How to Dress For Your Body Type

The key to always looking dressed to impress is choosing clothes and accessories that accentuate your best features. Wondering how to dress for your body type? We tactical your tough questions with tips on how to get the perfect fit.
ESSENCE.COM Jan, 23, 2009

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If you’re shaped like Beyoncé, congrats! Having a Coca-Cola-shaped figure makes your body a great hanger for virtually all silhouettes. Still, manage your proportions to maintain a tasteful appeal like this black number does. The dress is a sexy mini but has a modest top and neckline.

Find out how to flatter your figure and stay classy at work »


Learn more wardrobe secrets »

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Pencil skirts (or dresses that mimic the shape of a pencil skirt like this one) are a fantastic option for this body type as they obscure fuller hips and thighs yet give the wearer a total sexy look.

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Anything that cinches your waist, like the Queen B is demonstrating here, is a plus. A feminine belted silhouette like a trench coat or wrap dress can also help to even out proportions as well.

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Busty women such as Queen Latifah are blessed with cleavage that many women would kill for. The trick is learning to play up those assets properly—and appropriately.

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A deep V-neckline can be classy and sophisticated on a tasteful gown such as the one Queen opts for here. Be sure that your chest is not spilling out of your garments—the proper fit is paramount to looking polished.

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Foundation is key: invest in a quality bra with sturdy straps to maintain an allover smooth lift. Try Jill Scott’s Ashley Stewart Butterfly Bra on sale now for $19.99 at ashleystewart.com.

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Petite powerhouse Jada Pinkett Smith might be tiny but her fashion taste is always big on style. Jada knows how to keeps her proportions in check and always stands tall while strutting on the red carpet.

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Baggy clothes can have an unflattering body-shrinking effect. Get your clothes tailored if need be. Actually, every woman should have a good tailor on speed dial.

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Get creative with necklines. This ruffled one-shoulder top elongates Jada’s torso. Also, heels are a must for petite sisters. Consider platforms whenever possible for maximum height and comfort.

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Fake an hourglass shape by cinching your waist and rocking a full-skirt dress.

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Enhance a smaller chest with necklines that expose a bit: consider ones with a flirty dip like a deep V or sweetheart.

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Some of us are slim all over, but even those with a boyish figure can find a feminine side to flaunt every now and again.

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Our First Lady is open about her regular fitness regime, and it shows. While she clearly has God-given height, she works to keep her physique toned and fit.

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Don’t be afraid to wear close-fitting dresses. Just keep them simple. Also, flat-front pants are slimming but pleats can add unwanted bulk.

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Tall women shouldn’t be afraid to wear high heels. Our regal First Lady, who is close to 6-foot tall, looks effortlessly chic in heels like here during inauguration weekend. One brand to consider is Samanta Shoes (samantashoes.com). They carry ultra-stylish pumps, boots and stilettos up to size 14.

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Brickhouses such as Mo’Nique have curves that should be celebrated, not hidden. Throw away those muumuus and break out the body-hugging frocks. A slimmer such as the Slim-Cognito from Spanx, $72-$76, spanx.com, will give a smooth torso and hide any love handles.

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Dark palettes minimize, so try wearing monochromatic hues. Don’t limit yourself to head-to-toe black, however. Navy blue, heather grey and chocolate brown are a great way to work this slenderizing trick as well.

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Boot cut or trouser jeans in indigo denim work like a charm for downplaying full hips and thighs.

What’s your die-hard figure-flattering style secret? Share your tips below.

Read more about dressing for your curves from hot designer Monif C. »

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