fashion tips

Your Body Shape

The purpose of recognising your body shape is to enable you to work with your body so that you can learn which styles complement your positive figure characteristics and to correct any minor figure flaws.

Few of us have perfect bodies and are sensitive about our shortcomings, whether they are imagined or real. It is important not to be too critical of yourself. We have provided you with a guide to determine which shape you best fit into. This will help you to select the most flattering styles for your shape and what are the best options for you to consider.

There are 5 main body shapes: straight, curved, soft-straight, broad shouldered and full-rounded


Tips on selecting styles that make the most of your body features.

1. Straight Figure: are your bust, waist, and hips measurements similar?

Your aim is to create curves with your clothing.


  • Jackets - gently tailored, showing off waist, edge-to-edge closing, fitted or loose, asymmetrically closing, colarless jackets, double breasted, contrasting buttons and trims

  • Skirts - straight, crossover, wraparound, slit, knife-pleat skirts, a-line, full, tiered
  • Pants - pleated or flat front with detailing - drawing attention to your waist. Flared styles that hug your bottom will add curves
  • Necklines - scooped, rounded v-necks, square, boat, jewel, contrasting trim, v, mandarin, polo collars
  • Tailored and tapered designs will define your waist
  • Avoid boxy styles.
  • Flowing skirts, any flared styles will soften straight lines and enhance your curves

fabrics and patterns

  • Need soft clothes, which drape flatteringly to emphasize the curves.
  • Cottons, linens, wool that retains its shape, eg. gabadine, twill, tweed, tightly woven knits and jerseys, rib knits
  • You can wear stripes of all widths, abstracts, plaids, checks, bold/bright prints, shiny textures.
  • Mix and match colours are great; the contrast colours gives the illlusion of a curvier shape
  • Bold prints also add to the illusion


  • Lapels - very sharp, notched, straight with interfacing, pointed, peaked
  • Darts - should be minimal, long and straight
  • Pleats - at waist, should be pressed or stitched down
  • Wear well defined seam lines
  • Top stitching & contrast piping
  • Braid or trim

2. Curved Figure: are you a rounded shape with a defined waist; with full rounded hips and bottom?

Your aim is to take the focus away from your hips, thighs and bottom


  • Jackets- slightly fitted, shaped and belted, asymmetrically wrapped styles, trench or robe coat, rounded bottom - raglan or softly set-in shoulders, not very square
  • Pants - flat front, fluid, not baggy in a darker colour
  • Pants- don't wear tight pants. A relaxed style with a slight flare will give you a slimmer look
  • Pants - for those with a bigger bottom, avoid back pockets that are too small
  • Skirts - gently flared a-line skirts, long gored skirt, pleated from waist. Avoid baggy full skirts. A solid skirt with 2 darts will flatten your stomach
  • Necklines - draped collars, such as shawl/cowl, round, rolled, notched with round edges, soft necklines, round, scoop, v, flounce, cowl
  • Softly-fitted dresses a-line with empire waist and emphasis on the neckline. Cross-over styling also looks great
  • Tops - long-line tops and bottoms correct with concealing and balancing strategies, sweaters that end at the hip bone, sweater with padding or top interest to bring the eye up, top interest - boat neckline,wrap-syles, halters
  • Tops - scoop, funnel or v-necklines draw attention away from the hip area
  • If you have a short waist, or a tummy don't wear body-skimming styles
  • Dresses with a slight a-line cut will take away from your hips and bottom
fabrics and patterns
  • If your tummy, hips, thighs or bottom heavy, sheer fabrics floating around your body creates an illusion of lightness, eg, layering or panels - avoid clinging fabrics around hip area
  • Jersey - cotton, wool, silk blends, crepes, micro-fibres, soft brocades - medium firm textures
  • Small scale patterns - paisleys, soft abstracts, plaids or tweeds or no pattern at hip area
  • Bright coloured and textured fabrics above the waist. Stick to the dark colours for pants and skirts
  • Same colour and texture from hem to waist; little contract at hip
  • No horizontal repetition at hip Detailing
  • Lapels - rounded, curved, shawl, bias
  • Darts - single darts or soft pleats, pleats should never slant outwards from waist or stick out
  • Small seams
  • No top stitching or very fine
  • Vertical lines at hip area

3. Soft Straight Figure: are you a combination of curves and angles; straight shoulders, defined waist and curvy bottom? Or do you may have an hourglass figure, with bust & hips in proportion, and a defined waist?


