How to Dress a Combination Body Type

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.

Dana Lynch, Wardrobe Consultant, Personal Stylist

Classic Deep V jacket, lighter pants…Inverted Triangle Style

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! Use the search function over on the side bar or send me a message and I can direct you to a post.

And be sure to subscribe, (see below) so you’ll be able to keep up with all of my posts. I’m also exploring putting together some e-books and a program, so I’ll keep you up to date with those, too!

How to Dress a Combination Body Type

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20 comments on “How to Dress a Combination Body Type

  1. Dana, I’m sure I am an inverted triangle body type after reading your recent posts (broad shoulders, narrow hips, usually 1-2 sizes smaller in pants than tops and gain weight in torso rather than in hips/legs). I know about the v-neck tops because you steer me in that direction regularly, but do you have a link/post that gives more of your expert advice on dressing for an inverted triangle body type? Luckily, you help me with closet audits consistently so I can also ask you in person soon! Thanks for all your style help over so many years, Dana!

    1. You are absolutely right about your inverted triangle body type, my friend! Check out the blog posts I notated at the bottom of the email I sent today. My biggest tip is bright/light bottoms instead of black pants, which is easy for you since you live in FL part time. Rebecca, you are a joy to help! See you soon!

  2. Thank you, thank you. . .for clearing up the insanity that a woman has to fit in body type. Im 5’3 and wear a 12P. I’ve always had to dress each zone of my body differently I’m a apple from the waist up and a pear in the hips and butt.

  3. I have always considered myself somewhere between an inverted triangle and a rectangle (no boobs, no butt). I still struggle with finding anything other than a t-shirt and jeans to fit me correctly… I have broad shoulders (17″) and my bust measurement is 36″. With a bra at the fullest point. I literally never developed past a bud… I seriously look like I have the chest of a 9yo. Everything I have read says that broad shoulders = full bust. How do I dress myself when it feels like nothing even remotely feminine fits right? Jackets and blazers make me look like a line backer and anything that accentuates or makes my bust look bigger just adds volume to my shoulders. Finding a dress is a nightmare because anything that fits in the shoulders is EXTREMELY big in the bust. I’m tired of looking like a dude, but I can’t seem to make anything work. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Danielle! Not to dismiss your comment, but first things first, I think you’re being just a little hard on yourself!

      I disagree about wide shoulders = full bust. My shoulders are wide, but my bust isn’t big. I wear great bras! Clearly everyone has their preferences, but a padded push up bra can do wonders for your ego and also fit. A couple of styles that could work for you are tops/dresses with dolman sleeves. Also, raglan sleeves are forgiving and allow for a fitted bodice. I’m also seeing more extended shouldered tops (almost a cap sleeve, but it’s not set in.) Feel free to schedule a free consultation (red button at top of page). I’m happy to help!

  4. We share almost exactly the same problems, even sharing that 8” difference between bust and waist. All except for flipped proportions with waist and leg length. Not really an hourglass, so curvy styles don’t work, but way too curvy for all typical outfits I see on rectangles.
    I’ll try to keep your tips in mind!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Tasha. As I re-read this post, I realize I should include some additional photos, lol! Feel free to let me know if I can answer any questions for you!

  5. Oh my gosh, I was legit going insane because I had no idea what exact shape I was- and neither did any body type calculators.
    I know for a fact that I don’t have the stark definitions of hourglass shape, but I didn’t have the flat, boyish attributes as a rectangle shape either.

    I honestly never even heard about the concept of body shape combinations and Lord! Does it make SO MUCH MORE SENSE NOW!
    Thank you for bringing this whole reality to light. Would love to learn more since this sort of stuff isn’t acknowledged as much as it should be!

    1. Hi Ann,

      Thanks for the comment! I am SO happy this helps. You’re right–you never see info like this out there. You can search my blog (search box) for more body type/shape info…I really try to break it down. I even have a reader who’s blind who can visualize what I’m saying since I like to be so detail oriented. Also, if you’re interested, please schedule a free consult. I’m getting ready to launch a virtual Dress Your Body Shape guide. It is completely individualized, and we meet on Zoom to go over it all and address your questions.

  6. bruhh im like literally so confused about my body shape .As im not that’typical hourglass’ that ppl say but i dont come under the ‘flatish rectangle’ either. I have around 4 or 5 inches diff between waist and bust, 7 inch diff between waist and hips. And shoulders similar to hips. My measurements sound rectangle but i dont look like a typical rectangle. Could I be the combination one??

    1. Shazz, that’s the problem with body shape calculators. They only take raw numbers into account. Based on the numbers you’ve given, you sound like a rectangle, but there’s certainly more to consider. While I haven’t officially launched it, I do offer a personalized Virtual Body Shape Guide. Check out this page, https://elementsofimage.com/virtual-services/ for more info. And feel free to schedule a free consult to discuss the details with me.

  7. This is encouraging so thank you for sharing! I felt a bit overwhelmed and lost but now have some better understanding and acceptance of being a combo body type. I believe I am between an inverted triangle and a hourglass shape. I’d love to get some direction on what “rules” would be helpful to check out . I am kinda bored of my style and tired of not liking my clothing after a few months. Many friends say I’m fashionable but I feel far from it. I’d love to get a sustainable look that I know I can feel good with for years.

    1. Hi Mandy,
      I’m so glad this helps. There are tons of posts about dressing for your body type on the blog. Check them out here. I’m working in person with clients in Colorado, but if you’re not in the state, we can work together virtually. Here are my virtual services. . Feel free to schedule a free consult and we can chat about your needs.

  8. Hi

    I’m actually not entirely sure what my body shape is. My waist is 30.2 inches, My Bust is 35.4 inches and my Hips are 37 inches. A few people have told me I am a rectangle body shape but others have told me I’m more of an hourglass. When I see other people with rectangle body shapes, celebrities and regular people I know I am curvier than most of them. Is it possible for me to be both body shapes?

    1. Hi Carmen,
      It’s absolutely possible to be a combination of 2 (or even more) body shapes. It’s not always as black and white as the media would make you believe.

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