Personal style is, well, personal. And since each of our bodies are unique, embracing our shapes and highlighting the assets we love most begins with finding clothes that fit our frames properly. That’s why it helps to know what your general body shape is, and the styles that’ll help you look your best. So for all the rectangular women out there (also commonly referred to as an athletic body type), consider this your ultimate style guide for dressing a rectangle body shape.
What is a rectangle body shape?
Rectangular, athletic, or straight—however you refer to this body type, it’s mostly determined by your measurements. Here are some characteristics that often apply to help you determine if you fall under this category:
• Your shoulders, bust, and hip measurements are fairly uniform.
• Your waist is more straight than curvy.
• Your body shape resembles that of Anne Hathaway, Cameron Diaz, or Kate Middleton.
Not sure if this description fits you? Watch our body measurements video and grab a measuring tape to find out which body shape you fall under. We also have style tips for tall body types, plus sizes, and petite figures.
3 tips to dress for your body type
Before we jump into the specifics of how to dress a rectangle-shaped body, there are a few universal tips we’d like to share. These are important to remember regardless of what shape or size you are, because they’re designed to help anyone create a proportioned frame.
1. Balance it out
Body shape is almost entirely based on your bone structure—not your weight. Use your outfit to balance your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips.
2. Draw the eye
Use lines to focus the eye where you want it to go. They can help you create curves, lengthen, or emphasize your favorite parts of your body.
3. Think about color
Your eye is also drawn to patterns and light, bright colors more so than solid black or navy. Keep this in mind when choosing separates.
What to wear if you have a rectangle-shaped body
Best tops for rectangle body shapes
One of the biggest perks of having a rectangular body shape is that you get to choose which assets you want to play up. If you’re looking to create the appearance of curves, you’ll want tops that accentuate your top half and give shape to your waist.
An open neckline is a great way to draw the attention upward and the puff sleeves on this top help keep it there.
Whether you go with a deep V or something a little more shallow, this neckline is ideal for highlighting your collarbone.
Shaped like the top of a heart, this neckline is scalloped to create curves, and the peplum bodice accentuates the waist.
4. Detailed collar
A split mock-neck paired with raglan sleeves pulls the eye up by adding volume to your upper body.
Best jeans for rectangle body shapes
The key to creating a proportional look is to make sure your jeans complement the silhouette of your blouse or T-shirt. If you’re going voluminous on top, balance it out with something fitted on bottom, and vice versa.
Especially in darker washes, high-rise jeans (or mid-rise for a shorter torso) will make your legs look a mile long.
This roomy silhouette fills out your hips, thighs, and derrière.
An alternative to super-skinny jeans, which only exaggerate a rectangular frame.
Best pants for rectangle body shapes
Keep proportion in mind to create curves where you want them. This is a fun category for rectangle shapes since they can pull off most statement styles.
Add volume to your lower half with flowy, glamorous pleating.
Any motif will add depth and texture to your straight silhouette.
The leg opening creates curves and looks great with classic pumps.
More forgiving than skinny jeans but equally as chic, straight or slim legs add a modern touch to any look.
Best dresses for rectangle body shapes
The hardest part about picking a dress for a rectangle body shape? Narrowing down the options. Almost every type of dress will complement your frame, so it really is just about deciding which styles are your favorites.
The fitted waist defines your midsection, while the roomier skirt adds a little flounce to each step.
A flowy dress contrasted with a belt is a great way to cinch the waist and create an hourglass silhouette.
Between the flutter sleeves, swingy skirt, and ruched detailing, this dress instantly creates an hourglass shape.
4. Puff sleeves
Dramatic, ruched sleeves add interesting texture and contrast to the delicate, airy shape of the dress.
Best jackets for rectangle body shapes
More than just for keeping warm, your top layer can do a lot to add dimension to your frame. It’s one of our favorite ways to complete an outfit.
A staple for rainy days, a trench coat is a classic topper that pairs well with just about any outfit. Wear it open or tie the belt for more shape.
One thing to remember is that you can easily pull off bold colors. Add a pop of brightness to your look with a flowy, open-front jacket.
