How to dress to impress

The secret to looking stylish.

Dress to impress

Marilyn Monroe knew it, the Beckhams know it and any stylist worth their salt knows it. What am I talking about?  The secret to looking good of course!

Want to know what this secret is? If you want to dress to impress, you need to choose clothes that flatter your body shape.

It may not be rocket science but London-based stylist, Claire Wacey says there is a type of science associated to dressing well.

“For every type of body shape, there’s a formula to follow,” explains Claire. “By this I mean some key rules to accentuate your body’s good points, minimise the negatives and create balance. For instance, if you’ve got wide hips but narrow shoulders, choose clothes that will slim down your bottom half and make your shoulders look wider.  This balances out your body’s proportions and it’s this balance that’s the key to looking good.”

Claire has been kind enough to give me her take on the most common female body shapes and recommends 3 ways for each to help women look gorgeous.


Hourglass ladies are usually slim and curvy, or have perfectly proportioned hips and shoulders with a defined waist.  The key to good work-wear dressing with this shape is to ensure the fit is perfect.

Looks that work well:

  • Classic shift dress will hug your curves; try a contrast waist belt to emphasise your waist.
  • A pencil skirt and soft, unstructured blouse are flattering on your fuller bust while still playing on your strengths.
  • A good jacket shape that fastens at the waist will help re-define your shape.

Celebrities with this shape: Scarlett Johansson, Marilyn Monroe.


The apple body shape is normally associated with being overw8 but this isn’t necessarily the case.  While apple ladies carry their w8 on their tummy, they usually have a fabulous bust and slim legs.  The key to flattering this shape is layering and ruching around your midriff.

Looks that work well:

  • Blousy print tops with a jacket or cardigan over the top.  These help break up the tummy area.
  • Slim leg trousers will accentuate your fab legs but ensure you create a vertical layer in your top to keep you looking stylish.
  • Wrap dresses or dresses with ruching are really flattering on a bigger tummy.

Celebrities with this shape: Dawn French, Catherine Zeta-Jones.


Strawberry ladies have lovely slim legs, hips and tummy.  They tend to be much wider on the bust and shoulder area so creating more volume on the bottom will help balance out this figure.

Looks that work well:

  • Peplum skirts and dresses are perfect as they define a waist and give the illusion of more of a hip.
  • Wider leg or boot-cut trousers will balance out shoulders.
  • Dresses with fuller skirt shapes and unstructured shoulders will balance out proportions.

Celebrities with this figure: Angelina Jolie, Demi Moore.


Pear shaped ladies have fabulous flat tummies and are usually very petite on the top half, but find that their bottoms or thighs are not in proportion with their top half.  Detailing and structure on the top half really help balance out a bigger bottom.

Looks that work well:

  • A great jacket shape with a strong shoulder will create balance and make your bottom appear smaller.
  • Don’t be shy of a bigger bottom!  Opt for a fitted skirt that has a kick out at the base.
  • If wearing a dress or skirt that is fuller, ensure the waist is defined and the top has a capped sleeve or exaggerated shoulder.

Celebrities with this shape: Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce.


Rhubarb ladies have a lovely slim figure and often have very few curves.  So, choose items that give you more shape whilst still showing off your slender frame.

Looks that work well:

  • High neckline tops with embellishments such as ruffles or pussy bows can create more of a bust shape.
  • Peplum tops, skirts and dresses are perfect as they define a waist and give the illusion of more of a hip.
  • Cigarette style jeans or trousers show off your long slim legs beautifully.

Celebrities with this figure: Victoria Beckham, Keira Knightley.

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