How To: Flatter Your Figure (Athletic Build)

 To continue on our How To Flatter Your Figure series, another put2gether reader asked how to enhance awesome her athletic build. 

This client had a particularly interesting case. As someone who spent a lot of her time on boats, she wanted very functional clothing to enable her to jump on deck at a moment’s notice, but she also wanted to maintain some femininity in her clothing. Knowing that one wrong shoe could send her into the drink, this case required some extra sleuthing to ensure our fair client would stay firmly on land and would look great doing it. 

Going Topside 

Our client has an enviable figure – slim and athletic. To give her the feminine look she desired, we focused on narrowing the look of her broader shoulders by balancing her overall look, and adding soft touches to her wardrobe without losing the functionality. 

  • Starting with the neckline, we suggested a vee or narrow scoop shape. These types of necklines help to narrow the shoulders, plus are both arrestingly alluring.
  • For tops, the client was instructed to look for empire-waist tops or tops that have a drawstring at the waist with some flounce. Again, this type of look narrows the shoulders and adds that feminine touch without looking too girly.
  • For blazers, we suggested trying a peplum one (pictured below). It nips in at the waist – and the client has a great waistline so she should really highlight it.  I also suggested adding a wide belt at the waistline on different occasions to help change up the look.
  • For sweaters, cardigans are great option for the client since she can pair them with a more feminine tank, such as one with some ruffle or embellishment. The advice was to go longer on the cardies – past her hips – and belt them at the waist. The length will balance the shoulders and the belt will really highlight her great waist.

Andre Oliver Peplum Jacket


Below Decks 

In the pants department, our client had some great staples, but was looking for other options that look add that female touch. And she was open to some skirt options since she had a number of formal work events to fill. 

  • For jeans, I suggested a boot cut to give her that volume we’re looking for, worn with some sort of heel to keep them more fashion forward. Regular sneakers make the look more boyish. A pair of cropped jeans (long crop, coming just above her ankle bone) with a cuff would also be a great option.  To dress up the jeans, a longer cardigan, feminine tank and a belt at the waist was suggested- very feminine but also very functional for work.
  • For pants, we talked about adding some color to the leg. Color also helps with body balance when paired with more neutrals on top. Since the client has a warmer complexion, I suggested lime greens, corals, bright pinks, brighter purples and reds. Again, cropped pants are great option for her. For more formal events, I suggested wide-leg pants with a cuff and a low heel, again, to give that lower body volume. One great look for her – sailor pants (how apropos!). I suggested she try a pair of white sailors pants with a V-neck short-sleeved graphic blouse in a coral, with strappy cork shoes – great for walking the docks.
  • For skirts, the client’s slim build enables her to wear full skirts and A-line styles for more formal work events. Full and A-line skirts – whether just as a standalone skirt or on a dress – also help balance shoulders, and they are decidedly demure. If the client wants to go pencil skirt, I suggested picking one that has a bit of pleat at the top or is a paper bag version to again give her that lower body volume.

Walking the Plank 

Since our client is running around on boats all day and need a rubber sole, I shared with her a number of choices to expand her shoe repertoire. 

  • We started with the super cute Keds, which can add some color to her wardrobe and have a more feminine look than regular sneakers.
  • Then, onto ballet flats, many of which have rubber soles and look great with any cropped pant. Ballet flats are a great-looking  alternative to sneakers for women on the run.
  • For heels, I told her to go cork – no boat scuffs! And I suggested getting pairs with ankle straps so they stay on!

 What figure flatterer should we cover next?


May 25, 2010. How To.


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