How to Dress to Flatter Your Body, According to Science

One of the more rewarding aspects of working in fashion is that it encapsulates so much of life. It’s not just about which sweaters to pair with which skirts or the latest model muse to come down the runway; it’s so much more. That’s because even if you don’t work in the industry, you’re still involved in fashion as a consumer because you get dressed every day. Furthermore, the psychological implications of putting clothes on your body are significant. Even if you’re not trying to make an impression or look a certain way, you are still sending out a message.

Keeping that in mind, we perused the web for research and studies that had findings about how we perceive ourselves as well as how others see us. From a mood-lifting colour that makes you seem more radiant to the silhouette that gives you a tinier waist, these scientific insights will give you a new perspective on dressing. Scroll below to learn more!

Don't Match Too Much

Psychologist Kurt Gray, alongside a team of researchers, found that individuals respond more positively to clothing combinations when they strike a good balance between “clashing and matchy-matchy,” or “simplicity and complexity,” as Alina Simone put it in an article for Slate. In other words, don’t let different tones, textures, and prints scare you away—live a little. 

Wear Yellow

Though wearing yellow won't necessarily make your legs look more shapely or your waist slimmer, a Glamour article points out that science has proven the cheerful hue not only "raises blood pressure and pulse," but also has side effects that include positivity, energy, and happiness. Sounds good to us!

Embrace a Broad Shoulder

According to Karen Pine, a professor of developmental psychology, studies show that “a wide shoulder line creates a visual illusion that offsets wide hips.” This isn’t to say we think there’s anything wrong with hips (we’re big fans). However, this so-called illusion also makes your waistline look slimmer, which we’re not opposed to.

Go Monochrome

If your aim is to look slimmer, try wearing pieces all in the same colour—apparently it "blurs the dividing lines," Pine writes. 

Look for Diagonal Lines

Everyone pretty much agrees that vertical stripes are slimming and horizontal stripes are widening, but what about diagonal stripes? This academic text concludes that diagonal lines "attract attention to a specific feature." In other words, if you're wearing a coat with slanted lines emphasising your waist—like Taylor Tomasi Hill above—you can easily be in control of which body parts to show off and which to conceal.