Being self-confident has numerous benefits and ways to improve your quality of life, this is especially true in your career. In fact, having more confidence has been proven to lead to upwards mobility at work. There are many ways to improve confidence in the workplace and the clothes you wear is one of them. Science has shown that the way you dress affects confidence, this is called “enclothed cognition”. When the way you dress aligns with how you want to be perceived, confidence will naturally follow.

However, not everyone knows how to dress appropriately or how to improve their corporate wardrobe. What looks good on one person may not suit another. There are certain types of clothes that look great on certain body types, skin tones and hair colours but look ill-chosen or mismatched on others.

At KARMA, we want everyone to feel empowered in the workplace. Find out how to dress to impress and boost your confidence at work with these KARMA tips.

How to dress for your body type

There are four main body types: apple, pear, rectangle, and hourglass.

When determining which body type you have, pay attention to your curves; look at how your bust, waist, and hips connect to one another. Discovering which body type you have means you can choose clothes that accentuate your best features.

If you’re having trouble identifying your body type, use this body type calculator.

Below, we have outlined some clothing styles that complement each body type. Browse KARMA’s Women’s Corporate Wear for more ideas!  

How to dress for an apple body type

Apple body shape characteristics:

  • Average to large bust and narrow hips
  • Broad shoulders
  • A less-defined, full waist
  • The ratio of bust:waist:hips is 4:4:3

Because women with an apple body type have a full waist, you want to wear clothing that will define your waist, so avoid wearing fitted tops. The Zetula blouse is a great option for women with an apple body shape as it’s loose fitting and the belt can be secured at the waist to create the illusion of a well-defined waist.  Other options are an empire waist top, A-line tops, and loose button-up tops.

The best pants for women with apple body types are straight cut, high-waisted jeans with minimal detailing to draw attention away from a wider waist. Ladies with this body type often have great legs, show them off in a skirt like this Front Slit Skirt.

how to dress for a pear body type

Pear body shape characteristics:

  • Your waist is wider than your bust

  • You have quite full hips and narrow shoulders

  • Well-defined waist

  • A fuller bottom

Embrace your bootylicious figure with figure-hugging work trousers like the straight-leg Alrai trouser, or, if you want to draw attention away from your fuller hips, the wide-legged Venus Trouser is also a great option as wide-legged pants balance out wide hips. A-line skirts also look great on pear-shaped bodies because they sit on the smallest part of the waist and flare out over your hips.

Because ladies with a pear-shaped figure usually have a smaller bust, consider opting for tops with wide or detailed necklines to draw attention to the bust – the Kuma shirt is a great example of this.

How to dress for an hourglass body type

Hourglass body shape characteristics:

  • You would describe yourself as curvy

  • Well-defined waist

  • Your hip and bust measurements are roughly the same

  • You have a full bust, hips, and waist

Women with hourglass figures would be described as curvy, their hip to bust ratio is roughly proportionate and they have significantly smaller waists in comparison, with a bust:waist:hip ratio of 4:2:4.

Fitted tops and dresses that nip in at the waist are good choices for this body type to accentuate your curves. Good options would be the Raven Shirt or Wrap Blouse. The figure-hugging Romeda Jumpsuit and Zodiac Dress look stunning on curvy figures.

How to dress for an athletic/rectangle body type

Athletic/rectangle body shape characteristics:

  • Shoulder and hip measurements are almost the same

  • Not particularly curvy

  • You don’t have a very well-defined waist, it’s pretty straight

  • Your weight is fairly evenly distributed throughout your body

Because women with athletic or rectangle body types don’t have well-defined waists, they should consider wearing clothing that creates the illusion of having one.

Garments that cinch at the waist like high-waisted trousers and dresses that pull in at the waist like the Tuxedo Dress or the Splendour Dress are good options. Tight-fitting dresses like the Keyhole Dress also look fabulous on women with athletic body types because they show off their muscular, toned physique.

How to be more confident with your body

Your corporate wardrobe is only part of building confidence levels, being proud of your body is equally important. You may think your thighs are too big or your chest is too small but everyone is different and unique. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone looked the same!

Focus on parts about yourself that you love and admire, embrace who you are and what you look like.

