Style Solution: Each body type looks best in styles that follow it’s general outline and balance its proportions so that no one area appears disproportionately larger or smaller.  Scroll down to find specific tips for your own shape.

Not sure which shape you are?  Check our easy assessment process before reading any further.

If you are an hourglass you’ll look best in styles that repeat your curved shape and defined waist. Best jackets and dresses are shaped with darts, waistline tucks or princess seams.  Ideal sweaters and knit tops are either shaped from the side seams or made from ribbed fabrics that skim your body.  Best skirts and pants ride at your natural waistline rather than exaggeratedly low.

You generally look best with tops tucked in, and wear belts well.  Belting over a straighter shirt or jacket, however, usually creates a bulky, unflattering look. For lots more detailed information, check here.

hourglass Collage

A rectangle looks best in straight or semi-fitted styles that enhance your more angular shape.  Shaped dress styles will be too snug through the waist and create unflattering horizontal wrinkles.  Shaped jackets will spread open at the waistline, pushing the lower edge into an awkward ruffle over the hips.

Pants or skirts with a traditional waistband are difficult to fit since your waist is proportionally larger compared with your hips.  Low-rise pants, styles with a waistline facing or drawstring all achieve an easier fit than a traditional waistband. Rectangles generally prefer shirts and sweaters worn out over the waistline of a skirt or pants.  For lots more detailed information, check here.

rectangle Collage

A triangle needs to balance your shape by calling attention to your upper body, visually minimizing hips and maintaining waistline definition. Slimmer skirts and pants minimize lower body fullness.  The secret is to purchase the garment to fit your hips and have the waistline taken in.

A shaped, waist-length jacket sidesteps the fitting issues created by a smaller shoulder and wider hipline.  If the jacket is made in a brighter color, more interesting fabric pattern or texture and with eye-catching details, it commands all the visual attention, allowing those hips to virtually disappear. For much more detailed information, check here.

triangle Collage

An inverted triangle needs to balance your proportions by minimizing upper body while emphasizing trim hips and great legs. Sleek, straighter shirt and jacket shapes and vertical design lines slim your upper body.  Wearing a jacket open lets its front edge expose a vertical strip of the blouse color underneath.

Interesting fabrics and eye-catching design details in skirts and pants draw attention to your slim hips and shapely legs. For many more style details  check here.

inverted Collage

The goal for an Oval is to strengthen your shoulder line to balance middle body fullness, while skimming through your waist area and creating attention up around your face.  Straight styles, without darts or princess seams to shape the waist, work best for your figure.   A long jacket or vest, worn open, creates a visually dominant vertical.   And a removable foam shoulder pad gives lift and definition to the entire silhouette.

Bottoms sized for your relatively fuller waist measurement may need to have the side seams taken in to avoid the sloppy look of excess fabric. Details close to your face draw attention away from tummy fullness. For more detailed information, check here.

oval Collage

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Lorraine D'Angelo on August 28, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I am the editor for the Rochester NY Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. I wonder if I may reprint these three articles in the next three news letters. I would really appreciate it. they are great.
    Thank you .

    • Nancy Nix Rice on August 31, 2015 at 2:07 am

      Sure Lorraine – just need attribution. I’m really looking forward to the program with your group! See you soon.

  2. Sue P. on August 31, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I’m trying hard to get as much shoulder width and as little hip width as I can. I’m blessed to have both editions of your Looking Good books too, and they are my best resource to know exactly how to choose styles to enhance/distract from figure features. Most valuable of anything in the book is the idea that A-lines are not flattering to my type. Thank you!

    Second would be the info on vertical proportions, that is, how each of us has unique proportions of body parts to each other, and that clothes are not very interesting if they split in half vertically. Those points alone have explained so much about past clothing disappointments. Knowing why something doesn’t work gives me the knowledge to avoid it the next time.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on August 31, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      It’s always so interesting to hear what tidbits from the book resonate with readers; thanks Sue. The myth of the “universally flattering A-line skirt” is so widely circulated in fashion circles. Glad you’ve realized it’s utterly untrue! Same goes for the widespread dissing of subtle shoulder pads. Contrary to being “out” and hopelessly dated, they do wonders to balance unwanted fullness anywhere else on the body. More shoulder = less hips/thighs/tummy every time.

  3. Emily on November 1, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I am so glad I found you on the Sheryl Borden Program when you demonstrated the different ways wearing a scarf would be most flattering.
    I appreciate the way know how to describe perfectly whatever point you make. Your vocabulary is so defined.
    Even though in this “Showcase Body Shape” is informative, I am still not sure what body shape I am. Besides just naming the body shape could you describe each body shape so I could better find my match?
    Thank you, Emily

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