How to dress a pear shaped body

by Sylvia

How to dress a pear shaped body
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In my article on how to determine body shape I discussed several general body types. Now it’s time to take that one step further and to see how to dress for you body type. Today I’m starting with the pear or triangle shaped body.

bodyshapesminiAs a quick recap you have a pear shaped body when:

  • Your hips are wider than your shoulder
  • Fat tends to accumulate on your thighs and sometimes the buttocks
  • You tend to have an elongated waist and the legs tend to be shorter in comparison to the rest of your body
  • You have a defined waist

The aim of dressing for your body type is to achieve a flattering look that accentuates your strengths. In general you will want to achieve a nice hourglass shape. In order to achieve that you will accentuate the shoulders, draw attention to your upper body and waist and elongate the legs. Please note that these are general guidelines as every body is different. Always experiment with your unique shape and see what works for you.

How to dress for your pear body shape?

Pears tend to store their weight on their thigh and their legs may be haevy. Often they have a very good upper body which is why much on the emphasis in dressing is on the upper side of the body.

What not to wear?

  • Skinny jeans (can be worn with some tunics or A line long tops)
  • Pencil or straight skirts
  • Very short skirts
  • Tops with narrow shoulder lines
  • Pleats and pants with a lot of detailing
  • Shoes and booties with ankle straps, too delicate footwear and kitten heels

Which garments are good for a pear body shape?

  • Since your hips are a lot wider than your shoulders you want to emphasize the shoulders and widen them. So it’s actually good for pears when shoulderpads are back in fashion!  Puffy shoulders will work too. Always make sure that the shoulders are properly fitted.
  • To give the impression of longer legs and a shorter torso you can wear a a few layered tops with one very short, like a short jacket. This well break up your enlongated torso and give the illusion of longer legs. You can see an example of this in the left image at the top.
  • Wear trousers that are not too tight or light. Boot leg trousers are very good for pears.
  • Wear something catchy on top. Either a catchy colour or some nice detail on your top. Breast pockets, big collars or a pattern are also good. Horizontal stripes help to widen your upper body to bring it more into balance with your hips as do (subtle) shoulder pads.
  • It’s best that your tops and jackets end either above or below the widest point of your hips and bottom
  • Use accessories to further emphasize the top like necklaces and scarves.
  • Waist belts may look good on you as they emphasize your small waist.
  • You will look best if your trousers or skirt are the darkest part of your outfit.
  • Wear structured A shaped coats of knee length. A great coat for you is the trench. Make sure you get one with lots of details on top (like lapels on shoulders) and plain from the waist down
  • Wear a good bra
  • A line dresses will always look good on you. Dresses with defined shoulders and a good a line are particularly good.
  • V line tops will draw further attention to your upper half
  • High boots are very flattering for your legs
  • Be careful with high shoes or shoes with ankle straps as they will shorten your legs
  • Wear medium to chunky heals with a bit of height to further elongate the legs.

Here are some of the items featured above currently available in shops. Use as inspiration or happy shopping!

Please note that the guidelines above are for general guidance only. Everyone is different and you certainly don’t have to stick to the above guidelines to dress well. If you have anything further to add, let me know!

How do you prefer to dress your pear body type?

P.S.: If you want to find out more about your own body type and find the right types of clothes for you, try out My Private Stylist and get your own personal recommendations.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

diane harrison

hi Sylvia,Im 47 next week and 5ft 2 and size 14 on bottom half.I like your pear shape tips,was feeling pretty browned off this morning with looking in mirror so treated myself to a few outfits,very similar to what you suggested so thank you and I feel good in my new items ,I must have chosen well! Cannot wait to wear one tomorrow.x

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Sylvia

Hi Diana, thanks for letting me know that my article has been helpful to you and great to read that you feel great in your new outfits. Welcome to the site and feel free to upload photos of your outfits to our style forum!

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JustAskKarenD

Hi Sylvia,

I, too, will be 47 in just a short couple weeks (5’2″, also) and it is so refreshing to find your post! I hope is NOT lost, after all!

Very tired of leaving malls empty-handed, I decided to take up sewing again after a seven year hiatus. In sewing patterns, I’m a size 14 up top & an 18 on the bottom w/ a high waist. Learning your tips will help me better customized the pieces I spend the time and energy constructing to give me a total knock-out wardrobe!

