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Women's Style Guide

Apple, pear or hourglass? How to dress according to your body shape

Dressing in something that really suits you is one of the surest ways to feel confident. Once you have determined what body shape you have, picking clothes that will really highlight all your best features and make you look your best will suddenly become easy.

Wearing clothes is more than just a neccessity, it's a way in which we can feel comfortable and confident in the way we look. Women come in all shapes and sizes, but the three main body types are apple, pear, and hourglass. Read our hints and tips below to help you figure out how to dress to really flatter your shape.


'Apple-shape' refers to figures with the majority of their weight around the bust and mid-section. Making the most of this body type is easy, especially if you have a larger bust to work with!

Many dresses and blouses will be designed to nip in at the waist, creating the illusion of a curve out to the hips (often something that women with apple-shaped figures lack) and a more voluptuous silhouette. Look out for empire-line designs in particular! V-neck tops are very flattering on larger busts, while you can pick as low a neckline as you feel comfortable wearing.


When it comes to your bottom half, bold colours or prints will draw the eye away from your top. Fuller skirts will also balance bigger top halves. Try to avoid vertical stripes, which will accentuate the difference in width between your top and bottom.

To create some very feminine and flowing lines, choose fabrics like cotton that skim the body, rather than anything stiff or clingy. Draping fabrics around your shoulders and bust will help soften your top half.

Aim to create dynamic lines around your bottom half by opting for shapes like boot cut, which will be more flattering than a straight leg design. Look out for trousers with elastane for added comfort.


'Pear-shaped' means wider hips and thighs, narrower shoulders, a wider bottom and a smaller bust. To flatter this shape, keep busy patterns and details confined to your top half, since this will balance out wider hips or thighs.


You can afford to be quite adventurous with tops, so pick embellished items with sequins, lace or structured shoulders. Chunky jewellery, wide sleeves and scarves will also draw attention to your top.

To balance the busy patterns and designs on top, opt for understated items for your bottom half. A-line skirts will skim over hips rather than clinging to them, while heels will elongate your legs, giving them definition to create a smooth line between your top and bottom.

If you’re looking to accentuate your curves, a well-fitted (but not snug) pencil skirt will do the trick. Just make sure you pair it with an embellished blouse or t-shirt - ruffles along the neckline work beautifully!


Hourglass figures typically have similar-sized busts and hips, a well-defined waist and shapely legs. This shape tends to suit the majority of styles. However, it can be a balancing act to both show off your curves and stay looking sophisticated.

A simple yet flattering combination is a jersey top and a well-fitted pair of jeans, which can be adaptable for different occasions and seasons. To give your figure an extra boost, choose jeans with bottom-lift technology to accentuate the curve of your body.


Dresses that tuck in at the waist will show off your narrowest point (and, therefore, the curve outwards towards your bust or hips). Light and floaty fabrics like viscose are usually the most comfortable to wear, while a bold, floral print will look pretty and feminine. If you’re wearing anything loose, just add a belt to pull you in at the waist.

Other body shapes


There are a few other, less common, body shapes that women can have. For example, if you have very broad shoulders but then are very slim everywhere else, this is often called an 'inverted triangle'. This is relatively similar to the apple shape, so if this is your body shape then check out our styling tips for apple shapes to get the perfect look.

If your shoulders, bust, waist and hips are all roughly the same size with few curves, this is a 'rectangle' shape (otherwise known as 'boyish'), often seen in athletic women or developing after childbirth. Since you have many of the attributes of an hourglass figure, but without as much definition around the waist, structured clothing can create the impression of curves.

Dressing for your body shape need never be a chore. Once you have determined what kind of body shape you have, you can enjoy picking out clothes that will really accentuate all your best features, and make you feel as good as you look.

If you want some further inspiration you can take a look at Cotton Traders' full range of tops and t-shirts or dresses and skirts

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