Popular British and American television shows like “What Not To Wear” were all the rage ten years ago, encouraging us to identify our body type and follow the prescribed dressing rules. Countless books told us that it was trendy, fashionable and cool to follow body type dressing rules. Using clothing, footwear and accessories to balance out bodily proportions, accentuate good features while camouflaging so-called flaws was the way to create a sense of style. 

YouLookFab, was born in 2006 when adhering to body type dressing rules was at its peak. As a fashion stylist who makes a living dressing all sorts of body types, I shared my guidelines on body type dressing within the first month. Over the years I’ve updated the guidelines to keep abreast with changing fashions.

Like most things in life, our thoughts about a particular topic evolve over time, as mine have done with body type dressing rules. We are in the midst of what I think of as the most uninhibited, unprescribed and democratic of fashion eras. More than ever before, outfit creativity and individualism is applauded. There are extremely stylish people bending and breaking body type dressing rules ALL THE TIME.

To some degree, dressing for your body type has become unfashionable and uncool – the polar opposite of what it was a decade ago. 

Over the years I have placed far less emphasis on the importance of body type dressing rules because the idea of sticking to a prescribed way of dressing seems dated in itself. No one wants to have their creativity stifled. No one wants to feel boxed into a particular set of clothing silhouettes when our souls yearn for freedom and independence. Body type dressing rules, as much as they are meant to have a positive problem solving integrity, can also be a bit of a downer. They focus heavily on creating a slim, long limbed,  and hourglass silhouette – and the further you are away from that body type, the more restricted the guidelines appear to be. And no one wants to feel that their body is wrong because they shouldn’t wear a  particular clothing style. 

That said, I still believe that body type guidelines can be an excellent starting point in certain situations. If everyone could wear everything, there would be no such thing as having a great sense of style. Stylish dressing is still very much wrapped around achieving attractive outfit proportions, so understanding what might work well for your body type is a good thing. That’s why I point our new forum members to body type dressing guidelines when they feel lost and overwhelmed. But in the same breath I am quick to qualify that the guidelines are suggestions and not rules. I stress that women shouldn’t get too hung up on them and should feel free to try whatever else tickles their style fancy. 

Body type dressing rules are not the be all and end all of style, but they do have their place. Establish your figure flattering priorities and adhere to them — most of the time. Experiment with silhouettes that you were told NOT to wear, and manipulate them to work in your special way. After all, it is the rebels and rule breakers who start the fashion trends in the first place.