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Style Guide: How To Dress for Your Body Type

Humans come in many different shapes and sizes. From very tall and athletic body types to shorter and more hourglass body types, we all have a specific silhouette. Not only are our bodies constantly changing, but so are fashion trends. Fashion is meant for your beautiful body to feel confident and great, not the other way around. 

With different sizes and an infinite color palette, understanding how to dress for your body type can be confusing. So we put together your one-stop-shop guide to dressing for your body type. 

How To Measure Your Body Type

The first order of business when it comes to how to dress for your body type is taking proper measurements. There is no need to host a guessing game when purchasing clothes. Grab your trusty measuring tape and best bud to help you measure your body type. Trust us — you’ll thank us in the long run once you know your actual measurements. 

Woman wearing white bra and underwear next to text explaining how to measure your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips

Shoulder Measurements

Measuring your shoulder width is surprisingly one of the most difficult parts to size by yourself. Call on a family member or friend to help you measure this body part. Start off by placing the measuring tape at the top of one shoulder, wrapping it around to your other shoulder until you are back at your starting point. Make sure the measuring tape is slightly skimming the top portion of your shoulders. The tape should almost slip off to ensure the widest and accurate circumference of this part of your body. 

Bust Measurements

Measuring your chest can be a bust if you aren’t standing up straight. Properly measuring your bust involves wrapping your measuring tape around your entire back and across the fullest point of your breasts, which is typically the middle. The measurement of the widest or fullest point of your chest will help you if you are not sure how to dress for your body type. 

Waist Measurements

The struggle to find your pants size is real! Your pants size may differ from brand to brand, so it’s important to understand your measurements to gauge your starting point when shopping. 

When measuring your waist, start by wrapping your measuring tape around the smallest portion of your torso. This is usually around your belly button, but make sure it is the smallest section of your waist. 

Measuring tip: Make sure your measuring tape is lying flat on your back without any kinks or buckling to ensure accurate measurements. 

Hip Measurements

Hip hip, hooray! It’s time to measure your hips so you can dress for your body. Start off by placing the measuring tape below your hip bone at the fullest point. Next, wrap the measuring tape around your butt and bring it around town to the starting point. 

We know it can get a little tricky when wrapping the tape around the largest portion of your bum. To avoid running into any sticky situations, make sure you keep the tape flat for an accurate hip measurement. 

3 Main Body Types

While there are many different body types, William H. Sheldon, PhD, MD, established the classification of body types. This classification of body types is used primarily by doctors or nutritionists to build nutrition and fitness plans. 

The three main types of bodies defined by Dr. Sheldon are ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Each has its own characteristics to help you figure out which body type you fall into. 

1. Ectomorph Body Type 

The ectomorph body type is known for long and lean figures. It’s common for the ectomorph body type to have low body fat and not much in the muscle department. These individuals typically have a hard time gaining any weight, and are often flat-chested without any junk in the trunk. 

A few common characteristics of the ectomorph body type are: 

  1. Narrow shoulders, hips, and chest 
  2. Longer face with a higher forehead
  3. Skinny, long arms and legs 

A few celebrities that fall into this category are Jim Parsons, Andrew Garfield, Taylor Swift, and Kendall Jenner. 

2. Mesomorph Body Type

Mesomorphs are the in-between body type: neither overweight nor underweight. The mesomorph body type has a higher muscle-to-fat ratio compared to ectomorph or endomorph. Individuals with more of a medium build would classify themselves as mesomorph. 

If you can eat whatever you want while maintaining your weight without much effort, your body type classification is most likely mesomorph. You are solid, strong, and more athletic than most. 

If you are not sure how to dress for your body type you might fall under the mesomorph body type simply because you are in between lean and muscular. 

Typical characteristics of the mesomorph body type are: 

  1. Wide shoulders
  2. Developed athletic build
  3. An active metabolism that allows you to gain muscle mass while simultaneously losing weight 

Will Smith and Madonna are a few celebrities that fall under the category of mesomorphs. 

