Style Guide

Tips for dressing for your body shape

We ALL have parts of our body that we don’t like no matter what our figure type is. There are many things we can do to work on these problem areas such as exercise and healthy eating programs, to more severe surgical enhancing methods such as liposuction. However, simply by wearing clothing that suits our body shape we can overcome many of these problem areas without resorting to extreme measures.

Fashion and clothing has the ability to make you feel different emotions depending on the occasion they are to be worn for. A tracksuit, for instance, can make you feel ready to burn calories by pounding the pavement for the next hour, or similarly it can encourage you to put on the calories by watching a chick flick with a family sized block of chocolate with rainy weather outside.

The 80’s were well known for the introduction of power dressing which was typically created by wearing a Man style suit with broad shoulder pads. The look was created to portray an image of the powerful woman when equality for women was a very current issue. Whilst the trend for oversized shoulder pads has passed, the theory of power dressing is still relevant as this is what makes you feel good when you dress well.

These days we most commonly think about power dressing when we go for a job interview or are asking the boss for a promotion, in these instances we work hard to create a look of success and confidence. The essence of power dressing is important every day and we should use with the simple design principles listed below to feel wonderful, successful and comfortable in every look we create.


Generally petite people can wear mostly whatever they like so long as it is scaled down to suit their proportions. Vertical lines help to elongate the body and can be used in ways other than stripes including pleats and draping. Be conscious of the horizontal lines created when layering clothing. The more layers the more lines which then breaks up the body into pieces and shortens the body length.

Thick Waist

Use layering to effectively hide the flaws. Long straight tee’s/camisoles with straight vests or cardigans can effectively hide many flaws. Avoid wearing tops that are too short and/or tight which show the “muffin top”. Wear straight leg pants that don’t taper too much down the thigh or at the hem.

Large Bust

V-neck lines can be a great frame for a large bust but make sure the neckline is only not too low and shows any kind of cleavage. Layering can also be effective to hide a large bust. Avoid wearing clingy clothing which can follow the curves of the bustline too much. Also try to avoid gathers off yoke panels, high waistbands and tucked in tops.

Broad Shoulders

Avoid halter necklines and racer backlines. Balance broad shoulders out with a fuller skirt.

Straight figure

You can create the illusion of a more shapely figure by adding using design features in garments. This could include empire line tops, flared skirts and bootleg cut pants. Try selecting a fuller shirt/top and wear a decorative belt to enhance your natural waistline.

Pear Shape

Avoid high waistlines and pants that taper from the hip. Straight and wide leg pants tend to be more flattering. But remember, there is no one hard and fast rule that applies as we are all different. The trick is to experiment with lots of different shapes. It also helps to ask the opinion of someone you trust will give you an honest answer about what styles suit you.

Fabric Properties

Here is a list of the properties of fabics commonly used in Australia.


Natural fibre from plants. A strong to very strong fibre, it’s strength increases when wet. Cotton is inelastic. This is responsible for the wrinkling and the creasing of cotton garments. This inelasticity also prevents fibres from returning to their original position, sometimes resulting in ‘bagginess’. Cotton has good moisture absorbency, so is a comfortable fibre to wear especially in warmer climates. Cotton garments are dry-cleanable and machine washable.


Natural fibre from sheep. Is a warm fibre to wear but can cause “prickly” skin due to the shape of the fibre, the more fine the wool the less prickle.Wool is a weak fibre, becoming weaker when wet and more easily distorted, so wash and dry with care. The elasticity of wool is very good, therefore good wrinkle recovery. Wool is the most absorbent fibre in common use, however causes woollen articles to dry slowly. Follow washing instructions on wool as it is prone to shrinking. Wool is a poor conductor of heat and a good insulator so is regarded as a warm fibre.


Natural fibre from silk worms. Handle of silk is smooth to very smooth. Silk is a strong fibre but looses strength when wet, so must be laundered delicately. Only wash in cold or warm water as higher temperatures will yellow or dull silk garments. Silk garments are dry-cleanable. Silk is cool to wear.


Natural fibre from flax plant. Flax is a very strong fibre. It’s strength increases when wet. The inelasticity of flax is responsible for the wrinkling of linen fabrics. When wet, flax becomes even more inelastic and wrinkles more readily, a point to be watched during laundering.


Natural fibre from a plant. Ramie comes from a plant with very similar qualities to the flax plant from which linen is produced. Ramie has a very similar appearance to that of linen, however it’s a much coarser and stiffer fibre, therefore ramie is usually found in heavier, stiffer types of clothes while linen can be produced in softer and drapier fabrics. Ramie is dry-cleanable. Modal Modal is a bio-based fibre made from beech trees. It is 50% more water absorbent than cotton and just like cotton is designed to be dyed. Modal is essentially a variety of rayon and is resistant to shrinkage and fading. Although modal is a very durable fabric it does not lose any of its hand feel quality making it very smooth and soft to touch. Like cotton, modal should ideally be ironed after washing.


Man made fibre from by-products of petrol manufacturing. Polyester is the most common man made fibre. It can be a cheap fibre to produce and readily available therefore used often in cheaper garments. Polyester is a strong to very strong fibre, when wet fibres do not alter in strength. The elasticity of polyester fibres is good therefore making it very wrinkle resistant. Polyester may be regarded as non-absorbent, so is not considered a comfortable fibre to wear in warm weather. Polyester is a poor conductor of heat, so garments may be hot and clammy to wear and its non-absorbency can cause static electricity. Polyester is dry cleanable.


Man made fibre from by-products of coal/gas manufacture. Nylon is a strong to very strong fibre, which when wet loses strength. The elasticity of nylon is very good so has good wrinkle recovery. Nylon is not very absorbent so is essentially an uncomfortable fibre to wear and feel hot and clammy to wear, however is quick drying. Nylon is dry cleanable.


Man made regenerated cellulose fibre made from trees. Viscose can crease easily but is another cool fibre to wear. Viscose generally has a smooth, lustrous handle and quite good drape. Viscose has a fair strength but loses strength when wet, so care must be taken in laundering. Severe wringing should be avoided. It is a very absorbent fibre making it comfortable to wear. Viscose is dry cleanable. NB: Viscose is also known as rayon. In Australia the correct name for this fibre is Viscose.