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The trick is not to make this hard because it's actually quite easy once you know how.

When it comes to style there are two key things:

1. Body Shape      2. Style Personality

Body Shape

What you're trying to achieve is a balanced body shape, where:
  • your shoulders and hips align, appearance wise they're similar in width, and
  • a defined waist, which is smaller than the shoulders and hips.
Keeping it simple, there are FOUR basic body types:

  • Body Shape - Hour Glass
    The balanced body shape

    • shoulders and hips are similar measurement and your waist is smaller
  • Body Shape - Top Half Bigger
    Top half is bigger than your bottom half

    • shoulders are wider than your hips
    • you need to balance up the appearance of the shoulders and the hips without making either look too big
  • Body Shape - Bottom Half Bigger
    Bottom half is bigger than your top half

    • hips are wider than your shoulders
    • you need to balance up the appearance of the shoulders and hips without making either look too big
  • Body Shape - Straight

    • shoulders, waist and hips are all roughly the same measurement, you have no defined waist
    • you need to create the illusion of a waist.
  • No Surgery Required
    Balanced Body Shape V-necks are everybody's friend
    less is more
    Often it's better to have less going on with your look, less colours, less patterns, less accessories. Play around and see what works best for the look you're trying to achieve.
    easy Ways to create a balanced body shape
    • MINIMISE the larger part of your body: more
      • keep attention-grabbing clothing and accessories to a minimum
      • wear dark colours in this area/s
      • go for straight and plain styling - avoid anything that adds volume or bulk like pleats, ruffles, gathers, flap or pleated pockets, etc
      • avoid patterns and heavy textured fabrics
      • matt fabrics are good as are fabrics that skim over the body. Avoid clingy/figure-hugging or shiny fabrics
      • vertical stripes can create a narrower look.
    • BALANCE up a smaller area with a larger one: more

      Refer to the above for minimising the appearance of a larger area and in conjunction with that, the following will help create more impact on the smaller area/s:

      • wear lighter colours for the smaller area/s
      • add detailing to your smaller area: accessories, ruffles, frills, gathers, pleats, ruching, etc
      • wear shiny and/or patterned fabrics
      • to add width to your shoulders - create some detailing or decoration on the shoulder e.g. epaulets, braiding. Wide collars on jackets or tops is good for this.
      • layering clothing can work well to balance up the body shape, just so long as you don't add extra volume where you don't need it
      • horizontal stripes can create width
      • Make sure, if you're wearing a darker colour (any colour) close to your face that the colour actually suits you, otherwise wear a colour from your palette that complements and works alongside it.

    • ACCENTUATE your waist: more
      • belts
      • wide waistbands if you're long-waisted
      • tailored jackets or tops that nip in at the waist
      • take in the side-seams of tops
      • if you've got a long or baggy top, tie a knot in one corner
      • wear a different colour on your top from bottom, though be careful about tucking tops into trousers/skirts if you're short or long-waisted. (Refer below for ideas on lengthening or shortening the waist area).

    Accentuate your assets. minimise your least favourite bits.

    Here are a few ideas for balancing the body and disguising the areas you'd rather people not focus on.

