Tips For The Pear-Shape

During the holiday season, some events call for a dressier look. Making the most of my shape and being comfortable for the evening, rather than showing lots of skin, is always my choice. A skimpy cocktail dress has never been my personal favorite, so I certainly won’t be showing bare arms, legs, and lots of cleavage now.

Pretend for a moment that I have a pear-shape that has a smaller measurement at the shoulders and bust than at the hip area. Tips for dressing the pear-shaped figure include wearing straight-fitting dark pants that fall straight or taper slightly from the hip area. Pockets that are too small, have flaps or rhinestones, are placed at odd angles, or gap opens all bring attention to the hips. Fading or any ornamentation, such as embroidery or prints, also draws attention to the hips.

Wearing a large shoulder bag that rests on your hip rather than under the arm or tucked in at the waistline adds visual weight to the hip area. So does wearing large bangle bracelets or watches. You might think that wearing a long top covers the area, but it often accentuates the hips even more. A better choice might be to wear a long open jacket or cardigan that moves freely across the hips and is in the same tone as your pants.

Better accessory choices for you might be bold, colorful earrings that draw the eyes up to your face. Any neckline that extends across your shoulders makes them appear to be wider. It need not be a drop shoulder style, such as the one I am wearing here. Any ornamentation or design feature that extends in a horizontal line across your shoulder area will do the trick. Carrying a bag in your hand instead of over your shoulder or on your arm places the bulk away from your hip area and helps to balance your silhouette visually.

If you have a petite (5’4″ and under) pear-shaped figure, wearing one tone of color from your shoulders to the floor will help you appear taller. Every break of color or design on your body makes it appear shorter and broader. Long sleeves should always end at your wrist bone. Shoulder seams should be on your shoulder socket, not dropped below that line. Skirts should end at the most slender part of your leg above the knee or just below it. Pants should almost touch the floor if they are wide enough not to puddle on the top of your foot. In the case of slim leg pants, always wear shoes the color of your skin or match the color of the pant and the shoe as close as possible. The dressier your look, the more sheer your stockings should be.

The pear-shaped figure and the petite woman benefit from tops that end above the area where your hip is fullest. Showing the entire length of your leg is always flattering.

I want to thank my friends at My Fair Lady for sending me clothes that I would not usually try, which allows me to share more diverse style lessons with you. This Clara Sunwoo top was a gift from

The bag and shoes are a couple of years old. The earrings were from Stein Mart a few years ago.

  1. You look lovely here Susan. Very flattering outfit.
    Good tips for making the most of a pear shaped figure. I always think this shape is easier to dress than my apple shape as these women tend to have small waists and flat stomachs and seem to be able to wear dresses very well, unlike myself!

    1. I just moved my straps to the edge of my shoulders and the neckline of the top. I have never found a supportive strapless bra. I invite anyone who has, to please share that info with us here.

  2. You say “Let’s pretend that I have a pear shaped figure”. Then in your comment above you say apple-shape is your secondary shape. So what is your shape? And how do you define what shape figure you have?

    1. My shape is an inverted triangle. My shoulders and bust are the widest part of my body, but when I gain weight, it is first and foremost in my tummy area. Measurements help to determine your shape. If your hips, waist, and bust are about the same, your shape would be considered a rectangle. If your widest part is your waistline, you might have an apple or oval shape. If your waistline is the smallest part of you, you have an hourglass shape. When your hips are the widest part, you have a pear shape. There is no right or wrong body shape but it helps to look your best when you know which shape you have so that you can dress to flatter it.

  3. Thanks for this post; I’ve always called my shape a “pyramid’ but ‘pear’ sounds more delicate. I always enjoy your posts but this one is especially useful (for me). Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. I don’t enjoy wearing strapless bras either. Love this top on you Susan and contemplating purchasing it but I have a few questions. Do you feel your bra straps would stay hidden as is fo an entire evening or would you be constantly hiding them? Also, I notice Clara Sunwoo do not come in petite sizes so was wondering if you feel this would fit a 5’1″, size petite small or 6 petite person? Are you wearing your normal size and do you find this top clingy? Just wondering if I dropped down a size to a missy xsmall if it might work?

    1. I would have used pins to attach the top to the straps for wearing the whole evening. I am afraid that they would not stay hidden otherwise. I am wearing a size medium here. The fabric is forgiving because of the sequins. It has more body than a soft knit, but it is very comfortable. You might find that the extra small will work for you. I usually wear a size ten or twelve in jackets and a size medium top.

