It’s back to first principles as I update the body type dressing guidelines in the context of current fashion trends. If you’re unsure of your body type, or new to the concept of body types, then you might want to read my refresher on identifying your body type before tackling this post on the inverted triangle.
Three important points before I begin:
- These are guidelines, not rules: The information here should be viewed as a helpful starting point when you’re unsure about how to create conventionally flattering and balanced proportions for your shape. Everyone has different figure flattery priorities and sometimes the most stylish outfits ignore the guidelines completely.
- The guidelines are general: My philosophy is to define a few simple body types and then be flexible when working with them. Most of us are a mixture of a few body types and don’t look exactly like one of the 5 prototypical shapes. Filter through the information and use the parts that make sense for your shape.
- There is one rule to keep in mind: Have fun with fashion.
You are an inverted triangle when the top part of your body is larger than the bottom. You usually wear a larger size on top than on the bottom, have relatively broad shoulders, narrower hips and slender limbs. Some inverted triangles have a straight waist and flat bottom, whereas others have a defined waist and curvier bottom. Bust size can vary.
Softening the shoulder line and creating a balanced silhouette so that you don’t look top-heavy is what you’ll need to think about most. Creating curvature on the bottom is next, and defining the waist is optional. In fact, surrendering the waist is a great look because it marries the width variance between the top and bottom parts of the body more gradually. The severity of a defined waist can make you look like you’re toppling over. That said, a little waist definition is a better idea when you have a very full bust.
Softening the Shoulders
- Make sure you’re wearing the best bra to create curves in all the right places. Lift the girls and smooth out the midsection.
- Tops made of soft knits and wovens are best because their superior drape de-emphasizes the shoulder line while the excess volume collapses back onto the body providing a little structure.
- Tops in stiff fabrications like button-down shirts are harder to pull off, but not impossible when you wear them with enough ease through the shoulder, a little stretch, and open at the collar to create a V-shape effect.
- Tops with low and/or open necklines are your friend, especially when you have a larger bust and shorter neck. Think high or low scoop necks, cowls, drape necks, boat necks, open shirt collars and V-necks. Stay away from high necklines like turtles and funnels unless you have a very long neck. Crew necks are fine.
- Dropped shoulder seam tops will work when the fabrics are soft, the sleeves are tailored, the torso slightly defined, and the neckline open.
- Dolman sleeves with waist definition and an open neckline are best.
- Avoid shoulder details that visually accentuate width, like epaulettes, puffy sleeves, shoulder ruching, flutter sleeves, extended shoulder pad detailing, and a high-contrast colour block across the shoulder area.
- If you enjoy showcasing your arms and shoulders, wear strapless style tops and dresses.
- Stay away from hard and rigid fabrications unless the items are tailored and very structured.
- Keeping cardigans V-neck and unbuttoned softens the shoulder lines.
- Raglan sleeves have a magical way of narrowing wider shoulders, and widening narrow shoulders. Make sure that the neckline is open to visually shorten the width of the shoulder line.
- You were made for collarless jackets and blouses, especially when you have a short neck, because your shoulders provide ample structure to carry the silhouette.
- Bold horizontal lines have a widening effect so if you’re going to wear horizontal stripes, keep them subtle and monochromatic.
- Beware of bold and large patterns on top in general because they have a widening effect.
- Keep the lapels on jackets and coats small or mid size and relatively refined, because oversized collars and lapels tend to make shoulders look broader.
- Jackets, in any style, that are structured on the shoulder with an inset sleeve are best because they shorten the width of the shoulder line.
- Jackets with stretch, or inset stretch panels on the sleeves are more comfortable because they’ll give your shoulders extra room.
- Fine gauge knits are best because they aren’t bulky. Opt for semi-chunky styles if you prefer warmer and more substantial sweaters. Chunky knits work in darker colours and in structured silhouettes with a more open neckline.
- Shirts, jackets, tops, blouses, coats and dresses with vertical seaming are ideal. Think princess seaming, pintucks, side ruching detailing, side paneling, and top stitching. Also, the vertical line that is created in front of the body by keeping a tailored jacket open, is slimming and flattering.
