Why You Should Dress For Your Personality, Not Your Shape

Why You Should Dress For Your Personality, Not Your Shape - Red Hobbs Dress

I often dress for my personality without taking any notice of what is “correct” for my shape.

I’m what you’d call a classic hourglass: square shoulders, big boobs, small waist, big hips. But do I get dressed every day thinking “Now, is this what I’m meant to wear in order to show off and flatter my hourglass figure? Have I accentuated my waist? Am I steering clear of high necklines and loud patterns?” Er, no… it never even occurs to me!

I thought I’d bring you something a little different today for #iwillwearwhatilike and do more of a writing post than a “what I wore” post (not that I’ll deprive you of outfits today of course – there will be several)! I’m featuring examples of times where I’m absolutely, most definitely NOT wearing clothes that adhere to the rules of dressing for my particular shape.

And I loved the outfits I wore, and wouldn’t change a thing about any of them.

This red dress is a great example of something I loved wearing, but that breaks all the “rules” about dressing for my shape. Let’s look at the evidence…!


How to dress if you’ve got an hourglass figure (according to WikiHow)

In other words, don’t wear this red dress (exhibit A):

1. I’m not meant to add bulk to my bust. Whether that’s not wearing ruffles (which I have done), or not wearing high necks (as I’m doing in the red dress) I’m certainly not meant to have something skimming over the top of my boobs. Tut tut, Catherine.

2. I should wear snug, tailored pieces… Yeah right – this dress isn’t anything of the sort. Well made and beautifully cut, yes, but definitely not snug.

3. A wrap dress is my best friend, apparently. But I don’t like them personally, and I like them even less on me. But I liked the trapeze shape of this dress.

You get the idea? If I followed all those rules every time I’d be wearing the same sort of thing day in, day out. I’d never experience the joy you get from wearing a long, oversized trapeze dress in a bright red colour made from the most beautiful floaty, pleated fabric. Okay, so I’m not showing off my waist and my long skinny arms look even longer and skinnier than usual, but what does it matter?

Why should I deny myself wearing such a beautiful dress that I felt fabulous in just because my shape tells me I should be wearing something else?

The reason I wore the red dress is that I LIKE wearing red. It’s a beautiful, bright colour. It’s glamorous. It’s attention-seeking. If you put me in a blue wrap dress that has a pencil skirt and a low V-neckline that’s nipped in at the waist I’d be miserable as sin.

I WANT my cleavage to be covered up. I WANT most of my legs to be covered up. I WANT to wear big statements and bright colours and loud patterns – because they make me happy.


Exhibit B

Glam casual party outfit: Mixed patterns \ pyjama style shirt \ graphic print cropped flares \ Gucci-inspired pink suede block heels \ mini black box bag | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 style

According to hourglass shape rules, I should stick with solid colours. COULD YOU IMAGINE ME NOT WEARING PATTERN ANYMORE…?!

I’m told that I can wear muted patterns, but really solid colours “flatter my figure best”. This basically goes against EVERYTHING that I enjoy about clothes. I LOVE loud patterns. And as you can see above, I love wearing clashing patterns. I don’t do it to shock, or because I want to be a rebel – it’s because I love pattern and can rarely choose just one. A beautiful pattern makes my heart sing. I went to art college so I’ve always erred towards colours and pattern and the way that they work together.

Those who know me personally will probably agree that I’m not a particularly quiet person(!) – I KNOW I have a loud voice that carries (my dad has told me so on many, many occasions), but I also know when to shut up and I do like spending time on my own now and then.

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I’m extroverted. I’m a glass-half-full person. But I’m also shy among those I don’t know – I can’t stand drawing attention to myself in a room of strangers by being loud and I try to act with humility in appropriate situations.


How I dress for my personality, NOT my shape

If I like something, I wear it if it then makes me FEEL good as well.

Black isn’t my thing (too sombre and quiet for me). I love loud pattern and colour (that’s much more like the “loud” part of me). But I also don’t want to draw attention to my cleavage or my not-so-great legs (flashing the flesh ain’t my thing, in other words, and I do lack confidence at times)… I’m much happier with those covered up. So my style of dressing – you could describe it as “In Your Face Modest” – could be a way of describing my personality as well.

I’m certainly not saying that you should ignore ALL the rules for dressing your shape, especially if you’re stuck about how to hone your style and want some guidance. I just believe that you use those “dress for your shape” rules as just guidelines, not rules – and wear what makes your heart sing and expresses your personality as the building blocks of your style first and foremost.


