Nikki’s Inbox: Shop Your Shape – Pencil aka Rectangle

Hello Nikki!

I’ve just read an answer to a question about pear-shaped bodies, but I think my body shape is pencil-shaped. My measurements are 30”/25”/29” and I’m skinny with a flat stomach. I don’t know what clothes would flatter my body so I really need help! I love Asian fashion by the way!

Dana, 18/Romania

I love the clothes shown here, they’re really beautiful, but I feel like they’re not meant for me.
I am 5’2″ and my measurements are 34″/29″/33″. I have a round face which I think makes me look young and chubby. Every time I go shopping, I get discouraged. I want to update my wardrobe this summer so Nikki, please help me!

Thank you!

Tia, 18/Nepal

How are you! I’m transferring colleges and I want to update my wardrobe, but I have troubling finding things for my body type. I am really tall (5’9”) and I have a boyish build (barely defined waist and very small breasts). I have a hard time finding outfits that are both feminine, fun and have a nice fit! Any suggestions?

Nevare, 19/Minnesota, USA

I saw your piece on outfits for pear-shaped women but I was wondering what styles of Asian clothing would work best for girls that are ruler-shaped? I’m looking to dress more feminine and break the whole jeans and T-shirt getup, as well as some more office-appropriate outfits. At 5′0”, I’m pretty short with stubby legs. My measurements are 34”/29”/34”, and it’s difficult to find dresses that flatter me.

Thanks Nikki!

Stephanie, 21/Denver, USA


Wow! After the pear-shaped edition of Shop Your Shape, I had a flood of questions coming in about flattering outfits for different body sizes. Keep ’em coming!

Now, now, where’s all this negativity coming from? There’s no need to feel discouraged about dressing up, I’ve said it before and I say it again: everyone’s bodies and shapes are different and there’s something out there that flatters everyone! Once you figure out what your assets are, shopping will be a whole new and fun experience!

But are you really pencil-shaped?
It’s great that you’re all asking for advice on figure flattery but are you sure you’re really pencil-shaped? To roughly determine what common category you fall into, grab the measurements of your hips, waist and bust. No pencil shape is ever truly rectangular – there are bound to be curves somewhere – but you’re generally in the pencil-shaped category if there isn’t a significant difference (less than 4 inches or so) between your hips, waist and bust.

So what styles should pencils be looking for?
Anything that creates or emphasizes curves by filling out your hips and bust! You want to add volume to your top, narrow your waist and make your hips look curvy – a sexy “S”-shaped package!
Fill out your bust: Look for tops that also work for pear-shapes – ruffles, an embellished, drape-, cowl- or V-neckline, all create the illusion of a fuller bust. A padded or push-up bra doesn’t hurt either!
Define your waist: Give your body a narrow waist by choosing empire waistlines or adding a belt.
Widen your hips: Look for bottoms such as low-rise boot-cut jeans or A-line skirts, these visually widen your hip area. Avoid high-waist pants that won’t hug at your hips!

On to some figure-flattering outfit suggestions!

Corporate Chic
Summer is the perfect time to bring out the dresses and skirts in your corporate wardrobe, Stephanie. A-line silhouettes will go a long way for you ladies, because the flare gives the illusion of wider hips. Why these outfits work: Create curvy hips with a pleated A-line skirt and highlight your waist with a thin belt. “Busy” blouses with ruffles and a pussy-bow give much-wanted bulk to your top. A V-neck wrap dress adds curves in all the right places and the coral color is spot-on this summer’s brights trend!

A-Grade Style
There’s a lot to be done on a school day so anything that’s functional yet stylish deserves an A+. Low-rise jeans will be your go-to items, Nevare, especially when you’re late for class. And, just as mentioned above, always keep a few “busy” tops handy – anything with a ruffled or embellished neckline. Why these outfits work: Swap your usual graphic-print tee for a striped, A-line top that will define your waist, then cinch with a belt for a nice finishing touch. A V-neck crochet neckline or a cowl-neck tank ensure you look beautifully busty (a padded bra might be useful here).

Friday Night Brights
Friday night festivities call for a special concoction of dresses or tops. Whether it’s a night on the town, drinks with the girls or just a good old movie after a study session, make sure you’ve got a ravishing number ready to be whipped out for your TGIF plans. Why these outfits work: An LBD (black or blue) with a sweetheart neckline, peplum detail, draping and a wrap front creates sexy curves. Low-key numbers like a one-shoulder or embellished V-neck number cinched with a belt draw attention to your waist. Simply slip into sparkly heels to add shine!

Sun, Sand and Saturdays
The beach is a must on summer weekends and Tia, this season is all about bright cover-ups. Why these outfits work: Bright prints are on the menu for beachwear this summer so call to the ocean in a blue V-neck top teamed with a pair of wrap-front shorts, or light up the bonfire parties in a ruffled playsuit. A white dress is a must-have for sunny days and this maxi one with a drop-waist and subtle A-line flare works to your advantage.

Famous rectangle-bod beauties include Cameron Diaz and Keira Knightley, so you can also look at their styles for some outfits ideas!

Lastly, let me reiterate and clarify: apple, pear, pencil and hourglass – these common descriptions of body shapes aren’t real, they’re just, as mentioned, common.

Have fun darlings!

Nikki

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2 comments on “Nikki’s Inbox: Shop Your Shape – Pencil aka Rectangle

  1. Satu Vanhala June 8, 2011 5:56 pm

    HI!
    I read this and I wonder if you Nikki or someone else there could help me.. my measurements are about 35″30″38″ and I’m wondering, am I rectangle or not? I have put my measurements in to a calculator and some says I’m a pear, but I have round shoulders..about the same widht as my hips..so not narrow at all.

  2. Tara Ottey June 29, 2011 1:23 pm

    ^ ^ ^ Satu, you’re an hourglass! You’re not a pear because your hips arent much bigger than your bust. You arent a rectangle either because your waist is more than 4 inches smaller than your bust and hips.

    My measurements are very similar to yours and what typically works best is belts around the natural waist and a higher rise on the waist of your jeans. Low rise pants and jeans tend to make our hips look wider, which we don’t want.
    Darker wash (darkest blue and black) pants with a mid rise or high waist looks best on us. Straight leg pants tend to flatter us more than skinny and wide leg. Avoid pants with fading on them, they make our legs and butt look big.
    If you’re insecure about your full bust, wearing necklaces that sit higher on the chest (closer to the neck) will draw attention to your face and away from your bust.
    If your back is short wear tunic shirts and drop waist blouses as opposed to t-shirts.
    If your back is longer wear shirts that narrow around the natural waist.
    Avoid empire waists (empire waists sit right below the bust) because they tend to sit across our bras instead of below them.
    At this day and time it’s hard to find dresses and shirts that arent empire waist but don’t give up.