Wouldn’t it be lovely to go shopping and have a clear vision of which styles look best on you? Head straight for the accessories that will compliment your body shape? Be spot on with the colors, patterns and textures that will look great on you and increase your confidence?
Understanding how to dress for your body shape as a woman over 50 can make shopping for clothes less stressful. And, it’s much easier to put outfits together that you love and will actually wear time and again…and feel great in. It’s as simple as knowing if you’re an apple, or a pear, perhaps a rectangle or spoon. Say what???
The analogy of comparing our body shape to a fruit or a shape has been around for quite awhile, and you may be familiar with the terms used in this context: Apple, Pear, Hourglass, Rectangle, Triangle, Spoon, Banana, or Bell. These are the terms used most often, and it really does make sense if you think about it.
We can relate to the shape of fruit and remember it easily. Same goes for an hourglass, or a rectangle. The terms give us a visual picture to keep in our pretty little heads and use as we select clothes and accessories. It certainly does not define us as women, and how we ultimately choose to dress is up to us.
But, I think that having an image in our mind and some guidelines to help us choose the most flattering clothes is not a bad thing!
So, let me ask you this question: Do you know what your body shape is? If you do, that’s cool, keep reading. If you’d like to know how to figure out what your body shape is, hop over to this site and take the quick quiz, then come back: https://www.calculator.net/body-type-calculator.html
I researched a number of sites and found this one to be simple, quick and easy to navigate, with the results being classed into one of four shapes:
- Apple, or Inverted Triangle
- Banana, Straight or Rectangle
- Pear, Spoon, Bell or Triangle
- Hourglass or ‘X’ Shape
In each of the quizzes I completed (I mean, why take just one when you can take 6, right?) my results were a bit fuzzy. I’m not one definite body shape. I’m somewhere between a Pear and an Hourglass. My bust is on the small side and I have curvy hips, but the actual measurement of both is not that different, and I have a definite waistline.
How about you? What is your body shape?? You may find that it’s not 100% clear cut, like me. But I think you’ll see how understanding your overall body shape will help you define your personal style and make wiser fashion decisions.
Let’s delve further into what each body shape means, how to dress for your body shape, and we’ll see how to put it together in outfits for women over 50.
There’s a lot of information here, ladies, and not to worry. I’ve got a free printable for you to use as a helpful reference when shopping or putting outfits together. You can get access to it at the bottom of the post.
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Three main body shapes, or types, were first developed by American psychologist William Herbert in the 1940’s; endomorph, mesomorph & ectomorph.britannica.com
How to Dress for Your Body Shape
Apple Body Shape:
The Apple body shape describes a person who has broader shoulders and bust than they do hips. Some of us are genetically created with this shape, and for others it can occur to an extent with menopause and beyond. It can also be referred to as an Inverted Triangle body type.
You know, our little friend belly fat? That maturing process can actually give us more of an Apple shape as we age.
Characteristics of an Apple Body Shape:
- No defined waist
- Weight tends to form on the stomach
- Average bust size
- “Top Heavy” with a wide torso, broad shoulders, full bust, waist and upper back
- Tend to have thinner arms and legs and narrow hips
Quick Outfit Tips for an Apple Body Shape
- Create the illusion of a waist without drawing attention to it – stay away from bulky belts
- Emphasize your bust line with a V-neck, an A-line dress, etc
- Flattering tops include scoop necks, tops with a narrow bodice or strapless
- Tunic and tops longer than your hip bones work well
- Keep it simple at the neckline with no elaborate necklaces or fancy fabric patterns near the neck
- Stay away from halters, high necklines, boat necks and off-shoulder looks
- Tailored blazers, open cardigans and dusters work well
- Show off your legs with a skirt or dress length that is comfortable for you
- Stay away from big, heavy boots – this will make your legs look smaller
- Skinny jeans and leggings can work well, especially when paired with a longer tunic style top
- Pants with back pockets will provide definition to your bottom and help balance out your waist
- Denim, trouser cut, wide leg and boot cut pants or jeans work well
- High waisted cuts for pants and shorts create a more flattering look
- A higher heel on your shoes – whatever you feel comfortable in – will balance out your shape and highlight your legs
- Material – stay away from clingy fabrics, look for textured or woven fabrics
Rectangle or Banana Body Shape
The Rectangle, sometimes referred to as the Banana shape, references the shape that does not have a lot of curves. It is also referred to as an athletic shape, and is the body type often found on models.