Some other outfits that have broken the hourglass shape rules…

Not Dressed As Lamb | Pantone Rose Quartz and Serenity winter outfit

Above: A loud patterned, oversized coat with no discernible waist and boyfriend jeans? Hmmm…

“Stick with solid colours.” Sorry, no.
“Look for belted jackets, trench-style coats, or other fits that draw in toward the waist.” Nope, not done that.
“Look for pants that have a slight flare.” Again, sorry – I love my baggy boyfriend jeans.

Yes, my figure is covered up. Do I care? Not a jot. I love the bright colours, the comfort, and that crazy-large check.

Here are a few more…


Why You Should Dress For Your Personality, Not Your Shape | Not Dressed As Lamb, over 40 fashion

Left: High neck. No waist definition. No “balancing out” of my boobs. Don’t care: I love the colours, the layers, the comfort.

Middle: A shift dress with no waist and generally the “wrong” shape. But still one of my favourite outfits ever – oh, the colours! The tailoring!

Right: I’m hiding all my “best” bits (boobs, waist) and showing off my “worst” bits (legs) here. But I love the Parisian-chic of that cape despite its not-good-for-an-hourglass silhouette, and anyway it actually looks better with a dress/skirt and legs out IMO.

Are all these outfits flattering? Maybe, maybe not. But what matters more to me is how I FEEL in them. I want to express my personality through my clothes, not announce to the world what my body shape is ad nauseam. I care more about what I think I look like, not what everyone else thinks, ergo: #iwillwearwhatilike…!


Catherine signature

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Featured favourites

Ladies I’d like your opinion on the Featured Favourites please! I’ve noticed that every week it seems to be the same people that link up over and over again: I LOVE the fact that those of you that do, do – but for those readers that come here for style inspiration I’m sure they’d like to see some more people take part.

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Therefore rather than featuring three small images from the previous week’s link up, I was wondering whether you’d like to see a full post, say, once a month featuring outfits that I’ve seen and loved? Ideally I want it to be concentrated solely on those who have linked up but I need more variation in order to do that. Unfortunately many blogs also don’t have full-length or high-res images (I can’t use those) so in order to be featured they need to be both of those things too.

Any ideas? Would you lovely ladies be willing to recommend other bloggers in the comments who might like to link up? You could either leave their blog URL in a comment or ask them directly if they’d like to link up (they can subscribe to the reminder email below under “Want to receive an email reminder for the next link up”) perhaps. If you leave me their details I’ll contact them to say I was recommend by you, so please make sure you know they’d be happy to hear from me.

I know many of the links left here are from those that purely dump links and run – they never comment or leave a link on their post, which I know happens but TBH it’s bad form. I block those that consistently link up non-outfit posts (I provide the #SaturdayShareLinkUp for all subjects so there’s no excuse) and I try not to feature those that do that in the Featured Favourites. You’ve got to give a little as well as take…!

So let me know what you think – shall I change it to a monthly feature? Are you willing to recommend the link up to some new stylish ladies who’ve never linked up before? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, and thank you x

✷  ✷  ✷  ✷  ✷


The #iwillwearwhatilike link up with Not Dressed As Lamb
Thank you for joining the #iwillwearwhatilike link up! This started as a campaign on Instagram in August 2015 where women over 30 wore everything on a journalist’s list of “inappropriate” items for 30+ women (including leopard print, short dresses and oversized sunglasses. Yes, really). It was so popular that I decided to carry it on weekly where women of all ages link up their fabulous style, never mind what anyone tells them not to wear!

The link up goes live every Monday at around 3pm UK time and will stay open for a week. Whilst the original article was of course aimed at the 30+, you can be ANY age to link up. The only criteria is that you’re wearing whatever you damn well like!

Linking up etiquette…

CLICK HERE to read the rules of linking up (and to grab the #iwillwearwhatilike button). Basically it’s just good manners to link back to here – to leave a comment is even nicer!

PLEASE NOTE: This is for linking up WHAT YOU’VE BEEN WEARING ONLY. Non-outfit links will be removed and you might be blocked if you turn out to be a repeat “offender”!


Want to receive an email reminder for the next link up?

Please note that due to the new GDPR laws I’m unable to send an email reminder unless you subscribe to the mailing list of your own accord. CLICK HERE if you wish to be sent an email with a reminder to link up to the #iwillwearwhatilike link up as soon as it’s live.

Do share the love and visit as many links as you can (you never know what other lovely like-minded ladies you might meet) – the original Instagram campaign forged some wonderful new friendships so don’t miss out!


