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A fashion and style blog for the over 40s covering body shapes, colour palettes, how to wear neutrals, style personality and capsule wardrobes. Come on in!

4.25.2017

Dressing For Your Body Shape Series | Skirts

I feel that I need to clarify something before we get on to the subject of skirts. I received a comment on the previous post in this series (the trousers and jeans one which you can find here):

**apologies for the 'f' word, I've copied and pasted


I hope readers of this blog stick with me because they are interested in what I write and are as passionate about clothes and style and colour and personality as I am.


I kind of hope that you might learn a few things on the way. 

Far be it for me to be prescriptive. If I ever talk about 'rules', it's meant in the loosest sense. I would NEVER impose anything on anyone. I mean, I'm the biggest rule breaker of them all when it comes to colour. I receive dozens of emails from women on a weekly basis, some are sad about the way they look and feel, some are delighted with a new purchase that maybe I've recommended, some are looking for a specific outfit for a special event and some are looking for clarification about something I've talked about over on the blog. When I stopped doing colour and style consultations a few years ago, I knew that I still wanted to help ladies feel good about themselves and this is how the blog evolved. I hope that people read it because they enjoy it and take away a few ideas now and then. But honestly, if you don't like what I have to say, please don't torture yourself and continue to read. Really, I won't be offended.


Life's too short!

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Shall we crack on?

Last time we looked at trousers and jeans, so this time we're sticking to the lower body and looking at skirts. I have more emails from ladies about skirt issues than anything else actually. They can be tricky little blighters to pull off can't they? I blame the top. I mean, you can find a fantastic skirt that fits in all the right places, is a great length and colour but can you find a sodding top to go with it in your wardrobe? No. Which means buying something new. And that really isn't the way to build up a cohesive wardrobe. I'm very much a swerve-skirt kind of a girl for this reason. I probably have 5 in my wardrobe max.

Let's have a look at the rules and what's out there on the High Street at the moment. You can find your own body shape in this post.  I've tried to give ideas for work, evening and causal wear options for each shape.


Neat Hourglass


Providing there's some shaping, you can do pretty much any kind: straight, flip, pleats, panelled, bias cut, A-line. You're always going to be better with a waist band.

If you're petite, you may want to avoid the A-line midi, particularly the very full ones. Parachute springs to mind. It could overwhelm your small frame.

A great work wear option although limited sizes. This style really does show off your figure.  The belt draws attention to your tiny waist.

Dorothy Perkins Grey Wrap Skirt now £20



Something a little smarter next which could be teamed with a simple cream cami top and biker jacket. A lovely holiday option but would also work for more formal occasions.  I would gladly lie in a jelly mould for a month to reshape my body if it meant I could wear this!

River Island Cream Floral Frill Hem Maxi Skirt £38



This next skirt is a great shape for you and it has pockets (what's not to love). Easy to incorporate into a casual wardrobe. Just add a denim shirt and trainers for a laid back stylish 'I haven't tried too hard' look. Get yourself a catalogue here. It's only diddy in size and always has a discount code.

Baukjen Carlin Striped Skirt £119



The Full Hourglass


Two things to bear in mind here:

1) always show your waist
2) look for skirts with stretch or drape

Just that really. 

If you're very curvy, you may struggle with something like a pencil skirt. It will be too tight on your hips, thighs and bum but too big on the waist. If you like this style, look for a tube skirt that has stretch. I'd be tempted to try on the size bigger. What? Gasp. Horror. A bigger size? Look, you're going to be taking your clothes off anyway so wang your legs into the next size to try that too. The reason being that a less clingy tube skirt is far classier than one that you and everyone else can see your knicker line. Cut the chuffin label out if it bothers you that much. 

Avoid stiff fabric and A-line cuts. Look for cute little flips, bias cuts, and wrap styles (all with stretch if possible).

This is a perfect tube skirt for your shape and very easy to style as work wear. I have this in the Milano Wool (here) and it truly is a miracle, sucking in all of those extra fleshy bits. This one is ponte so probably a better option for summer. 




I said no A-line. This next one is A-line. Well actually it isn't, M&S just call it that. A traditional A-line is one that holds it's shape so is quite stiff. This doesn't so let's ignore the name and concentrate on it's virtues. It's pull on which obviously means there's stretch, it drapes beautifully over the hips without too much volume and the dipped hem will complement your curves. And let's face it, you can do a lot with a black skirt. So, this is my evening option for you. 




