids department! Yes, Mom is a true petite who love fashion, and Anthropologie like you! Have a wonderful weekend, looks like you have some fabulous weather over there! XO
Help, Suzanne! I’m NOT Sure MY Body Type, As I Don’t Feel I Fit Any Of These. The Closest I Can Relate To Is The Hour Glass, As I Am Curvy Top And Bottom. I Don’t Ever Wear Belts Because Of My Belly, I Feel It Causes It To Look More Prominent Than If I Wear Clothes That SKiM Over IT Without Clinging. Thoughts?
Hi April! Descriptions of Body Types can only cover so much, therefore only use them as a guide. We are each so unique in our own shapes and sizes, not one guide could possibly cover us all. That said, If you are curvy on bottom and top, With a defined waist line, you do fit into an hourglass description. That said, If you don’t like the look of a belt, don’t do it! When I wear a belt, I actually get compliments – but I hate the way it looks on me…same thing, I feel it accentuates my mommy belly. So yes, I would wear “fit and Flare” type tops that skim your curves, but don’t cling. Nipped in at the waist, but not tight. Fit and flare dresses, fit and flare wrap dresses – with a long pendant necklace. You may like v-neck, cold shoulder, open neck sweaters that are semifitted and end at the top of your hipbone- nothing too bukly if you are well endowed! YOu could even add a thinner weight fitted puffer (nothing boxy) over a lightweight sweater ( the sweater being a little longer than the vest) to add definition to your waist. You may prefer dark skinny jeans – with a pattern blouse or top to draw the eye up. Necklaces will draw the eye up as well. I say experiement with this only as a guide, and have some fun with your own style! I Hope that helps! xx Suzanne
Fantastic tips all around! I absolutely love your look and i immediately thought how can i recreate this?! Thanks so much for linking up with Fabulous Friday, Susan!
A Pocketful of Polka Dots
Thank you Jennie for stopping by and your kind words! I love your blog and weekly link up! xx
What are your thoughts about cleavage? My bff thinks she’s “old” (she’s 33 and has 3 kids – she’s younger than me so she’ll never be “old!”) and is in a wedding this spring. She’s a size 12-14 and has large breasts; the bridesmaid dress is a wrap and the bride doesn’t want her to wear a cami or bralette, yet she wants a “little bit” of cleavage showing. We can’t decide how much is appropriate and how best to secure the wrap so it stays in place. Thanks in advance!
Hi Molly! Great to see you here, and thank you for stopping by! In my opinion, your friend needs to feel comfortable in her dress. I think she can feel good and make the bride happy by making a quick trip to the tailor. They may be able to bring the wrap up with a small hook and eye closure – keeping the “V” neckline the bride is after, but adjusting the neckline to your friends comfort leval as well. I have secured a wrap dress with Fashion Tape as well, but if your friend is busty, she may need something more secure. Hope this helps! XO
Very informative! You are providing the best info for choosing the best sweater according to the body type. I really like this article so much. Thanks and keep sharing.
Hi Amanda! I am happy to hear that your found this post to be helpful. I love to share looks and styles featuring other women styling for their body types. You may like this post as well on denim, https://asksuzannebell.com/styling-denim-over-40-11-bloggers-share-their-favorites-style-tips-for-your-body-type/
Thanks for stopping by! xx