Dress Styles for Your Body Shape

The dress?

Image by Leia via Flickr

What is your signature dress style?

There are many dress styles to choose from, so how do you choose which dress style is right for you? Your body shape is the key factor. Once you determine your body shape, you can narrow down the search for your signature dress style.  There are many online quizzes you can take to determine your body shape; however, my favorite body shape quiz is by designer Joy Wilson. The quiz can be found at: www.bodyshapefashionadvice.com

You will find that most fashion buffs agree that there are five basic body shapes: hourglass, pear, apple, strawberry and rectangle.  When did we get so hung up on body shapes anyways?  Well, if you have been following my blog, you know how I love history, so guess what, I think I found the answer.  In the earliest part of the 20th century, artist Charles Gibson, drew a picture of  “ideal American women.”  This picture was called the “Gibson Girls.”[1]  The girls in this picture were drawn in dresses with high collars and very thin waist lines because of the corsets they wore in that time frame.  This may be where the perfect hourglass concept began.  Dress designs began to change during World War I when women began to work outside of the home while the men went to war.  Uniforms and factory aprons replaced the corset style dress.[2]  Flapper dresses, pencil skirts and poodle skirts were next to follow, and dress styles emerged.

Certain dress styles compliment your figure more than others, so once you determine which body type you are, you can narrow down your search for your signature dress style.  I have listed dress styles below under the appropriate body shape to help you determine which dress style is your signature style.  If you have determined that you are a pear shape, then go to the pear shape list to determine your signature dress style.


Look Of The Day 20100107 - Silk Blouse and Pen...

Image by Deirdre Boyer via Flickr

Lucky you, you can wear just about any dress a designer makes.  My preferred look for hour glass ladies are these dresses:

Baby doll dress


Pencil skirt cuts




Women that have a pair shape can disguise their bottom half with a flowing style dress and accent their necklines with rouching to enhance their bustline.  This gives a more evened out look. Pear shapes look their best with these style dresses:

Vintage Yellow Linen Tent Dress

Image via Wikipedia














If you have an apple shape, your goal is to have your body appear slimmer.

A-line skirt

Image by Ingwii via Flickr

A dress with a V neckline can help elongate your look, while adding an A-line skirt can offer the illusion of a waistline.  I feel these dress styles are best for apple shape women.


Coat dress

Shirt dress



This shape refers to the top heavy woman.

Pastel Rose Print Dress

Image by vintspiration via Flickr

I would recommend staying away from spaghetti strap style dresses and high necklines as they only accentuate the top heavy form.  To even out this body shape, I recommend:

Tank dress with wide straps

Empire waist




Rectangular shaped women need to add curves, therefore, dresses that have color blocking, vertical stitching and accentuated accents help create a curvy look.  I recommend these styles for rectangular shapes and adding belts to create a waistline.


Belted tank dress

1966 Spiegel catalog sheath dresses

Image by genibee via Flickr

Many dress styles have emerged over the years since the first haute couture fashion house in Paris was established by Charles Worth in1857. [3] These are not the only style dresses that can be found out there, however, these styles are my personal recommendations.  Have fun shopping for your signature style.

[1] Jones, Jen. Fashion History, Looking Great Through the Ages. Mankato, Minnesota, Capstone Press, 2007.  P. 14.

[2] Jones, Jen. Fashion History, Looking Great Through the Ages. Mankato, Minnesota, Capstone Press, 2007.  P. 15 – 17.

[3] Jones, Jen. Fashion History, Looking Great Through the Ages. Mankato, Minnesota, Capstone Press, 2007.  P. 12.


2 thoughts on “Dress Styles for Your Body Shape

  1. Then there’s me. I’m watermelon shape . . . combination of apple, strawberry and pear! Oh my, I sound like a fruit salad. Just kidding.

    This was a very informative article with appropriate illustration, as good as any I’ve seen in the fashion mags.

    • Thank you Miss Demure Restraint. 🙂

      I had a nice laugh, actually we’ve probably all been a fruit salad at one point in our lives as we gain and lose weight and ,yes, I’m going to say it – age. I’ve cleaned out my closet so many times.

      Your comment (compliment) made my day. “as good as any I’ve seen in the fashion mags.”

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