    Great things to do    
    Things to avoid

    +SMALL FRAME - hands, feet, height and bones more
    A small or petite frame is generally someone who is 160cm (5'3") or under with a shoe size 6 (36) or less.
    • Scale is important - small, minimal, fine for smaller frames
    • Finer, smaller patterns, accessories, and shoes, etc.
    • Wearing one colour, or complementary colours, from top to bottom will add height to your appearance.
    • Avoid heavy, structured fabrics and big, bold patterns and accessories - they could swamp you.
    +LARGE frame - hands, feet, height and bones more
    A large frame is generally someone who is 172cm (5'8") or above, likely to have large bones and shoe size 9.5 (40) plus.
    • Scale is important - go for big, bold and dramatic if you have a larger frame
    • Larger-scale patterns, textures and accessories will work well for you. As will heavier weight or more structured fabrics.
    • Wearing a different coloured top to bottom will help give the appearance of being shorter.
    • Avoid lightweight fabrics and small patterns.
    +LONG NECK more
    • A short to mid-length necklace will break up the area
    • Scarves are good
    • Collared, front-buttoned shirts
    • Tops with higher necklines (high crew neck, collared shirt, turtle or polo-neck) will help, though avoid if you're big busted
    • Feature earrings are great but be careful if you're a smaller frame as they could swamp you
    • Thin strapped, strapless or sleeveless tops and dresses are not ideal but okay if broken up with some of the ideas above, e.g. necklace, scarf, earrings, etc.
    +SHORT NECK more
    • Wear mid to long length necklaces
    • Open collared shirts
    • V-necks can help to draw the eye down the body
    • Avoid high-neck garments
    • Shoulder pads - and no we're not suggesting an 80's revival!
    • Epaulets - shoulder decoration/detailing
    • Wide jacket lapels and a wide neckline will help broaden your shoulders
    • Boat-neck/slash-neck style tops (but avoid if you're big busted)
    • A scarf
    • Scoop-neck tops
    • Halter-neck, v-neck and u-neck tops and dresses will draw the eye away from the shoulders
    • Dark colours on top will help to provide a slimmer look
    • Raglan sleeves are good for creating the illusion of narrower shoulders
    • Straps of medium width, that sit in the centre of the shoulder to balance the skin that is shown either side
    +BIG BUST more
    Is generally someone bigger than a C cup.
    • Start with a well-fitting bra
    • V-necks, wide or low necklines are great
    • Wrap dresses/tops with a v-neck are good for big busted women
    • Go for plain styling - cut and fabrics
    • Dark colours on your top half will help you look slimmer - but you need to make sure you can carry the colour off. You can always add a lighter, complementary colour from within your palette to wear alongside it.
    • Certain patterns can break up the appearance of a larger chest
    • Diagonal or vertical stripes, especially in a wrap top or dress.
    If you're big busted, you should avoid:
    • High necks - high crew, polo or turtle-necks
    • Be careful with tight fitting tops and jackets.
    • Avoid wearing a jacket buttoned up. Double-breasted jackets are not great.
    • Watch tops that just hang from the bust, they can make the rest of your top half look bigger than it is.
    • Watch buttoned shirts/blouses - sometimes they don't sit flat and they look too tight
    • Avoid horizontal stripes, ruffles and any detailing at the bust area
    • Cropped tops
    • Bolero jackets
    • Short sleeves
    +SMALL BUST more
    Generally an A cup.
    • Padded and push-up bras are fab.
    • Add detail to the bust area, for example, ruffles, ruching, textures, patterns and pockets. The detail disguises your small bust.
    • Open neck, buttoned shirts are great as are empire line tops/dresses
    • Wear a mid to long length necklace, a broach or scarf
    • Layer your clothes
    • Bolero jackets (cropped jacket) or shrug (cropped cardigan, sometimes with a tie front) - though avoid these if you've got broad shoulders or big arms or if you're short-waisted.
    • Three-quarter length sleeves, finishing at the thinnest part of your arm
    • Draping sleeves give the appearance of a thinner arm
    • Ensure the sleeve hem doesn't end at the thickest part of your arm
    • Thin-strapped, sleeveless or strapless tops or dresses
    • Halter necks
    +THIN ARMS more
    • Sleeves are your obvious choice
    • Tapered sleeves are good as are ones in sheer fabrics
    • Make sure the sleeve is not too wide or big that it's out of proportion with your arm. And similarly, avoid short sleeves that are puffy or have detailing like pleats, gathers, ruffles, etc that may make the sleeve look big/wide and out of scale to your arm
    • Supportive underwear will help give you a smooth, flatter, slimmer look
    • Trousers and skirts with side or back zips are good for keeping the front area minimal and flattering, though they can be hard to find. If the garment does have a zip at the front, make sure it sits flat, some hooks and waistbands stick out.
    • Elasticised waists are great for fluctuating waistlines, but just be careful there's not too much excessive fabric as it can bunch up. Wide waistbands are great for support and flattening the area.
    • Belts can help to pull you in and can also create some interest to draw the eye away from this area. Be careful not to wear them too tight. Wider belts are better than thin ones. Belts that sit on the hips can be good for disguising a bloated stomach.
    • Diagonal and vertical lines in a garment/s can help. Also some patterning to camouflage the area (florals, animal prints, abstract), just make sure it doesn't draw attention.
    • Wearing long-line jackets (not done up), vests or tops to cover the area can work well (as long as you're not long-waisted)
    • Tailored jackets that nip in at the waist create the look of a waist if yours isn't defined. Wrap dresses that tie at the waist are also good for this. TIP: tie the belt at the side and not in the centre, the centre will accentuate the stomach area.
    • Empire-line tops and dresses are great for skimming over and flattening the look of the stomach (but be careful as some styles can make women look pregnant!). Tops or dresses with ruching at the waistline will also help with this.
    • Dresses that fall from the shoulder can work well.
    • Draw the eye to the best parts of your body and away from your stomach, e.g. your upper body or your legs.