Characteristics of a Rectangle Body Shape
- No defined waist
- Hips are about the same width as the shoulders
- Not a lot of curves
- Small or average size bust
- Weight is pretty evenly distributed
Quick Outfit Tips for a Rectangle Body Shape
- Tops like halter styles, scoop and round neckline and anything strapless works well
- Statement collars and embellished necklines are flattering
- Tops tucked in can create the illusion of more waistline
- Accessorize with belts, heavier belts work well if you are long waisted
- 3/4 sleeves are a good choice for this body type
- Short jackets that end at or just below the waist are a good choice
- Peacoats, dusters, bomber jackets all work well
- Almost any style of pants work well with a rectangle shape
- Skinny jeans or leggings work well with an oversized top
- Statement earrings, layered necklaces and chunky bangle bracelets are good choices
- Dresses in many styles work well, including shift style dresses. Add a belt to create a waistline
- Shoes in many styles will work, including ankle straps if your legs and ankles are slim
Pear Body Shape
The Pear body shape can be visualized pretty easily. Think of a figure where the shoulders are narrow, the waist is wider, and the hips are wider than the waist.
Characteristics of a Pear Body Shape
- curvy hips and generous rear
- smaller torso
- narrow shoulders compared to the hips
- small in the bust
- waist is wider than the bust
Quick Outfit Tips for a Pear Body Shape
- Bright colors and prints work well in tops, will broaden shoulders
- Draw attention away from the hips and thighs, and to the torso area
- Plunging V-neck, scoop neck, boat neck and cowl neck tops work well
- Fitted or structured tops give definition to narrow shoulders and draw attention to the narrow waist – think hourglass
- Wide sleeves like bell and kimono work well
- Use layers in the tops – tanks, blouses, cardigans
- Longer tops should skim over the hips, but not reach down to the thighs
- A-line and princess cuts and waist length jackets work well with the pear shape
- Dresses with embellished necklines, open backs, dramatic sleeves and belted styles will flatter a pear shape
- Keep hemlines right below the knee
- Bottoms should be darker colors with no details at the hip or in the rear
- Pants that have straight legs or are flared at the bottom work well
- Shoes with a pointed toe can elongate your legs and make the hips look more proportional
- Jewelry choices include statement, chunky and layered necklaces that hit above the bust, and large earrings work well
Hourglass Body Shape
The Hourglass body shape (no fruit comparison for this one!) is pretty much what you see when you look at an actual hourglass. The bust and hips, both usually generous, are about equal. The waist is narrower compared to the other measurements. Thus, the ‘hourglass’.
Characteristics of an Hourglass body shape
- Curvy hips
- Generous bust
- Waist narrower compared to hips and bust
- Considered the ‘perfect’ body shape
Quick Outfit Tips for an Hourglass Body Shape
- Snug, fitted tops that nip in slightly at the waist will prevent the bust from looking out of balance
- V-neck, V-neck halters, sweetheart and scoop necklines work well
- Tops that extend below hipbone will be slimming
- Short, shaped jackets work well as do those that stop just above the hips; belted coats like trench coats are flattering
- Belted waistlines and peplums accentuate the narrower waist
- Pants that have a slight flare or are boot cut are slimming; skinny jeans should be regular length, not cropped
- Avoid low rise pants, stick with mid or high rise
- Wrap tops and dresses flatter the waist (may not be so for petite women or those with a short waist)
- Classic cut skirts like A-line and pencil style are flattering
- Soft fabrics that drape work well
- Think ‘vintage’ with dresses
- Avoid stiff fabrics, may end up looking boxy
- Solid colors are the most flattering, or color block with the waist being the point of color change
- Dark colors and vertical stripes (subtle) will downplay curves
- Heels can elongate the leg; flats may make your legs look short and thick
- Long necklaces that hang to a ‘V’ as well as large, interesting bracelets will draw attention to the waist
Are these hard and fast rules for body shapes? Of course not! And, many of us fall in between 2 or even 3 body shapes, so some common sense and personalization is in order.
Use these general guidelines as suggestions, and a way to help you choose your fashions as a woman over 50 with some perspective on how your choices affect the overall outfit and look.
That said, understanding how to dress for your body shape as woman over 50 can make the whole experience of shopping for clothes and accessories easier, with a result that gives you more confidence.