No-one has the ideal body shape.
We all want wobbly bits taken away and extra padding put on bony bits, and most of us zone in on the negatives when we stand in front of the mirror. This is especially true in my case when I'm swimsuit shopping for a tropical holiday at the end of winter. Arrgh! Who knew skin could be so white?
Winter is never a flattering time of year - is the burqa in fashion yet for beachwear? But the trick is to mould our body with our clothing, disguising what we think are imperfections and rocking our favourable assets. As Coco Chanel said, "Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions".
Being compared to a piece of fruit like an apple or a pear is not the most flattering ask, especially when we carry our extra winter weight. For some, it can be hurtful to stand in front of a mirror and look at our body flaws, trying to determine our body shape, but look at it in a more positive light. What is it about your body that you like? Legs, bust, tummy, hips? There will be something you need to flaunt.
Symmetrical shapes are pleasing to the eye, so when we choose clothing, we want to make our shoulder width appear to be the same width as our hips, and we want our torso and bottom half to appear in proportion to each other. We can do this by determining what "fruit type" (or maybe hourglass, as there is no fruity comparison) best suits our shape. We can then work on the best clothing silhouettes to create the illusion of a balanced figure.
Keep in mind that these shapes have nothing to do with size; it's all about proportion. All body types come in a mix of fuller and slimmer shapes.
Definition: The apple carries her weight up top, with a thicker waist and large bust.
The apple girl is usually a little shorter than average and has very defined ankles and calves. Their attributes to show off are a sexy cleavage and toned, defined lower legs.
Dressing an apple body shape: Although your body may be cuddly, it isn't easy to dress.
Be sure not to cover yourself up with loose clothing, as this will make you look shapeless. Choose garments that have a seductive "V" neckline and a slimming narrow blazer, with thin lapels and one button at the waist. This draws the eye into a V, giving the illusion of a waistline.
Shirts and tops look great if they have diagonal gathers, drawing the eye inward to create the illusion of a thinner waist. Skirts should always have a flat front, be side fastened and slightly flared to the knee, and the same is true for dresses.
Also, try to have a patterned fabric that confuses the eye, to hide a thicker waist.
Choose a straight trouser that reaches to the bottom of the shoe to add length; try to stay away from a trouser leg.
Wardrobe must-have: The V neck. Whether a dress or a top, a deep V will show off your best asset and create the illusion of a narrowing waistline.
Definition: Think Beyonce, think Marilyn Monroe - your body is womanly, it has curves.
You probably have an average to big bust, and your hips and shoulders appear in proportion, with a gorgeous defined waistline.
Attributes to show off are your curves in general.
Dressing an hourglass body shape: You are the envy of most women, as clothes are easy to fit.
Choose fitted clothes that clasp those curves and stretch your waistline.
Stay away from smock dresses, as they fall straight from your bust and hide your whole shape.
Shop for fitted cardies, pencil skirts, and sexy streamline dresses in V neck or halter neck styles.
If you are proud of your legs, keep the hemline short, or stay long for a bit more modesty.
Showing the girls? Go easy on the short hemline, and vice versa: if you're rocking your legs, make sure your bust doesn't draw focus away from them.
Wardrobe must-have: A pencil skirt, to show off those va-va-voom hips.
Definition: You probably towered over your mates at school. You have long arms and gorgeous long legs.
There is little shape in the hip department, and probably not a very pronounced bust either.
When menopause kicks in, the banana may thicken in the waistline as well. Your attributes to show off are your height and your perfect pins.
Dressing a banana body shape: You want to create curves, so choose items that have extended lines - for example, gathers and pleats at the shoulders and hips.
Your pins look great in skinny jeans, but you must have soft tops that gather into the waistline seam to create the illusion of hips; a kimono sleeve is also good to create width at the shoulder if you need it.
With dresses, opt for ones with asymmetrical gathers or pleats, and anything that balloons the hips and extends the shoulders if you have narrow shoulders.
Wardrobe must-have: Pleated or gathered skirts or skinny jeans.
Definition: Fellow pears, I know the challenges of dressing this shape.
Don't think of this body type as being overweight - lots of skinny minis are pears.
Pears carry weight on their hips, bum and thighs, then sweeping downwards to probably an undefined calf and ankle - "cankles".
Most of us don't have much of a bust, and the torso is quite long.
But on the positive side, Pears have a thin waist, narrow shoulders and usually quite toned arms. Their best attribute is their waistline.
Dressing a pear body shape: Show off your delicate torso with feminine floaty tops, and draw the eye into the waist with belts or seams.
A slightly flared skirt to slim the hipline yet cover the thighs is preferable also.
To lengthen the legs, do it with a shorter skirt or, alternatively, floor-length straight trouser (stay away from hip pockets).
If you carry a bit of weight in your lower half, keep it mysterious with dark colours and focus on a lighter top.
Wardrobe must-have: Short-hemmed or A-line skirts.
These days, designers are conscious of the different shapes of women and design a multitude of different silhouettes in order to be competitive in the market. Because something is in fashion, it doesn't necessarily mean it should be part of your wardrobe.
Choose pieces that best suit your individual style and are most flattering to your body shape. Be sure to love your body, dress stylish, and be confident - show the world that you appreciate and respect yourself.
- © Fairfax NZ News