7 Style Secrets for Women That Flatter Every Shape


I'm happy to cast off those bulky sweaters and shapeless layers now that summer is just around the corner. In fact, I've been weeding through my closet to find warmer weather clothing this week, and one of my bad habits finally caught up with me. I'm notoriously awful at trying things on before I buy them. So, as you can imagine, there are lots of gently worn (and new) garments in my closet that simply don't flatter my shape. (See also: 20 Simple and Stylish DIY Clothing Projects for Women)

I've resolved to tighten my belt, so to speak, and buy only clothing that I've slipped into before purchase. Beyond that, I've also discovered that choosing outfits to flatter my specific body type not only make me feel good, but they also ensure I'll wear them time and time again. Here are a few universal "rules" to make your next shopping trip a success.

1. Showcase Yourself

If you've got it, flaunt it! We all have features of our bodies we'd like to hide. Avoid cloaking yourself in a potato sack dress and — instead — shift that focus to your best asset(s).

When you shop for new clothes, try to choose items that celebrate your unique body. For example, if you have great legs, go for a shorter skirt that shows them off. If you work long hours in the gym for strong arms, wear a sleeveless dress. Focus on just one or maybe two of your favorite features at a time to avoid over-sharing, if you know what I mean.

2. Get (the Right) Fit

No matter your body shape or size, basic attention to fit can take any outfit from blah to better. Note that sizing is often different depending on designer or brand, so what you wear in one frock you might size up or down in another. Always try items on before buying to assess for fit that flatters. Pay attention specifically to where a shirt hits your shoulder (should hit at your natural shoulder), any areas of pulling or bunching of fabric (either too tight or too big), as well as sleeve length, hems, and waist rises. Basically, if you notice something is too long, too short, or too anything — you should try another size, consider investing in tailoring, or skip altogether.

3. Pick Up Patterns

What you've heard is true! There are certain patterns that work best for certain body types. Whether you're curvy, pear-shaped, petite, or long and lean, there's a pattern out there for you that will help you look your best. Petites do well with vertical stripes that lengthen, pears can shift the focus from the lower half by concentrating busy patterns on the top, plus-sized women can get away with gorgeous florals, and long and lean gals can go as bold as they desire.

4. Exude Confidence

Another less tangible (and free) style trick? Carry yourself with confidence.

Posture is a big part of the equation and can make remarkable difference in your appearance in only seconds. If you're looking to improve your stance — check out these easy stretches that will have you standing up straighter in no time. The cheat sheet: It's all about keeping a neutral spine, an open chest, and your eyes up and looking directly at the world ahead of you.

5. Choose Comfort

It's hard to stand up straight if you're always fussing with your skirt or top. So, be sure to select fabrics and cuts that are both comfortable and appropriate for whatever you're doing. Even the most formal occasions don't need to be out-of-this-world uncomfortable. Look for fabrics that give and cuts that cover, and stay away from anything that might otherwise give way to an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.

6. Accessorize

Accessories can help highlight your favorite features, and a perfect example of this is with belting. If you have a great natural waist, for instance, accentuate it with a skinny belt placed over a flowy dress. On the other hand, beware of those extra wide belts. Though they seem like they might mask a trouble zone, they'll actually call more attention to it. (See also: Affordable Accessories to Kickstart Your Style)

7. Shop Smart

I'm a big clearance rack shopper, but I'll be the first to admit that you can find lots of duds and end up wasting money under the clever guise of savings. If you settle for fit or form, you may find that $5 top sitting stagnant in your closet years down the line. The good news: There are many ways to cut clothing costs, so don't let the dollar signs cloud your judgement. Follow all the previous style "rules" even with the most enticing markdowns. That way, you won't be stuck with a closet of items that don't flatter your body and feel obligated to wear them regardless.

What are your favorite flattering style tricks? Please share in comments!

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