3. Endomorph Body Type

Do you love your shapely curves? You might classify your body type as an endomorph. People who fall under the endomorph body type carry a little more weight than average and gain weight easier, yet still have a lot of muscle. 

Some of the characteristics of endomorph body type are:

  1. Round or pear-shaped bodies
  2. Wide hips and shoulders
  3. Higher body fat in arms and thighs

It’s important to note that endomorphs are not always overweight but they are fuller than the other body types.

Jonah Hill, Melissa McCarthy, or even the late Chris Farley can be described as endomorphs. In reality, some celebrities fall under the endomorph category that you might not even realize, like Marilyn Monroe. 

Female Body Shapes and How To Dress Them

How many times have you walked into a store, saw something you liked on the mannequin, and as soon as you try it on, you realize it looks completely different? We promise you are not the only one! Don’t feel bad if you’re unsure how to dress for your body type. All you need to do to fix this problem is to buy clothes for your unique body shape. 

The five different body types for women are round/apple, triangle/pear, inverted triangle, rectangle/athletic, and hourglass. Let’s dive deeper to help you find out how to best dress for your body type.   

Five women with inverted triangle, pear, rectangle, round, and hourglass bodies wearing maroon-colored one-piece bathing suits and bikinis

Round or Apple

The round body shape, better known as the apple body shape, has larger characteristics than other shapes. If you have a larger upper body with little to no defined waistline, you most likely fall under the round or apple body shape. 

Women with an apple shape might have a harder time finding items that fit properly. Individuals with this type of female body typically purchase items that are oversized to compensate for larger chests. You no longer need to hide under those oversized layers. Focus on choosing a style of clothing that’s more proportionate.  

Round body types can accentuate their bust, shoulders, and even their neckline with peplum tops, V-necks, and dolman sleeves. You can also create more definition with wrap-style shirts. If you have an apple-shaped body, flared jeans and bootcut pants are excellent options to balance out your silhouette. If you are looking for the best dress for your body type, look for something that is off the shoulder or has an empire waist to draw more attention to your shoulders and legs. 

Fashion tip: Don’t be afraid to add a belt to accentuate your torso and cinch your waist. 

Tips for dressing a female round body:

  1. Keep details on the top and lower third portion of your body. 
  2. Opt for shirts or dresses that have a subtle V-neck and aren’t overly complicated or intricate. 
  3. Try drawing attention to your bust and neck instead of your waist, arms, and shoulders for more body balance. 
  4. Create outfits that balance out your proportions based on structure vs. weight. 
  5. Find fabrics that sit close and comfortably to your body like silk or cotton. Make sure the material isn’t clinging to your skin. 
  6. Guide wandering eyes to your favorite features with the use of lines, patterns, and colors. You can lengthen your body, add curves, and even emphasize certain body parts with this tactic. 

Triangle or Pear

The triangle or pear-shaped type of female body is described as having a wider bottom and narrow top. Women with hips and thighs that are wider than their shoulders fall under this body type umbrella. Some women might be confused whether they have a pear body shape or an hourglass due to similarities with defined hips. However, pear-shaped figures who have wider hips aren’t as busty as hourglass bodies. 

The important takeaway when you aren’t sure how to dress for your body type is to add equal balance between body parts. For example, triangle-shaped women might want to draw more attention to the upper half of their bodies due to having wider hips and thighs. It’s all about finding tops that hit the right part of your hips while adding more volume with wider necklines. 

Peplum, square, cowl, and boat neck tops are best for pear-shaped bodies to draw eyes upward and add more volume. Since triangle-shaped women have wider bottoms, try to slim out your figure with straight or even high-waisted jeans to help flatter your curves. The best dresses for pear-shaped women are A-line, fit-and-flare, off-the-shoulder, and even wrap dresses to highlight your favorite features. 

Tips for dressing a female triangle body:

  1. Wear statement tops with embellished details to draw more attention to your upper body. Make sure to accentuate those shoulders!  
  2. Padded and push-up bras can help you add more volume to your top half. 
  3. When wearing statement tops, opt for darker or neutral tones for bottoms to slim out your pear-shaped body. 
  4. Choose straight-legged pants or leggings to hug your legs, whereas flared pants will make your legs appear thicker. 
  5. Add statement necklaces and drop earrings to bring more focus to your neckline. 

