How to Define your Body Silhouette

Posted by on Sep 23rd 2016

Let’s face it, we all have items we have purchased that just don’t look the way we want them to when we put them on. Most commonly we tend to sum it up to the wrong size or worse yet we start to feel a little deflated with our body image. 8 out of 10 times it has nothing to do with the size or our confidence level in our body. It’s about dressing your body not just based on size but also on our body silhouette type. A body silhouette image isn’t just about body types, it’s about the silhouette image our body portrays.

Some designs, cuts or styles just don’t accentuate the parts of our body that work best for us. Mastering how to shop and dress for your body silhouette type can be exhausting, it doesn’t have to be, it just requires a few hints and guidelines and we are here to help.

Our body silhouette guide isn’t about defining which silhouette is more feminine, better or expected. It’s about finding the most flattering elements of your silhouette image that complement and enhance your personal style and shape and offering styling tips to emphasis the areas of your body that you love and want to highlight or the ones you want to tone down or feel like covering up. It’s all about finding the cuts and designs that will downplay or accentuate the areas you want and finding the right fit to help you look and feel amazing. Think of it as having your own stylist that will tell you what works and what possibly doesn’t for your silhouette.

Each woman is unique so there may be times when your silhouette image is a combination of two types. The one type will always be the primary silhouette of the two. In this case work to combine both using the stronger silhouette as your base and adding tips for the secondary silhouette image that suits the area of your body that you are addressing.


Typically the hips are curvier than the shoulders and bust with a narrow waist. The hips are usually 1” to 12” wider than the shoulders and 4” to 8 wider than the waist.

The aim is to emphasis your natural curves and balance out the silhouette image of your body. The areas where you are slender up top are the areas where you want to give more exposure and emphasize. This can be achieved by exposing your shoulders or having a wider neckline. To give more curvature to your chest try a twisted front top that is fitted at the waist or an off the shoulder outfit that highlights your shoulders

Aim for dresses that will show off your slender upper body, possibly off the shoulder or a fitted bodice with an open wide neck. Opt for fit and flare dresses or Aline dresses. Ones with a fitted bodice and full skirt would work great by pulling the eye to your waistline. Dresses with loose or bell sleeves will also work really well with this silhouette. Fit and flare dresses also work well in a short to midi length. If opting for a bodycon dress don’t go shorter than a midi length. Try and avoid peplum styled dresses and shapeless maxi dresses as you figure and natural curves will be lost in these designs.

Clean straight lines are ideal for balancing or elongating this silhouette image. For pants opt for straight leg or wide leg pants with a fitted waist. Low rise pants also work well with a wide accent belt. For skirts opt for A-line or full bodied skirts that are fitted at the waist and flare out. Avoid pencil skirts that cling to the waist and exaggerated flare pants or capri pants as these can have a tendency to shorten your silhouette.

Again target tops that will show off your slender upper body, tops with wide sleeves give the illusion of volume to the upper body creating a balanced silhouette image. Racerback tops also work well as do babydoll tops. Front twist tops are also a great option to balance out your upper body. For shirts consider a belted shirt or a fitted shirt that is gathered at the waist. For blazers go for the fitted midi length with shoulder pads. Avoid fitted turtleneck tops and shapeless tops as well as vertical stripes. Capped sleeved tops are great for broadening the shoulders.

         Aqua Floral DressGrey Slacks          Babydoll Racerback Top

The shoulders, waist, chest and hips are around the same measurements or within 5% of each other. Usually described as an athletic frame. The waistline is typically 1” to 8” smaller than the chest measurements.

Commonly known as the athletic figure this silhouette tends to be long and slender, to balance out the silhouette image we want to enhance the image of curves and volume without losing the slenderness. To achieve this we can focus by adding volume to the hips and pulling the eye in on the waistline with an accent feature.

Dresses and tops in general with a peplum or slight flare at the waist are perfect for this silhouette. Shirt dresses with a belt detail also work really well as do wrap dresses with a deep V-neck cut to attract attention to the chest and balance out the image. Fit and flare dresses also add volume and depth. For a more elongated look try an empire line cut dress. If aiming for a bodycon look consider one with capped sleeves.

Add more curves to your figure with low cut pants, for high waist pants ensure to accent with a wide belt. For skirts aim for A-line or full body skirts. For bodycon skirts opt to accenting the waistline with a belt. Pencil skirts with a clinched waist also look fabulous. Avoid straight midi skirts and overly baggy boyfriend jeans.

The target here is to add shape and curves to the upper body. Try off the shoulder tops or tops with a deep V neck. Opt for the ones that fit loosely or with loose bell end sleeves to give a balanced look. For blazers try aim for fitted waist blazers and jackets. If going casual try knot the shirt at the front. Avoid tight fitting tops, square neck tops and vertical prints.

