Do you know your shape? Women often write to me to ask for tips on what to wear and describe themselves as short and chubby. But what is your shape? Are you heavier at the top, the middle, or below the waist? When you know these answers, you can start thinking about how to dress to balance your body visually.
To balance my inverted triangle-shaped figure, I wore lighter color Palazzo pants and a more fitted black top with a scoop neckline. Pear-shaped women could wear similar dark color high waist full leg pants and a lighter color or print top. The fuller the pants’ leg, the longer they should be, so Palazzo pants should almost touch the floor. High waist dark pants that fit nicely without pulling or draping too much are best for pear-shapes. Proportion is significant. Maxi dresses, long skirts, or full leg pants should always include a fitted top. Slim leg pants or jeggings require a longer top and shoes that are neutral. Never wear black shoes with anything but black pants or black hose unless you want to make your legs look shorter and thicker.
Your clothing choices’ correct proportions can help you look taller and more slender if that is your goal. For example, imagine a 5’1″ tall woman who weighs more than she wants, wearing a boxy long dark color top over white cropped pants with dark shoes. The length of the top cuts her body in half right below her bottom, making her appear to be much shorter and broader. A less boxy V-neck top that stops at the hipline worn with pants in a similar color that fits well and ends at the top of the same color shoes will help her appear much taller and more slender.
Horizontal lines make you appear wider. So, if you have a pear-shape, the neckline should include a horizontal line such as a boat-neck or a sweetheart neckline so that the shoulders will appear wider. Any bust enhancing top or ones with an embellished neckline, print, or other details at the shoulders will serve you well because they draw the eyes up to the face and your slim upper body. Keep in mind that extra fabric will always make you look larger than you are, so a fitted top with full wide sleeves can work wonders to balance the pear-shaped figure.
The right bra is imperative. Get the girls up where they belong, with the nipple being centered midway between your shoulder and your elbow. I am wearing a black, back smoothing bra and body shaper; it is the Ultimate Shaper by Shapeez.com.
Bulky eye-catching bracelets will draw attention to your hip area. A bold necklace or (not both) long colorful earrings work wonders for drawing the eyes up to your face. If you wear a belt, choose a slim one close to the color of your top. This will elongate your torso and emphasize a smaller waistline.
Hair length needs to be the best one for your face shape but not too narrow and tight. A smooth little bob would not give you enough volume and would make your hips look larger. The widest point of the style should be at eyebrow level, which means the shape is fuller, higher, but closer on the sides.
The correct handbag can draw attention away from your broadest part, but the wrong handbag can make it appear to be much larger than it is. Consider the woman with large hips who carries a bulky shoulder bag that rests on her hip. She has visually added that width to her hips. A much better option would be a bag that rests at her waistline or one carried by a top handle in her hand. A large clutch bag tucked under her arm at the waist is also a good choice. Handbag colors are a purely personal choice. They can match your shoes, your top or your pants. The bag can also provide a pop of color that doesn’t match any part of your look. A small scarf in the same colors as your clothing tied to your bag’s handle can make the look more cohesive.
A pointed toe shoe is always more lengthening than a rounded toe. The point can even be at the top of the shoe, such as the flats I am wearing. A point visually adds length because it leads the eye to continue. A nude pair of shoes with a pointed toe worn with a dress can visually add as much as two inches to your legs. Never wear high heels with Palazzo pants because it is too easy to get a heel caught in the fabric.
The top I am wearing is a three-quarter sleeve basic top in black. Even though I have a bit of a tummy, wearing a top at this length is most attractive because it draws less attention to it than a longer one. I find that a longer top often hugs under and pulls across the tummy or the bottom, drawing more attention to them.
The Clara Sunwoo Palazzo pants were from ShopMyFairLady.com last year. My handbag is a couple of years old from Express. The shoes are by J Reneé via Dillard’s. The sunglasses are by Dolce & Gabbana. My skincare line and makeup are from Beautycounter here.
Several years back, it was nearly impossible to buy high-waisted pants. Thank goodness that is no longer the case, because that is the only style that suits my pear-shaped body. We need choices for all of our shapes and sizes.
Very good points. What about someone 5′ weighs way more than she should? Any suggestions for handbags, shoes, tops, pants? Thanks for sharing.
Yes, those are my suggestions for anyone with a pear-shaped body.
Wonderful tips today Susan. Being on the short side (5’2″)your suggestion to wear pointed shoes is so spot on. I tested it with my rounded toe shoes and my pointed toe shoes. I was amazed at the difference. The rounded toe shoes have been given to charity. Your suggestion about never wearing black shoes unless you’re wearing pants is also very true. I tested that suggestion also. Thank you so much for all the help you have given us in trying to look the best we can.
Do you have a size chart for your tops?
Thanks. Lots of great learning here.
Thanks again Susan for wonderful tips and helps!
Your new video is excellent. I travel many times during the year and you’d think I was a pro but it always seems difficult for me. After watching your video, I will stick to the one color look and use your tips about accessorizing with scarves, handbags, necklaces, shoes. You make it look easy! Thanks..
Thank you for helping those of us with pear-shaped figures. I plan on taking notes on this post and carrying them with me whenever I go shopping. I tend to get overwhelmed with too many choices so your suggestions will really help me zero in on what will look best on me. Thank you so much!
Will you do suggestions for a rectangle? I’m 5’8″
Great tips! Two additional tips I find beneficial to the pear-shape figure are:
Wear 3/4 length sleeves or zhuzh up long sleeves to the elbow. It’s the most flattering sleeve length on any shape really.
Wear an outer colume of color. When wearing three pieces – top, jacket/cardigan, bottom – the two outer pieces (jacket and bottom) should be the same color or hue to create balance.
In a wheelchair, so any tips for this non-standing woman which everyone ONLY sees sitting?
This lady blogs about fashion and style from her wheelchair here.
Where have you been all my life? I love your style. I’m in my 50’s yet it all applies. I refuse to spend whatever time I have left look frumpy! I loved how you styled the outfit on utube. Basic quality pieces with jackets and a few accessories and 4 different outfits appeared! Unbelievable! I am so challenged in this area but you broke it down so it made sense,very well done. Please don’t ever dissappear. Your my own private dresser. Thank you so much,and yes I really have no clue. I spent too many years as a frumpy frugal mom,yet quality classic pieces are really what I need and basics. I’m attempting to do a capsule wardrobe. I’m still at home but want to feel great about my look.
I am so glad you found this site Edna! Welcome!
Do you have suggestions for body shapes that are heavier in the middle? Thank you.
Here are some tips for dressing the apple shape.
Regarding the video and using it for travel, please can you suggest an alternative to a denim jacket or denim shirt ?
They do not suit me as I have a bust and a tummy to offset … Both Apple shape and short. 5′ 2″ .
Will you show casual options for Apple body shapes too.
Click here to see tips on how to dress the apple shaped body.
The apple shaped body tips are fantastic! Thanks so much, very helpful!
I like your blog a lot, it is really a much needed help to women over 50 who want to look good. You have a very good taste, a well developed sense of fashion, and you also look extremely good!
I have an issue with my arms. i am not fat — I am petite (5’2″) and weight 128 lbs — but my arms are fat. I always have them covered but, sometimes, it makes me look older than my 66 years. I avoid using watches, bangles, and anything that calls attention to my fat wrists and not so good looking spotted hand skin. What do you suggest?
Thanks so much for what you do!
Always draw the attention up to your pretty face. There are some self-tanners that might help to even out your skin tone (always use sunscreen on your hands too). I have lots of wisdom-spots starting to show up on my hands now too. I try not to think too much about it since it is part of life. Attitude is everything. 🙂