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Body Type Guide

How To Dress For Your Body Type

By: Cassaundra Bourne, VP Production, AbbeyPost

I've spent over 20 years as a fashion designer and dressmaker, and in that time, I've come to recognize some truths about the industry, and about the female consumer. I wrote this Dress Right for Your Body Type guide after getting many questions from literally hundreds of customers looking for advice on choosing the right silhouette for their body type. 

It's commonly accepted knowledge that many women want to appear to have an evenly proportioned hourglass shape. The hourglass figure has been idealized for centuries by both men and women in our culture. Sadly, women have done all sorts of things to alter their bodies to look like they have an hourglass figure. In fact, it was not too far back in fashion history when women wore binding corsets to give them an unnaturally tiny waist. 

But I think most people would be surprised to find out how few women have a natural hourglass shape. The definition of an hourglass figure is when the bust and hips are close to the same circumference and the waist is significantly smaller. Based on a study of 6,000 women, 46% have a rectangle shape (bust, waist & hips very close to the same circumference), 20% were pear shape (bust smaller than hips), 14% inverted triangle (bust larger than hips), and only 8% of women have a true hourglass figure. [1]

The images we see in fashion magazines of models are unrealistic, but you already know that. In fact, nearly all images shown in mass media are manipulated using Photoshop--sometimes the changes are so drastic that the models don't even recognize themselves! This is why AbbeyPost has recently signed the Brave Girls Alliance Heroes Pledge, promising accurate and realistic depictions of women's bodies (and no extreme photo manipulation!) in our advertising. 

In terms of the actual clothing though, the real problem happens because fashion designers design clothes to fit the "ideal" hourglass figure, while only 8% of the population can actually wear that silhouette well. The other 92% of us are stuck with clothing that's too big or too small here, there and everywhere--and it's unflattering and often uncomfortable. And that's frustrating! 

Therefore, it's my strong belief that the rest of us have only one defense:  to identify your unique body type, and wear silhouettes that compliment your shape.

The other factor in choosing dresses that look great on your body is sizing. Depending on where you shop, sizing varies from label to label and there is no requirement for standardized sizing in the fashion industry. Up until now, trial and error has been the only way to determine the size you wear from each designer. So at AbbeyPost, we went back to the drawing board: creating custom Made to Measure wardrobe essentials that really fit. But we did it in a very new way, harnessing the power of cutting-edge technology to create clothes that are made just for your body--without you having to submit a dozen or more measurements, or get scanned in some scary machine at a local mall. Just a few small bits of info that take less than 5 minutes to provide, and you're on your way to Made to Measure bliss!

add your measurements

Real women have different shapes and curves and AbbeyPost has created a collection of dresses for every shape and size: Plus Size, Petite, Tall and anything in between. Sizing is not an issue because we provide free custom sizing to ensure a great fit. And we also offer a 100% Fit Guarantee, which includes one free alteration if it doesn't fit perfectly the first time.

Now that you understand a little bit about us, let's dive into finding the right silhouette for YOU. This Dress Right for Your Body Type guide will help you identify your body type and choose the best silhouette for your shape. But of course, if you need any help or have questions, don't hesitate to contact us! 

Body Type Guide:

Body Type Guide


Your body type is determined by genetics, bone structure, and how your muscle and body fat is distributed. There are distinct differences between the most common body types. Knowing your body type and choosing a dress that compliments your shape is the foundation for putting together a great outfit.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Take an honest and non-judgmental assessment of your body

  • Decide what you want to showcase and what you want to camouflage

  • Take your measurements to determine your size and body type

  • Consider how to bring balance to your shape

Here are the most common body types and suggestions of how to bring balance to each shape:

Rectangle Body TypeRectangle:

Circumference of bust, waist, and hips are very close with little to no curves in between. How to bring shape to a rectangle: The rectangle body type has many options and can wear both sheath and A-line silhouettes well; the key is to create the illusion of a waistline. Shape can be created by wearing belted styles of a sheath and A-line dresses and it’s also good to wear a scoop or v-neck to add dimension to your upper body.

Silhouettes:A-line, Sheath, Empire Waist & Wrap
Neckline Shapes:Scoop & V- Neck

Triangle or Pear Body TypePear/Triangle:

Circumference of bust is smaller than hip and has a small waist and full thighs. How to bring balance to the pear shape: Draw attention upward by wearing a wide neckline like a boat neck. An A-line dress will camouflage full hips and thighs and is great for all pear/triangle body types. The ultimate silhouette for a pear/triangle shape with a small to medium bust line is an A-line empire waist dress which, depending on the style, can add volume to the bust. The goal with the hem length is have a balanced distance from the hip line to the hem; for petite frames knee length is good and taller frames mid calf–full length. Keep in mind that if a pear/triangle body type wears an A-line that is too short it can draw attention to the hip line.

Silhouettes: A-line, Empire Waist & Wrap
Neckline Shapes:Boat, Scoop & V-neck

Inverted Triangle Body Type Inverted Triangle:

How to bring balance to an inverted triangle: It may seem contradictory but wearing halter and strapless dresses can help balance out an inverted triangle. V and scoop necklines are good but you want to avoid a wide boat neckline drawing the eye to wide shoulders. Sheath and empire waist is great and don’t hide those slender legs; consider your height but showing off your legs is a must. The right kind of A-line silhouette can help bring balance to your shape. The waist has to be cinched and then dramatic fullness at the hip line. The one A-line silhouette that is not good for an inverted triangle is when the dress fabric has a lot of drape (like jersey or charmeuse). Knits like Ponte that have structure can work, but something more flowy like Matte Jersey will fall straight from the bust and have nowhere to land and your hips and waist are lost. Choose more structured fabrics!

Silhouettes: Sheath & Empire Waist (the right kind of A-line)
Neckline Shapes:Scoop & V-neck

Oval Body TypeOval:

Circumference of bust and hips are close to the same measurement and waist is round; thighs and legs are usually thin.How to bring balance to the apple shape: Draw attention upward by wearing V and scoop necklines. Create an hour glass illusion by wearing A-line and empire waist dresses. Avoid wear belted styles and dresses that have a seam at the waist. Don't be shy flaunt those legs and wear your dress above knee length (consider your height if you are really tall or have long legs you may want to choose knee length).

Silhouettes: A-line & Empire Waist
Neckline Shapes:Scoop & V-neck

Hourglass Body TypeHourglass:

Circumference of bust and hips are close to the same measurement and has a small waist.The hourglass body type is balanced and it’s what most women wish they had. Wearing fitted dresses and styles that can be belted showcase this awesome shape. An hour glass body type can wear just about any silhouette just keep in mind your height and length of your dress to maximize your look. If you are short you may want to go above the knee to knee length and if you are taller you can wear any length (just consider your leg length for above knee length dresses).

Silhouettes: A-line, Empire Waist, Sheath & Wrap
Neckline Shapes: Boat, Scoop & V- Neck

Dress Silhouette Examples:

Aline Silhouette


Wider at hem line than the hips great for all body types and perfect for camouflaging full hips.

Sheath Silhouette


Hip and hem circumference are equal and is great for rectangle, inverted triangle, and hourglass body types.

Empire Waist

Empire Waist:

Great for all body types and perfect for triangle, inverted triangle, and oval body types.


1. McCormack, Helen (21 November 2005). The shape of things to wear: scientists identify how women's figures have changed in 50 years". The Independent.