  5. I love the look of the boat neck/off the shoulder but not too dramatic look. I want to still be able to move my arms around without messing up the neckline. Love this top.

  6. Hi Susan,
    As always you look stunning…and I ordered a Clara Sunwoo cold shoulder top for my 50th reunion. Loved it and the folks out at Shop My Fair this top ad well, but…what bra do you wear? I trust your recommendations so any insight would be great.
    Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
    Holly Rigby
    P.S. Good news. The cold shoulder top and the embroidered purse from your shop survived our Houston house flood!

    1. I wear my regular bras with both the cold shoulder tops and this off the shoulder number. I did move the straps to the very edge of my shoulders here, but as I mentioned earlier, I don’t think they would stay hidden for the whole evening. I would pin them to the top to keep them hidden.

  7. I think this explains why I do not like the bell sleeves trend. Bell sleeves add volume right where us pears don’t need it.

  8. Love, love, love this outfit Susan! It is exactly the kind of “dress up” outfit I would wear to feel special but still comfortable. Only problem for me is that I can’t wear a heel of any kind and I believe that part of the glamour of your outfit is the lovely pair of shoes you’re wearing.
    Any advice for those of us who have to wear flats but don’t want to feel or look frumpy when we get dressed up for a special occasion?

  9. I just love that top and love how you’ve styled it with blue earrings. You look beautiful in it, Susan. I ordered it, that’s the first time I’ve ordered something I’ve seen in a blog. Shop My Fair Lady does have a size chart but I had to do a search to find it. I’m excited to get it, I think I’ll be reaching for it on fun occasions for years. I remembered to use the GRAVY promotion!

  10. You looking stunning as usual. I too turned 60 this year.

    I am 5’9″ wearing mostly a size 6 and need more inseam length for the pants you are wearing; I don’t see anything longer than 30″ inseam. Do you have any insights for finding such a nice, straight leg (I’m tiring of skinnies!) with a tall length?

    Thank you for your wonderful insights!

  11. I like the length of the top you are wearing. It’s a flattering length. Lately I have been seeing too many blouses in catalogs that are overly long. Very long blouses make me look like I am melting.

  12. hi Susan –
    You look stunning in that beautiful black top with your gorgeous silver hair and perfect turquoise/silver earrings!

    If you ever run out of topics to blog about you might get inspiration from the book “Color Me Beautiful” by Carole Jackson – I’d bet you’re what she’d call a ‘WINTER’ b/c of your hair, how nice you look in black/navy, and the fact that you mentioned that you wear mostly silver jewelry these days.

    I read the book years ago and still refer to it now and then, esp if I’m buying a top or scarf for someone else – they have great color charts for all 4 seasons. We don’t just choose what season we want to be – our eye color, skin tone, natural hair color determine our ‘season’ and thus determine what colors look best on us.

    1. You are correct Ruth. I read that book years ago as well as many others about color and style. It is always best to dress what you have whether it is coloring, size or shape.

  13. Stunning Susan – what a classy lady you are. I thought at 53 I should steer away from off the shoulder tops, but your look is so elegant! Sorry to be so personal but are you wearing a strapless bra, or have you just tucked your bra straps under? I never feel comfortable in a strapless bra….

    1. I slipped the bra straps down to the edges of my shoulders. I have never found a strapless bra that works for me. I doubt that the straps would stay there for a whole evening but if I put small pins through the top and the black bra, it would work.

  14. Susan, I have to agree the look is stunning on you! It immediately caught my eye. Thanks for breaking down body shapes. I made notes so I can decide and find clothes accordingly.

  15. Your whole wardrobe seems to be of all solid colors. Don’t you like to wear a print now and then ? There are even prints that are tone on tone that are attractive. As for scarfs, I don’t care for wearing them around my neck. I think they make a woman look old. I prefer pants in black, army green, brown, and navy. Jeans are a must have as is a denium jacket, a denium long sleeved shirt, and solid colored tops. I also think a longer length open cardigan is good. As for handbags, I prefer a cross body style. I have a Patricia Nash leather map bag which is classic and stylish. I usually go for solid colors or a print in the spring and summer.Concerning shoes I prefer sketchers, as they are very comfortable. Can’t wear heels, but I never did prefer them.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.