  1. 9 December 2019 / 5:46 pm

    You look fabulous in all of these outfits, so yes I’m convinced! Besides, there is nothing more attractive, imo, than a person who feels happy.


  2. Miranda
    20 December 2018 / 8:13 am

    I always tell my customers to choose their occasion dress by their body shape, but here you dress for your personality, interesting. Maybe we can try to find balance between body shape and personality.


  3. Nailil
    9 November 2018 / 7:55 pm

    I love every single look. The red dress is stunning on you.

    Xx, Nailil

    • catherine
      13 November 2018 / 8:21 pm

      That’s so kind of you, thank you Nailil! x

  4. 1 November 2018 / 11:53 pm

    My goodness, I can’t even imagine you in a solid color wrap dress with a pencil skirt…it would look so unnatural! I like the idea of dressing for your personality, I think that a good deal of what makes something “flattering” or not is whether you radiate happiness and confidence while wearing it; obviously if you do feel good, you’re going to stand up straighter and smile more, both of which make you more attractive…it’s all a cycle!

    Side note…that red dress is gorgeous!!!!!!!!! It would be a shame to pass up the chance to wear such a beautiful item just because it isn’t “correct” for your shape.

  5. Jane Thompkins
    20 October 2018 / 8:07 am

    I shouldn’t worry about what Wikihow or fashion magazines say you should or shouldn’t wear, Catherine. People should wear what they are comfortable and happy with wearing. When we meet new people for the first time, experts say how you dress makes a big impression but other than for job interviews I disagree. How someone interacts with me is far more important than what they are wearing. If someone is dressed in expensive designer then I am not going to respect them if they are abrupt, curt, supercilious etc; give me someone dressed in a pair of old jeans who is polite, friendly, approachable etc any day. It’s who you are, not what you wear.

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:38 pm

      Oh don’t worry I’m not actually taking any notice of what the Wikihow article said, Jane – I used it as an example to show how I *don’t* take any notice of those rules!! Personally I believe that appearance DOES make a difference, as you see someone before you interact with them. I used to do a lot of interviews in my old job, and for me if someone hadn’t taken care over their appearance and thought about what was appropriate for the job they were going for, then it made me question how much care they’d put into doing the work.

      That’s why I don’t believe in dressing age appropriately but I DO believe in being occasion appropriate – and for me job interviews are one of those times! Unfortunately it’s one of those times you have to play the game as it were because the majority of people WILL judge you if you turn up dressed inappropriately. Like I always say to my husband, when a newsreader is dressed smartly and not “weirdly” (can’t think of a better word) I listen to what they say. If they’re wearing something that makes me “What ARE they wearing??!” then I don’t listen to what they’re reporting on because we’re just discussing their outfit…!

  6. 12 October 2018 / 7:19 pm

    I totally agree with you. If I were to dress according to the rules of my body shape (inverted triangle) I would miss so much fun. I love your red dress, it is perfect. And that blue and white checked coat is to die for.
    Glad you don’t obey rules.

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:39 pm

      Life would be much less fun, wouldn’t it Greetje…?! Throwing caution to the wind and wearing what brings us joy is the most important thing, isn’t it 😉

  7. 10 October 2018 / 9:33 pm

    I just wanted to say that I loved this post. Yes, sometimes the right cut makes me feel so much better (I’m an hourglass, too), but more often than not it’s a totally different detail that makes a garment “very me”. I think if a woman is happy to have found just that she should stick to it.
    I don’t care if a dress makes me look bigger as long as it makes me stand out if that’s what I want that day.
    Thanks a million for the inspiration.

    PS: I’m writing a fashion blog with three other women and I’ve always wanted to do the link up thing but haven’t gotten round to it. I promise I’ll check it out.
    Best, Cerstin

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:41 pm

      Thank you Cerstin…! I’m so glad to hear you dress just to please yourself! And good luck with the blog, hope to see you linking up soon (once you’ve clicked on the blue button it pretty much tells you what to do) x

  8. 10 October 2018 / 5:41 pm

    Your outfits and fashion sense are incredible! Love the advice you gave as well <3

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:42 pm

      thank you so much Topia x

  9. 6 October 2018 / 8:32 am

    Love this feature Catherine. I agree that rules are made to be broken and you always look fab because you wear what you love. Apologies for not linking up of late. Life has been hectic but I’ve been visiting you, enjoying the posts and loving having your inspiration as ever.
    Anna x

