Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Dress Your Body Type: Pear Shaped

I've been planning to do a "dress your body type" post since I first started writing The Ethereal Bride, but have been a little unsure on how to go about it because it's a relatively large undertaking.  There are a few different body types and factors like height and waistline that come into play, so it would be hard to cover everything in one post.  After a lot of thought, I've decided to do a series of 5 posts, each focusing on a major body type- pear, apple, rectangle, wedge, and hourglass.  Within each post, I will focus on three height categories: petite, average, and tall.  The key to flattering any body type isn't necessarily about "masking your flaws", it's more about creating balance.  Once you figure out which body type you have, you can then find ways to balance your figure, making it look more proportioned.  Because every figure is different, these posts are meant to act as a guide, not a list of hard-fast rules.  Once you start trying on gowns, utilize your consultant because she will be able to find gowns that will look great on your specific figure.  Remember, these are just to help get you started, if you love a dress and it doesn't fit these rules, try it anyway!  You never know how it will look until you try it on!

For my first post (these are all in no particular order), I've decided to focus on the pear shaped body type.  A person with a pear shaped body type has a larger hip in relation to a smaller shoulder width.  Please keep in mind, the shape has nothing to do with weight, just how your bone structure is- you could easily be a size 4 or size 24 and still have a pear shape.  It just depends on your proportions and bone structure.

The Five Major Body Types: Pear, Apple, Wedge, Rectangle, & Hourglass... and yes, you should be jealous of my drawing skills hehe

What is a pear shape?  Larger hips in relation to a smaller shoulder width; It is also known as the "A" body type
How to flatter a pear shape:  Create an illusion of a wider shoulder and fuller bustline, in order to balance out the lower half of the body.
Some styles to try:  halters, A-lines, sweetheart necklines, ball gowns, v necklines, ruching
Some styles to (possibly) avoid:  sheaths, straight across strapless necklines, some (but not all!) mermaid styles
Some famous pear shapes:  Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Shakira, Jennifer Love Hewitt

Styles for Petite (aka 5'4" and under) Pear Shapes:
First of all, I seriously can't say enough about the power of ruching (the diagonal/horizonal pleats running across these bodices).  Ruching is one of those miracles of design that flatters EVERYONE.  It makes curve-less girls look curvier and curvier girls look svelte.  I featured three ruched gowns (the first 3) for petite pear shapes because the key is to flatter a wider hip by wearing a fuller skirt yet without overwhelming a short frame.

Alfred Sung style# 5259
This gown is a great option because it is a modified a-line (instead of a full a-line, which would overwhelm), which creates balance and the interesting neck line draws your eye upward, emphasizing a narrow collarbone and shoulder. 

Ines di Santo style "Hayden"
This second gown is great if your looking for a full skirt because the dropped waist allows your to show off your figure and prevents your frame from being swallowed by fabric.  Also, the v-neckline instantly creates broader shoulder, balancing them with the hipline and giving your a balanced, hourglass shape. 

Jenny Lee style# 1104

   This gown is a great combo of the first two.  

James Clifford style# J21020S
 This James Clifford gown is technically a sheath, but the train in the back creates fullness, making it really flattering for petite chicks.  It's very "Marilyn Monroe" 1950's!

Styles for Average and Tall Pear Shapes:
Taller pear shapes are able to get away with a little more because their height can handle more fabric.  The styles featured above would work well on taller girls as well.

Dolly Couture style "Edmonton"
This is a great option for a more casual bride and is so flattering on a pear shape.  The full skirt hides wide hips and the wide off-the-shoulder neckline creates broader shoulders.

Jewel by Priscilla of Boston style# JL228
This gown as basically the same principles as the gown above it, but it is a gorgeous lacy number that would be great a moderately formal affair.

More Lee style# 4608

This gown is great a for a pear shaped bride because of all the reasons I listed above, but would be best on a taller than average girl because that is a lot of skirt for even an average height girl to carry.

Allure Bridals style# 8769
Another thing to keep in mind is whether or not your have a long or short torso.  This makes a difference in what type of waistline you want to choose.  If you are short waisted (like I am), you don't want to choose a gown with a natural waistline (like the three gowns above) because it wont look proportioned.  Instead opt for a dropped waist like this gown in order to best flatter your torso.  A fuller skirt and interesting neckline keep the look perfectly balanced. 

Unforgettable by Bonny style# 1010
This is another gown that follows the same principle as the one above it, but is great for plus-sized pear shapes.

Ines di Santo style "Layla"
This is a great option for tall pear shapes who want a mermaid silhouette.  The sweetheart neckline and halter straps create a broad shoulder, balancing out the hips.

Key Points to Remember:
  • If you want to wear a mermaid styles, make sure it has a halter or v-neck in order to balance out the hips.  A straight across strapless neckline will make hips look even wider.  
  • Ruching is your friend!
  • Find a way to draw attention to your neck and shoulders via an interesting neckline.
  • Don't forget to keep in mind if you are long or short waisted and choose styles accordingly.
  • Modified a-lines are great for petite brides, but you can go fuller if you have a dropped waistline which shows off your figure. 
Have other pear shaped figure flattery questions?? Ask them in the comments section below!! Also, be sure to come back next Friday for the next installment of "How to Dress Your Body Type: Apple Shaped"!


  1. This was really helpful thank you. I was panicking because I'd already decided on a mermaid shaped gown to be designed for me and then I put on a couple of kgs. I am a pear shape (uk size 10, us 6 I think?) and had become nervous that I would look super wide on the hips. But I'd already decided on a deep v neck with straps (1 strap having a tie/knot on the top in order to draw the eyes upwards) so hopefully they'll balance me out. Do you think I should request to have cups put in too to make my breasts look bigger and balance me out more? Only I don't want cups to make me look tarty with such a deep v neck... hardly the virginal bridal look otherwise!

  2. This is so helpful! I'm a petite pear shape. 5'1 size 7. I've got quite the bubble butt and my fiancé loves it :)
    I'm dying for a mermaid gown. I was wondering if a sweetheart neckline with slightly off the shoulder straps would be enough on top to balance me out? I've got a small bust.

  3. These all dress up ideas are wonderful for pear shaped body brides. I found this post very helpful and good for get idea on How To Dress For A Pear Shaped Body.


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