Rectangles tend to be tall and lean. They are not particularly curvy, the waist is not well-defined, and the bottom is rather flat.
Read if you are concerned about:
- An undefined waist
- Lack of curves
Note: The body shape theory is somewhat outdated and best used to conceal or balance out particular body parts. If you are interested in a more comprehensive styling theory, check out style essences.
I. Characteristics of the Rectangle
- Straight shoulder line and ribcage
- Bust and hips are approximately the same width
- Small to average midriff
- Very little to no waist definition
- Straight hips and bottom
- Lack of curves throughout the body frame
- Weight gains typically distribute evenly throughout the body
Other Body Shape Tendencies
It is difficult to categorise your body into just one of the basic body shapes. Be open to a possible secondary body shape:
II. Styling The Rectangle
The upper and lower parts of the rectangle body are well-proportioned and create a balanced silhouette. The focus of this body shape should be on defining the waist by breaking up the rectangle.
When enhancing your waist, you have two options: if you are very slender and want to create more curves, you can proportionally add volume to your upper and lower body and leave the waist as is.
Alternatively, you can make your waist appear slimmer by visually pulling it in but leaving the upper and lower body as is.
Add Dimensions To Your Body Frame
This means breaking up the straight silhouette to create curves from the waist up and down.
- Invest in a good push-up bra to lift your chest
- Wear well structured clothes
- Play with different cuts and shapes to create curves
- Use prints, textures, and details strategically to create interest
- Wear bright colours on your upper and lower body - but not around the waist
- Keep away from shapeless, oversized, and too large items
Define The Waist
Defining the waist is the easiest and quickest way to break up the rectangle.
- Pull in the waist with belts or nipped garments
- Wear darker colours around your waist area - such as a dark belt
- Avoid clothes that end at the waist or embellish it
- Don't tuck tops into trousers or skirts
Choosing a neckline style for a rectangle body depends on which of the two dressing strategies you are going for:
To create some curves, round necklines - such as scoop or jewel necklines, are excellent choices.
Lower, wider necklines - such as wide V-, slash, scoop or sweetheart necklines, visually lengthen the shoulder and bust area. Embellishments around the décolletage such as big collars, lace trims and ruffles can also help direct the attention upwards and create additional volume.
If you want to accentuate your slender look, opt for narrow necklines - such as turtlenecks, mandarin, crew, funnel and halter necklines (but don't forget to define the waist).
Avoid square and straight necklines (such as Sabrina) that will add squareness to your body frame.
A selection of flattering necklines:
The right type of sleeve for the rectangle body adds interest and volume to the upper or lower body - depending on the sleeve length.
Opt for sleeve styles that are embellished, such as rolled-up or cuffed sleeves, as these will draw attention. To create volume, sleeves should be loose and wide - like flared, princess, puff or flutter sleeves.
You have a wide range of lengths to choose from: sleeveless, cap, short shirt sleeves, short elbow, classic shirt long sleeves and ¾ sleeves.
Avoid shapeless sleeve styles - such as fitted sleeves that add to the column look.
A selection of flattering sleeve styles:
Shirts, T-Shirts & Other Tops
Shirts for the rectangle body should be creating shape by adding volume to the shoulder, bust and hip line while at the same pulling in the waist.
Shirts with nipped or belted waists, those draping under the bust, and shirts flaring out at the bottom achieve this. Belts are also a great way to create a waist. Darker colours will add a further slimming effect.
Shirts should finish at the hip level; avoid tops that end at the waistline as they will make you look more rectangular.
With details like embellishments, bibs, frills, bows, bottoms, rosettes, pockets, front panels, pleating, lace and ruffles, you can add volume and interest to your bust. Make sure these details are at the bust or above, not around your waist.
Avoid boxy shirt styles that will make you look shapeless.
A selection of flattering shirt and top styles:
Relaxed fits with curved detailing are the best option for the rectangle body to soften the squarish silhouette.
Have fun with bold fabrics and patterns to add interest to your upper body. To achieve a more shapely figure, opt for jumpers that are longer and chunkier and have varying stripes. The thicker fabrics and longer silhouettes will give an extra curve to your shape. Variegated horizontal stripes will also create the illusion of varying proportions.
Like other tops, jumpers should end below the hip line to not draw attention to the waist. Long cardigans with belts are excellent for the rectangle body shape.
Avoid tight-fitting or boxy jumpers that would make you appear even more squarish.
When it comes to outerwear, defining the waist is still a priority. Jackets should be nipped or belted in at the waist to create a shape.
Embellishments on the bust are great to broaden the shoulder-line - such as double breasting, pockets, plackets, belt carriers, button-downs, cuffs, flaps and hoods. Jackets should end below the waist so as not to emphasise it. Even better if they are slightly flaring towards the hips to create volume around the hips.
Because of the square shoulder line of the rectangle body, straight-cut jackets hang nicely from it and follow the natural silhouette of this body shape. Adding a belt will also create a bit of a waist.
Avoid jackets that end above the waist and boxy jackets that will make you look square. Also, steer clear of embellishments around the waist that add bulk to that area.
A selection of flattering jacket styles:
Like jackets, coats should either be slighted fitted or follow the natural straight silhouette of the rectangle body.
Longer coats, which go past the knee will elongate and slim the body, especially if worn open.
Belts are a great way to define the waist.
Embellishments around the shoulder, bust, and hip lines are desirable - such as big collars, belt carriers, pockets, cuffs, flaps or shoulder shawls that add dimension to your straight body.