    Inverted Triangle

    If you have shoulders that are broad with slimmer hips, you most likely have an inverted triangle body shape type. You might also have a wider bust with narrow hips and waist. Inverted triangle women typically have straight hips, slim legs, either some or no waist definition, and muscular arms and legs. 

    Women with the inverted triangle body type should create balance between wider shoulders and a slimmer bottom half. Adding emphasis to your lower body will help balance out your strong neckline and wide shoulders. 

    Not sure what to wear for your type of female body? The best tops for inverted triangle bodies are peplum, scoop, crew, and V-necks. If you are looking for pants that complement your inverted body type, choose wide-leg, flared, straight, or even baggy boyfriend jeans to balance out your shape. A-line and fit-and-flare dresses will be your best friend because they already have built-in structure. 

    Tips for dressing a female inverted triangle body:

    1. Soften your shoulders and neckline with soft, drapey fabrics. 
    2. Create the illusion of curves by adding more volume with bootcut, flared, and boyfriend jeans. 
    3. Avoid defined necklines like boat-neck, halter, and cowl collars. 
    4. Cropped jackets are also a great option to keep wandering eyes focused on your waist instead of your chest. 
    5. Accentuate your lower body with statement heels or chunky booties. 

    Rectangle or Athletic

    Women who wear the same size on the top and bottom can be defined as the rectangle or athletic body type. Your hips, waist, and bust are in line with your shoulders, causing you a straight silhouette. With your measurements fairly similar across your body, you will want to create the illusion of curves. 

    Not sure how to break up the rectangle? Choose a top with a detailed collar or a sweetheart neckline to add more volume to your upper body. If you’re wearing a deep V-neck shirt, pair the outfit with wide-leg or flared jeans to add more flow. 

    To show off your athletic body type, we recommend you try on a flutter- or puff-sleeve mini dress. Don’t forget to play around with statement earrings, pointed shoes, and trusty belts. 

    Tips for dressing a female rectangle body:

    1. Define your waist with a belt, cinched shirts and jackets, or color-blocking patterns. 
    2. Utilize shoulder-detailed tops and dresses to add more volume to your upper body. Try a puff-sleeve blouse or a one-shoulder dress. 
    3. Create more body balance by complementing your top and bottom. If you choose a voluminous blouse, choose a more fitted bottom to add more proportion. 
    4. Don’t be afraid to add texture with ruffles, frills, or embellishments to create more volume to your body. 
    5. Show off your favorite assets with mini dresses and skirts. The flattering length will compliment your legs. 

    Hourglass

    If your body looks like Beyonce or Marilyn Monroe, you are most likely going to fall under the hourglass type of female body. Hourglass babes have equal measurements for hips and shoulders with a slimmer, more defined waist. The most important tip if you are unsure how to dress for this body type is to define your waist. 

    The hourglass figure is known for having busty chests and a feminine silhouette. Choose outfits that balance your hourglass figure by opting for items that are more fitted in the chest, hips, and waist. The key is to work with your hourglass figure, instead of going against it. 

    When searching for the best tops for an hourglass figure, it is important to select fitted tops to balance out your larger bust. V-necks and keyhole tops accentuate your chest without revealing too much. High-waisted pants will be your best friend to help highlight your waist and curves. Throw on a jumpsuit or sheath dress to look put together without all of the effort. 

    Tips for dressing a female hourglass body:

    1. Embrace your curves! Don’t hide under multiple layers or boxy styles. 
    2. Wear a supportive bra to hold up your full chest and define your figure. 
    3. Utilize lines to lengthen your silhouette. Thin and narrow lines can help balance out your curves. 
    4. Use belts and fitted pieces to define your narrow waist and draw more attention to your midsection. 
    5. Keep your accessories simple and have the main focus be your outfit and natural curves. 

