It’s been years since I refreshed the guidelines for each body type, so that’s precisely what I’m going to do over the next couple of weeks. If you’re still unsure of your body type or the concept of body types in general, read this post for some background information.

Two important points before I begin:

  1. These are only guidelines: Don’t get too hung up on following the information here in the strictest sense. But we all have to start somewhere in order to dress in flattering ensemble combinations and getting your head around the guidelines is a great beginning. Once you have a firm grasp of the guidelines, you can bend them in clever ways and still look fab. That’s the cheeky fun part.
  2. There are 5 simple archetypes: My philosophy about body type, which has served me well for years as a fashion stylist, is to define a few simple body types and then be flexible when working with them. No, you are probably not exactly a pear. But that might be your primary body type with another one as secondary. So understanding the guidelines for the pear archetype should help you with your own, unique body.

I’m kicking off with the “pretty pear” (the previous refresh of the pear is still one of the most popular posts on YLF). The key is balancing the difference between the top and bottom part of your body. You can achieve this by drawing attention upward, de-emphasizing the bottom part of your body and elongating your legs.

Drawing attention upwards

  • Wear the best possible bra to define the waist and create curves in all the right places. There’s nothing like a good lift to lift an outfit.
  • It’s flop proof to create an “A-line” silhouette with your clothing (fitted on top and roomier at the bottom). And the more pear-shaped you are, the more A-line you should go. You look exceptional in A-line dresses and skirts and should take advantage of this ultra-feminine look all year round.
  • Most pear-shaped gals have tiny waistlines. Show them off! Opt for waist defining knit tops, knitwear, blouses and button down shirts. You can absolutely wear trapeze jackets if you keep them cropped, fitted snugly at the shoulders and matched with a longer and slim layer underneath.
  • Don’t turn away voluminous tunic tops and dresses either. If they’re A-line and structured in the shoulders, the chances are high that they will work.
  • Wear V-neck tops and create V-neck shapes with your layers. V-shapes elongate the neck and draw attention to your slim midsection.
  • It’s imperative that anything that you wear on top fits properly on the shoulders because the eye is drawn to definition. As soon as your shoulder line is sloppy, the outfit won’t look as good. And on that note, you were made for the extended shoulder pad and ruched sleeve look that’s currently all the range. Stock up while it’s available in stores.
  • Don’t shy away from boyfriend jackets. Find a style that’s more tailored than boxy, wear it open or belted at the waist, scrunch up the sleeves and add heels. Voila. You’ll look like a million bucks.
  • Select tops, knitwear, jackets and coats with interest. Tops with wide cuffs, bell sleeves, ruffles, zippers, embellishment, rushing, vertical seaming detail, large collar/lapels, wraps and princess lines are good choices. These design features naturally draw the eye upwards.
  • Wearing an eye-catching colour on top draws the eye upwards, so take extra care with the shades that you wear on the top part of your body.
  • The length of your tops should either catch you just below your hipbone (a few inches above crotch point), or past the thigh area. Avoid lengths that finish over the widest part of you, which is usually across the bottom or straight across the thighs. You can sport the leggings look with the right A-line dress or tunic because this look is about the dress and not the leggings.
  • Layer your garments to add visual interest to your torso. Pop longer length camisoles underneath knitted tops and shirts. Pop a fitted shorter jacket or sweater as a third layer over these layers for the most flattering effect. The layers automatically create a visual balance between the top and bottom half of your body.
  • Accessorize the top part of your body well, with necklaces, specs, scarves, earrings, hair clips (but not all together).
  • Tying scarves in vertical ways creates a flattering long lean line down the front of the body. Wear scarves!
  • You were made for the waist cinching belt look. Wear a waist defining belt over tops and dresses for extra definition and to lengthen the leg line.

“De-emphasizing” the bottom and elongating your legs

  • Keep your bottom choices simple and structured, thereby saving all the visual interest for your tops. No cargo pockets, side entry pockets, waist pleats, drawstrings or hip embellishments.
  • Curvy women can wear skinnies or straight legs if you match them with A-line tunics, dresses and heels. Belted tunic button down shirts look incredible so be sure to give that look a go.
  • Tucking skinnies into chunky knee-high boots is another great way of balancing out your silhouette when you wear tapered bottoms. This way of wearing skinnies might not require a longer top because you’ve balanced out the look with tall boots.
  • Keep the front part of your pants free of detail and your rise mid in length (not too high or low). Make sure that there is enough ease through the hip and thigh. Fabrics with stretch are your best bet.
  • Keep the hems of your pants boot cut or flared if you’re not sporting “the skinnies and tunics” silhouette. Pants that skim along the contour of your thighs always work best. Size up and have the waistband adjusted.
  • Keep walk shorts straight from the thigh down and knee-length and avoid lengths shorter than this. Clamdiggers  (knee length Summer skinnies) will work if you pair them with longer tops.
  • Don’t force yourself to wear pants and jeans if you look and feel fabulous in skirts and dresses. Just wear skirts and dresses.
  • Knee length A-line skirts with vertical panel seaming are great. Stay clear of bias-cuts.
  • Pencil skirts and sheath dresses can also work if you keep the side seams straight from the hip down to the hem (no tapering). It’s also best to add a little length to this style of skirt and dress, so around the knee is ideal.
  • It’s flop proof to wear pointy-toed or almond toes shoes with bottoms that are wider at the hem because it elongates the leg line. But round toed shoes are just as fab as long as you sport pants at the correct length (hems should almost skim the surface of the ground).
  • Wearing some sort of heel (even if it’s just an inch) whenever you can will give you the height that automatically slims down your curves. Simple rule: the curvier your bottom, the longer and wider you’ll need to wear your pants and the higher you’ll need to wear your heel to balance out your silhouette. This doesn’t mean that you can’t wear flats. You just have to be careful with the pairing of flats with pants and jeans.
  • Be mindful of shoes with ankle straps that finish above the ankle. They might break the long vertical line that you are trying to create. Wearing sandals with ankle straps is fine as long as the straps are below the ankle bone.
  • Wearing heeled knee high boots that are slim at the ankle with skirts or dresses in cooler weather is a great leg-flattering look.

If you have further tips on how to flatter the pear shaped body type, let me know. If there are further questions on how to wear items when you’re pear shaped, let’s hear those too.