    Zebra Print Bodycon Dress   White Tailored Accent JacketBoot Cut Fitted JeansFloral Print Midi Skirt

The shoulders and hips are around the same measurements with a significantly smaller waistline usually in the range of 8” to 12” smaller than hips and shoulders.

The most well-known hourglass silhouette image is Marylin Monroe. The key to making this silhouette work for you is to emphasize on accenting the waistline and elongating the image of the silhouette. This can easily be done as long as you avoid overly baggy or loose clothing.

With a naturally curvy figure wrap dresses work perfectly by pulling the dress in at the waist. Fitted bodice dresses with full or A-line skirtsand bodycon dresses are also ideal. A halter neck dress is great for emphasizing the upper body and paired with a flowing skirt gives a beautiful feminine style. Avoid long loose maxi dresses or empire line dresses as your body shape will drown in these.

Fitted straight leg pants, low cut pants are great additions and really accent the curviness of your hips and slimline of your waist. A-line skirts and pencil skirts work well as do bodycon skirts, Aim for choices that follow the shape of your waist and hips. Avoid floor length maxi skirts, loose flared mini-skirts and exaggerated flares or bell bottoms, also baggy boyfriend jeans and overly wide leg pants will not be as flattering.

Scooped and V-neck lines are great for this silhouette, also wrap tops or twisted chest tops with fitted bodices are great. Fitted shirts, or shirts worn open with a fitted camisole or tank top add a touch of layering. Avoid cropped floating tops as these will add too much volume as will overly adorned or embellished tops around the chest area. For blazers and jackets opt for a short fitted waistline jacket.

   Floral Halterneck Dress  Faux Suede Blush Bodycon Dress   Burgundy Straight Leg Stretch Pants    Fitted Twisted From V-Neck

Typically the shoulders are broader than the hips and bust with a narrow waist. The shoulders are usually 4” to 8” wider than the hips and 4” to 12 than the waist.

Also known as the swimmers silhouette the key to emphasizing and mastering your curves is in accenting your waist, hips and legs. Typically, this silhouette has broad strong shoulders and shapely arms and legs. Maximize the strength of this silhouette by showing off your shoulders and accentuating the waistline.

Fit and flare dresses are ideal for this silhouette, aim for items that are not heavily adorned around the shoulders. Deep V-neck and racerback dresses really show off the strengths of this silhouette. Also an empire waistline dress would look great. If leaning towards a bodycon style add an semi wide accent belt to balance the silhouette image. Avoid shoulder padding, small print and excessive adornments around the shoulder and upper back area.

Target cuts that add more volume and curviness to your lower midriff. For pants aim for relaxed fit, or straight leg slacks, flares with a fitted waist would work perfectly. For skirts opt for A-line or full bodies skirts, bodycon and pencil skirts are also feasible but to enhance them add an accent belt to the illusion of volume.

Racerback tops and babydoll tops work well, as do tops with loose sleeves to balance out the silhouette. Also fitted tops around the chest and V-necks bring a positive and flattering focus to the center of the torso. For blazers try one with a fitted waist and slight flared or peplum hem. Avoid shoulder padding, small print and excessive adornments around the shoulder and upper back area.

  Long Sleeve Bohemian Dress  Navy Long Sleeve Lace Crochet Top   Beige Straight Leg Stretch PantsLadies Red Blazer

Shapely somewhat slender legs and arms and well-endowed chest and slightly fuller waist. Slightly narrower at the shoulders and lower hips. Lower hips are usually around 6 inches narrower than chest.

The Oval silhouette is rich with feminine curves and not something to hide. Get the best our of your features by silhouette image by adding focus to the legs and shoulders. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cover yourself with overly loose clothing. 

Fit and flare dresses work very well with this silhouette as do wrap dresses that focus the eye to the waistline and emphasize the chest. Shift dresses with an added slimline accent belt also work really well. A rounded open neckline will enhance and broaden your shoulders. Avoid high neck dresses, mini bodycon dresses and loose fitting maxi dresses.

Slim fit straight leg pants would look great, when aiming for pants look for those that have somewhat stretch fabric. For skirts aim for straight pencil skirts or skirts with a slight flare. Bodycon skirts will also work well when combined with a slightly loose fitting short blouse or top. Boot cut jeans will look good but stay away from exaggerated cuts and stiff fabrics.

V-neck and open u line necklines work well. Opt for semi loose tops that are fitted at the waist. Fitted blazers or vest tops with a semi loose blouse or a slightly draped airy blouse. Avoid heavily ruffled tops, bodycon tops or overly long tops.

Black & White Print Wrap DressButterfly Print DressButton Down Belted ShirtWoven Bodycon Skirt