Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guest Post: How to Select the Perfect Tee for Your Body Type

(The following is our first guest post, from Carol Montrose! While it's important that your tops fit your curves, there are lots of other important aspects of a great fit! She talks about some of those here.)

Unfortunately, one size does NOT fit all, so if you find yourself flirting with the idea of buying a tee that has this size listed on the label, put it back!  While the real function of clothing is to cover and protect our bodies, the truth is that it also serves a number of other purposes.  It can convey a station in life (doctors wear lab coats, for example) or be suited to an activity (yoga pants, running shorts, sequined ballroom-dancing gowns, and so on).  But when it comes to the clothing that you wear every day, that you live your life in, you are no doubt looking for items that are functional and comfortable, but also figure flattering.  And since most of us live our lives in jeans and tees, it behooves you to know how to select the perfect tee for your body type.
So the first thing you need to know is that one size fits some, not all, and it doesn’t fit anyone perfectly.  As a general rule, all this label means is that a tee is going to fit you like a flour sack, completely hiding any figure you might have underneath, or it’s going to squeeze you in all the wrong places and emphasize your problem areas.  Since neither of these options sounds very appealing, you’re best bet is to skip over any shirts with this unfortunate (and untrue) size descriptor.
The next step is to examine your body type and be honest about it.  You can really only look your best when you’re dressing for the shape that your body actually is, rather than the shape it used to be or the shape you wish it was.  Embracing your body type can be hard, but it will help you to dress it properly so that you always look your best.  And don’t assume that you’re the only one who has a hard time dressing your body; every woman has her moments!
Thin and petite women should look for tees that are fitted close to the body.  Anything loose or bulky is going to make you look smaller, even childlike.  This is especially important if you’re a bit lacking in the womanly curves.  And in terms of length, shorter is better.  Anyone who is petite must work to extend the leg-line and a good way to do it is by making sure that the hemline of your shirt goes no lower than the top of your hip (closer to the waistband of your jeans is even better).  Women who are petite but curvy should stick with the shorter length, as well, but look for tees with a bit of detailing around the natural waist (nipped in, ruched, belted, etc.) and a lower portion that floats away from the midsection.
Taller women can, of course, go with tops that are a bit longer, although really, the most attractive styles will hit right at the hipbone.  Again, thinner or more athletic builds should wear fitted tees while those looking to hide a little extra weight around the middle should opt for nipped-in waists only.  And V-necks are universally flattering, extending the neckline, deemphasizing a strong shoulder, and drawing the eye down to make your body look longer and leaner.  Of course, women who are already lean may prefer a crew or boat neck for balance.  In short, there is a perfect tee for every body type, and you can find yours by being honest about your shape and shopping for the tee that is going to suit you best.
Carol Montrose writes for tshirtprinting.net where you can design your own custom clothing at affordable prices.


  1. Given that this is a blog for women with curves, what should we look for in a t shirt that indicates it is well made, will not stretch out over our waist from being pulled over our bust? Alternate lengths are easy to find . . .

  2. Great tips! I definitely need to look for different cuts of tees, I've gained weight and went from thin and petite to curvy and petite.

  3. I don't agree with the writer's comment on the length of the shirt. I have found that short tees make me look shorter than I really am, whereas longer tees which go way past my hips give me a slimmer, lengthening silouette.

  4. H&M T-shirts can be good for the stuff the first commenter is mentioning. They have a sort of thicker knit with a lot of stretch, without looking like they're made of Lycra, and a neckline that is not too high-cut or low-cut which I find flattering for bigger boobs . And they're cheap too! Not the world's highest quality obviously but I have a few that have lasted a year and still look good.