And for casual, this khaki crepe skirt would be easy to style with a denim jacket, simple t-shirt and white trainers or tan sandals. Ignore the pants photo and put your vision goggles on.




Triangle

Your objective is to minimise your bottom half and build up your top half (we'll talk about the latter in another post). What I mean is, no embellishment, pockets or detail around your hips and bum. They will only draw attention to this area. As with an hourglass, avoid A-Line styles but stretch is your friend. Look for simple lines and longer styles that will work the verticals. Flips, bias cut and pannelled are all good. 

For your work wear option, I've chosen a flip bottom which will balance out your hips and draw the eye down. It's elasticated at the waist which is ideal and it's totally devoid of any detail. As I mentioned to the hourglass above, you may want to consider trying the next size for a more flattering overall fit. Body skimming rather than body hugging. You get the picture!



I've chosen a long black skirt for your evening option which has an elasticated waist. You could pair this with a bardot style top (which will balance out your small shoulder line) or even a slogan t-shirt and heels. It's really down to your own style personality what you do with it. 




I'm taking a bit of a punt on this one for your casual choice. Normally I'd say stay away from pleats as they won't sit properly on your hips but the pleats here look very soft and if that's the case would work well. Wearing it with a horizontal stripe is a great way of balancing out your narrower top half to your bottom. It's also recommended that you stick to dark colours on your bottom half but if you work hard on the detail on your top to draw the eye up, then I say go for it. 




Inverted Triangle

Of course you're the total opposite to the Triangle. You're at your broadest across the shoulders. So, keep this area free of fuss. Leave that for the bottom half. Print (especially horizontal stripes) and pockets are great. Look for A-lines, panelled, drop waist, tiered and box pleats. Straight can work providing you're not too broad on top.

For your work look, I've chosen a slim A-line skirt with pleats which draw the eye down and out (the buttons emphasise this).

Marks & Spencer Button Detail A-line Midi Skirt £35





If ever there was a perfect skirt for you, this is it. The horizontal irregular stripes, contrasting panel at the bottom and pleats. Jeez Louise, it's got it all going on but oh boy, you'll look great in it. I gift you this as your 'going out skirt' but oh it would work on so many levels and for so many events. Get your creative juices flowing ladies.

Boden Beatrice Skirt £75



Casual summer looks don't come more laid back than a simple t-shirt and denim skirt do they? See those rather large pockets there, well they are going to help balance out your narrow hips to your shoulders. And that contrast stitching will draw the eye downwards and away from your broader top half. Clever huh?

Boden Rachel Chino Skirt £50



Lean Column

Hey if you want curves, I'll give you curves. The full A-Line (think prom skirt) looks fabulous on you. But if that's just a little too much, look for a lovely flip at the hemline or wrap or pleats. If you want to emphasise your slenderness then a pencil skirt is key. And length...you can do short, you can do midi and long! A stiffer fabric will work far better than one that drapes. As my mum used to say, "Donna, you look like a bag of muck" (nope drapes don't suit me either). 



So for work wear this khaki skirt will work brilliantly. The oversized pockets, flaps and belt detail all work to break up your length and give the illusion of shape. Add a cream pussy bow blouse, killer heels and work that office carpet. 



Go large or go home. This is a stunning skirt and is your evening option. Wear with a simple silk cami top in summer and a black silk shirt at Christmas. You'll get your wear out of it.

Finery Belshaw Fold A Line Skirt £75



I could have chosen a nice blue denim skirt for your casual number but thought sod it, let's do red. Note the little triangle shape at the front and pockets which both work to break up the length of your body. Some like the runner bean look, some don't. I'm here to give you options!

Warehouse Reconstructed Denim Skirt £39



Rectangle

Oh lordy, I am this and skirts can be tough to pull off, not going to lie. I mean, they're not impossible but they do need thinking time. Let me explain. I carry my weight around my middle (belly) so anything gathered or detailed (even pockets) draw the eye to the part of my body that I'd rather we all forget about. Full A-lines stand off my belly rather than hips (I don't think God gave me any of these) in a most unflattering way so they're a no-no. I find the best styles are definitely pencil but anything with panels or sewn down pleats (is there a technical term for that). A flippy hem is also ok. Basically anything that is devoid of detail around the waist and tummy. And once we've found the skirt, we then need to think about the top because tucked in doesn't work - it can make us look very thick waisted (which I am but I don't really want to flaunt that fact). Can you see why I favour dresses? Anyways....

