How To Dress Flattering – Find The Best Clothes For YOUR Body Type!

Styling your body type and feeling confident at any age is all about knowing how to dress the body you have right now. Not the body you wish you had or the body you had 20 years ago…the beautiful body you have right now. You want to accentuate the areas you love, are proud of, and feel best about. AND determine how to best camouflage the areas you don’t. This post is chock full of tips for how to dress flattering for your body type. Think of every outfit like a formula. There’s an equation that will ultimately produce the most complimentary result. And in turn, the most confident version of you. You deserve to look good. No…you deserve to look great!

You might not be sure what body type you have! If that’s the case, this post and this video break down each of the 5 major body types, how to determine your body type, and would be a great place to start if you’re unsure.

How To Dress Flattering for your body shape

How To Dress Flattering For Your Body Shape

I want to start this post with a huge disclaimer…wear what makes you feel good. Period. Back when I was an in-home stylist, SO many women asked me how to look slimmer so the reality is, that is a goal for many women. You have asked me how to look your best. How to minimize flaws that make us feel less secure. And, how to accentuate your assets…we all have them. Considering and becoming aware of your body shape can be helpful in specifically choosing the right clothing and knowing how to dress for your body type. It’s all about creating proportion with clothes.

You can say that a lot of this is subjective and at the end of the day “your shape” is really more about how you feel than anything else. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s dive in. These are the top 5 most common problem areas for women and how to dress in the most flattering way for your body type.

How To Dress Flattering for your body shapeHow To Mask A Tummy


#1) How To Mask A Tummy

The most common area that women 40+ tend to feel less secure about is…their midsection. Anyone else feel like their tummy never seemed the same after childbirth or menopause? 🙋🏼‍♀️ If your waistline isn’t your favorite body part you might be a Rectangle body type (like me!), a Triangle (aka pear shape), or a Circle body type. In the white dress I’m wearing above (sold out), you can see how the ruching detail at the midsection really defines my waist and cinches it in. On the right, the top has 3 of the things I highly recommend for concealing a tummy – a peplum, a wrap front, AND a V-neck. Here are style tips for masking a tummy…

  1. Choose tops and dresses that are body-skimming. You might be tempted to hide behind big tent-like pieces, but these actually add bulk and are LESS flattering.
  2. Look for strategic design details like ruching under the bust, faux wrap styles, seams or details above the natural waistline that create definition at the waist, peplum hems, and vertical stripes.
  3. Build out your shoulders with puff shoulder details to create an inverted triangle effect on your upper body and the optical illusion of a tinier waist. This is a tip I use ALL the time.
  4. Look for v-neck or scoop necklines to elongate your torso and draw the eye up away from your belly area.
  5. High-waisted jeans, pants, and skirts can often help conceal a tummy. (I share some suggestions below in Tip #3!)

Tops & Dresses That Help Conceal a Tummy

Tips To Dress Flattering


#2) How To Minimize Hips Butt, and Thighs

If you are a Triangle body shape or Circle shape (also referred to as Round and Apple shaped), you might be looking for ways to minimize your hips, bottom, or thighs. Strategic clothing can really help reduce the appearance of the fullest part of your body and help you feel more confident. It’s all about diverting the eye away from the areas you are trying to minimize.

  1. Pants and jeans with a straight, flared leg, or boot cut will create balance and proportion.
  2. Wear darker colors on your lower half. For jeans, avoid whiskering and distressing that draw attention to the parts you are trying to minimize.
  3. Pinstriped pants, skirts, and dresses will elongate your bottom half and they are very on-trend at the moment!
  4. Wear brighter colors and or patterns on your upper half to draw the eye up, especially if you have a triangle or pear-shaped body.
  5. Wear A-line skirts and dresses that skim the hips and thighs and don’t cling to them.
  6. Add a waist belt to help define the waist. This works especially well if you have an hourglass shape or rectangular shape.
  7. If your hips are wider than your shoulders (triangle shape) adding some volume to your shoulder area can also help add balance to your top and bottom. (see Tip #1 for tops with shoulder volume!)

Pants, Skirts & Dresses That Minimize Hips, Butt, and Thighs

How To Make Your Legs Look Longer


#3) How To Make Your Legs Look Longer

As someone who is on the petite side at 5”4”, I am always looking to add a little length to my legs. To create the illusion of longer, leaner legs I have a few trusty tips that I swear by. Plus, find tips on how to look taller in trendy baggy jeans here.

  1. High-waisted jeans and pants can make your legs look a mile long. A rise of 9” or higher is considered high-waisted, really high would be coming up to your belly button.
  2. Adding a belt just above your natural waist makes your bottom half appear much longer.
  3. While this will come as no surprise, high heels will definitely add some height to your legs. Especially if you wear heels that are in the same color as your natural skin tone, You can also wear wedges and platform heels under your pants and jeans to elongate your leg (and they are typically more comfortable to walk in!)
  4. Along the same lines, pointed-toe shoes create the illusion of more length.
  5. Monochromatic dressing (dressing in the same color from head to toe) can make you appear taller.
  6. Match your shoes to your bottom half so your shoes won’t interrupt your leg line.

