Over the last few weeks I have been updating the body type dressing guidelines in the context of current fashion trends. I have already covered the inverted triangle, adorable apple and pretty pear. The racy rectangle is next. 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 rectangle shape.
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 a rectangle when you have relatively lean limbs, a straight waist, and look quite athletic. You’re not all that curvy around the hips, waist and bust. Instead you look quite angular. Rectangles are typically small to regular sized in the bust. Well endowed rectangles do exist, but are less common. You have narrower shoulders than an inverted triangle, you aren’t as round in the midsection as an apple, and you don’t have the curves of an hourglass. You are, in my experience of dressing people for a living, the rarest of body types.
Before we cover silhouettes, a few words on the foundation underneath because it affects the fit of the outer layers. First, wear the best bra. Lifting the bustline creates curves in all the right places. A little extra padding and a push-up bra is one way to create a more defined bustline.
Your body type is quite easy to dress in oh-so-trendy fluid and oversized clothing, because the straight lines on your body are a natural match for straight and shapeless silhouettes. Your boyish frame is compatible with more masculine silhouettes. It’s harder for you to create a bombshell look than it is for a curvy hourglass or pear.
You essentially have two choices when it comes to creating flattering proportions for your shape, and they go in opposite directions. Either use structure to embrace your straight lines, or use fit to create curves.
Keeping Things Semi Structured or Unstructured
This is the easier route. Accentuate the straight lines on your body by keeping silhouettes semi structured or unstructured.
- You wear volume around the midsection extremely well, especially if you’re small busted. Waist-less and boxy dressing was made for rectangular bods because the lines glide over a straight waist instead of fighting with curves. It’s like fitting a square block into a square hole.
- Your boyish frame wears a crisp and stiff button-down shirt, or an oversized boyfriend shirt, to perfection. The fit magically falls into place. No pulling on the bust or shoulder. And there’s sufficient structure on the torso, especially when you tuck or partially tuck the shirt.
- Smaller busts and longer necks look best in higher necklines like slash, boat, crew, mandarin, funnel and turtle necks. Shirt collars, either open or closed, are another slam dunk.
- Shorter necks and larger busts look best in a lower neckline, like a scoop, lowish boat, wrap or V-neck.
- Show off your back, arms and shoulders as an alternative to cleavage. Halter necks are a great option, as are tops with high necklines in front and low necklines in the back.
- Tops with bust ruffles, ruching, breast pocket detail, front panel detail and pleating usually work well because the curves on the bust do not get in the way.
- Dropped shoulder seams and dolman sleeves are fab as long as there is structure on the hip with a welt or high-low hemline.
- Raglan sleeves are great as long as the neckline is right for the length of your neck and size of the bust.
- Blouson styles are retro and look good with bootcuts or slim-fit bottoms.
- Soft billowing blouses and swing tops are excellent when they are cropped for structure or have a high-low hemline.
- Think masculine shaped jackets with straight lines. The chances are high they will work at most lengths. Don’t go too long if you are petite and short waisted.
- The boyfriend blazer, in a fluid or oversized fit, was made for you. Choose a low stance for a modern look, and a slightly higher stance if you’re short waisted. Keep the lapels narrow if you’re small in the bust and small framed.
- Moto jackets and tuxedo jackets that hang open to accentuate a straight waist are magical.
- Bombers are great. Wear them shorter if you’re petite and/or short in the waist.
- Collarless Chanel-esque jackets are hard to fit because you battle to fill them out (they are best on ladies with curves). I vote leave those to the apples and inverted triangles who wear them with panache.
- Avant-garde styles that are long, drapey and often asymmetric are harder to get right because, despite being structured, they look better on those who can fill them out. Curvy frames provide the right foundation for these types of silhouettes, whereas they often hang and look overwhelming on a straight rectangle. But if you love an arty style integrity, opt for a simpler version with a structured shoulder and bust fit that is shorter in length.
- Oversized coats are fab if they are straighter in the waist instead of extra balloon-shaped. Think man coats.
- Trapeze jackets are fun with slim bottoms.
- Your frame was made for boyfriend jeans, baggy cargo pocket pants and slouchy trousers. Pleats and side-entry pockets are fine.
- Wide legs, in either soft or rigid fabrications, will work if they aren’t overly wide.
- You wear ankle pants and cropped pants with the best of them, especially if you’re long in the leg.
- Track pants, harem pants, and other avant-garde silhouettes work when they aren’t overly baggy.
- A-line skirts with straight side seams and a high waist are fab.
- Soft, flirty, fit and flare skirts need to be fitted on the waist and hip so that you don’t drown in all the flare. Or wear them a lot shorter for structure.
- Fit-and-flare skirts in stiff fabrications are usually better because they hang straighter, which complements your frame.
- Skirts with cocoon type draping around the hips work when the waist and hems are adequately tapered for structure.
- Straight shirt dresses with or without a belt were made for you.
- Straight shift dresses are a dream, but choose the right neckline for your neck length and bust size.
- Cocoon dresses will work if they aren’t too balloon-shaped in the midsection.
This is the more difficult route. Create curvature on the hips, waist and bust by wearing highly tailored clothing.
- Formfitting tops work when they don’t create muffin top. Wear the neckline that works best for your shape.
- Wear formfitting tops with skinnies or tight pencil skirts to create maximum curve.
- Wrap tops that are ruched on the side look best on rectangles with a fuller bust.
- Formfitting tanks and button-down shirts look great tucked into pencil skirts and bootcuts or wide legs.
- If you can get your head around wearing wide belts on the waist with baggy tops, go for it. They add a flattering curve to a straight and long waist. Wear a fitted hip belt with a baggy top if you’re short in the waist.
- You’ll need a blazer that is very nipped in at the waist to create curve on the midsection.
- Peplum jackets can work if the waist is very fitted.
- Belted jackets, trench coats and tailored pea coats are great.
- Sheath dresses need to be extra tight to showcase your curves. Choose a neckline that suits your neck length and bust size.
- Bias cut dresses are fab because they accentuate the curves on a body.
- Wrap dresses are not the best match because you generally battle to fill them out. They do look better on rectangles with a larger bust.
- The best way to create curves on a straight bottom is by wearing something very tight, but not constricting. In this way, your body will automatically create curves. Your body was made for tight jeans and you’re able to wear most styles, shapes or lengths with any amount of detail.
- You look amazing in boyish trouser styles like bootcuts.
- Cigarette pants are a slam dunk.
- When it comes to skirts, you’ll probably feel most at home in fitted pencil skirts. A knee-length pencil skirt that tapers in at the side seams creates even more curve. Tuck blouses and shirts into pants or skirts to create structure.
- Pencil skirts with ruffles, pocket detailing, ruching down the side — you name it, and it will probably work because your straight hips like that type of volume, despite the tight silhouette.
- Bias-cut skirts and sarongs are fab at creating curves on the hips and thighs.
One more general dressing tip. Wear a column of colour under a topper to create a long lean line that is extra slimming
Please share your own tips on how to flatter the rectangle shaped body type in the comments section. If there are additional questions on how to wear particular looks and trends, please ask below and we’ll get you sorted.