What is it?
Wearing clothes that change how people see your body shape.
What does it do?
Gives greater comfort in appearance
- Lower body
Conceals or enhances hip size
- Upper body
Conceals or enhances chest and shoulders
You might want to hide, minimise, emphasise, or enhance certain parts of your body shape in order to feel more comfortable. A variety of techniques can be used to alter the appearance of these areas.
This is not a science, and not all techniques will work for everyone: there are no hard and fast rules in fashion. You can try these ideas to find out which work on your body, and use them as inspiration for finding more ideas unique to your personal style.
Baggy fitting clothes can help hide part of your body or make it look bigger.
However, they may make you appear shorter, or make parts of your body look skinnier and less muscular.
to make hips look wider try:
to hide crotch shape try:
baggy trousers or shorts
loose skirts or dresses
swimsuits featuring a swim skirt
Tailored fitting clothing can combine the advantages of baggy and tighter fits within different areas of one piece of clothing.
This can help make one part of your body appear larger while the other looks smaller, changing your overall silhouette.
to straighten silhouette try:
loose fit at waist but tight at shoulder, like unisex t-shirts
to curve silhouette try:
tight fit at waist but loose at chest, like “tailored” shirts and t-shirts, dresses and tops with a belt or tie at waist, wrap or empire style clothes
Multiple layers and thicker and less flexible materials can smooth out the shape of your body.
However, these can get hot in summer, so you might want to consider breathable materials like cotton instead of synthetic ones.
to hide chest shape try:
undershirts or vests
to hide body shape try:
thick denim or flannel
Covering up parts of your body to hide them can be useful if you are uncomfortable with a part of your body.
to hide neck shape try:
roll neck or polo neck
to hide buttocks try:
Visual distractions to draw people’s attention to parts of your body that you want to emphasise can help them overlook parts you wish to conceal.
to emphasise upper body try:
bold or light coloured tops
muted or darker coloured bottoms
accessorising with jewellery
to emphasise lower body try:
brightly coloured jeans
Patterns can affect how well people can determine the shape of a body part.
Repeating patterns can make it easier for the eye to detect shape, while complex patterns can make shape harder to perceive.
to emphasise shape try:
to conceal shape try:
Custom underwear can help change shape in specific areas.
Using underwear to create dramatic changes may look unnatural.
to enlarge chest try:
swimsuits with pockets for inserts
to enlarge hips try:
to flatten chest try:
to flatten hips try:
to shrink waist try:
Avoiding common problems
- Some people find that their arms look too small for the arms of t-shirts. One solution to this is to wear vest tops instead - and some people convert t-shirts into vests themselves.
- If you find that t-shirts or shirts do not fit properly around your hips and are being stretched out, you can try to find ones that split at the sides at the bottom, as these can better accommodate larger hips.
You can find more useful information in our article about buying clothes.
For more information, advice, and events relating to clothing and style for UK people, check out the G(end)er Swap website.
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Page last updated: November 2020