    • catherine
      26 October 2018 / 2:52 pm

      Anna you’re a great example of wearing what you love!! And please don’t worry about the links up, I know you’ve been a busy busy girl! x

  10. Nailil
    6 October 2018 / 3:23 am

    I love the idea of not dressing for one’s shape. Clothing is supposed to speak to who we are and dressing for one’s personality is much more fun. 🙂

    Xx, Nailil

  11. Kareema Hamdy
    5 October 2018 / 11:37 pm

    When I saw this post I thought YES YES YES!! I am short at 5ft 1″ and pear shaped but when I look at most petite collections the styles really don’t float my boat so I’ve always bought clothes that I like with no regard really as to whether its suitable for my figure…..if I like it and feel it suits me I will wear it xxxx

  12. 5 October 2018 / 11:21 pm

    I think knowing the rules is always good, but breaking them is even better.

    You look stunning in that red dress. I used to be an hourglass, I wish I could get back to those days:).

  13. 5 October 2018 / 6:14 pm

    Love, love, love this! I am sick of looking at something and thinking ‘ohhhh this is gorgeous but nope, I really shouldn’t wear that shape/cut/colour for my figure’ and putting it back on the rack! In future if it screams me, I am having it, regardless of what the rules say!

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland

  14. 5 October 2018 / 5:31 pm

    I totally need to see you in that burgundy Jaeger outfit again, wowza, that was a CRACKER!

  15. 5 October 2018 / 2:44 pm

    Great post Catherine! Absolutely love the red dress, just fabulous!!


  16. 5 October 2018 / 12:45 pm

    No convincing me needed, Catherine. Isn’t it the height of tedium if we only wear what flatters us in preference to what we really like? Nothing wrong with that, of course – but I’d rather wear a red, floaty frock.

    I still have a cerise pink plaid suit from River Island in the 90s. It looks a bit like a Chanel suit and I knew it would look crazy with my long dreadlocks… but hey! I knew it wouldn’t be worn much, but I liked the contrast with my hair and it did make the statement tgst I had a wee bit of a corporate edge, albeit creative.

    Mind you, as a child I used to insist on wearing the frumpiest tomboy clothes (according to my mum who’d buy me pink dresses). And that was fine because I was out playing on the beach and climbing rocks. I’ve definitely warmed to pretty frocks since.

    Love the red frock!

  17. 3 October 2018 / 1:47 pm

    You know what they say – if you obey all the rules you miss out on all the fun 😉 I love the red dress, you look stunning!

    Emma xxx

  18. 3 October 2018 / 9:53 am

    Another way women get told what to do eh? As a viewer, I have never looked at what you do with style and thought she is not wearing what is appropriate to her figure. It’s all about personality and self and that’s what makes your platforms great. That red dress is stunning!! Thanks so much for hosting. Have a great week.

  19. 2 October 2018 / 6:49 pm

    A. Men to that Catherine!!

  20. 2 October 2018 / 1:34 pm

    Such good points! I totally agree. I LOVE that red dress! It looks gorgeous on you.

  21. Alexa
    2 October 2018 / 12:45 pm

    Couldn’t agree more! To be honest, I don’t really know what my shape is (pear-ish, not-quite-hourglass, sort-of-square, who knows), other than non-standard! I seem to fit into several boxes simultaneously, and can’t be bothered to figure out which combination of rules I should be following, so I just wear what I like and be done with it!

    And I always think you dress in a flattering way, so you’re definitely doing something right!

  22. 2 October 2018 / 7:56 am

    Totally agree Catherine , dressing to suit yourself makes us happy and that always is the best way. Rules are meant to be broken in my book.
    I think the idea of a one a month feature of outfits you have loved would work well. I know i crop sometimes to fit the parameters of the link up .

  23. 2 October 2018 / 3:59 am

    I’m all for breaking the rules! Our clothes show the world who we are, so why not have fun with it?

  24. 2 October 2018 / 2:52 am

    I enjoyed reading how you break the rules, Catherine. I’m all for it! We look great when we feel great – you prove the point. As for your feedback request about Featured Favourites, I understand your situation. I try to link up every week, but my photos are not always full body and high-res. I would be happy to ask others to join but I seldom venture into new blog territory these days. Whatever you do, everyone will support you. Your once-a-month idea sounds good.

  25. Gia
    1 October 2018 / 11:20 pm

    Loved this post, I always dress for me rather rather than my shape. I don’t always get it “right” but I’m not dressing for others approval I’m dressing to please me, so at least that’s one person who likes my outfit

  26. 1 October 2018 / 11:03 pm

    I feel like when I “dress for my shape,” it just emphasizes my shape. I wear what I feel good in, or as you say, what I like!

