Style Foundation

The Building Blocks to dressing your curves

Building Block #1:  Measuring Up

As a Plus Size woman, I have been 5-6 different sizes throughout my life.  I know that whatever your size is today, it is the result of many complicated factors. Believe me no judgement here! But I know that regardless of size, you can feel and be beautiful. I know that with help everyone can dress with confidence and feel empowered. Beauty is NOT a size!

It isn’t a miracle. It is a process.  And it does require effort on your part but the results are worth it! To begin with we have to take a few measurements. I hear the groans already. Most of us don’t want to know how far off the iconic 36-24-36 Barbie Doll ideal we are.  Take heart, even Barbie is getting a makeover!

Now if you are lucky enough to have someone help you take your measurements, great! If not or there is no one you want to share this top secret information with – there are ways around most of the numbers.


Time to Measure Up!

First thing to do is get into some comfortable, body-hugging clothes, like a tank t-shirt and leggings, preferably in one solid color.  My choice is black. It is the most forgiving color to wear while measuring up. If this isn’t handy – wear a pair of panties and a good bra.

The three key measurements to determining your body type are the bust, waist and hip measurements.  Some body shapes might need your shoulder measurement as well to nail your body type. So get your tape measure and let’s get started! Be sure that you don’t measure too tightly – you should be able to just get a finger under the tape.


Bust – Stand in front of the mirror and place the measuring tape across the widest part of your bust and your shoulder blades in the back. Record your bust measurement.

Waist – we want the narrowest part of your waist so stand straight in front of the mirror and bend side to side. Where you bend is the true waist measurement, just below your ribcage.  Record your waist measurement.

Hips -this measurement is not where you feel your bones but lower at crotch level which will be the widest part of your hip. Important, again keep the tape measure horizontally straight around your hips and parallel to the floor. Record the measurement.

Shoulders – on your back locate the shoulder points. This is where the shoulder meets the arm or they start curving down into the arm. Measure right across and record the measurement.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend who can give you a hand.  Find a shirt you know fits well and measure inside the shirt from the end of each shoulder seam, just below where the collar is attached

Now, congratulate yourself, you have taken accurate measurements to determine your body type. It wasn’t that painful was it?

Building Block #2 – What’s your Body Shape?

Now that you have taken your basic measurements to identify your Body Shape you can see in the graphic where you fit in. Then scroll down and find my basic tips for each body type. I will be creating specific blog posts and Pins for each one as time passes.

Apple Plus Size Body Shape

Identifying Characteristics

  • Carry weight in their midsection
  • Average to large breasted
  • Great shaped arms and legs
Plus Size Apple Body Shape

Dressing Goals for Apple Plus Shape

  • De-emphasize your midsection
  • Create the illusion of a defined waist
  • Play up your other positive features


Styling Tips for the Apple Plus Shape
  • Best necklines for Apples are the scoop, square and wide V- or U- shaped necklines – draws the eye upwards and divides the width between your shoulders and chest
  • Invest in a good supportive bra
  • Best to wear ¾ or elbow length sleeves, emphasize your great arms, again draws eyes upwards away from width of hips
  • Top silhouettes should gently graze your midsection and form an A-line from above the waist to the hips – most flattering look and gives you shape
  • Create a new waistline by choosing clothes with an empire waistline or create this look by belting/tying under the bust on an A-Line, Swing or Trapeze silhouette
  • Best jean/trouser cuts are wide, straight leg, boot cut, flared or even boyfriend – widths at the bottom of the pants help balance your hips
  • Jegging or leggings are not always recommended for apples however if you balance them with longer tunics or dresses go ahead and show off those legs
  • Best jacket looks – open, long draped and waterfall cardigan or toppers
  • Structured Single Breasted Blazers are wonderful worn open over a flowy top or with a wrapped scarf  – the structure of the jacket becomes your new shape so look for flattering styles
  • Most Apple shapes have great legs, so play this feature up, have fun with skirt lengths and interesting hemlines – remember not to go too short as your midsection will appear larger – stick to skirt lengths just above the knee or longer

Pear Plus Size Body Shape

Identifying Characteristics

  • Full hips and thighs
  • Defined waist
  • Narrow shoulders with a smaller bust
  • Occasionally have wider upper arms
  • Shoulders are smaller than hips and thighs
Pear Plus Size Body Shape

Dressing Goals for Pear Plus Shape

  • Add illusion of volume to the upper body
  • Define the waist
  • De-emphasize the lower body to create a more balanced hourglass figure
  • Elongate the legs


Styling Tips for the Pear Plus Shape
  • Wear statement jewelry/scarves at neck to draw the eyes upward and away from hips
  • Focus attention upward
  • Embellish around the neck
  • Layers
  • Narrow horizontal lines on the top
  • Choose dark colours for skirts or pants – dark hued clothing on your hips adds glam, style and slims down the silhouette
  • Choose lighter colours or prints for tops
  • Wear shapewear- tummy tucker works on almost all outfits, look one size smaller
  • Invest in a good tailor – when buying skirts, jeans and trousers you will need adjustments at the waist as your waist is disproportionate to your hips and thighs
  • You may have to buy two different sizes for your top and bottom to get the best fit
  • Pay close attention to the fit of your sleeves when purchasing tops and jackets as pear shaped women are sometimes thicker in the arms
  • Best necklines are boat neck, wide V- or U-neck, square and sweetheart – all add volume to your upper torso – consider cowel neck and ruffles as well
  • High waisted skirts and pants
  • Flat front wide leg or straight leg pants or jeans
  • Wear A-Line dresses, skirts and tunics
  • Wear cropped cardigans and jackets over longer tunics
  • Shrugs or vests for layering
  • Shoulder pads
  • Emphasize natural waist with belts
  • Leggings not generally recommended but if you chose to wear them pair them with a long A-Line tunic


