Contrary to some labels, one size does not fit all. Even if one item of clothing could fit every person, that doesn't mean it would be flattering. Everyone has a different shape -- some people may carry their weight in their middle, while others have broad shoulders or less noticeable hips. These features can make it hard to find clothing that not only fits but is flattering. Choosing clothes in your size that flatter your body shape can improve your self-esteem, making you feel beautiful and confident, ready to take on the world.
Determine your body shape -- accepted categories are generally based on fruits and geometric shapes. Fashion experts Clinton Kelly and Stacey London advise that you stand in front of a mirror and assess your features, making note of your waist, shoulders, bust and hips.
Assess your current wardrobe and examine clothing for fit and feel. If a piece of clothing feels comfortable and allows you to move without pinching, riding up, falling down or making you feel bad about your appearance, it's probably a keeper, advises fashion expert Margeaux Tartarotti in "The Fine Art of Dressing."
Seek photos of celebrities with a similar body shape and look for fashion cues. While a sparkling gown worn by inverted-triangle shaped Jamie Lee Curtis may not be suitable for everyday wear, take a look at the cut of the garment and the fabric choices and look for similar, more practical items that you can incorporate into your wardrobe, notes Tracy MacWilliams in "Dress to Express."
Consider details and accessories. A chunky handbag might accentuate the wrong parts of a woman with a pear-shaped figure, while a cowl-neck sweater can add the illusion of a broader shoulder area to help create a more proportionate silhouette.
Break fashion rules sometimes. If you're a banana shape but want to wear a wide belt at your hips, go for it. If you have an hourglass shape but enjoy the comfort of flowing, tent-like dresses, give it a try. Experiment with your clothing choices to find what works best for you, advises MacWilliams in "Dress to Express."
Advice for Specific Shapes
Choose jackets with collar details and truncated waists if you have a rectangle or column shape. Flared, A-line skirts with pleats add width to your bottom half. Flared dresses with princess seams and pants with pockets at the waist and hip give the illusion of more curves, according to "The Dressmaker's Technique Bible."
Wear unfussy clothing if you have an hourglass figure. Jackets and wrap style shirts that emphasize a small waist work best. Skirts and pants with firm, unfussy waistlines similarly enhance the small waist of an hourglass figure. High-waisted dresses add leg length, and bias cut fabrics avoid skewing proportions.
Steer toward V necklines and halter necks for an inverted triangle shaped body. Tailored, straight skirts and dresses work well for this body shape, and low-rise jeans with pockets and embellishments add the illusion of width toward the bottom of the body, where it is needed.
Create the illusion of a fuller top half in pear or bottom-heavy triangle shapes by focusing details on the necklines and bust areas of shirts and dresses. Puff sleeves, square necks and tailored collars work well for this shape. Uncomplicated A-line skirts and pants that flare from the knee are preferable, according to "The Dressmaker's Technique Bible."
Consider adding height and accentuating the neck and legs if you have an apple- or circle-shaped body. Wear simple tops with neckline details, and dresses with flared princess seams or tunics. Pants and skirts made from heavier fabrics add structure to an otherwise soft figure.
- The Fine Art of Dressing; Margaux Tartarotti
- The Body Shape Bible; Susannah Constantine, Trinny Woodall
- The Dressmaker's Technique Bible; Lorna Knight
- Dress Your Best; Clinton Kelly, Stacey London
- Dress to Express; Tracy MacWilliams