The 5 Body Shapes

Rectangle Body Shape: A Comprehensive Guide

The rectangle body shape is characterised by equal bust, waist and hip measurements. The lack of curves makes the body appear like a column or a rectangle.


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Rectangle Body Shape

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Note: The body shape theory is somewhat outdated and best used to conceal or balance out particular body parts.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:

  • You lean towards a pear shape if your hips are slightly broader than your bust.
  • You lean towards an inverted triangle shape if your shoulders are slightly broader than your hips.
  • You lean towards an apple shape if you have a wide chest along with extra weight around the midriff.
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II. Styling The Rectangle

Styling The Rectangle Body Shape

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
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III. Tops


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.

Rectangle Body Shape - Necklines Do's & Don'ts

A selection of flattering necklines:

Rectangle Body Shape - 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.

Rectangle Body Shape - Sleeves Do's & Don'ts

A selection of flattering sleeve styles:

Rectangle Body Shape - Sleeves

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.

Rectangle Body Shape - Shirts Do's & Don'ts

A selection of flattering shirt and top styles:

Rectangle Body Shape - Shirts


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.

Rectangle Body Shape Knitwear Do's and Don'ts - the concept wardrobe


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.

Rectangle Body Shape Jackets Do's and Don'ts - the concept wardrobe

A selection of flattering jacket styles:

Rectangle Body Shape Jackets - the concept wardrobe


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.

Rectangle Body Shape Coats - the concept wardrobe
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IV. Bottoms


The right pair of trousers can add needed curves and volume to the lower body of the rectangle. Trouser styles that flare at the bottom, like boot cut, flare or wide leg, are great to add volume.

Choose trousers with hip, thigh or leg details such as whiskering, pockets, pleats or turn-ups to create even further interest on your lower body.

Opt for low- to mid-rise trousers with wide waistbands. High-rise trousers end right at the waist, emphasising it - avoid these.

Flowy and soft fabrics soften the angled frame - such as flowy linen or harem trousers.

Avoid straight-fitted trousers that emphasise your straight silhouette unless you want to highlight this aspect.


Jeans for the rectangle body should have embellishments around the hip and bottom area to add curves to the silhouette. Look for back pockets to add fullness to your bottom. Whiskering at the hips will add the illusion of curvier hips.

The best jeans style is a bootcut. Because it flares slightly at the bottom, it will add the right amount of volume and curve to your lower half whilst at the same time softening the squarish body frame.

If you want to opt for skinny or slim jeans to accentuate your slender legs, make sure the jeans are tight around your hips to help create curves.

Just like trousers, jeans should be low- to mid-rise. High-waisted jeans unnecessarily highlight the waist.

Avoid jeans that flare too wide as they can unbalance your rectangle body.

Rectangle Body Shape Jeans Do's and Don'ts - the concept wardrobe

A selection of flattering jeans styles:

Rectangle Body Shape Jeans - the concept wardrobe


Skirts are an ideal way to add volume to the lower body. Some ways to achieve this is through flared hemlines and details - such as ruffles, ruching, gathering or pleats. Bright and light colours also help create volume, as do prints.

Detailed skirts are ideal - such as box pleat, bubble, panelled, layered, full circle and trumpet skirts. Pencil skirts look good if they are knee-length and tapered in at the side.

Straight skirts can also work (in any length) as they follow your natural silhouette. However, don't forget to define the waist and wear something similar in width on top.

Avoid angular A-line skirts that will make you look more shapeless. Instead, opt for a slightly voluminous A-line style. Also, steer clear of too full skirts as they can make you bottom-heavy and create an imbalance unless you add the same volume on the top.

Rectangle Body Shape Skirts Do's and Don'ts - the concept wardrobe

A selection of flattering skirt styles:

Rectangle Body Shape Skirts - the concept wardrobe


A great dress for a rectangle body is balanced on top and bottom whilst pulling in the waist.

One thing to look out for in dresses is thus high waist definition. Empire line dresses, princess seam dresses, and wrap dresses are great choices for the rectangle body. A belt is a must-have and can change the shape of any dress (even shapeless ones).

Wrap dresses are especially nice since the draping falls nicely over the straight body frame and creates the impression of curves.

While you want to stay away from baggy or shapeless garments, a shift dress is the one exception to the rule. Thanks to its clean lines and tailoring, a shift dress will sit nicely on a rectangle body with a small bust and flat bottom.

If you opt for dresses that flare quite a bit at the hem, make sure you balance out your top with details or big sleeves, such as ruffles.

You can also achieve the same illusion through the colours you wear. With strategic colour-blocking around the waist, the eye will naturally narrow that area of the body without physically adding more to it. Opt for dresses with darker colours around the waist, or add a dark belt to a dress.

Avoid boxy and baggy styles and dresses that flare out too wide at the bottom. These will make you look bottom-heavy.

Rectangle Body Shape Dresses Do's and Don'ts - the concept wardrobe

A selection of flattering dress styles:

Rectangle Body Shape Dresses - the concept wardrobe


Like other bottoms, shorts should be low- or mid-waisted for the rectangle body to avoid drawing attention to the waist. There is, however, one exception: a bubble style or flared short with a tie waist can create the illusion of a waist if it is high-waisted.

Since shorts sit right under the hip, any form of embellishment is excellent to add volume to this area - such as pockets, scallops, pleats or turn-ups. Similarly, patterns will add interest to this area of your body. Opt for stripes or rounder patterns - such as floral, polka dots or leopard prints.

Avoid belted shorts (unless they are high-waisted and flared), as they will draw the eye to the waist.

Rectangle Body Shape Shorts Do's and Don'ts - the concept wardrobe

A selection of flattering shorts styles:

Rectangle Body Shape Shorts - the concept wardrobe

Jumpsuits & Playsuits

The right jumpsuit or playsuit for the rectangle body shape will add softness to the angular figure. This can be achieved through more fabric in the form of gathering, pleats or ruching around the bust and hip lines.

Most jumpsuit and playsuit styles are great for the rectangle body as long as you keep the waist defined. Add a narrow or medium size belt – either at your waist or under your bust to pull it in visually. Or opt for a drawstring jumpsuit.

Leg-wise, wide-leg or straight leg are good. A halter-neck style is particularly flattering for the slender and lean rectangle body shape.

Playsuits look great when they flare out at the hips and have some sort of sleeve detail - such as ruffled sleeves. This will greatly enhance the waistline and make it look small.

Avoid shapeless, boxy jump- and playsuit styles and styles that add volume to either the hips or shoulders, but not both. These would unbalance the rectangle body shape's balanced silhouette.

Rectangle Body Shape - Jumpsuits Do's & Don'ts
Rectangle Body Shape - Playsuits Do's & Don'ts

A selection of flattering jump- and playsuits:

Rectangle Body Shapes - Jumpsuits & Playsuits


Not a Rectangle?

Check out the other body shapes:

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Buying a bunch of clothes because they look nice in the shop is not a good strategy for building a wardrobe. It implies that the look of your clothes is more important than your look. But clothes should have no other purpose than to bring out your natural beauty and to highlight it.

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