Thanks so much for the inspiration.

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Sylvia

Thanks for your feedback Karen. I’m happy you enjoy the site!

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Marlena

I looked over many sites on the subject of fashion over 40, and this is the best one! Lots of pictures, and information to compliment them! Thank You!

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Sylvia

Thanks Marlena for your find feedback.

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Chicatanyage

I have a fairly classic pear shaped body. I find that wrap style dresses work well or anything with soft draped material and also trapeze style tops.

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Sylvia

Yes, great tips!

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Red Tag Chic Los Angeles

This is such an informative & interesting post Sylvia……that red leather beauty is definitely a winner in my book!

Rebecca
http://www.redtagchiclosangeles.com

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Sylvia

I know, it’s gorgeous!

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aileen

Before I found your website it was very difficult for me to dress my shape and feel happy with the result. Occasionally I got it right, but couldn’t figure out why, I just knew when things looked ‘right’. Now I understand my shape so I can dress myself with the knowledge of how to broaden my top half and camouflage the hip area.
I can wear skinny jeans as long as I have a top which comes down to well below the hip line, so anything with an A shape is brilliant and looks modern and stylish.
Thanks Sylvia, you made a huge difference to my shopping experience. It is so easy now I know what to look for in clothes.

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Sylvia

Wow, that is great to hear Aileen. So happy I could help!

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Sistergirl

Love the ideas, thanks.

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33

What i have noticed about pear shaped body is that I actually love the extreme contrast between the top and the bottom. Pear shape usually has a small upper body. I find it really beautiful if the upper is fitted (belted, body con, or peplum) and the bottom is flared (as in A line skirt flare).

It goes against the grain to want to emphasize the wider bottom half but I personally find it very feminine and alluring. I know a lot of guys find it alluring the see a heavy bottom swoosh and swing inside an A line skirt.

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Sylvia

Yes, I like that look too. These tips are just guidelines for creating the best balance but they are by no means the only way to dress this body type. In the end you have to do what pleases you and create a silhouette you like!

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Sabine

Great tips Sylvia. Thank you for sharing.
Many greetings Sabine

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Natalie

Thank you for updating this, Sylvia!

As a short pear myself I’m always surprised when I see boot cut trousers on lists of items that should flatter my shape. On me, the fact that they usually narrow sharply at the knee and then flare out at the calf makes me feel like the shape of my hips and thighs are even more emphasized.

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Sylvia

I like the wider legs on pears. But it also depends on the trousers and the particular pear shape that you have. As you know, not all pears are the same. If the pants are too tight and then go wide, it sometimes is not so nice. Straight cut pants can work well as well. In the end there aren’t really any rules that fit all pears. You are your own best judge, so just look in the mirror and see if you like the silhouette you are creating with your clothes.

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Greetje Kamminga

That is a clever idea Sylvia, to bring this post up to date and re-use it. There will be many women who have not found it yet. You kill two birds with one stone.
I await the “ruler” instructions haha.

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Sylvia

It’s amazing how quickly fashion on these articles dates. It really needed a refresher, so yes expect more refreshing articles in the coming weeks.

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Heather Fonseca

I love these posts on body shape and your idea of doing new one’s to reflect the new fashionable shapes and styles. Personally I never know if I’m an hourglass or a pear but I see a lot of styles that would look good on me in the post, especially that short belted jacket. Love it! Wrap dresses and A-line skirts usually look good on me too. Love it and keep it up. I look forward to seeing hourglass shapes soon.

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Sarah

Hello
I’m over 40, I’m 5’1, UK size 8-10 on top and 10-12 on the bottom. I have swimmers’ shoulders but otherwise I’m a classic pear.
I find 1940s styles work really well on me. Neat jackets with well defined shoulders and waist, slightly puffed sleeves, a-line skirts and dresses, wide leg trousers, shoes with a small heel, and accessories around the face area (detachable collars, capelets etc). I collect vintage sewing patterns from the 40s.

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Sylvia

Great. Thanks for your tips Sarah!

