Building A Capsule Wardrobe: Don’t Make this Fashion Mistake!

By on November 11, 2011

By Jeanine Byers Hoag –

Reading the average fashion magazine can sometimes lead to despair because it’s obvious that what looks perfect on the unusually thin fashion models will not look as wonderful on a real-life, middle-aged body. Copying those models could lead to fashion disaster!

But every woman can wear what is perfect and beautiful for her. Knowing your body type will empower you to find your perfect.

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This article is the 4th in a series about how to build a capsule wardrobe that is perfect for you and is an excerpt from my ebook, The Capsule Wardrobe Book: Signature Style Essentials for Plus-Size Fashionistas.

What’s Your Body Type?

There are 5 body shapes to consider- the pear, the apple, the rectangle, the inverted triangle and the hourglass. As the names imply, each one corresponds to the basic shape of the body and each one requires a different style of clothing in order to make one look slimmer and balance the overall look.


If you are a pear, then your hips are wider than your shoulders and that is where you are most likely to gain weight first. This body shape also has been called the triangle in other typing systems.

What to wear if you’re a pear…

The pear body type is wider at the bottom and narrower at the top so you need to create balance by adding emphasis to the top. Avoid anything that clings to your hips or thighs! Don’t wear leggings even though they’re in style.

You can wear structured jackets and blazers paired with bottoms that don’t have pockets. You also can wear jackets that fall to mid hip length so that the widest part of your hip is hidden. But you can wear short jackets or cardigans, too, if you pair them with full skirts or pants.


If you have an apple shape, you have a more rounded torso. In other systems, I believe this type would be called the circle or round. Usually, with this body shape, there is not much of a waist and the weight is distributed rather evenly among the bust, waist and hips.

But you tend to gain weight in the middle first and there may be more weight there than at either end. Women with protruding bellies would fall into the category.

With the apple shape, you want to give the illusion of a waist and elongate the body. But that does not mean wearing a belt or something fitted at the waist.

Wearing long tops with a straight line will elongate your torso. But also, wearing a long jacket that is open in the front will draw the eye and lengthen your torso.

If you decide to wear shorter jackets, make sure they cover or camouflage the belly. Wear shapely ones over your full dresses and skirts to give the illusion of a curvier figure.


If you are a rectangle, you are not very curvy – kind of a straight and solid figure – almost like an apple but sometimes less rounded in the middle. This body shape would probably be called a ruler or boyish or straight in other systems I’ve seen.

Apples may find use for some of the recommendations made for rectangles, but avoid the ones that suggest you create a waist. That’s not the area you want to emphasize!

Just like the apple, wearing monochromatic colors will be helpful for this body shape, as will wearing jackets and dusters open to draw the eye downward in a slimming way. Make sure they are hip-length or lower. For pants, go with straight legs but not skinny and they will lengthen your body.

Inverted Triangle

If you are an inverted triangle, your shoulders are broad and you are smaller in the hips. Your bust measurements are likely to be bigger than your hip measurement.

What you want to do for the inverted triangle body shape is draw the eye away from the bust and shoulder area. Swing jackets may work very well for this type. V-necks draw the eye down as do wrap tops.

A-line skirts and empire-waist dresses will add fullness and balance below the waist. But you may want to make them short because you are likely to have great legs and should show them off.


If you are an hourglass, then you are the most voluptuous of the figures. Your waist is thinner and your bust and hips are balanced.

Also, most hourglass figures have flat tummies. If you do not, check out some of the style recommendations for the apple & don’t follow the hourglass recommendations for emphasizing your waist.

With an hourglass figure, you want to accent your small waist as well as your overall shape. One way to accent your small waist is to wear ¾ length sleeves and faux wrap dresses that bring the eye down in a diagonal to the waist.

Which One Are You?

Grab a tape measure and go stare at yourself in the mirror. Once you know your body shape, you can choose clothes that balance your figure – ones that show off your positive features while camouflaging your negative ones. 


Jeanine Byers Hoag is a personal style blogger and the author of The Capsule Wardrobe Book: Signature Style Essentials for Plus Size Fashionistas. For more information, go to

About Jeanine Byers Hoag

Jeanine Byers Hoag is a personal style blogger and the author of The Capsule Wardrobe Book: Signature Style Essentials for Plus Size Fashionistas. For more information, go to

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Building A Capsule Wardrobe: Don’t Make this Fashion Mistake!