Styling Rulesare hardly generic! As a matter of fact, they should be customized to the individual; since everyone comes in different body sizes and shapes, we all need to learn what to wear and what to avoid in order to best flatter our body shape. Being compared to an object like an Hourglass or a Pear is not always flattering, especially when we carry a few extra pounds that we are trying to lose; it can be hurtful to stand in front of a mirror and look at our own body flaws trying to determine the body shape, but it is a necessary step.
Remember: no one has a "perfect" body; I have met many women who are ready to tell you exactly what they don't like about their bodies, evenmodels and celebrities!
It is extremely important to determine our body type - first and foremost- as it helps us to visualize a certain shape; then, we chose what to wear to best suit our body shape, making therefore, the most of our body by creating an illusion of a well balanced figure.
"Fashion is arch"itecture: it is a matter of proportions. "
The most important thing to analyze first is the body shape we currently have: keep in mind that it has nothing to do with size, it's all about proportions. All body types come in a mix of fuller and slimmer shapes.
Here I will present the most common body types and subdivide them in: Top Heavy, Bottom Heavy, then both Top and Bottom Heavy, and No Curves; decide where you fit and then follow the simple styling steps to better balance the body type.
TOP HEAVY BODY TYPE:
*The LOLLIPOP body shape: Big breasts, not too broad shoulders, short waist and long skinny legs.
*The GOBLET body shape: Heavy and square on the top, large breasts, a big tummy and broad back sitting on slender legs.
BOTTOM HEAVY BODY TYPE:
*The SKITTLE body shape: top half is long and slim and widens at the bottom with saddlebags and a big bum on short legs.
*The BELL body shape: petite woman with small shoulders and breasts and a large bottom and waist.
*The PEAR body shape: small at the top with small shoulders and breasts, tiny waist, big thighs (saddlebags), and the calves and ankles don't have much definition.
TOP and BOTTOM HEAVY BODY TYPE:
*The APPLE body shape: is all round; small shoulders, big breasts and waist, big hips and buttocks and no definition in the calves and ankles.*The HOURGLASS body shape: Big shoulders and breasts, small short waist, big hips (bottom half and top half are equal in size).
*The VASE body shape: It's a stretched Hourglass, more length and a flatter bottom.
The CELLO body shape: broad shoulders, large breasts, very big buttocks, hips and thighs (bigger than the top).
NO CURVES/ ATHLETIC BODY TYPE:
*The BRICK body shape: it's a masculine shape, broad shoulders, flat buttocks, no waist line, straight up and down short legs.
*The CONE body shape: triangular shape, it's an athletic build with broad shoulders, little breast, no waist line, small hips and buttocks.
*The COLUMN body shape: very tall, statuesque build. No curves, the top half and bottom half are equal in size.
STYLE SOLUTIONS for EACH BODY TYPE:
TOP Heavy body shapes:
Goal:Pick pieces that are shaped but not tight. Bring attention to the bottom half of the body.
Get a well fitting bra first, more than 85% of North American women wear the wrong size bra! Most stores offer a fitting session and service for free.
Don't wear tops with: ruffles or pastel shades, thin spaghetti straps, delicate camisole tops or complicated necklines. Avoid high neck lines, wear instead wide v-neck halves, not in a bulky material. Dresses should have strategic gathers under the breast to direct all eyes to your waist. Skirts should be fitted at the top and flaring at the hemline (to balance the top and the bottom), a cute tulip skirt works here. Avoid high waisted "anythings" at all cost! Bell bottom trousers balance out the breasts so you look less top heavy. Shoes should be high and a medium to slim heel to complement the shapely legs. Structured jackets, with one or two buttons under the breast, work well for a bigger bust, make sure the jacket can be buttoned; if a size bigger is necessary, then bring the jacket to the tailorand get both sides (at the waist) taken in, we want to achieve an hourglass shape!
Don't Wear: A lot of women who have larger busts try to camouflage it with boxy blazers. A blazer hides a double-D bust, but it makes a waist and the rest of the body look much bigger as well.
Do Wear: A fitted, single-breasted fitted blazer, making sure it defines the waist but is roomy enough in the bust that it doesn't pull. The overall effect is slimming and shape-defining.
BOTTOM Heavy body shapes:
Goal: bring attention to the top half of the body and away from problem areas.
Clingy skirts and tapered pants are a no-no as they highlight the hip, so trow them out of the closet; fuller leg trousers and flared skirts hide bulges. Wear any vertical pattern on the bottom half (to slim the appearance) even if it is in the seaming. Darker colors recede, so go dark on the bottom half of the body (no shiny fabrics) and wear lightercolors on top. To broaden shoulders and bring the attention up to the top half, wear big lapels, color and embellishment on the neckline, even a small shoulder pad will bring balance to a wider bottom.