- Wearing darker colours on top and lighter colours on the bottom helps to visually create balance by narrowing the top and widening the bottom.
Creating Curvature at the Bottom
- Narrow hips and slim legs give you tremendous choice when it comes to pants, shorts and cropped styles. By all means sport extra volume on the bottom. In fact, it’s my favourite look on an inverted triangle. Think bootcuts, bell bottoms, culottes, wide leg pants, harem pants, trouser jeans, boyfriend styles, slouchy track pants, pleated slouchy styles and cargo pants.
- Straight legs, relaxed skinnies or cigarette styles tend to look better than skinny styles and jeggings because they balance out your top half.
- Wearing bold patterns and colours on the bottom is no problem.
- Trousers can be altered at the side seams and on the seat if they’re perpetually baggy in that area in order to fit on the waistline.
- Pencil skirts that are extra tapered at the hem create a curve on the hips that works well for some straight-waisted inverted triangles. On the other hand, inverted triangles with a large bust and shoulder line, and extra narrow hips, look great in pencil skirts with side seams that drop down straight from the waist instead of tapering in towards the knee. This creates a bit of volume to match the top part of the body.
- Knee-length skirts with contoured waistbands, patch pockets on the front or back are good. Full circle, tiered, softly pleated or paneled skirts, bias-cut skirts, sarongs, and skirts with stitched down pleats are also excellent.
Surrendering the Waistline
- If you are an inverted triangle with a straight waist and regular sized or small bust, you wear soft voluminous clothing that collapses back onto the body really well because angular bodies flatter straight styles. But add a little structure to this unstructured look by sporting high-low hemlines, tops with welts, and long tailored sleeves. Wide sleeves work when they are cropped to three quarter lengths.
- If you’re an inverted triangle with a defined waist and fuller bust, you can still wear waistless shift dresses and tops. If the styles are straight at the hem or gently A-line in silhouette, structured in the shoulders with a scooped neckline, fairly short in length, and made of soft drapey fabrics, chances are high that they will work.
- Jackets in fluid and oversized fits, which includes avant-garde drapey styles, are great when they’re structured on the shoulder and bust area. Jackets with longer curved hems add excellent vertical integrity. Keep the neckline and stance fairly low and opt for one or two buttons on a blazer. Pair the look with sleeker bottoms for a streamlined look, but by all means wear voluminous bottoms to create width on the bottom. If you have a shorter leg line, tuck in the top and add heels to the outfit.
Defining your Waist
- Defining the waist by wearing tailored clothing is a timeless and slimming approach to dressing, so by all means go this route if that tickles your fancy. But in the same breath I’ll say that surrendering the waistline by wearing fluid and oversized fits that float away from the midsection are a lot more flattering for inverted triangles who also tend towards an apple body shape.
- You can wear tops with ruffles, pleating and funky detailing, but be careful with their placement. Wrap tops and mock wraps are your friend because they create a V on the neckline and tailor the midriff.
- The length of untucked tops should either catch you just below your hipbone or a few inches above crotch point when you wear jeans or pants. Crop tops and knitwear are tricky because they add bulk on top. But they can be successfully worn with skirts or layered over a longer layer, especially when you have a long neck.
- Layering structured jackets over soft and fluid tops provides a great unstructured-structure look.
- You can wear most lengths of structured jacket if they are adequately nipped in at the waist for shape.
- Keep the stance low to create balance between the waist and shoulder line.
- Tailored sheath dresses — with or without sleeves — and bias-cut dresses worn at the knee are fabulous options. Soft dresses with V-necks, A-lines, wrap dresses, fit-and-flares and shirt dresses will also work.
- Defining the waist with a belt works well over soft fabrics.
- Semi tucking and faux tucking are great ways to sport a little waist definition and structure when you’re actually surrendering your waistline.
Two more general dressing tips: Wear a column of colour under a topper to create a long lean line that is extra slimming. Wear higher rises, styles that float away from the midriff, structured jackets over fluid tops, and textured fabrics to avoid muffin top.
Feel free to share further tips on how to flatter the inverted triangular shaped body type in the comments section. Or if there are extra questions on how to wear particular looks and current fashion trends when you’re an inverted triangle, please ask below and we’ll get you sorted.