Clothes that accent the width of the shoulders are flattering to [pear shaped] hips because they balance the low hip width and counteract the tendency of this figure to look underslung. ~ Emmi Cotten (Clothes Make Magic, 1949)
Saddle bags? Really? I guess there could be worse descriptions for what we call “pear shaped” nowadays. Whether we call the triangular hipline saddle bags or pear shape, the overall impression is one of being bottom heavy. And not in the way that pop stars sing about.
We can eliminate that saddle bag look by providing visual balance. This is accomplished by helping the viewer’s eyes move up and away from the hipline. You might say we are trying to create a faux hourglass look.
How to Overcome a Bottom Heavy Look
Women with triangular hips tend to have a “low slung” look to them that can give them the appearance of having a “squatty body.” Here are some strategies to eliminate that saddle bag look:
- Make legs look longer by moving the visual waist higher. For example, wearing a shrug instead of a cardigan gives the impression that your waist is higher on the torso than it actually is (See illustrations 1, 8, and 9; avoid pointed waists shown in illustration 10).
- Watch out for lines that pull focus to the hips. Tops and blazers should end at the top of the hips (Avoid, for example, the looks in illustrations 2, 5, 10).
- Avoid contrasts at the mid-hip area. Our eyes naturally go to points of contrast. If you have different colored blazers/cardigans and skirts/pants, make sure they end at the upper hip area instead at the widest part of the hips (See illustration 4).
- Slightly flared skirts–such as an A-line–look best. The A-line skirt drapes gently over the hips without drawing attention to them (See illustration 2 for what to avoid). Skirts with gathered waists and pants or skirts with pleats add more visual bulk to the area. Conversely, bias cut or clingy dresses and skirts emphasize the pear shaped nature of the figure.
- Emphasize the shoulders so that they appear wider. While I’m not suggesting we go back to the linebacker-sized shoulder pads of the 1980’s, adding some soft shoulder pads help add some definition (See illustrations 1, 9, and 11). My previous post on how to overcome prominent hips has more advice on how to emphasize the shoulders.
- Avoid a boxy look. Aim for the appearance of a higher waist but don’t eliminate it altogether!
- Choose boot cut jeans (in the right size) instead of “relaxed fit” jeans that add visual bulk. The flare of the boot cut jeans will provide balance and make your legs look longer (especially if wear them with heels).
Use Optical Illusion to Your Benefit
The primary issue with a “pear shaped” figure is that it kind of resembles an upside down cross. Gravity and a sedentary life can also result in what used to be called “secretary spread.” By using the strategies outlined above, the horizontal line can be minimized to achieve a balanced optical illusion and you can wear clothes that make you feel beautiful now instead of wishing you had buns of steel.
Do you have a pear shaped figure? What works for you? Have you had a fashion disaster?
To your fabulous life,
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