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Wooden blocks, circle, triangle, square, arranged to depict body types.

*This is part 2 of 3 from Planning Your Professional Wardrobe.

Dressing for your body type is key to looking great in a professional wardrobe.

Check your Silhouette

There are four main image types. Which one are you? (Wardrobe Recommendations)

1. Sporty-Casual

Basic Sporty–A lined, structured blazer
Creative Sporty–An unlined, constructed jacket

2. Classic-Elegant

Basic Classic–A tailored skirt or pleated pants
Creative Classic–A culottes skirt or cropped pants

3. Exotic-Dramatic

Basic Exotic–One strong piece as a signature
Creative Exotic–Strong rich garments

4. Arty-Off-Beat

Basic Arty–Colorful & patterned garments

Illustration of the five women's body types

Figure 2.  Body types for women: hourglass, inverted, rectangular, triangle, & diamond. Adjusted Stock image by tigrilla

How to Dress Your Body Type for Women

Hourglass Body Type

  • Hourglass body types usually have busts and hips of equal measurements, smaller waists, and well-defined shoulder lines. Backs are usually broader and body appears balanced.
  • Garment Selection: Most garments look nice on hourglass bodies; however, be aware of bodily proportions in the bust and hip areas. Try dresses with slim lines and waist definitions.
  • NOTE: Persons with wider hips should wear softly draped skirts and dresses. Wear styles that compliment the waist and avoid tightly fitted garments.

Inverted Body Type

  • Inverted body types have larger busts, broader backs, longer waists, slender hips and legs, and larger waists.
  • Garment Selection: Ideal clothing should be tailored straight suits with little waist definition; raglan or straight-sleeved tops worn on the outside of pants or skirts; slacks or skirts that are softly tailored with wide pleats or slightly gathered; and dresses that emphasize the lower half of the body.
  • NOTE: Double-breasted blazers enhance bodily proportions. Avoid wearing shoulder pads and tightly fitted garments.

Rectangular Body Type

  • Rectangular body types include persons with little or no waist definitions; similar width in shoulders, waists, hips and thighs; and straight bodily lines.
  • Garment Selection: Try suits with little waist definition; blazers or jackets that are slightly loose; slacks with a flat front; skirts on the bias, flared or pleated; V-neck, cowl, dolman, or raglan sleeved tops; and dresses that are straight, high, or have a low waist.
  • NOTE: Belts are your best friend.

Triangle Body Type

  • Triangular body types usually have smaller busts and shoulders with a clearly defined low waist, and wider hips and/or thighs.
  • Garment Selection: Ideal garments should be tailored suits that fit closely to the body and define the waist; light or bright colored tops; straight, slightly wide, or flared-legged pants; A-lined, flared, or softly draped skirts; and dresses that blouse, have ruching detail at waist, or are A-lined or slightly flared.
  • NOTE: Small shoulder pads enhance bodily proportions and most bias cut garments are not as appealing.

Diamond Body Type

  • Diamond body types have a wider midriff and waist, narrower shoulders, hips, thighs, and an average to small bust size.
  • Garment Selection: Ideal clothing for this body type includes wide-legged pants in soft draping fabrics and knits; skirts in softly draped fabrics or knits; dresses that are
    straight, swing, and circular in softly draped fabrics or knits; and tops in soft and whimsy fabrics in V-neck or asymmetrical styles.
  • NOTE: Minimize midriff, waist, and high hip areas. Emphasize shoulder area. Lead attention inward at waist and up to face. Fill out shoulders with shoulder pads or puffed shoulders.

Illustration of the five men's body types

Figure 3.  Body types for men: hourglass, inverted, rectangular, triangle, & diamond. Adjusted Stock image by tigrilla

How to Dress Your Body Type for Men

Hourglass Body Type

  • Hourglass shaped males usually have a chest and hips of equal measurements, a smaller waist, well-defined shoulder lines, and possibly a broader back. The body appears to be balanced.
  • Garment Selection: Most garments look nice; however, be aware of bodily proportions in the chest and hip areas. Suits with slim lines and a slight waist definition are best.
  • NOTE: Wear styles that compliment both height and weight. This will enhance your polished image.

Inverted Body Type

  • The inverted male body type typically has a larger chest, broader back, and a longer and larger waist with slender hips and legs.
  • Garment Selection: Suits should be tailored straight with little waist definition; shirts with button down collars for casual wear; shirts should be loose with a straight-edged hem worn on outside of slacks; slacks are softly tailored with wide pleats; and blazers worn with a little waist definition.
  • NOTE: Double-breasted blazers enhance bodily proportions; however, avoid shoulder pads.

Rectangular Body Type

  • Rectangular body types have little or no waist definitions. Their bodies have a similar width in shoulders, waists, hips, and thighs with straight bodily lines.
  • Garment Selection: Select suits with little waist definition; blazers should be slightly loosed; slacks should have a flat front; shirts should be worn inside of slacks or sweaters that cinch slightly below the waist.
  • NOTE: Belts are your best friend. Use them!

Triangle Body Type

  • Triangle body types have smaller chests and shoulders with a clearly defined waist, wider hips and/or thighs, and possibly a lower waist.
  • Garment Selection: Tailored suits fitted to the body with a defined waist; light-colored shirts with or without bright colors in horizontal stripes; and slacks that are straight with or without pleats, slightly wide or flared legs.
  • NOTE: Small shoulder pads enhance bodily proportions.

Diamond Body Type

  • Diamond-shaped body types tend to have a wider midriff and waist, narrower shoulders, hips, and thighs with an average to smaller chest, but not always!
  • Garment Selection: Slacks are wide legged in softly draped fabrics such as worsted wool, linen and silk; shirts in soft fabrics such as polished cotton, handkerchief linen and silk.
  • NOTE: Minimize midriff, waist, and high hip areas. Emphasize shoulder area. Lead attention inward at waist and up to face. Fill out shoulders with minimum shoulder padding.

Wardrobe Inventory Chart

Download the printable Wardrobe Inventory Chart: Wardrobe Inventory Chart

Clothing TypesClothes I HaveClothes I NeedCondition (Good, Bad, Repair)Does it Compliment Me (Style, Color & Fit)Action to Take (Keep, Share, Discard)
Dresses
Skirts
Suits
Blazers/Jackets
Dress Shirts/Blouses
Pants
Shorts
Casual Shirts
Sweaters
Coats
Shoes
Boots
Athletic Attire
Under Garments
Socks
Sleepwear
Hats
Gloves
Neckwear/Scarves
Belts
Purses & such
Jewelry
Work Clothes
Formal Attire

Downloads

Continue to:

Planning Your Professional Wardrobe Part 1: Your Professional Image

Planning Your Professional Wardrobe Part 3: Color in your Professional Wardrobe

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