This would work, the interesting hemline takes the eye downwards and the dotty pattern tricks the eye so a sticking out tummy isn't so obvious. In fact, pattern is good for disguising any tummy issues so don't just think skirts. 



I promise you that this simple pencil skirt will hold everything in place. It's called the miracle skirt for a reason. The lack of a waist band is a plus point by the way as there's less detail to worry about. Have fun with tops and shoes but keep your skirt fairly plain for your very best look. I've chosen the midnight navy because you can see the detail better but you may prefer the black one for an evening look. 




Trying to find a casual option without pockets or pleats that is half fashionable is almost impossible. This is the best I could find and after all that, it's actually a rather nice option. The stripes at the bottom are good, they draw the eye away from the tummy and it's a neat shape. 




Round

Very similar to the Rectangle above, you may prefer to keep your tummy area free of clutter. Simple and clean lines are key. Look for stretch fabric, possibly with a flip at the bottom to balance your top half. Panelled style works but not pleats unless they're very soft or stitched down at the top. A soft A-line is good but the fabric should drape and not stand off your frame. Look for side fastening, flat fronted styles. 

For a work option, you could do far worse than this one. It's ticking all the boxes above. You might want to try the longer length for a more modern look. 



Don't be afraid to go long-long. It really suits your figure. This skirt is all about the swish but keeping to the guidelines. You can add interest by way of shoes and tons of jewellery. Of course this is your evening wear option!!




I was hoping to find a decent shorter length skirt because you have cracking legs but to be honest, nothing inspired me at all. They were all so dowdy. So instead I've gone with this khaki number. I'd normally stay away from linen for two reasons, firstly it creases (this is a linen mix so will be fine) and secondly it can be a little stiff (this is cut on the bias and drapes beautifully).

JD Williams Linen Mix Maxi Skirt £20



So there we have it, skirt styles for every shape. I hope you can take a little bit of inspiration from this post. Don't beat yourself up if you can't get them to work, I try them regularly but always seem to opt for dresses instead. Do you have any tips to add? Drop me a comment below.

Off to walk the dog in the pouring sleet (you do realise it's May next week don't you?).

Catch up later in the week.

You might be interested in the other posts in this series which you can find in this blog post about discovering and dressing for your body shape


18 comments on "Dressing For Your Body Shape Series | Skirts"
  1. Being a triangle shape I would like to make some corrections. Never choose skirt from biased cut fabric, if you have heavy thighs - biased cut only accentuates all your lumps and pumps and makes you look at least a size bigger. Because the skirt cut this way narrows down right after your thighs end and so accentuates your widest part of the body even more. My pants are always a 12, but all my skirts (even pencil skirts) are 10. 12 would swamp me so with skirts there is no need to size up. Also triangles who have narrow waist (as many triangles do) must be careful with elasticated waists - usually the waists are cut too large so the rubberband does not even stretch leaving the waistline crimply. So there are different kind of triangles - the ones with tiny waist and others with not so defined waists. And choosing the right skirt depends more on this.

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    1. Thanks, you are right, there are different shape triangles. I would only recommend trying a size up in a tube skirt from personal experience. A very stretchy fabric covers more than one size due to the give in the material. Providing the waist band still fits, a larger size would be much more accommodating over the hip area. It would definitely not work with a traditional pencil skirt because of the gape at the waist band. The tube I suggested is amazing - there's no puckering at the waist - it sits very flat, even when not on the body. But I agree, ruched elastic is flippin horrible leaving the waistline crimply (great word!!!).

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  2. Yes, we'll stick with you and enjoy your postings, some more relevant to each of us than others, but all interesting. My Granny used to say "a pretty face suits anything" but, in reality, that's far from the truth and it can't ever be one size for all! Keep up your good work. I certainly enjoy your postings.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Alison, so glad that you enjoy the blog. And I so agree, one size for all really doesn't work (well not for me anyway!!) x

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  3. Hi Donna, I always thought I was an apple (round) but having read your original analysis I'm now thinking I might be rectangle. My legs are my best feature for sure and I'm tall so they're quite long. There are certain things I avoid wearing because they emphasise my tummy and distinct lack of a waist - anything gathered or detailed, exactly as you said above. I'm finding these posts very helpful thank you. Sorry to read such a negative comment from Rachel, hope you weren't too upset.