    • Avoid pleated, gathered or drawstring skirts and trousers - they add unnecessary bulk
    • Avoid trousers or skirts with front pleats
    • Shiny or clingy fabrics that show the contours of your body and accentuate your stomach and bumps
    • Shift dresses that are straight through (i.e. no darts) as they have no waist definition and can be shapeless on you
    • Boxy, shapeless jackets
    • Cropped tops
    +LONG-WAISTED more
    You have a long upper body (torso). You need to lift the appearance of your waist.
    • Belts, especially wide and contrasting (colours, textures) ones.
    • Wide waistbands on skirts and trousers.
    • Shorter jackets and tops to give the illusion of a higher waist.
    • Colour-blocking can work well - large blocks of colour as part of the design of the garment or separate clothing pieces, breaking areas of the body up.
    • Drop/low-waisted trousers, tops or dresses are not ideal as they will only accentuate your long torso. You are much better off in shorter jackets and tops.
    • The combination of a high neck and a drop waist is not good.
    Short upper body (torso). You need to lengthen the appearance of your waist
    • Trousers and belts that sit on the hip are great for this
    • Longer line jackets, vests and long tops that sit below the waist are good
    • Layering of clothes works well too, as long as it doesn't widen you too much.
    • Be careful tucking tops into trousers and skirts, this can accentuate that you're short-waisted.
    • Avoid high-waisted trousers
    • The combination of a low neck-line and high waist is not good
    +BOTTOM HEAVY - large bottom, wide hips and/or big thighs more
    • Supportive underwear will help give you a smooth, flatter, slimmer look
    • Plain, straight and clean lines/styles, i.e. no pleats, frills, gathers etc
    • Plain, matt fabrics
    • Curve-skimming dresses or long-tops in a matt jersey-knit fabric are great for reducing the look of the bottom
    • If your thighs are wider than your hips, it's a good idea to wear loose fitting skirts and trousers. Fabrics with good drape will help too, as long as they don't cling.
    • If your bottom area is larger and not balanced with your shoulders, jackets with wide shoulders and nipped in at the waist can provide balance
    • Avoid patterns, heavily textured or shiny fabrics as they draw the eye to the area you don't want them to
    • Avoid decorative or flap side/back pockets on trousers or skirts - they add bulk and width
    • Hemlines of tops or jackets should never end at the widest point of your body.
    • Mini skirts
    • A-line, gathered or pleated skirts
    • Heavy fabrics can help to give more fullness, as long as they work with the style and flow of the skirt. For example, a gathered skirt is not well suited to a heavy fabric, it will bulk up too much.
    • Tailored tops that clinch in at the waist
    • A-line jackets
    • Empire line tops/dresses
    • Belts
    • Decorative or flap side/back pockets
    • Tops tucked into trousers
    • Diagonal or horizontal stripes or detailing at the waist area
    • Any kind of pattern or strong colour will work here
    +SHORT LEGS more
    • Short skirts just above the knee work best as opposed to long
    • Plain leggings or tights and shoes in a complementary/similar colour to your skirt or trousers as opposed to contrast colour
    • Heels are great and add length to the leg - platforms and wedges are generally really comfortable and easy to walk in.
    • Avoid wide-leg trousers and wide skirts - they'll make your legs look shorter. And especially avoid wide-leg short length trousers, i.e. mid-calf length.
    • Avoid shoes with ankle straps or high detail up over the top of the foot - they interrupt the line of the leg and make your leg appear shorter
    • Ankle boots, unless worn under trousers
    +WIDE LEGS more
    • Trousers or skirts with plain, clean-line styles and plain colours and fabrics.
    • Wide leg trousers that hang from the top of your bottom work well, they will skim over your hips.
    • Softer fabrics that drape, but nothing clingy. Matt finish, jersey-knit fabrics are good.
    • Darker colours on the bottom half work well
    • Complementary coloured tights or pantyhose, nothing contrasting.
    • Boot-cut or flared-leg trousers counter balance the width of your thighs
    • A-line skirts
    • Heels can help to make the leg look longer and slimmer. But don't go for a slim, elegant heel, it will look out of balance with your leg - a chunky heel would look fab.
    • Avoid lighter colours, patterned, shiny or heavy/stiff, textured fabrics, this will only draw the eye to your legs
    • Stretch trousers of any kind, including leggings
    • Calf-length straight skirts or pencil skirts
    • Shoes with ankle straps
    • Slim, narrow looking heels
    +BIG CALVES more
    • Skirts that sit above, on or just below the knee
    • High-heels are your friend - they make calves look thinner
    • Dark coloured trousers/tights
    • Tights with vertical lines - as long as the lines don't widen/stretch when worn
    • Hem lengths that finish mid-calf, it will only make your calves look bigger
    • Bold, bright patterned tights
    • Keep your tights, legs, trousers and shoes plain
    • Dark colours work to give a more slimming look
    • Full length trousers will work well as will shorter skirts (that sit slightly above, on or below the knee) so as to avoid attracting attention to the area
    • Short trousers (e.g. mid-calf length)
    • Skirts that finish mid-calf
    • Ankle strap shoes
    • Anklets (jewellery)
    things to remeber
    must know tips
    NEVER finish a line of clothing at the widest part of your body otherwise it will accentuate these points, for example:

    • a top or jacket should never finish at your waist or hips if they are the widest areas of your body
    • a short sleeve is not a good idea if your upper arms are thick or you have a full bust
    • a skirt/trouser hem length should not finish at the thickest part of your leg.

    Don't wear designs with thick horizontal stripes at these points either. Similarly, avoid detailing like pockets in your larger areas. For example, if you have large hips, the last thing you'll want is a skirt with pocket flaps at hip level. We know this may seem obvious but they're often things we overlook. Another example would be ruffles or pockets at the bust area if you have a big bust.

    play down areas you dont want to draw attention to

    Next: Style Personality
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