Rectangle Plus Size Body Shape

Identifying Characteristics

  • Waist is almost the same as bust and hips
  • Your bust/shoulders and hips are within 5% of each other and your waist is within 25% smaller than your bust
  • Narrow shoulders
  • Very straight hips
  • Body is straight with little to no definition of curves
  • Most athletic-looking figure



Rectangle Plus Body Shape

Dressing Goals for Rectangle Plus Shape

  • We want to create a waist
  • Add volume to the upper and lower body to create the illusion of a waist


Styling Tips for the Rectangle Plus Shape
  • Look for shoulder building details such as shoulder pads or puff sleeves
  • Use a belt to define the waist
  • Tailored jackets with a waist
  • Wear high rise pants that help define your waist
  • Shop boot cut, wide leg or flared pants
  • Look for full flare or A-line dresses or skirts



Inverted Triangle Plus Size Body Shape

Identifying Characteristics

  • Your upper body is bigger compared to your lower body
  • Your hips will be the smallest of three measurements; your shoulder and bust measurement is 5% larger than your hip measurement
  • Visually your are broadest at the point of the shoulders and the full bustline
Inverted Triangle Plus Body Shape

Dressing Goals for Inverted Triangle Plus Shape

1. Primary goal is minimize the upper torso while emphazing the lower to create balance

Styling Tips for the Inverted Triangle Plus Shape
  • Avoid shoulder pads and puff sleeves
  • Soften shoulders with soft fabrics
  • Choose V and scoop necklines
  • Cap sleeves
  • Solid Dark Colours and Vertical Stripes on your upper torso
  • Have fun with your lower torso adding colour and horizontal stripes to increase volume
  • A-line skirts
  • Wide leg pants/trousers

Hourglass Plus Size Body Shape

Identifying Characteristics

  • The hourglass has a wider upper and lower body with a narrow waist in the middle
  • The well defined waist is approximately 8” – 12” smaller than the hip or bust measurement
  • The bust/shoulders and hip measurement are the same or very close
  • The bust, waist and hips are proportional to one another
  • This is the body shape that designers most often base their looks on
Hourglass Plus Size Body Shape

Dressing Goals for Hourglass Plus Shape

  • Showcase your waist and highlight your neckline
  • Your figure is best highlighted by fitted clothes



Styling Tips for the Hourglass Plus Shape
  • Focus on silhouettes that draw the eye to the most slender part of your body
  • Look for elbow length sleeves to draw attention to your waist; good alternative sleeves are cap, flutter or even sleeveless tanks
  • Jackets should be fitted, cropped or bomber silhouettes – then add layers
  • Dresses or shirts should be wrap, fit and flare or empire; if you chose to wear A-line, trapeze or flowy styles, then belt it
  • When in doubt, belt it – best for your shape are skinny belts
  • High waisted pants highlight your waist; if you have a flat stomach then go with a low rise styled with crop tops
  • Avoid boxy style jackets as they won’t do your curves any justice

Building Block #3 – Every Plus Size Woman’s Best Friend!

Powerful and successful men KNOW that a good tailor can work magic! They are not all George Clooney! But we see an impecabbly dressed man and don’t seem to notice the paunch! Perhaps most importantly he carries himself with the confidence that comes from knowing he looks his best! That is what a good tailor can do for all of us. It’s an art and a skill. And when you find this treasure – you too will feel the same!

Perhaps you are lucky enough to be able to do your own alterations? Hurah for you! But for most of us we need help. And to really make an outfit sing – it needs to be perfect. It may take a tuck, some narrowing, or shoulder pads (no not a la Dynasty- although they are coming back, something all us Pear shapes can’t wait for!)  These things are not for amateurs!

Yes I know it costs money.  And if you have bought something on sale, the alterations might cost more than the piece! BUT once you have worn something that fits you like a glove you will never go back to sloppy shoulders or tight tops. Of course you need to exercise discretion.  Use the full power of tailoring on your essential pieces- since they form the backbone of your wardrobe.  Pants that fit perfectly in the crotch and at the waist. Jackets shoulders that actually start where your shoulder starts and a neckline that doesn’t fall away. The critical pieces that you use all the time. Then scale back on the more trendy pieces.

Where do you find someone like that? Well ask around. Go to a high end woman’s dress shop ask them who they use for alterations? Or go to a men’s shop and ask them for the name of a good tailor. Or try your friendly dry cleaners and see if they have someone they use.

Regardless of where you find this person – start of with something simple before you go in for a full restructuring of a tailored jacket!  Examine the quality of the work. Do they recognize the need to adjust other things? Get comfortable with them and they can rock your world!





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