    Also is the red dress photo recent? If so, I love your haircut!

    Cheryl Shops

  27. 1 October 2018 / 9:10 pm

    You have inspired me, yes, because I very rarely try shapes which I know should not suit me. Loose shift dresses or anything without a waist has a tendency to make me look huge. But I love a couple of your examples. Re the featured favourite, monthly would be good. Link up photo sizes don’t always allow us to post full length.

  28. Dianne
    1 October 2018 / 8:37 pm

    Thank you. Loved this post x

  29. 1 October 2018 / 8:30 pm

    Yes yes YES! The way you explain this is bloody brilliant Catherine.
    I liken it to the “what are your colours?” and “what season are you?” question. If it makes me happy, I wear it. O.K so yeah, often that means it does suit my figure anyway but not exclusively. I also would wear any colour I like whether it “suits” me or not.
    Also seeing the older shots of you with a fringe reminds me how much I adore that hairstyle on you!
    Lastly, I’d love to see a full post of blogger outfit inspo. You always manage to find several I’ve missed, there really is so much great style out there it’s easier for me to come straight to NDAL 😉 *so lazy

  30. 1 October 2018 / 8:16 pm

    I love the dress, and often buy dresses just because I like them and not because they suit my figure. Maybe I get it wrong, but I don’t really care either – lol. x Jacqui Mummabstylish

  31. Sue
    1 October 2018 / 7:27 pm

    You look great in all the outfits … can’t understand the so-called ‘rules’. As an hourglass, you have the choice NOT to emphasise your waist – a choice denied to me (who lacks a waist).
    Go for it!

  32. 1 October 2018 / 7:20 pm

    Great post, Catherine! And all of your outfits look great…because you are smiling with confidence while wearing them! After all, isn’t that the most important accessory anyway!? Silly rules. I am an absolute rectangle with a thick post baby, mid-forties belly, no waist, no hips, no butt, and big boobs. I suppose I am supposed to accentuate my waist with everything I wear, but frankly, that requires cinching one’s waist and there is no woman on earth who wants her waist cinched on the daily! Not gonna happen! Wear what you love and rock it!


  33. Helenatroy
    1 October 2018 / 6:45 pm

    You go for it Catherine. Couldn’t agree with you more. I’m now in my late, very late, 50’s and I wear what I like. I love wearing heels, slim skirts and dresses and wearing brights with darks. I love clothes that fit my body. I’ve worked hard to keep it in shape so why not. So often I hear ‘so called’ experts saying you shouldn’t wear x, y and z and a, b, c are the latest shapes and styles. But hell. If I don’t like them then I ain’t going wear them. The current autumnal colours being a case in point. Looks fab on many, but doesn’t suit either my colouring or personality. Like you, I love red . Comes from a mother who wouldn’t let me wear it as a child (she was brought up a catholic and seemingly it’s a ‘tarts’ colour – especially when worn with black. So naturally, as a grown adult who #willwearwhatilike I wear a lot of red, and with black too when I want to. I always thought that I’d become invisible when I got to a ‘certain age’, like the old poem about wearing purple. Seemed to be the accepted the fate of older women and I’d not escape it any more than many women before me. What can I say. I’ve not found that. For me anyway, it’s not proved true. I wear what I want for MY personality.

  34. 1 October 2018 / 6:23 pm

    You love your outfits … that’s the most important!

    Happy Monday xx

  35. 1 October 2018 / 6:03 pm

    Well this makes me want to stand up and cheer! I agree wholeheartedly, and have begun to embrace “personality dressing!”

  36. jodie filogomo
    1 October 2018 / 5:43 pm

    I love this way of thinking Catherine. It’s funny how we get overly preoccupied with “flattering” items, yet sometimes the most complimented outfits are those that tickle our fancy!!
    I like your idea of featuring your favorites like that.
    I’ve been following Kay at https://dressedformyday.com/ lately….she might be a great addition.

  37. 1 October 2018 / 4:45 pm

    Well now I know I will not be a favourite with my black outfit!
    I love this Dutch blogger. Not only is she a very strong woman, she is very much her self!

    • 1 October 2018 / 4:56 pm

      Ahw Nancy, thank you so much… I had some red Cheeks right now!

  38. 1 October 2018 / 4:19 pm

    LOVE the mixed prints ensemble w/ the vintage handbag!!!

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