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Dressing for Your Body Shape over 50

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

Dressing for your body shape over 50 image


We can all make costly mistakes if we don’t understand our body shapes and buy clothes that don’t flatter. A while ago I took advantage of a groupon deal to take a module of a personal stylist’s course.  I hadn’t intended to become a stylist – I took it purely out of interest and to assist me when putting together style choices for the website – and better understand what clothes best suited me.  I thought it would be helpful to share some of the things I learned about identifying which body shape you are, and the best style of clothes to wear for each type.

Hourglass Characteristics:

dressing for body shape hourglass image

  • A full to medium bust
  • Well defined waist – smaller than hips and bust regardless of size
  • Shoulders and hips the same width
  • Tendency to put on weight all over

Famous hourglass: Marilyn Monroe


Best styles for Hourglass to wear:

  • Clothes that define your waist – such as high waisted skirts and jeans
  • Single breasted blazers
  • V- necks
  • Pencil skirts
  • Form fitting bodycon dresses
  • Wrap tops
  • Wear fabrics that create structure
  • Elbow length sleeves to draw attention to waist



Pear Shape  Characteristics

dressing for bodyshape pear shape image

  • Narrow shoulders
  • Smaller bust
  • Smaller waist
  • Full hips
  • Bust is narrower than hips –  at least one dress size smaller on top than bottom
  • Tendency to put on weight on bottom half

Famous Pear Shape: Beyonce

Best Styles for Pears to wear :

  • Clothes that create balance and the illusion of wider shoulders
  • Clothes that focus attention on the upper body – such as embellished tops
  • A-line skirts, dresses and coats that skim the hips
  • Pencil skirts that finish below the knee
  • Double breasted jackets that are longer and finish below the hip
  • Bootcut jeans – flare to the floor over the shoe to elongate legs
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Bell sleeves
  • Statement jewellery


 Athletic (sometimes called Rectangle) Characteristics

Dressing for body shape rectangle image

  • Small bust
  • Lack of curves
  • Slender Arms and Legs
  • Little or no waist definition (straight up and down)

Famous Rectangles:  Gwyneth Paltrow, Keira Knightley

Best styles for athletic figures to wear :

  • Dress to create the illusion of curves
  • Draw attention to slim arms and legs
  • Floaty tops – not too low cut
  • Peplum jackets
  • Skirts with fitted waists
  • Shorter skirts to show off legs
  • Embellishments
  • High necks
  • Vertical stripes
  • Harem trousers
  • Strappy shoes
  • Sleeveless printed dresses
  • Duster coats

Famous Rectangles:  Gwyneth Paltrow, Keira Knightley


Inverted Triangle Characteristics

dressing for body shape inverted triangle image

  • Wider Shoulders
  • Medium Bust
  • Defined waist
  • Narrow hips
  • Small bottom
  • Slim legs

Famous Inverted Triangles: Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore

Best styles for Inverted Triangles

  • Clothes that soften the shoulders and draw attention to the waist
  • Tops that have detail at the middle of the body to keep away from the shoulders
  • Peplums to create illusion of hips
  • Soft shoulders – no cap sleeves!
  • Remove shoulder pads from jackets and add detail on lapel to draw the eye in
  • A-line coats and waterfall jackets
  • Pleated and tulip skirts to create volume on bottom half
  • Dresses that flare at hem
  • Pale trousers
  • Trousers flared to floor
  • Harem trousers

Apple Characteristics

dressing for body shape apple image

  • Medium to large bust
  • No waist definition
  • Tendency to put on weight around the middle
  • Well proportioned bust and hips

Famous Apples: Mariah Carey, Oprah


Best styles for Apples

  • Clothes that draw attention to bust and legs and away from tummy
  • Simple v-necked tops
  • Don’t tuck blouses in
  • Printed blouses with camisole
  • Wrap tops
  • Single breasted jackets and coats
  • Wear jackets open
  • A-line skirts to balance figure
  • A-line dresses with sweetheart necklines
  • Printed trousers
  • Skinny or bootcut jeans

So there you have it. The definitive list of what to wear for your bodyshape 🙂






Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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