Many people don’t know how to answer the question of what to wear each day. However, factors such as weather and temperature shouldn’t be the only things considered when getting dressed for the day. Another important factor is your body type. You should ask yourself, “What should I wear that will flatter my particular body type?”

If you want your clothes to always look great and flatter your body type, follow these guidelines from the professionals.

1. Athletic

“Wear open necklines, and try wider boot-cut pants over skinny pants,” says Giselle Bowyer, assistant designer for Lauren Dresses at Ralph Lauren.

Wide-leg pants flatter athletic hips and thighs, smoothing out any lines. For a sculpted top half, select delicate fabrics, dainty prints, and sheer blouses—with camisoles underneath, of course—to pair with your trousers. These styling tips will help you confidently dress for your body type.

If you have muscular legs and are self-conscious about that when wearing pencil skirts in the office, choose a skirt with some stretch, or one with long vertical stripes. The latter will help create an hourglass illusion. Peplum tops usually exaggerate the waist and hips area, which makes them a good pairing for pencil skirts.

2. Column

For ladies with a more boyish figure, the objective is to add curves and lengthen your frame.

According to Kristina Michniak, global apparel manager for Spreadshirt, you should avoid baggy clothing and wearing all one color if you want to achieve this look.

“Instead, select wardrobe pieces that have a strong emphasis on the waist, and when in doubt, wear a belt to give the illusion of a natural waist,” Michniak says. “An ordinary boxy sweater, when paired with a thick belt, can add instant curves to your body.“

High-waisted pants and dresses/skirts that fall right at the knee are good investments when paired with heels, Michniak recommends. “This will draw the attention to your legs, giving the illusion of an elongated silhouette,” she explains, providing valuable insights on finding the best dress for your body type.

3. Curvy

If you’re curvy, don’t try to hide your figure in an oversized suit, says Brooklyn-based dress designer Maja Svensson of ELSA AND ME.

According to her, fitted suits and lightly-hugging dresses create a beautiful professional silhouette.

“Avoid covering too much of your neck, because wearing turtlenecks and boat necks can make your bust look like a bookshelf. A scoop neck, while still conservative, will make your neck look longer, showing the great proportions your bust deserves,” Svensson says, providing valuable advice on how to dress your body type.

Do not be afraid to try new prints and patterns. Curvy girls can wear them just as well by finding the right cuts and lines. Sandee Joseph, a New York City-based fashion blogger specializing in workwear for curvy women, demonstrates that even difficult prints with bright colors – like this red gingham outfit – can look great if used sparingly.

4. Petite

If you’re petite, the most crucial style tips to keep in mind are proportions and lengths. You want your outfit choices to give off the illusion of a taller stature and elongate your frame. Tania Sterl, an image consultant and designer with years of experience dressing working women, says that this is key for looking put-together as a petite person.

“Find a really excellent tailor,” she says, “or specifically shop the petites section.”

Yael Silverstein, CSO Officer at Inspiring Capital(opens in a new tab)

According to Sterl, the best way to wear a blouse is either tucked in or falls just below the waist.

Three quarter-sleeve blouses, bracelet-length jackets, and cardigans are versatile staples for any petite woman’s wardrobe. A tasteful skin reveal will actually make them appear taller and not weighed down by extra fabric, offering practical tips on how to dress for your body type.

According to Sterl, the best type of pants for a petite frame are slim and reach the ankle. Pleats should be avoided as they add too much volume.

If you’re more into dresses and skirts, Sterl suggests giving yourself a confidence boost by “wearing lengths that graze the knee, just above or mid knee. If your skirt or dress length is below the knee, or midcalf, it will shorten your stature, so be careful.”

5. Plus-Size

Wearing clothes that are too big for you might seem like it’s hiding your figure in a flattering way, but all it’s really doing is adding volume to the places you’d rather appear slimmer. Sterl says that a little bit of room between you and your clothing is much more flattering and comfortable than something overly flowy, emphasizing the importance of knowing how to dress for body type.

A more positive way to approach this, she provides these tips: Coordinate soft pieces with at least one tailored article of clothing. “For example,” Sterl explains, “a flowy top, a skirt to the knee, and add a tailored jacket with structure. This will frame your professional look and convey an expert presence. Look for tucks and pleats in blouses and dresses to drape over curvy areas with grace and ease.”

6. Tall

Women who are tall and don’t want to draw attention to their height can flaunt statement necklaces to accentuate the neck, Bowyer says.

However, Svensson explains, “Wear heels, for God’s sake, if this is something you like! There is nothing wrong with strengthening your tallness. Being tall can come in handy in the workplace and can give you perceived power at first impression,” offering valuable insights on how to dress your body type.

According to Svensson, avoid making the same fashion errors that many tall women do: “If you’re tall, you don’t want your clothing to cut you short. Suits and dresses should be fitted to your natural waistline to avoid cutting your torso too high. The same goes for dress length and skirts: You don’t want them to end too high above your knee—just above or below.” 

So there you have it— the dos and don’ts to dressing your body type for work based on your shape. And here’s one last general tip that goes for all of these shapes.

Clothing choices matter when you want to feel confident at work. If you’re not comfortable in what you’re wearing, it’ll be difficult to focus on giving your best performance.

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