Clothing Styles

Source: Adapted from “CD’s Shopping Guide” by Sandi Horn

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The following material was put together from several sources including an excellent article by Christina Cross on how to select the best look in clothes for your body shape and size.

Trying to get acquainted with a new set of rules for dressing can be so confusing it may make you throw up your hands and quit. I’ve had ladies ask me many times, “What is the best look for MY body?” When I ask what image they’d like to project invariably the response is “Oh, I want to look pretty.” Of course everyone’s version of “pretty” will vary. Don’t let your clothes be the focal point! Your clothes should enhance the way you feel, the person you are. They should make people notice YOU first, NOT what you are wearing.

I usually advise these ladies to play up what they feel are their best features and play down those features they’d rather not draw attention to. I’ve found the easiest way to start is to consult a basic chart of body variations with suggestions on how to enhance or downplay each.

The chart you’ll find later in this article is really a bare-bones chart, leaving lots of room for experimentation. As a starting point, it serves to give suggestions for elaborating on and applying different tricks to a particular look. Look at what describes your body most closely. Look at the suggestions, combine them and then translate them to your fashion look.

It can be helpful and fun at the same time.


Broad Shoulders
Recommended Discouraged
  1. raglan sleeves
  2. dolman sleeves
  3. V-neck
  4. drop shoulders
  1. padded shoulders
  2. boat necks
  3. puff sleeves
Narrow Shoulders
Recommended Discouraged
  1. halter tops
  2. small collars
  3. padded shoulders
  4. diagonal lines from shoulder to waist
  1. turtlenecks
  2. bulky fabrics


Long Waist
Recommended Discouraged
  1. high-waisted slacks
  2. skirt lengths just below the knee
  3. wide belts
  4. layered look
  1. hip-hugger pants
  2. low-slung belts
Short Waist
Recommended Discouraged
  1. pants which ride low on waistline
  2. low-slung belts
  3. overblouses falling to inseam
  1. wide belts
  2. short jackets or blouses
  3. belted overblouses
Thick Waist
Recommended Discouraged
  1. vests
  2. loose waistlines
  3. hip-slung belts
  4. dolman sleeves
  5. chemise dresses
  6. long tunic over skirt
  1. wide belts
  2. pleated or gathered skirts
Small Waist
Recommended Discouraged
  1. belts - any kind/style
  2. waist accents
  1. unbelted dresses


Full Bust
Recommended Discouraged
  1. loose fitting tops
  2. long-sleeved blouses
  3. choker necklaces
  4. V-necks
  5. open necks
  1. tube tops
  2. tight ribbed knits
  3. patch pockets on shirts
  4. puffy sleeves
Small Bust
Recommended Discouraged
  1. flowing blouses
  2. brightly colored blouses
  3. horizontal yokes
  4. padded shoulders
  1. tight shirts


Short Neck
Recommended Discouraged
  1. V-necks
  2. open collars
  3. scoop necks
  4. hanging pendants
  1. turtlenecks
  2. cowl necks
  3. layered look
Long Neck
Recommended Discouraged
  1. turtlenecks
  2. cowl necks
  3. layered look
  4. boat neck
  5. scarves and jewelry at neck
  6. one-shouldered dresses
  1. peter pan collars
  2. scoop necks


Small Body
Recommended Discouraged
  1. simple linear designs
  2. pleated skirts (linear lines)
  3. slacks
  4. one color head-to-toe
  5. long sleeves
  6. medium width belts
  7. vertical stripes
  1. large, busy patterns
  2. horizontal stripes
  3. pegged pants
  4. bulky fabrics
  5. many colors at one time


Short Legs
Recommended Discouraged
  1. vertical stripes
  2. solid colors
  3. mid-calf length skirts and dresses
  4. high-heeled shoes
  1. pegged pants
  2. hip hugging pants
  3. busy prints or plaids
Heavy Legs
Recommended Discouraged
  1. straight-leg slacks
  2. boots
  3. just below the knee skirts and dresses
  4. high-heeled shoes
  5. dark colored shoes and stockings
  1. short skirts
  2. tight pants
  3. shoes with straps

Hips / Thighs

Small Hips / Thighs
Recommended Discouraged
  1. pleated, gathered skirts
  2. chemise dresses
  3. overblouses
  1. tight skirts
  2. hip-hugging pants
Large Hips / Thighs
Recommended Discouraged
  1. dark colored skirts and dresses
  2. dark colored hose/shoes
  3. single colored outfits
  4. long tunic over skirts
  1. large, busy patterns on skirts/pants
  2. horizontal stripes on skirts/pants
  3. brightly colored or plaid skirts or pants
  4. gathered skirts
  5. pants with back pockets


Remember, as you scrutinize this chart that these are GUIDELINES ONLY. What may not be listed here for your body type may be perfect for the type of look you want to achieve. As you experiment, you’ll become more confident. And, most importantly, confidence is the real key to any successful fashion look.

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