The Best Fit: Shopping for Your Body Type

It’s difficult to find clothes that fit properly no matter what your body type. In the United States, there’s no fixed standard for the sizing of clothing, so sizes vary widely from one manufacturer to another. To make matters worse, most manufacturers design clothing intended for the hourglass body shape. However, women fall under one of four basic body types, and most women are pear shaped, with petite shoulders and torsos and heavier hips and thighs. Follow these steps to fit your clothes to your body type.

1) Take Your Measurements

No matter your body type, you’re going to need to know your exact measurements in order to fit clothes properly. You’ll need a tape measure and a friend. Stand up tall and straight while taking measurements, or they won’t be accurate. Measure the following parts of your body:

  • Hips
  • Bust
  • Waist
  • Inseam

Measure your bust by wrapping the tape measure around your shoulders below the armpits; make sure you place the tape around the fullest part of your bust for an accurate measurement. Measure your waist at your natural waistline, and your hips where they’re widest, which will probably be seven to nine inches below your natural waistline. Measure your inseam from the top of your inner thigh to your ankle bone.

Knowing these measurements can help you find clothes that fit, especially if you’d like to have those clothes tailored to your body shape.

2) Understand Petite, Tall and Plus Sizes

Manufacturers design petite and tall sizes according to height, not body shape. Women 5’4″ tall and shorter might want to look for petite sizes that won’t be too long; women over 5’9″ may want to try tall sizes. If you have problems finding clothes that fit, buy clothes that are sold by measurement rather than size.

Plus size women may have problems finding clothes in styles that appeal to them. Go online for fashionable plus size clothes, or check the junior apparel section for stylish garments that aren’t too old fashioned.

3) Dress for Your Body Shape

There are four basic body shapes for women: pear, rectangle, hourglass and apple. Pear shaped women are petite on top and have wider hips and thighs; apple shaped women have slim arms and legs and wide midsections; rectangle shaped women have few curves, but hourglass women have wider hips and shoulders and a clearly defined waistline.

If you’re pear shaped, try wide legged knit pants that stretch to fit your hips as well as your waist. Choose A-line skirts that fall below the knee, and brightly colored, patterned tops that draw the eye upward. Wear dark, solid colors on bottom.

If you’re apple shaped, go for single colored outfits, or mix and match shades of one color. Layer tops, emphasize your bustline and show off your shapely legs with shorter skirts.

If you have a rectangular figure, look for garments that nip in at the waist; these will make it look like you have wider hips and a bigger bust. Emphasize your bust with bright colors and stylish extras to make your figure look curvier.

If you have an hourglass figure, look for items that play up your best assets, such as fitted dresses, slacks and blouses.


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