How to shop for your shape

How to shop for your body shape: Picture of a woman holding shopping bags looking at a shop window and smiling

How to shop for your body shape – the frustrations

I am told on a regular basis, by many different women, how hard it is to find something from the high street shops that fits their personal shape well.  As someone who makes ready to wear and also couture clothes I can understand why this is the case.  Couture clothing fits you perfectly because it is created especially for you.  Ready to wear clothing does not fit perfectly because it requires your shape to conform to a certain size.  The size which most closely correlates with your measurements is the size you necessarily buy. We need more education into how to shop for your body shape in order to learn how to approach this standardisation of sizes.

Additionally, and sometimes frustratingly, fashion brands use their own measurement charts to size garments.  Even further, some brands ensure that their sizing is smaller, so that their ideal (thinner) customer will buy from them.  For instance you may wear a size 10 in one boutique, but wear a size 14 in another.  Finally, to add to your tears of frustration, shops are not required to provide a certain range of sizes.  You may find that some shops offer sizes 8-14, while others offer sizes 10-22.  So, if you are at either extremes of the sizing chart you may not be catered to at all.

how to look slimmer in your clothes

The post is for how to dress for your body shape. Woman walking down the street.  She is wearing a white cropped top with short sleeves, and a skirt with vertical stripes in navy and white.  She holds a clutch bag under her arm and has long blond slightly wavy hair.  She is wearing open toed high heel mules

How to dress for your body shape

At Working Frocks we have an entire section devoted to helping you dress for your body shape:

Working Frocks – How to dress for your body shape

You will discover :

What to wear for your body shape – using our exclusive checklist;

How to develop body positivity and wear clothes as a positive experience

How to approach shopping – 2 ways

There are two positive ways of approaching a trip to the shops.  The first is that you can regard it as a spectacle of amazing, creative clothing all beautifully laid out and presented in shops which are designed to pull you in and delight you.  The second is that you can be strategic and have a game plan for buying that garment which you need.  The first approach is ideal if you are shopping with girlfriends or family; go and enjoy your time out together but don’t put yourself under pressure to buy, for example, a wedding outfit, when you have an entourage of six, half of whom want to go for a coffee and the other half of whom are permanently texting.

The second is what you need when you are being purposeful about buying clothes.  Being purposeful about buying clothes means exactly that: finding something to wear.  It is not the strategy to employ if you feel you need retail therapy to pick you up out of the doldrums.

In fact you shouldn’t shop to make yourself feel better.  Read the Retail Therapy blog post to find out why.

Strategy and a game plan to find clothes to suit your shape

You can take the second approach either leisurely or at speed.  It is not a time issue, it is an attitude:

  1. Know what you are looking for and what styles suit you best before you go shopping.
  2. In each shop you enter, make a bee line for shapes and colours that suit you.
  3. Ignore the rest.
  4. It’s important to focus on what’s right for you, and the two main criteria are shape and colour.
  5. If you know you look better in cropped jackets, don’t be distracted by looking at long floaty unlined jackets and wishing you could wear them instead.  The point is to accentuate the positive side of shopping for your shape, not to berate yourself because you can’t fit into other clothes which are on display, which are not designed for your body shape.
  6. If the colour is right but the style is wrong don’t try it on. However if the style is right but the colour  is wrong, you could try it just to make sure.  But beware, you need both the style and the colour to be right, or otherwise, I can guarantee this will not become an item that you wear regularly or want to wear either.  Don’t wast money buying clothes that are nearly right.
  7. It is important to remember not to panic buy either because you need something quickly or because you are in a hurry.  You don’t need a wardrobe full of clothes you don’t wear.  You only need items in your wardrobe that you look great in and they will come, over time.
  8. When you are trying clothes on, if it’s not completely right, it’s not right and it’s perfectly ok not to buy it.  If there is nothing for you, you’re done, that particular shop has nothing for you.  It’s nothing personal remember, it’s your shopping strategy at work ensuring that you buy the right clothes for you.
  9. Whatever annoys you or distracts you now, will do so just as much over time, and in the end you potentially won’t wear it so it will be a waste of money.  If there are details on the garment that you dislike, or the sleeve isn’t quite right, or the silhouette too large or too small, then it’s a no.
  10. If it does look completely right then you should buy it.  As long as you need it of course.  It’s fine to have more than one of something you wear regularly.  For example you may need various black suits for court if you are a lawyer.  You may need more than one coat if you are an outdoor events organiser.  If you are a gardener you may not need many full length sequin ball gowns, and if you are an air hostess you won’t need work suits, because you are already provided with a uniform.

The post is for how to dress for your body shape.  The image is of four women dressed in work out clothing: black cropped tops and black dropped leggings.  They are of different sizes, shapes and colour.  they are all laughing.

When you are shopping for your shape, it’s nothing personal

You may think there is a personal vendetta against you and your particular shape run by the high street chains and designer boutiques.  This vendetta means that you never find anything to wear.  But you are wrong.  Taking it personally leads to taking offence.  To take offence against inanimate objects, the clothes, because they are not right for you is madness.  However, joy of joys!, when you do find something that suits you, snap it up!

How I shop for my shape

I personally find it hard to buy trousers that fit well.  My waist/hip ratio is greater than clothing industry standards.  So, when I found a pair of linen trousers that looked great, I bought two pairs. (natural and black)

I love strappy sandals but don’t look good with an ankle strap.  I am also particular about the toe strap placement as if the proportions are wrong my feet don’t look elegant.  So, I search for shoes without an ankle strap.  Then when I try them on I check to see that the toe strap is positioned in a sympathetic way for the shape of my foot.  If they pass those two criteria I am well on my way to finding a pair of shoes I like and that look good.  The last time I found a gorgeous pair of sandals that I loved, they also fitted according to my criteria and my price bracket.  I bought them in 2 colours: gold and black.

Don’t hesitate to buy more than one of what suits you if you will wear it.  It’s not uncommon, it can make a lot of sense.  The ultimate aim is to set your wardrobe up to work for you really well.  If that means a couple of pairs (or four) of the same trousers in different colours that’s fine.

Changing Rooms

Changing rooms can be an awful place to catch sight of that part of your body which you you least like.  Whether it is large thighs, a big tummy, saggy parts that once were not, or wrinkles, hair that needs re-treating…  Whatever it is it can all be helped by being well dressed and presented when you go shopping.  If your hair needs a wash, then wash it, wear good clothes (not your dog walking outfit).  Feel good about yourself.  There are some issues in changing rooms that none of us can address.  Awful lighting must top that list.  But if you know that you are looking your best that should give you some reassurance.

Strategy wins every time

Remember, strategy wins every time.  Don’t take it personally if the high street/mall doesn’t give you what you are looking for, but prepared to search out, in each shop you enter, those clothes which will fit you and look great.

Shopping online

This article focusses on bricks and mortar shopping, and I will address shopping online in another blog post.  The rise in online shopping is a great service and I know many women benefit from ordering from and receiving goods to their home.  Working Frocks is entirely online, we love the online space.  However there are still some criteria which remain in place and I will address those in the near future.

Happy shopping.  Does this resonate with you in any way?  Do you have any particular ways to shop for your shape which you would like to pass on?  Please leave your comments below or on our facebook page.  Thanks so much.  Have a great day.


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