Saturday, 28 July 2012

Dressing for your shape

Trinny & Susannah have a rather complex system involving fruit and musical instruments to tell us our body shape, if you have big hips you’re a cello, a big tummy you’re an apple. If you can find yourself amongst their 12 silhouettes then great, follow their rules. I was never able to work it and found it a frustrating system at best. First and foremost my advice for dressing to your shape is to use common sense. Wear clothes that feel comfortable and you will look good, if something is tight and restrictive or tugging or pulling in the wrong direction, it doesn’t fit and it probably looks awful too.

Paisley print top by Zara. 

My course at the London College of Fashion used a system of four silhouettes, simply named body shape 1 to 4. The vast majority of western women, including myself are shape number 3, which is generally acknowledged as being a pear. Put simply, our hips and bottoms are wider than our shoulders. 

Here are some tips for my fellow pears;

  • The best trousers (jeans etc.) for pears are straight leg. Skinny jeans will accentuate a large bottom and chunky thighs. Beware that there are varying degrees of ‘skinny’ jeans, my favourite style of jeans from Gap are called ‘Skinny’ but are more or less straight (my theory is that marketers prefer to call them skinny jeans so people think they are being trendy). Tapered pants such as chino’s will make your bottom look gigantic and if you have large calves like me will simply not be comfortable.
  • Accentuate your waist; be it high or low, it’s your thinnest area. Higher skirts are fine now (you won’t hear sniggers and murmurs of ‘Harry high pants’). When I wear a maxi I let it sit on my waist. If you are taller, then it can sit lower but make sure your waist is not buried in fabric, stick to a fitted top and loose skirt to avoid being swamped. If you are wearing a baggy top add a skinny belt.
  • Balance your top half with your bottom half. Any kind of detail on your top half; be it a scarf, an interesting print or a statement necklace will draw the eye up and away from the hips. Details on your shoulders such as ruffles or sequins will work to balance your hips (exercise caution or you’ll look like a rugby player).

It's all about balance!
Top by Zara, Ankle zip jeans by Gap, tan flats by Next .

If you are struggling with dressing for your body shape, take your most stylish friend shopping. We all know someone who always looks great, for them it’s innate and they don’t need a degree in Style 1.1 to know what works and what doesn’t. Ask them to be kind and then let them guide you.

If you suspect you aren’t a pear and have other body concerns (big shoulders, small hips anyone?) please comment below or send me a personal message, I’m happy to work through other shapes in another blog. 

Till next time friends..


  1. Right well with everything I've learnt from Blue Belle thus far can I book in a shopping expedition on her return! All these tips I'm learning and I can't put them into action until November, doing my very best to look stylish throughout pregnancy though. The jeans advice is a big one for me takes me an age to find a pair of jeans I'm happy in - I'll head straight to the straight legs from now on. Did find a fab pregnancy pair through Jeanswest, however my friend's hubby did a little cleaning the day before a party and alas I ended up with a bleached bottom from the chairs the following day. They were kind enough to buy a new pair for me however they just don't fit the same. In fact they feel so different I won't wear them. Aaaahhh the trials and tribulations of purchasing clothing without trying before you buy!

  2. Meg, I had those jeans! They were fantastic and although they were called 'Skinny' they were actually straight. I bet you are looking fantastic, I guess you are lucky at the moment it's 'Winter' although its probably warmer than out summer here :-)

  3. How did I not see this sooner?!? Thanks Bel for talking about shapes. I never have been much into defining one's shape, but yet when I watch their shows (T&S) they always make me change my mind. They seems to so often hit the nail on the head. So unless you have T & S sitting in your closet every day, it leaves us still up in the air when it comes to what really suits us, shape wise. You have given some great advice for those of us still up in the air. So thank you. Sorry for only just seeing this now!

  4. haha - must laugh - I just found the T & S website and decided to do the quiz. Initially my results came up as the Bell (ring-a-ding-ding) but then when I read up on it, that isn't my body shape at all. So then I studied the quiz again and then came up with the Vase. But even reading that, I still don't think I fit into that either. Talk about confused! Just think I will stick with your pointers above :)