Dressing for your body type – ladies

Thinking of rebranding?
Bernard Kelvin Clive, Brand Strategist at BKC Consulting, making a point at the maiden Brand-CON Africa in Accra

Did you know that your grooming habits can impact how others see you and the kind of opportunities you will get? Corporate grooming is something not many people take seriously, but it’s important in setting yourself apart from the competition.

You too can slay!

Do you ever wonder why certain people look better in the same outfit than others at your workplace? It’s not because of the outfit. It’s because of body type. Certain outfits look better on some body types than others. The best solution is to find your body shape and then dress accordingly. It will make you appear more confident.

According to the results of a recent survey I conducted, almost 80% of corporate ladies are unaware of their body types.

I believe that your appearance is important in how people perceive you. I want to share with you that the best way to look good is to choose the appropriate clothes for your body type so that you can feel confident about yourself.

What is your body type?

Knowing your body type is the first step to dressing better. You can figure out your body type by taking the following measurements:

Waist: measure around your natural waistline, which is typically located right above the belly button.

Shoulders: measure across your back, wear a sleeveless shirt that the shoulders would rest on.

Hips: Stand with your feet together and measure around the fullest part of your hips.

Once you’ve measured these points, you’ll want to compare them to this chart to determine what body type you are:

Your shoulders and hips are roughly equal lengths, but at least two inches wider than your waist. Shoulder width is 9″ or more apart, and waist is 27″ or less in circumference. Hips are 36″ or more in circumference. This means that you have an hourglass body

Inverted Triangle-shaped body

If you have an inverted-triangle body, your hips are smaller than your shoulders and your upper body is wider than your lower body.

The inverted triangle body shape is defined by having a longer torso and shorter legs. A woman with this body type tends to carry herself with grace and elegance. Her shoulders are broad and square-shaped, while her hips tend to be narrow. Several female models are of this body type; typically associated with feminine confidence, power, and beauty.

For balance in your appearance, getting an A-Line dress, fit and flare, and V and U-neck tops work fine.

Pear-shaped body/ Triangle

If you have a pear-shaped body, your hips are wider than your shoulders and your upper body is narrower than your lower body. You may also have a small bust and a defined waist. If you’re pear-shaped, look for clothing that accentuates your waistline, but fits easily over the hips and thighs.

Accentuate your shoulders with puffed sleeves or ruffles to balance the bottom half of the torso, and choose skirts and pants with wide legs to make the hips appear narrower. High-waisted pants and skirts can help elongate the lower half of the body as well as flatter it.

Apple-shaped body/ Circle

If you have an apple-shaped body, chances are you have a fuller face and bust, defined waist, and narrow hips. This shape is characterised by fuller mid-sections.

To play up the positive and downplay the negative when it comes to apple body shapes, try these tips:

Tops: Wear tops that highlight your bust or shoulders. V-necks will make your torso look longer and more proportional by drawing the eye downward. Halter tops also work well for apple shapes because they accentuate your upper body while minimising the appearance of heavy mid-sections.

Trousers/Pants: Try drawing attention away from your mid-section with pants that billow out away from your body at the bottom, like wide-leg trousers or boot-cut trousers which help balance out an apple’s shape. Avoid skinny jeans!

Dresses: Wrap dresses are great for this figure type since they fit well at the waist to define it, while giving off an hourglass illusion – universally flattering on any figure type! If you do not have a defined waistline, choose dresses that nip in at your natural waistline (the smallest part of your torso). Empire-line dresses are also a good option as they flow outward from under the bust to create a slimming effect.

Hourglass shape body

If you have an hourglass shape, then your shoulders and hips are evenly proportioned, with a narrow waist that curves in between the two. The key to dressing for this body type is to find dresses and tops that fit well on your upper body but flare out around your waist.

NB: Most mannequins are this sharp, so don’t be fooled by the outfits that fit them in stores.

Dresses with a belt or empire waist are great for creating the illusion of a smaller waist.

Avoid boxy cuts or loose-fitting tops or dresses as these will make you look square and hide your curves.

Opt for trousers that fit snugly around the seat and thighs, but not so tight that they pinch – bootleg styles are great for accentuating your curves!

Rectangular shape

If you have a rectangular body shape, you likely have little to no curves. Your waist is about the same size as your hips and shoulders, and your hips are narrow. You’ll want to keep this in mind when shopping for clothes like skirts because A-line or full skirts will balance out your figure by adding more volume to your lower half. The same goes for straight-legged pants—they will add width to your lower body.

With dresses and shirts, look for ones that cinch at the waist with ruffles or pleating. These details create the illusion of having a defined waist (even if you don’t).

On top, look for styles that add bulk at the shoulder line—such as puffed sleeves or shoulder pads—to give your frame more shape.

Knowing your body type can help you dress better

Knowing your body type is essential for dressing well. It allows you to hide the parts of yourself that make you feel less confident, and accentuate the parts of yourself that you love. Ladies, know that you are uniquely unique! Everyone’s measurements are different, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others.

The first thing you’ll need is a measuring tape. Make sure you’re wearing something form-fitting while measuring your body, like a leotard or a bathing suit (if this feels uncomfortable, do it by yourself!).

To find your waistline, measure around the smallest part of your waist with the measuring tape held snugly against your skin. Don’t pull so tight that it gives you a muffin top! Just wrap it around comfortably (you want to be able to breathe). Then, divide this measurement by the measurement taken at the widest part of your hips. This will give you what doctors call your “waist-to-hip ratio” (WHR).

If you have a WHR greater than 0.8, then congratulations — you’ve got an hourglass figure! If your WHR is between 0.7 and 0.8, then don’t despair, there are still plenty of ways for people with rectangle shapes to dress for success!

Quick exercise:

Look out for popular business people who are the body type that you admire and check the kind of outfit they wear and take some inspiration from them.

Take a look at the following: Dr. Joyce Aryee, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Samira Bawumia, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Lady Joy Otabil, etc.

Now, share this knowledge of your body type with your stylist or seamstress. And I believe that your next outfit will surely be ‘tailor-made’.

A professional stylist can best assist you with your clothing selections to ensure that you look your best for every occasion.

Put on your finest clothes!

Excerpts from Finesse: your quick guide to Corporate Grooming.

Bernard Kelvin Clive is an Author, Speaker, Lecturer, Corporate Trainer, a brand strategist at BKC consulting, and runs the monthly Branding & Publishing Masterclass. Visit www.BKC.name


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