  • Jackets - self trim, subtly defined waist, slightly fitted, tailored, colorless, double breasted
  • Skirts - pleated, long
  • Pant - flat front
  • Dresses are best fitted & flared shaped.
  • Collars - notched, cowl, rolled, straight with soft fabric
  • Necklines - boat, curve, turtle, scoop, v, cowl
  • Tops and bottoms look best on you when they are fitted

detailing fabrics

  • Lapels - notched with soft fabrics, shawl, sloping, rounded, sharp or peaked with soft fabric
  • Darts - straight or pleated
  • Pleats - pressed down with soft fabric or unpressed.
  • Seams - straight with unconstructed look
  • Stretchy knits are great
  • Princess line seams accentuate your curves
  • Self topstitching

4. Broad Shouldered-Full Busted: do you have larger shoulders, no waist and small hips? Or perhaps a big bust?

Your aim is to divert the eye downward to offset your bust and shoulders.

    • Don't exaggerate upper body with strapless, full-sleeved or sleeveless designs, horizontal pattern about the waist and snug or curvy tops
    • To minimize broad sholders, full bust, or lengthen your waist, wear a tunic top
    • Avoid belts - your bust and shoulders will appear larger
    • Don't exaggerate upper body with strapless, full-sleeved or sleeveless designs, horizontal pattern about the waist and snug or curvy tops
    • Broad shoulders - to soften, V neck or a plunging neckline will pull the eye away from your shoulders.This also applies with wrap dresses
    • Full bust - don't wear ruffles, cowled bodice, and avoid breast patch pockets, shoulder gathers. You need to emphasize shoulder width and neck interest
    • With a fuller bust, wear a molded or a seamless bra. this will give you a smooth look when you where tops
    fabrics and patterns
    • For a minimising illusion darker colours are best for jackets and tops
    • Skirts and pants - try brighter coloured or a printed bottom to draw attention to your lower body
    5. Full-Rounded Figure: do you have a rounded body, combined with a fuller, shorter waist?

    Please, also refer to the curved shape

    Many designers when designing clothes for the fuller figure believe that the body has to be covered with unstructured flowing garments. Over the years working with women with a fuller figure, who are in their 20's to 30's, have complained that the styles available for them are out of date and make them look 10 years older. I have found that on the whole wearing a more tailored garment makes you look slimmer and gives you a great shape.

    The aim of the full-rounded figure is to elongate, not cut in half. Focus on your positve attributes and emphasise these.

    • Jackets - tailored, long, collarless, cardigan, same as for the curved shape
    • Tops with clean lines - open necklines like boat necks, halter, scooped, wide v-necks, and jewel necks, that end below your widest point, eg. under your bottom or longer.
    • Straight long Tunic tops and overblouses that taper at waist and flair out slightly, with darts, side vents or slits
    • Pants - long fluid, gently fitted pleated front. Avoid cuffs. Pleats should start below the hips
      Pants - avoid pants that are too tight around your waist. A firmer fabric is best
    • Skirt length - whatever is the most flattering to your leg , no shorter than 3cm above the knee
    • Skirts - long pleated skirts, a-line, gently flared, and gored skirts will make your waist appear smaller and hide your thighs
    • Emphasize the shoulders with shoulder pads (not too big and when in fashion), especially if you have heavy hips or thighs or pear shape
    • Large round middle - wear full tops/tunics, with tighter bottom, leggings or short skirts/narrow at hem, create a waist/ curves with an elastic waistline, need to balance top and bottom
    • Pear shape, heavy hips or thighs - avoid tight leggings with tighter tops
    • Jackets - tailored, long, collarless, cardigan, same as for the curved shape
    • Dresses with princess line seams fit the contour of the body and button down dresses - head-to-toe colour. A classic sheath dress is also great

    fabrics and patterns

    • Bigger bottom - wear solid dark colours on your lower half
    • Wear brighter vibrant colours near your face
    • Wear pin stripes/vertical stripes
    • Patterns can be used for blouses or scarves - becomes the focal point - small scale
    • Wear soft, light flowing fabrics - soften the shape and does not add thickness to the body. Flimsy, they tend to cling.
    • Wear fabrics that don't pull or stick, but follow the curves of the body
    • Avoid distinguishable patterns in suits, choosing plain, quality fabrics
    • Avoid wearing patterns on your lower half
    • Avoid bulky fabrics, such as heavy wool, mohair
    • Avoid horizontal patterns - though this does depends on the cut and design of an outfit
    • Avoid cute animal and huge prints, detailing & horizontal design features
    • Keep details, treatments and accessories light
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