    Male Body Shapes and How To Dress Them

    Knowing how to dress for your body type doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take time and dedication. The first thing you need to do is identify your body type and understand your measurements. 

    The five types of male bodies are triangle, inverted triangle, rectangle, oval, and trapezoid. Somehow, the billions of men in the world fall under one of these five categories. Let’s find your specific body type to help you dress well for your frame. 

    Five men with inverted triangle, trapezoid, rectangle, triangle, and oval body types all wearing the same pair of blue-gray underwear.]

    Triangle

    If you have ever been told you have a dad bod, you most likely fall under the triangle type of body. The triangle body type for men is defined by a thinner silhouette, narrow shoulders, and wide waist. 

    Men with this body type may have a tough time selecting clothing that fits properly. The solution? Find outfits that draw focus to your upper body and away from your waist. When dressing your triangle body type, choose the right size that isn’t too big or tight. 

    The key to styling outfits for a dad bod is to embrace your natural appearance. Throw on a pair of straight-leg denim to optimize your waist. Stick to darker shirt colors like black, gray, or navy to slim out your figure. 

    Tips for dressing a male triangle body:

    1. Avoid horizontal stripes at all costs! These stripes will make you look wider than usual. 
    2. Make sure you are purchasing clothes that aren’t too tight or loose. Don’t size up or down; instead, pick something that is fitted with some breathing room. 
    3. Visit a local tailor to make sure all shirts and pants fit properly.
    4. Eliminate bright and bold colors that may draw attention to your waist. 
    5. Stay away from fitted collar shirts that tend to thin out your shoulders while highlighting any roundness of your stomach and waist. 

    Inverted Triangle

    For all the gym rats out there, you may find yourself with the inverted triangle body type. The inverted triangle body type for men is basically a triangle that starts with the base at the shoulders and comes to a point at your belly button. You have a defined chest and well-developed shoulders that are broader than your waist. 

    Your weekly muscle pump is paying off with accentuated muscle and a slim waist. The goal with dressing for the inverted triangle is to show off your toned body. However, it might be tougher to find clothes that fit since manufacturers often cater more to men who have a rectangle or oval-shaped body.

    When it comes to styling your toned torso and muscular frame, you will want to opt for slim-fit shirts to subtly flaunt your physique. V-neck shirts are also great choices to draw attention to your chest. Slim-fit pants and straight-leg denim are also excellent options to pair nicely with your slimming shirt. 

    Tips for dressing a male inverted triangle body:

    1. Throw on a fitted jacket to add more details to your slim silhouette. 
    2. Avoid unfitted suits and blazers with overpowering shoulder pads. Opt for something more fitted.  
    3. Stock up on cotton shirts that stretch across your shoulders and defined chest. 
    4. Stick to neutral colors and avoid busy patterns that can make your body appear disproportionate. 
    5. Slim pants are a yes, ultra-skinny jeans are a no. Super-tight jeans will make your muscular legs look too scrawny compared to your toned torso. 

    Rectangle

    The rectangle body type is more than just your average Joe. If you are skinny on top with straight lines downward as well, then you, my friend, have the rectangle body shape. 

    When it comes to dressing a rectangle, fitted clothes will be your best friend. One wrong size upward and your body will be swimming in fabric. On the other hand, if you pick up something that is way too tight, you could appear even thinner than usual. 

    Tips for dressing a male rectangle body:

    1. Be an onion! Add as many layers as possible without dying from overheating. Layering can make you appear wider to balance out your thin frame. 
    2. Purchase a tailored suit that has enough structure to make you appear well-balanced. 
    3. Avoid the oversized clothing trend, unless you want to look extremely wide and unflattering. 
    4. Horizontal stripes can subtly change your look by adding a bit more width to your silhouette. 
    5. Don’t be afraid to pick up brightly colored clothes to help your body look more dynamic. 

    Oval

    For all of the men who carry a little extra warmth in their tummy area, you are going to be categorized as the oval body type. This type of male body is known for wider waists, slim hips, and a more prominent stomach. 

