Looking Professional at Work: Forget the Trends and Focus on
Your Body Type
By Ellen York
look in the mirror every morning and know that nothing in your
closet will look good on your figure, then join the many women in
the same predicament. There’s no such thing as the perfect body and
everyone has challenges when it comes to buying flattering clothes.
Looking professional at work can be more of a challenge, especially
since many of trendier pieces you find at the mall may not translate
in the office.
two bodies are shaped the same, you may need to refer to several
parts of the article for help. Follow these do’s and don’t’s for
your body type and dress your way to success at work and beyond!
Pear-Shaped: If your body is pear-shaped then you are smaller on
top and larger on the bottom. Your shoulders are narrow, which make
your hips and thighs look larger. Here are some tips for making your
body look more symmetrical:
Tops with a
horizontal stripe or pattern make your torso appear more in
proportion. A pattern or argyle sweater is also a good choice.
Insert a ¼” to ½”
soft shoulder pad to give your shoulders more substance.
Wear sweaters with a
wide neck that stretches to the edge of your shoulders; boat
neck tops are great.
Look for ribbed knit
tops, which add dimension to your torso.
emphasize the narrowness of your shoulders because the shoulder
line of the garment is falling off your shoulders. Look for
dolman or raglan sleeves to help disguise narrow shoulders.
stripes because they tend to give your upper body a narrower
Inverted Triangle: The inverted triangle is the opposite of the
pear-shaped woman. Your bust is large, your shoulders are wide and
square, and perhaps you are carrying extra weight through your
torso, although your hips and thighs are small.
Look for blouses that
are fuller cut with no darts and fitted seam lines. Silk, rayon
and poly-blends that have a soft drape to them will be the most
Purchase a minimizer
bra. Having the right undergarments will help how your clothing
looks on you.
When buying pants,
look for a bell-bottom or flared leg. The fullness of the pant
will help balance your bust and shoulders.
Look for skirts that
have some fullness, like pleats and tiered skirts.
Avoid tops and
blouses that are fitted. Buy knit tops that are cut straight
down on the side seams, thus drawing the attention away from the
When wearing tops
with buttons, make sure the buttons at the bustline don’t pull
or gape open. If that’s a problem, stay with knit tops.
counter the inverted triangle or pear-shape, you basically add
volume to one place and take away from another place, to give the
allusion of a well-proportioned shape.
Legs/Short Torso: Long legs and a short torso are a common
problem that can be fixed by picking tops and bottoms that will
‘re-proportion’ your body.
The peasant blouse is
perfect. A seam under the bustline and fabric draping down over
the waist, ending four or five inches below your waist, will
elongate a shorter torso.
Buy skirts that are
mid-knee and longer. Long tiered skirts work well with the top
out over the skirt.
When buying dresses,
look for empire-waist styles or a drop waist, which camouflages
where your waist actually is.
Legs/Long Torso: Low-rise pants, slacks and jeans are all the
rage – but ladies with short legs/long torsos should avoid them.
They only make legs appear shorter and elongate the torso.
Buy pants with a
waistband that buttons at the waist or right below, giving the
illusion of longer legs.
When wearing capri
pants, buy them with a waistband at your waist. An open
toed-shoe or sandal will help elongate the look.
Skirts should be
hemmed at the mid-calf and work well with boots or a shoe with a
2-inch heel. Tiered skirts are good, if they are not full. Hem
them at mid-calf.
Look for jackets that
are slenderizing and end two to four inches below your waist.
Go for tops that end
at your waist or a couple of inches below.
Avoid wide-leg pants,
which can make legs look even shorter. Go with a slimmer,
tapered leg. Pinstripes are good because the vertical stripes
make your legs look longer.
emphasize short legs, so look for longer ones instead.
elongate your torso, so avoid them.
Petite: If you are a petite woman, your goal is to look taller.
If you are heavier than your ideal weight, you may want to minimize
that. Here are some tips that will help accentuate the positive and
de-emphasize the negative:
Have your tops
altered, if they are too long or too wide. A good seamstress can
help you by tailoring them your body.
V-neck tops are ideal
because they open up the neck and face, while giving an illusion
of height. Look for vertical lines or ribbing, which can give
you the appearance of being taller.
Button-down tops are
great for the office. Look for pinstripes or vertical tuck
pleats to elongate the body. Sleeves that are ¾ length show more
skin, which gives the illusion of height.
Skirts with a
straight line or bias cut can be flattering on the petite woman.
Avoid any large
patterns, flowers or plaids when shopping for jackets, as they
can be overwhelming.
Jackets made with
bulky fabrics will make you look short a boxy, so avoid these as
are probably the most difficult item to find for petites. Pleated
pants add more bulk to the body, so look for flat-front pants as
they are more flattering. Also search for pinstripe pants as they
give the illusion of looking taller.
guidelines that are given will help you make better decisions when
shopping and will emphasize the positive traits that make you look
better. No one has the perfect body, but everyone has the power to
change the style of clothing they wear to enhance their look and
dress for success.
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