Fashion: Shop for your shape

It's all about the illusion – no-one's perfect but we can all dress to suit our body shape. Jayne Dawson reports

Don't panic if your New Year diet resolve has already faltered.

The stick insect look is so 2010. This year, aim for a natural body shape and dress yourself slimmer instead.

It's no coincidence that curvy Kelly Brook recently topped a poll to discover the most attractive celebrity with almost half the votes, and voluptuous Nigella Lawson came in second.

Bosoms and bottoms are back in vogue and if there's one phenomenon that's caused fashion designers to turn their back on waif-like frames, it's the Mad Men effect with its gorgeous curvy star, Christina Hendricks.

Costume designer for Mad Men, Janie Bryant's motto is: "Praise your curves!"

And she has a refreshing philosophy on ignoring the scales and diet plans in January, too.

"At the end of every year, most of us vow to jettison our vices and shed a few pounds," Bryant explains. "But what if you resolved instead to change the way you view your body."

Tip your 'get thin' New Year resolution on it's head and embrace the body you've got with natty wardrobe choices.

Delicious apple

"A woman who is an apple carries most of her weight in her midsection," Bryant explains.

"This imbalance can make you look shorter and wider if you don't counteract the proportions."

Your goal is to minimise your tummy and draw eyes to your fabulous legs.

WARDROBE STAPLES: A-line shift dresses, short skirts, blouses with a gently curved waistline, single-button jackets, wrap shirts/dresses and wide-legged trousers. Try long fitted shirts and sweaters that fall to the hips to disguise a full midriff.

STEER CLEAR: Bold patterns such as stripes on tops and shiny fabrics like satins that draw attention to your mid-section.

Slim ruler

"The woman with an athletic, lean build has fewer curves and more of a straight up-and-down figure," says Bryant.

And the good news? "You can wear almost anything."

If you feel your shape is boyish, create some contours and add femininity to your athletic silhouette by accentuating the waist.

WARDROBE STAPLES: Bias-cut jackets, pencil skirts, trapeze dresses, slim-cut trousers. Baby-doll and pussy-bow blouses will inject girliness while belts – skinny or wide – define your waist.

STEER CLEAR: Bolero jackets, short-waisted tops and clothing featuring vertical lines that minimise curves.

Succulent pear

"Just as it sounds, a woman with a pear-shape body stores most of her weight below the waistline," Bryant says.

"Fuller hips and thighs contrast with narrow shoulders, a smaller bust and a slim midriff."

Aim to detract from the hips – the widest point of your silhouette – and focus on your fantastic arms and shoulders.

WARDROBE STAPLES: A-line or full skirts, brightly coloured shirts, patterned blouses and jackets that skim the waist. Flat-front trousers with a wide leg that skim the hips will help make you look taller.

STEER CLEAR: Cargo pants or bottoms with lots of pocket detail and patterned or pale coloured trousers/shorts/skirts that exaggerate your lower half.

Curvy hourglass

"You have deliciously symmetrical curves, with an exaggerated bust and hip line," Bryant reveals.

"That narrow waist only heightens the va-va-voom silhouette."

Show off your waist and let it be the focal point of your Jessica Rabbit-style body.

WARDROBE STAPLES: Wrap tops and blouses that nip at the waist, flat-front trousers with a boot-cut or flared bottom, belted jackets or coats. Don't forget a bra with amazing support.

STEER CLEAR: Figure-hiding frocks like shifts or trapeze dresses and any styles that overemphasise the hips, like a gathered skirt.

Body beautiful

"Finding the style and cut of clothes that suit you best comes from experimentation and knowing your body type," Bryant believes.

She recommends taking 10 minutes in the mirror to scan yourself from head to toe and observe the outline of your body. Which part is slimmest and which is fullest?

"In order to accentuate those awesome contours, you must first familiarise yourself with your core shape – knowledge is power.

"Once you understand your natural silhouette, it's easy enough to enhance assets or make some nips and tucks with the right wardrobe."

In her new book, The Fashion File, Bryant identifies the four key shapes and, just like a New Year diet, the staples you should be indulging in – and avoiding – for a flattering figure.

Your mirror awaits. Determine your body type and check whether your trusty wardrobe separates are flattering your frame...

Figure fixers

Once you've identified your body beautiful, you can use the art of 'colour combining' to flatter your frame further.

A new book from Colour Me Beautiful image consultants, Colour Me Slimmer, reveals the importance of where and how you wear your darker colours:

One colour from head to toe always gives the illusion of height.

Use neutral or dark colours to minimise any large feature.

Those with narrow shoulders or fuller tummy or hips can wear brighter colours worn near the face to draw attention away from these areas.

Darker skirts and trousers help to minimise larger hips and thighs.

Unless you have long legs, always try and team the hosiery with the colour of your hemline.

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