    A very common goal for oval men is to find clothes that create the illusion of a smaller waist area. Unsure how to dress for your body type? Pick out clothing pieces in darker colors or items that have vertical stripes to change the eye focus. 

    Tips for dressing a male oval body:

    1. Regular-fit T-shirts are great options for casual male outfits. 
    2. Long jackets can add more length to your frame. Choose a trench coat, an overcoat, or even a mid-length jacket for colder seasons.  
    3. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that can enhance your curves. 
    4. Baggy clothes are a big no-no! Do not hide your physique, embrace your beautiful figure. 
    5. Pick up straight-leg jeans and put down those cropped and cuffed denim. 

    Trapezoid

    For all of the Jon Hamm lookalikes out there, you are a trapezoid. No, seriously. You have broad shoulders and a toned torso that tapers down ever so naturally. 

    Congratulations — not only do you look like Jon Hamm, but you also have one of the easiest body types to style. Manufacturers and fashion designers create their latest pieces with you as their inspiration. This body type has limitless options when it comes to fashion. 

    Tips for dressing a male trapezoid body:

    1. Take advantage of your natural build and standard height with slim, fitted clothes. 
    2. Stay away from anything that is baggy or loose-fitted. 
    3. Vertical lines can add more height, while horizontal stripes and plaid can add more bulk. 
    4. Avoid super tight shirts and ultra-skinny jeans. Opt for something that is slim-fitting to hug you in all the right places. 
    5. Complete your outfit with a simple shoe and a classic watch. Patterned and colored pocket squares can also elevate your look. 

    Additional Considerations 

    Fashion comes in all shapes, sizes, and even trends based on age. Not only do you have to find your measurements and body type, but you also have to search for fashion trends for your age range. Let’s see how to dress for your body type and age. 

    Three men and three women wearing different clothing types representing how to dress for your body type

    How To Dress for Your Body Type and Age

    Are you following the fashion trends in your age group? A 40-year-old mom of three might not be shopping for the same dress as a freshman college student. 

    If you are in your teens and 20s, play around with mini dresses, distressed denim, and vintage graphic tees. Keep it fun and playful while you are young. As you enter your 30s and 40s, balance out your youthful items with chic outfits. As you move along the timeline, keep your fashion items classic and timeless. 

    However, dressing for your age doesn’t mean completely conforming to the fashion age group you fall under. A number doesn’t define which pair of jeans you purchase or the basic LBD your daughter just bought at the mall. As long as you feel comfortable and confident in the clothes, then we say go for it and own it! 

    How To Dress for Plus Size Body Types

    Bigger is beautiful when it comes to your body. You have curves in all the right places, and you have a more voluminous figure. Don’t feel bad if you are unsure how to dress for plus size body types. 

    Thankfully, more and more brands are creating inclusive sizing so you can strut the streets in all the latest trends. Let’s go over some cuts, patterns, and styles that pair perfectly with your plus size body type. 

    Tips for dressing a plus size body:

    1. Elongate your torso with an open V-neck or draw the eye upward with a scoop neck top. 
    2. Dresses are great options because they are flattering for your figure. Emphasize your waist with a wrap dress or elongate your body with a midi dress.
    3. Denim is your best friend! Balance out your curves with boot-cut jeans, lengthen your legs with skinny jeans, or elongate your frame with a pair of straight-leg pants. 
    4. Don’t be afraid to throw on a jacket to complete your look. Opt for a belted jacket to define your waist, or a tailored blazer can add more structure to your frame. 
    5. Add accessories to any look to enhance your features. Belts define your waist, pointed shoes can lengthen your legs, and necklaces are always a great option for some extra sparkle. 

    Every man and woman comes in different shapes and sizes. We are all human and should appreciate the body we have. These body type classifications are a starting point if you are unsure how to dress for your body type. Most of us are a combination of a few! 

    We hope you feel comfortable styling your body with our expert tips. At Tommy John, we want you to feel confident and beautiful in all of your clothes. Whether you are dressing up loungewear or stepping out for an evening adventure, stay true to your beautiful body.