Pants, Jeans & Shoes To Elongate Your Legs

If you happen to love your legs and worry if you are too old for shorts and shorter hemlines, the answer is no! In this post I share my favorite tips for feeling confident wearing shorts over 40.


how to dress your body type

How To Minimize Or Maximize Your Bust Line


#4) How To Minimize Or Maximize Your Bust Line

Bust size is another popular dilemma for women. Whether you are trying to minimize or maximize your bust, conceal it, or accentuate it, these tips are for you. In these photos, you can see how the sweetheart neckline on the corset top accentuates my bust line and the vertical striped top minimizes it.

  1. Getting a proper bra fitting is key! Undergarments can make a drastic difference in how your clothes fit.
  2. Tops with design details at the neck and shoulders can divert the eyes upward away from the chest area. Keyhole designs, shoulder cutouts, V-necklines, and square necks are good at drawing the eye away from the fullest part of the bust. In contrast, sweetheart necklines are especially flattering for making a smaller bust appear larger.
  3. In general, darker colors will minimize the bust area and prints will accentuate it. Vertical stripes can minimize your bust while horizontal stripes will accentuate it.
  4. Avoid boxy styles when it comes to dresses and tops. If you need to order a larger-sized garment to fit your bust, tuck it in, get it tailored, add a waist belt, or layer a jacket over your top to create some waist definition.
  5. Make strategic jewelry choices. Bold necklaces and earrings will draw attention up toward your neckline and face and away from your chest area.

Tops & Dresses For Minimizing Your Bust

Tops & Dresses For Maximizing Your Bust

In case you missed it, we share even more tips and 20 flattering tops for women with larger busts here.


how to wear a maxi skirt over 40


#5) How To Minimize Broad Shoulders

If your shoulders are broader than your waist and lower half of your body, you are in an Inverted Triangle body shape. So, you may want to draw attention to your lower half to create balance. In the photo above, focus on the skirt. The top I’m wearing would not be ideal for minimizing broad shoulders 😉 Instead, you would want to wear a white tee with a v-neckline and soft draped shoulders. To create balance and proportion try these tips!

  1. Wear darker colors on top and brighter bold colors and patterns on your lower half. Have fun adding volume with full or flared skirts.
  2. Strategic necklines like V-necks or scoop necks will draw the eye down away from your shoulders.
  3. Soften shoulders by wearing soft, draped, and less structured fabrics.
  4. Stay away from bold shoulder details and shoulder pads that will actually exaggerate them.
  5. Wide-leg jeans and trousers will help create balance between your upper and lower body.
  6. If you love your legs, wear shorts and skirts to draw attention to your lower half!

Wear This To Minimize Your Shoulders

Would you like to see individual posts where I dive in even deeper to create looks for certain body types that can help you dress in a more flattering way? If so, please leave me a note in the comments.

If you like this post, please share it using the buttons below. I would SO appreciate that! Also, just a reminder that if you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, we share some amazing resources, packing lists, and exclusive content each week (including some great weekly sales finds!). You can sign up here.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Join the Conversation

21 thoughts on “How To Dress Flattering – Find The Best Clothes For YOUR Body Type!

  1. I just wated to commet that I would ver much ejoy more post on what looks best on your body shape!! Thank you!!!

  2. I love your suggestions! I would also love to see some suggestions for short torsos. I have the short torso/high waist thing, and I have a hard time of it!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing what would be most helpful for you, Meredith! We’ve definitely got more to cover on this topic, but here’s a video on tips for dressing with short torsos in the meantime | Hope this helps! ~Erin xo

  3. Love that this post included links to the samples. This is the type of practical fashion info that drew me to your old videos. I miss these kind of tips in newer videos. I’m looking for hiding a tummy and minimizing broad shoulders

    1. SO glad this was helpful for you, Tracy! Appreciate your feedback too, and always love to hear what is most helpful for you! Thanks for being a part of this amazing community. ~Erin xo

  4. I love your posts! I’m 64, a retired Physical Education teacher/coach, and teach Pilates 3 days/wk as my retirement job. I’m looking for posts on how to dress an hourglass shape. I like to dress classically current- not sweatpants and athletic shoes as I wore for 35+ years. I’m a denim jeans or dress gal- jeans during colder weather, dresses when it’s warmer or hot. I live in inland Southern California, where people dress VERY casual…but I like a little more style such as what Erin posts. With the skin getting crepier after years in the sun, I’m covering my upper arms, and wear short dresses just above the knee. I’m about Erin’s size, although I have a bigger bust line. Please tell me more about how to dress for my hourglass shape- the shape supposedly one desires, but very difficult to dress. Thank you❤️

  5. Hi Erin

    I would love some more information on dressing with a rectangle shape and short torso/long legs. My measurements are Bust: 39″ Waist: 36″ and Hips : 41″. Regular shoulder size and petite re- height – 5′ 3″. Love your channel – it has already helped me a great deal. Kind regards – Ros

  6. Dressing for a particular height and body shape is so much easier than having to try on several styles together. I can find a top or bottom but to mix them together is a challenge. I am 5′ 3″ 140 pounds. 64 year young, square shape with tummy.! Your tips are very helpful except I don’t work and need more everyday clothes.

    1. I’m so glad this blog was helpful for you, Marita and hope it can translate to any sort of occasion or your more casual style as well! Thanks so much for reading. ~Erin xo

  7. Loved this post. Recently changed from an hour glass to a rectangle shape with a large bust. Really appreciate your tips.

    1. So common to change from one shape to another or a combination of shapes as we age. I’m glad this post was helpful for you, Laura! ~Erin xo

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