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    1. It's a common misconception Caroline. I've been known to scream at the tv (Gok) when someone has wrongly been described as an apple when they're a rectangle. It really does make a difference as to what each shape wears which will be revealed when we talk about tops. Glad you're enjoying this series and thanks for reading x

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  4. Firstly, thanks for all the time that's going into these posts Donna. I keep coming back because, like you, I'm interested in style and colour and garments. It's so interesting that there are so many styles to choose from now and we are all free to dress however we like. For me it's good to have some guidance on what to choose. Reading my favourite style blogs, for me, makes dressing and shopping more enjoyable.
    Skirts! My favourite type is the pencil in a structured but slightly stretchy fabric like a thick Ponte. I like to wear a fitted top or thin jumper over these, but never tucked in. I have a thick waist and then my hips go out but have straight rather than rounded edges, don't laugh! Nothing like dressmaking for learning what shape you are!
    So stretchy tube type pencil skirts are good for me. A full skirted dress will look nice on me but strangely I don't like the same shape in a skirt on me, simply because I think they look best with a very fitted or a tucked in top, which I feel makes my waist look wider than it is.
    My other problem with skirts is cold legs as I don't always want to wear tights. So the weather often dictates trousers.

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    1. You've described the perfect style for your shape Elaine but then you have such a great understanding of it. I totally get the straight hips, I often ponder at mine (a rectangle trait, I'm afraid). Looking forward to the return of long boots which will sort us nesh 'uns out. They must be due for a come back soon. Surely?

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  5. Hi Donna, I really enjoy your body shape and colour posts. Really informative for those of us who wish to look our best because it makes us feel happy to do so. Plus I find colour very much affects my mood therefore if I wear a colour that does not suit me by the end of the day i am almost always in a bad mood, quite bizarre. Keep up the good work, Anna x

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    1. Hi thanks for dropping by. You are spot on about colour. It's a mood changer isn't it. Pattern also affects me in a similar way, I want to tear it off by the end of the day. Fascinating how colour can put us in such foul moods lol x

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  6. Hi Donna, great post and you're dead right about rectangles. I am a rectangle and the best thing that ever happened to me clothes-wise was when a stylist recommended that I ditch skirt suits completely and go for dress/jacket or trouser suits instead (I have to wear suits for work). After years of digging-in waist bands, it was an absolute revelation. Nicky x

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    1. It does help doesn't it Nicky, understanding your shape. I'm all for an easy life and skirts are particularly hard for us rectangles x

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  7. Hi Donna! I agree that everyone should feel free to wear whatever the heck they want, but some of us want to choose things that flatter us in the conventional sense of that word. No right or wrong, just preferences. I love your blog for all the helpful info you provide, and your delightful presentation of it all. So thank you! Also, I seem to be a hybrid of rectangle and figure 8. My waist is not very different from my bust size, but I do have hips, which are rather high up and just under my waist. Skirts are always challenging for me.

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    1. Exactly. We all have choice Monica and we shouldn't knock each other for exercising our right to choose. So glad you like the blog. If you email me, I can guide you a little bit more as to your body shape (use the contact tab at the top of this page). Look forward to hearing from you. x

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  8. Hi Donna, I was slightly stunned to read such a rude and pointless comment. I think you've dealt with it very gracefully here. I suspect 'Rachel' doesn't appreciate the fact that a post like this will have probably taken at least 6 hours of your time that you have given selflessly to help women in need of a confidence boost. I love this series that you're doing. Keep at it X

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    1. I'm just surprised that someone would spend time reading something that they are quite obviously getting nothing from. What a waste of their time! I've had so many emails from readers telling me that they are getting so much out of the body shape series so I'll just carry on regardless ;-) Thanks for taking the time to comment Nikki x

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  9. Hi Donna, I commented in instagram about ordering the Boden skirt (striped one), it was a complete eye opener to me in that it was awful on, but, it made me realise I had diagnosed my shape wrongly. I think I had my mind made up before I read your post that I was an inverted triangle. After the shock of looking like a brick in this beautiful skirt, I read & re-read all your posts on body shape & I'm pretty sure I'm a rectangle. Thank you again, I can't wait for the next ones, I also loved your previous posts on colour & style! Martina.

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    1. Well I'm glad you sorted out your shape. And I've wondered if I lean towards the inverted triangle on occasions too but no, my belly is too big so rectangle I am. That skirt is a stunner too.....for someone. Next post to follow soon in this series x

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