What is it?

Wearing clothes that change how people see your body shape.

What does it do?

  • Clothes

    Gives greater comfort in appearance

  • Lower body

    Conceals or enhances hip size

  • Upper body

    Conceals or enhances chest and shoulders

More information

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.

Useful techniques

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:
A-line skirts
peplum/skater tops

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:
layering tops
undershirts or vests
waistcoats

to hide body shape try:
well-padded coats
thick knitwear
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
scarves

to hide buttocks try:
long cardigans
long coats

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
patterned leggings

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:
stripes
checks

to conceal shape try:
floral prints
graphic t-shirts
camouflage pattern

Custom underwear can help change shape in specific areas.

Using underwear to create dramatic changes may look unnatural.

to enlarge chest try:
padded bras
bra inserts
swimsuits with pockets for inserts

to enlarge hips try:
hip padding
buttock padding

to flatten chest try:
sports bras
binding

to flatten hips try:
shapewear

to shrink waist try:
corsets

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.

Errors and omissions

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Page last updated: November 2020