A pillowy-soft hooded vest feels like a blanket, but the attached leather belt makes it a chic outer layer.
Add edge to just about any look with a moto-inspired leather vest. The notched lapels add structure to your upper body, which helps draw the eye up.
Stylish accessories for rectangular body shapes
Sure, the right pieces are essential for creating a balanced silhouette, but accessories are just as important in bringing an entire look together.
If you’re concerned about appearing too rectangular, a shoe with a rounded-toe design is a flattering option.
2. Statement earrings
They bring the focus upward and frame your face beautifully. It’s our favorite way to add a dramatic touch to any outfit.
3. Waist belts
A holy grail for rectangular body shapes, this simple accessory is the fastest way to create a flattering silhouette.
To appear taller, booties with a pointed-toe in a neutral shade elongate the legs beautifully.
Best swimwear for a rectangle-shaped figure
You can create the look of a curvier frame with the right pieces.
1. Cut-out one-piece
Mimic an hourglass shape with strategically placed cut-outs.
2. Triangular tops
Unlike straight bandeau tops, these will give you some shape.
Add feminine flair to create the appearance of a curvier top and bottom.
4. High-cut bottoms
A full-coverage style in a bold color or print fills out your hips.
3 outfit ideas for rectangle shapes
Now that you know what styles are most flattering on a rectangular body shape, we’re going to show you how that translates into a complete outfit. Taking pieces from the categories above, we’ve put together three looks so you can visualize how it all comes together.
One of the easiest ways to add curves is with a billowy shirt. We went with a micro-print blouse with a V-neckline and puff sleeves to emphasize the volume on top. To balance out the look, we added a pair of slim denim in a dark wash and finished with a belt to visually create the appearance of a waistline. Polish the look off with your favorite pointy-toe booties or flats to lengthen your legs.
Because a rectangular body shape can easily pull off bright colors and bold prints, we thought it’d be fun to style an out-of-the-box work look. For a fresh take on your office attire, choose a vibrant, printed top with statement sleeves. Anchor the blouse with a slim-fitting pair of pants in a complementary color to balance out the volume of the shirt. Then, add an office-appropriate third piece, like a lightweight trench. Neutral-colored heels and a chic pair of earrings are the perfect accessories to bring the outfit together.
Out on the town
Remember what we said about dresses and a rectangular body shape? The options are virtually endless when it comes to choosing a flattering silhouette, so the easiest way to pick a style is to decide which assets you want to highlight. To create the appearance of an hourglass silhouette, we chose a fit-and-flare dress. The puff sleeves and low neckline work to draw the eye upward, while the tiered skirt has enough volume to balance out the silhouette. We especially love how the fitted bodice creates a waistline.
Want to know more?
We’re sharing answers to the frequently asked questions about dressing a rectangular body shape. Click the questions below for more style advice.
Luckily for our rectangular-shaped women, you can wear just about anything and look incredible in it. Just know that anything too fitted will accentuate the straightness of your frame.
Since the goal is to create the appearance of curves, flowy fabrics like chiffon, cotton, satin, and silk are optimal choices for flattering your silhouette.
It definitely is! Tailored and fitted pieces look great on an athletic shape, so don’t shy away from trying it. Style your skirt with a peplum top or a billowy blouse tucked in.
A top with a fitted bodice, mid- to high-rise bottoms, and short jackets are all simple and effective ways to highlight your waist.
Because this silhouette tends to be proportional, the sky’s the limit with the prints and colors you can wear. Use bright colors and bold patterns to emphasize the parts of your figure you’d like to highlight.
If you’re looking to create the appearance of an hourglass figure, bikini-style necklines and high-cut hips will get the job done. Cutout designs and solid-color suits with contrasting side panels are strategic elements that help give your body some shape. Learn more about finding your perfect swimwear here.
So, there you have it. Everything you need to know about finding the most flattering fit for a rectangular silhouette. Still have specific questions or need help dressing for your body type? Visit the Nordstrom Blog for additional tips for styling, beauty and activewear.