Confidence is key when it comes to loving your body and if you don’t feel confident in your own skin just yet, sometimes it’s best to fake it until you make it. There’s research that shows that if you’re feeling down and you force yourself to smile, your brain releases feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, turning shyness into swag.

How to dress for your skin tone

After picking the most flattering fit for your body shape, now it’s time to pick clothing colours that best complement your skin tone. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what kind of skin tone you have. If you compare your complexion to someone with very dark skin you may look pale but when comparing yourself to someone with very light skin that easily gets sunburnt, it may seem like you have an olive skin tone.

If you are struggling to determine which skin tone you have, have a look at this guide.

clothing colours to wear for fair skin

As a general rule, people with fair skin should try and wear colours that contrast with their complexion, so instead of wearing light colours like white and pastels, opt for browns and navy. If you do want to wear lighter colours, combine them with darker colours for some contrast.

Shop the Romeda Jumpsuit in navy!

Colours that look great on fair skin:

  • Grey
  • Brown
  • Burgundy
  • Dark Green
  • Navy
  • Bold shades of blue e.g. cobalt
  • Dark neutral colours (like camel, khaki, and slate grey)

Colours that people with pale skin should avoid:

  • Neons, as they clash with your complexion
  • Black or white as these colours can make you look washed out
  • Soft pastel shades
  • Light neutral colours like beige

clothing colours to wear for olive skin

Women with olive skin are lucky because they can pull off almost any colour because their skin tone is so versatile.

Autumn colours look particularly stunning on an olive skin tone, such as shades or orange, red, or yellow. These colours will give the appearance of a nice summer glow. Most shades of pink and green also complement this skin tone.

Shop the Pleiona Camisole in red!

Colours that look great on olive skin:

  • Orange
  • Red
  • Green
  • Pink (particularly bright pinks like cerise and neon)
  • Natural colours (like cream, taupe, and cappuccino)

Colours that people with olive skin should avoid:

  • Brown tones that are too similar to your complexion (e.g. mocha or tan)

clothing colours to wear for dark skin

Women with dark skin are also lucky because they can pull off almost any colour.

Gold, bronze, and copper colours look particularly stunning on a dark skin tone, as well as red, orange and yellow. These colours will give the appearance of a beautiful glow. Most shades complement this skin.

Shop the Zaniah Camisole in white!

Colours that look great on dark skin:

  • Gold, bronze, and copper
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Cobalt blue
  • White

Colours that people with dark skin should also wear:

  • Black
  • Grey
  • Silver
  • Brown

how to dress for your hair colour

What clothing colours should people with black hair wear

Ladies with black hair look great in bold red as it looks dramatic and vibrant. Avoid dull colours such as washed out blues and yellow pastel colours. Instead opt for rich jewel tones such as turquoise, emerald green and amber.

White clothing next to black hair can have a salient striking effect and can look spectacular next to raven locks. Try to avoid black as it can blend in too much with your hair and can look a bit bland and monochromatic.

Shop the Raven Shirt in white!

what colours should brunettes wear

Brunettes look great in shades of green such as jade, emerald and moss, as well as autumn colours such as orange and bronze.

Pink next to brunette hair can also create a dramatic contrast that can look quite striking.

Shop the Pleiona Camisole in pink!

what colours should blondes wear

Blonde ladies look fabulous in navy, charcoal and deep brown as these colours juxtapose their fair tresses.

Colours like silver and grey should be avoided as these colours next to blonde hair can make blondes look a bit pallid.

Bold colours like turquoise and jade, as well as khaki look fabulous on blondes!

Shop the Rotan Jacket in navy!

what colours should redheads wear

Vibrant redheads look phenomenal in any shade of green! But for a muted look, navy and purple also enhance your fiery locks.

Just try to avoid orange and yellow and brown. These colours can make redheads look washed out because they are too similar to their hair colour, although vibrant red clothing complements redheads beautifully.

Shop the Mira Blouse in red!

own your look

While certain clothing styles and colours suit some people better than others, this should merely be used as a guide. If you feel self-assured, you can pull off any look. There’s nothing that will boost your confidence more than being confident in your own skin. Also, remember that no matter how good you look on the outside, comfort is key.

So go out there and own it!

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