  5. In general, I agree about shirt length; however, I have a particularly short torso. My rib cage almost touches my pelvic bones, it's so short. Blouses that are that short just end up pulling up in weird ways due to my curves, making my butt and hips look even larger. Plus, on my budget, I end up having to make do with what comes off the clearance rack. :)

    Now, if someone wanted to nominate me for What Not to Wear, I might be able to figure out how to work around my unusual proportions. ;)

  6. I tend to agree with Yrie - I am fairly short (and thin and curvy), and I find that longer, fitted tees look much better than shorter tees. Besides, if I wear shirts that are shorter, I'm constantly pulling them down because they're not long enough to cover my stomach comfortably because of the space taken up by my boobs... :P

  7. I also agree with Yrie and Christine. I'm 5'4, small framed with curves and I look heavier and shorter if I wear tops that meet the waistband and/or top of my hips. It should be pointed out that just because someone is petite does not mean they are short everywhere. Petite length pants are just the right length, but sometimes they could be shorter, whereas petite coats and shirts don't even cover my wrists. So for someone with a small frame that is petite look for slim fit clothes but opt for longer shirts, skinny or bootcut jeans with a pair of heels. Your legs will look longer in a narrower leg and the heels will add height as well. For skirts and dresses chose knee length. Anything longer will shorten you, and anything shorter will look trashy.

  8. I am also petite and curvy and I've heard this same advice from fashion mags for years, and it's just not true. It's "conventional wisdom" that people have been repeating for so long that it doesn't get tested.

    I am 5'3" and very hourglass. Short tees make me look stumpy and de-emphasize my waist. Details that cinch in around my waist make my torso look shorter, as though it were all boob going right into hip.

    I prefer tees that skim my hip, as they lengthen my torso and balance my upper body with lower. I find that Empire waists also lengthen my body and make me look slimmer, like a willow with boobs atop ;)

    WHen I was very thin I wore clothes that were too large all the time. They made me look fat, not tiny or childlike.

    It's funny, tonight I am working on a blog post about tshirts, but not at all like this one... I've been inspired to widen its scope though :)

  9. I am petite and curvy, but that is not enough of a description really for someone to know what will work on my body! People can have a long torso or a short torso, long or short legs, or be more balanced between the two. I have heard that the empire waist dress in universally flattering and see that it does look good on a lot of women, but it makes me look pregnant as the line out to the breasts with the big drop is absolutely not flattering on me! I do agree that a more fitted tee helps, but short tees are not flattering on me, either, nor would I want something on the shirt to draw attention or break the line of my body. I cannot wear petite tops because they are too short, but do wear petite pants.... so this may be a matter of general rules and individual proportion. I do like the guest post in general... just found that some of it does not apply to me. It would be hard for me to know the best tips and tricks for someone of a vastly differing body type... we do learn over time! Thank you for the post.

  10. Why are the terms "curvy" and "athletic" considered mutually exclusive? I'm naturally quite curvy (around 36-26-36 right now), and I'm also athletic, with muscular limbs and core. I think "athletic" is used in this case to mean "small busted." But small busted women aren't always athletic, either. What gives?

    I need clothing that allows room for my bust and hips without billowing out around my waist to make me look heavier. I'm also petite, and I'd have to agree with the comments-- too short shirts tend to hike up because of my bust. Too long makes my legs look short, but generally the sweet spot is around the tops of my hip bones or just a bit longer.

  11. I have to agree with you Chloe. I didn't spot that before. My measurements are nearly the same as yours (sporting a 28F/FF) yet I'm quite muscular while still maintaining an hourglass. It's probably under the same idea as why this blog was started in the first place, to try and deviate away from what people consider thin as being flat or not curvy. So the term athletic could mean flat or not curvy simply because it doesn't sound as feminine. Misguided and misinformed is what it is.

    I'd love to hear a response from the author of this guest post. It almost seems like the advice she gives for the petite doesn't really apply...

  12. Some good points in this post. I really like this part: "examine your body type and be honest about it. You can really only look your best when you’re dressing for the shape that your body actually is, rather than the shape it used to be or the shape you wish it was. Embracing your body type can be hard, but it will help you to dress it properly so that you always look your best."

    It can be hard to accept your own body when the changes start and you keep trying the clothes sizes you've had before until the reality hits.


I always love to hear your thoughts! Please remember to be respectful. I may not publish comments that are rude, hateful, personal attacks, racist, sexist, or otherwise inappropriate. Dissenting opinions are fine, as long as they are respectful. Thanks!