The Right Clothes For You: Controlling the wrath of grapes, apples, pears, green beans and other body types

Whether you’re “built” or can pass as Bill, it seems practically all of us would like to change something about our bodies. Just look at all the ads for products and services to do just that. Wanna lose weight? There are bazillions of pills, shakes, herbs, teas, juices, bars, frozen and other types of packaged foods. And the crazy thing is, they’re available almost anywhere — even at your local gas stations, right next to the beer and the M&Ms. (About 25 years ago I thought it was odd to be able purchase Dom Perignon Champagne at the tiny cubicle where you paid and pumped gas at little stands out in the open. We did. It was a great idea, and not so odd these days). Wanna buff up? Pick from a wide selection of gyms, trainers, weights, equipment to use at home and now individual pieces of equipment dedicated to tone one specific body area. Not to mention (but of course I will) the myriad of medical “corrections” available for bust, butt, arms, tummies, hips, legs and other areas to enhance, take away or reshape our bodies.

You can, of course, get “diet” meals delivered right to your door.

There are ways, however, to deal with what we’ve been dealt, or what we’ve become; to look the best we can without the weight loss, the tightening up or the actual reshaping of our bodies surgically.


If you’re the girl with the boyish figure, take heart. Some would say you’re the lucky one! You can wear all those ruffled tops, bottoms and dresses that are all the rage now — the ones that add to the hips, bustlines and so forth. You can wear fitted jackets. Buttoned. And not have little horizontal rolls appear. And heavier fabrics, bulky sweaters and bouclé knit. You can wear stripes that go around you instead of sticking to those that go up and down. You can add belts at your waist or your hips. Necklines that dip a little will enhance a smaller chest. And here’s a tip I read recently: If you carry a purse with rounded corners, it will soften the straight “line” of your green bean body. Ouch! Still, lucky you, little Audrey Hepburn or Keira Knightley. If you have a pear thing going on (curvier hips), do the lighter, brighter or patterned top with dark, slightly tapered skirts or pants to balance your bottom. A draped or wrapped blouse or dress will enhance your top while toning down the hips. Broad necklines, like off-the-shoulder or V-shaped for your blouses or jackets, will draw the eyes upward. Some earrings with bling wouldn’t hurt.

Are you a petite little thing? People call you Shorty, Squirt or Lil’ Bit? You can use a few tricks to appear taller. Things like platform heels (but don’t go crazy or you might fall off). Straight lines — slim skirts, sheaths and high-waisted skirts or pants, or those with vertical lines, whether stripes, ruffles or other trims — will give you a lengthier look. You need a more fitted, classic style. Just say no to too loose or baggy clothes and jazzy prints that might appear to overwhelm you.

Full-figured? Strawberry? Orange? You choose the fruit reference.

You may have a little more to hug, but you can strut your stuff best by wearing clothes that fit and that have straight lines and avoiding anything baggy. Dark colors are slimming for all of us, but you can also wear bright colors if you stick to one shade. Yes, you can also wear a skinny belt. Your jeans should be the boot-cut type to make your thighs appear smaller. Another trick is to use necklaces and other jewelry or trims to draw the focus upward. Avoid clothing and fabrics that cling to your body or that squeeze your arms. They can cause bulges or show any you may already have. And light pink, tapered, stretchy knit pants with a top that doesn’t cover your derrière? Forget about it.

To the ladies with the hourglass figure — Va-Va-Voom! You have the pleasure of wearing clothes that show off your small waist — fitted tops and showy wide belts, for example. You can be draped with flowing fabric or structured into suits and jackets. Choose full or straight skirts. Go strapless to show how your body tapers down from your wider shoulders to your little waistline. Just like an inverted triangle. And sweaters! Remember Marilyn Monroe?


Butt we do need to follow a few rules, some tricks and use a little common sense to look our best.

SHORT LEGS can look longer with slim, cropped pants like capris or in long pants with no cuffs and no pleats. High-waisted pants and high heels also work well to add “height.”

THUNDER THIGHS? Hide them with wide- or straightlegged pants. Soft palazzo-type pants or boot-cut trousers and jeans are good choices.

GOT JUNK IN YOUR TRUNK? Again, wide-legged pants without pockets in the back. Some say your jeans should have the “normal” back pockets. But no attention-getting extras: extra large, extra small, gold-trimmed, jeweled or crooked-set pockets. On the other hand, detail near the waistline — buttons, slash pockets, belt buckles — draws the eyes up, up and away.

A BIT ON THE RECTANGULAR SIDE? Slim, straight body with no big bulges on the top or the bottom? Great! You get to wear low-slung or high-waisted pants. With cuffs. With pockets. And those fun “sailor button” trimmed pants. If you have wide (not thick) hips, you can wear those baggy pants to de-emphasize the width. Tapered pant legs will emphasize wide hips more.

HOURGLASS GIRL? You can wear pants with more flare at the bottom, even “belled,” with cinched waist and great belts.


As always, dark colors are slimming. Pinstripes can elongate the look of your legs. Along with proper fit, your pants should be hemmed just right, not too short or too long. Consider wearing a thong for no panty lines or one of those products that smoothes over the rear and goes further down the thigh area.

A tailor can do a lot to help you get that perfect fit. If you have pants you just cannot do without, a tailor can lengthen them up to about 1-1/2 inches. Pockets can be sewn shut or removed altogether. Waists can be adjusted by taking in up to 1-1/2 inches and let out about 1/2 inch. Legs can be tapered slightly.


According to a popular magazine, certain stores such as Ann Taylor Loft, The Gap, White House Black Market, Chico’s, Banana Republic and Lane Bryant, to name a few, have their own brands of pants, and one brand seems to fit one body type better and another store fits another body type better, and so on. It’s probably worth having a try-on. Maybe you’ll want to join me in the search for the best-looking, best-fitting, bestpriced pants.

Meanwhile, keep on draping, belting, cinching, blinging and showing a little skin so you’ll appear taller, slimmer and more compact and generally be happier with yourself.

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