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Bienve

Wow!!!! Thank you for the wealth of information. I am 47 yr old, 4 ft 9 inches, yes I know very short. I hate shopping and now I know why, it takes way too much thinking. According to your test I am a natural dominant style with sporty classic personality style. I have to say that pretty much “nailed me”. This is a pretty awesome website. It was an accidental findings but I look forward to visit it again. I am not sure where to begin. I am a Nurse Educator and I live in scrubs and don’t date much.

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Sylvia

Thanks for the feedback Bienve and great you enjoy the site. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter so you get weekly updates. If you click on the category links above you can start browsing the archives. More than 600 articles for you to enjoy! Of course there is also my style course which would be a good way to take your style to the next level. Any time you’re out of your scrubs, you should have as much fun with fashion as possible!

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K. Finn

Just wondering…how big of a difference do you think kitten heels really make? Those tend to be my favorite since the high heels are not always the most comfortable. Thanks!

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Sylvia

Not a huge difference K. By all means keep wearing the shoe that you love!

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carlee

I think that water color picture up top is terrible, I mean comparing women’s entire bodies to shapes of fruit, is ridiuculous, apple!?! seriously what woman would want to look like an apple, or pear, or upon looking in the mirror thinks to themselves, “Hey Rectangle, looking sexy today. MMHHMMM”. I think these body shape names are another tool that women can use to compare themselves to others, leading to negative body image and low self confidence.

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Sylvia

Hi Carlee. I think that you are missing the point of what these names try to do. Of course they are in essence ridiculous and noone is a ‘pear’ or ‘rectangle’. They are just a simple way of describing shape. I don’t believe that they lead to negative body image. In fact I know that understanding body shape and knowing how to dress for it, can give women more confidence. They realise that they are not defined by their shapes and that clothes can emphasize those parts of their body that they like most about themselves. If you can look beyond the names, then understanding body type and looking how to enhance its best features can increase self-confidence.

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Verena Valeria

Hi!
I know that pear shaped does not sound like the most beautiful comparison, but it is just easy to remember. (At least easier than explaining you have wide hips, a small chest and waist)
As I noticed myself how difficult it can be to dress a pear shape – I have one myself – I started to photograph my outfits and put them online. If you want some inspiration, check this site out:
http://www.styled247.com/category/women/pear-shaped/

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Sylvia

Lovely photos Verena. Thanks for sharing.

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Jay

Good morning Sylvia,
I’d love to know where to buy the pieces you show in the above outfits. Can you post them here or provide more details on all of the pieces on your Polyvore link?

Thanks very much!
Jay

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Sylvia

Hi Jay. The collage is right here: http://www.polyvore.com/how_to_dress_pear_shaped/set?id=99184135 You can just click on the items there and see where they are from.

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Dr Sneh Thadani

Hi. It was very nicely put content. But I am very confused if I am a pear as my upper body is not small.
I am 168 cm tall
Shoulder 32 inch
Bust 36 inch
Waist 30 inch
Hips 38 inches
Could you please advice me as to what shape I am as all sites either tell me I am a rectangle or spoon.

Regards

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Sylvia

It looks to me that you are more a rectangle. However, please bear in mind that we are never just one shape. All of us are different and we may be a combination of several. Use the articles that apply to you as guidance and then start experimenting which clothes give you your desired silhouette. Good luck!

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Tonie

Hi, I am in my 50’s and want some ideas about wearing cowboy boots with a skirt or dress. All i see in the fashion trends are the short minis that teenagers wear. What can I wear with my boots (I’m from Texas and we wear boots a lot!)

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Sylvia

Hi Tonie, Cowboy boots look the best with a wide a-line skirt or dress. Knee height or longer. You will find that your options this season will increase as longer skirts are back in fashion!

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Olga

Sylvia, thank you for your posts! How about pear shaped body with bowed legs, shorter than normal legs knee down, skinny calves and generous hips and legs above the knee, also very thin straight hair. What tricks could you recommend? I am desperate…

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Sylvia

A great outfit is all about balance and silhouette Olga. It does not really matter what body you have. You may like to browse the articles at 40+ Style as I tackle these topics regularly. You may like to start with this one: http://40plusstyle.com/how-to-determine-your-vertical-body-shape/ Most of all, have fun!

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