How to Dress a Combination Body Type

Here’s the thing about figuring out your body shape…it’s confusing! And the reason it’s confusing is that wait for it…drum roll…most of us are a combination of different body shapes!

So I’m sure that cleared things right up for you (lol.) Let me explain. I’ll use myself as an example.

I have wide shoulders and a wider than average torso. My bust is actually pretty small. (Thank goodness for push up bras!) But my back is wide. I figured the torso thing out by trial and error, not a tape measure and not a body shape calculator.

I figured out that my torso was wide after trying on strapless tops and dresses time after time (um, for years!) and never being able to get my size to fit. I just couldn’t get the zipper up those last couple of inches.

My waist is about 8 inches smaller than my bust measurement. So it’s not necessarily straight, but it definitely doesn’t come anywhere near “hourglass” small! My hips are about the same measurement as my bust. Also unlike an hourglass, my booty is relatively flat. And because my waist isn’t comparatively small, my hips aren’t really what you’d call curvy.

My shoulders are definitely wider than my hips, but again, it’s not a dramatic difference.

So where does that leave me? Here’s what I’ve figured out.

Using the questions (I talked about in this post) that I ask my clients, I started to dial it in.

  • I know I lose weight in my lower body first. I have to lose a lot of weight and exercise a ton to get rid of my back fat and get my waist measurement down.
  •  I’m the same size on top as on bottom, sometimes I wear a size larger on top.
  • On my list of uncomfortable clothes that just don’t work, I include fitted button-down blouses, turtlenecks, and extremely fitted jackets/or ones that need to be buttoned.

So if I add up all of these clues and factor in my intuition, and if I absolutely have to, I’d label myself an Inverted Triangle/Rectangle-ish.

How to Dress A Combination Body Type

Intuitively I identify mostly with Inverted Triangle, but because my hips aren’t a lot smaller than my bust and shoulders, I’m not completely flattered by the typical rules of Inverted Triangle dressing.

So what do I do? After years of trial and error, dressing other women and learning to be happy with my body image, I dress each part of my body instead of following a bunch of rules for one specific body shape.

  • Typically I dress to narrow my shoulders and torso and I try to define my waist a little, but I don’t completely follow the rules for inverted triangle dressing because a lot of the recommended styles make my hips (and tummy) look larger than I like.
  • And even when I’m at my slimmest and most happy with my body, I still follow the guidelines for how to look slimmer.
  • Lastly, I also follow the guidelines to dress my short torso and long legs (which are truly a bit more straightforward.) If you haven’t read this post or this one, they will shed a ton of light on how to flatter your vertical proportions.

If you’ve read all of the magazines and blogs about how to dress your body shape and are super confused how to dress your body, don’t despair! It’s a journey—give yourself some time to explore what’s right for you.

I invite you to explore this blog more to find some “rules” that resonate with you! I’ve been blogging since 2007, so there’s a ton of great style related info! 


It's Your Time to Shine with

a Wardrobe That Wows!

Your ideal style is just a Zoom call away. Imagine walking out the door each day in outfits that skyrocket your confidence and shout out your success. Stop waiting for your dream closet – create it now. Let's partner together to make your style goals come to life.