Avoid side pockets, opt instead for a flat-front trouser. Super-slim jeans and pencil skirts are not a good choice. A defined waist, full skirt and strapless cut dress will bring all the focus to the smaller upper half. High-waisted, belted skirts draw attention to a slimmer waist line (hem it just above the knee), but wear them only if you have smaller breasts. Avoid Empire waist dresses that hide the waistline, choose instead a defined waist and an A-line skirt (wrap dress) to accentuate the upper half. Get a full, pleated Knee-length skirt to conceal a wide hip. Full, wide-leg gauchos drape without clinging and are afashionable choice. Avoid tapered cut pants that emphasize a wide middle area, try a boot-cut pant and jeans to create a straight, lean line. Pleats are dangerous and so are too-high waist lines on pants, a flat front trouser on a medium rise (1 inch below belly button) is more flattering on this body shape.
A funnel shaped coat (buttons on the top half) is very flattering, also a coat with belt will bring attention to the waist, like a classy trench coat. In the summer wear a thigh-skimming Craftan over the bathing suit, it's a classy and fashionable way to cover up and balance a wider hip.
Cone heels on a dressy shoe will help balance out the bottom half of the body. Straight winter boots will look fashionable and also help cover shapeless calves and ankles. Don't do ankle straps, they brake the lineof the leg.
Don't Wear:A straight button-dress that hugs the curves at the hips, making them appear larger, not to mention the pull on the buttons in curvy areas can draw unwanted attention.
Do Wear:A wrap dress to emphasize the smallest part of the body (the upper half), allowing the bottom to A-line over the rest, camouflaging large hips and thighs. A print, especially over a darker background is slimming and will diffuse the attention on the pattern, not on the curves.
"Highlight the positive and delete the negative."
TOP and BOTTOM Heavy body types:
Goal:The secret is not to hide any part of the body, but to show it off, nobody looks good in a straight oversized tent dress. The clothes must be fitted (not tight) and curve hugging.
Wear V-neck fitted cardigans, scooped necks and pencil skirts. Skirts should be fastened on the side and flat-fronted, to avoid extra bulk. Sewn down paneling on the top half of a bottom-pleated skirt holds the tummy at the front and cuts the buttocks in half. Asymmetric pleats on a tulip skirt will lift and bring out the bottom. Wear jackets with a single button (which will emphasize the narrowest area of the body). Traditional jeans don't alwayswork, so go for a tailored, wide legged denim trouser. Avoid tight, wide-cut pants, which can make the bottom look wider; a straighter leg style (full but not flared), that doesn't pull at the hips, is more flattering. Avoid pleats around the hips and belly (they add bulk) or anything high-waisted. Wear waist defining pieces and empire-waist dresses. A fitted trench with belt is great as a coat. Pick chiffon dresses, with a corset. As for shoes, avoid stilettos, curvy girls need curvy shoes! Go for a small, shaped wedge sandal, and a rounded or peep toe shoe.
NO CURVES body types:
Goal:Create curves and an ideal hourglass shape.
Draping dresses with patterns will create curves in all the right places (size the pattern to the body- small frame= small pattern, and vice versa). Don't assume any bra with padding will work; it must fit so the seams and padding can't be seen (P.S. Avoid deep Vee shirts with padded bras). Never go bra-less under flimsy fabrics, no matter how small the breast, it's not classy.
A feminine chiffon dress will soften the shape. Halter tops create soft curves. Gathering and pleating on a shirt (at the sleeves and waist) creates curves. Skinny jeans will hug the skinny shapeless hips, giving them more definition. Choose delicate heels to highlight slim ankles. Accessorize, to keep you looking very stylish and feminine (use lace, beads and other feminine detailing). Invest in some cute waist-defining belts to wear over shirts, cardigans, coats, etc.
"Accentuate your best features and disguise what you are not so happy with. Choose outfits that fit and make you look comfortable rather than those that are up-to-the-minute."
Now that you know what to wear, a few last minute tid-bits of advice: Practice the art of camouflage. A well known fashion truth: darker colors minimize, while lighter or shiny ones highlight. To play down a large chest, avoid wearing bright metallic tops. Have a thicker waist? A dark brown belt is better than a white one. Horizontal stripes make anything look wider. To look taller and leaner wear monocromatic tops and bottoms (match shoes to trousers for a longer leg line). To do color safely, accessorize!
Get a Tailor:You can't expect every size 12 dress to fit every size 12 woman in the bust, waist and hips perfectly. That means find a reliable tailor so that the clothes fit the body. A tailor can make a cheaper item look expensive, when it's fit to the body.
Styling Dos and Don'ts have nothing to do with size. These days, flattering choices abound for women of all shapes. Love your body, be stylish and confident, it shows that you appreciate and respect yourself.
Celebrity Body Types:
Bigger on top: Scarlett Johansson, Salma Hayek, Lindsay Lohan, Carmen Electra, Nikki Blonsky.
Bigger on bottom: Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Shakira, Rihanna.
Hourglass: Jordin Sparks, Beyonce, Jessica Simpson, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, America Ferrera, Tyra Banks.
Apple shape: Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Osbourne, Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears.
No curves: Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Hilary Duff, Pink, Keira Knightley.