Styling Tips for Your Body Shape: Broad Shoulders & Narrow Hips

What do you think about before you shop for new clothes? Is it colors, patterns, shapes, trends or sizes? One thing that’s often neglected when making shopping decisions is the importance of body shape. As I mentioned in a previous article for those with long torso and short legs, it’s essential to identify and understand your body shape, because styles that are trending or look good on the hanger do not necessarily flatter your shape. Certain styles may even highlight your figure in all the wrong places.

Creating a visual balance is key to assembling a flattering outfit. The tricky part for those with broad shoulders and narrow hips is that your top half tends to look much heavier than the bottom half, regardless of your chest size. By knowing what types of cuts, shapes and fits to avoid and adding a little more thought to styling, you’ll find there are many options out there that work for you!

1. Hello open necklines

First things first, let’s steer away from pieces that add focus to the shoulder area. Scoop-necks, V-necks and collarless blouses are great as these shift attention toward your collarbones and chest area instead. Sleeves are fine too – plain, fitted sleeves and loose and long drop-shoulder sleeves can make shoulders appear smaller. Puff sleeves and Peter Pan collars may look cute, but these will only visually broaden your shoulders.

2. Asymmetric cuts are your BFFs

Don’t worry if you’re really into strappy tops – there’s a way to make them work for your body shape! Despite exposing most of the shoulder area, strategically designed pieces with asymmetric cuts and necklines can accentuate broad shoulders diagonally to elongate your silhouette while drawing focus away from the width of your shoulders.

3. Play with contrasting tones

Articulately put-together color combinations help to create a visually proportionate figure. Darker colors tend to have a slimming effect while lighter colors enhance volume. Try pairing a black top with loose white bottoms; this will make the top half appear slimmer, especially when contrasted with a looser silhouette at the bottom. One-pieces with clever use of contrasting colors, textures or prints also serve a similar visual effect by concealing certain parts of the body.

4. Long and loose jackets

Fitted jackets suit you just fine, but avoid blazers with heavily padded shoulders and wide lapels. Casual open-front longline jackets, especially those with undefined shoulder lines, will serve the purpose of balancing your broad shoulders.

5. Pump up the volume from the waist down

The key to balancing broad shoulders and narrow hips is to generate more volume from the waist down. Flowy, flared or A-line skirts are great pieces to balance out wide shoulders. For those who prefer pants over skirts, culottes, boot-legged or wide-legged cuts will work just fine.

6. Minis over midis

Why minis over midis? Showing more of your legs helps to counter-balance a broad upper body, whereas a fitted midi skirt cuts off at the knee or calf, further exaggerating a narrow bottom. Opt for flowy mini skirts or flared mini dresses to illustrate fuller hips.

7. Cinched waists

Broad shoulders make your waistline look smaller, but the downside is less contrast between your waists and hips. Wearing a belt over loose-fitted dresses and skirts helps define the waistline. Likewise, peplum tops or tops with corset-like lace-up detailing can achieve the same visual effect.

8. Show off your legs with killer footwear

Showing off your legs helps to elongate the bottom half of your body. And since you’re already rocking mini skirts and dresses, why not throw in some killer statement shoes? Tall boots are fantastic for elongating gams. They also smooth out all curves and bumps, concealing the actual shape of your legs with a slimming effect. Lace-up sandals and heels put focus on the legs and shift attention away from the rest of the body. Meanwhile, mules, slip-ons and other types of shoes that show the midfoot area create a seamless transition from the legs to the feet.

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