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What Are the Best Dressing Tips for Broad Shoulders?

By Dee Jones
Updated May 21, 2024
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For men, having broad shoulders that taper to a slim waist and narrow hips is often considered the ideal body shape. Many women, however, consider having shoulders that are disproportionately wider than their hips to be a figure flaw. Still, both men and women might feel that their shoulders are too wide for their bodies. When dressing, people who have broad shoulders should choose clothing that takes the emphasis away from their shoulders, perhaps by drawing attention to other, more attractive parts of their body.

Having a narrow waist tends to emphasize broad shoulders, making their disproportionate width more noticeable. Wearing clothes that highlight the narrowness of the waist, such as dresses with tightly cinched belts, should be avoided. One way to decrease the emphasis on a narrow waist is by wearing pants and skirts that sit low on the hips.

People who have broad shoulders should avoid wearing clothes that will draw attention to the shoulder area. Wearing clothes with shoulder pads will make the shoulders look even bigger and broader. Shirts with any kind of detail or embellishment in the shoulder area will draw the attention to that area. Also, someone who has narrow shoulders might benefit from wearing a shirt with horizontal stripes. On someone who has broad shoulders and a broad upper body, however, such a shirt will create the visual illusion that the shoulders and upper body are even broader than they actually are.

One way to de-emphasize broad shoulders is to wear clothes that draw attention to other, more attractive parts of the body. For example, a woman who thinks that her shoulders are too wide might dress to show off her legs. A man who thinks that his shoulders are too wide might dress to show off his well-toned abdomen.

People are often told that the best way to de-emphasize their lower body and make their hips seem more slender is to wear something dark on the bottom and something light on the top. For people who have a broad upper body, the same theory works in reverse. Wearing dark shirts or blouses will help make their shoulders look less broad, and wearing lighter skirts or pants will help draw attention away from the upper body to the lower body.

Wide necklines will make the shoulders look wider. For example, people who have broad shoulders should stay away from clothes that have boat neck necklines. On the other hand, a narrow scoop neckline or a plunging V-neckline will draw the eye inward and away from the shoulders.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By serenesurface — On Apr 09, 2012

@feruze-- You don't have to wear sleeveless and strapless. Just wear tops with bigger necklines because they're the best for women with broad shoulders. The more of your neck you show, the smaller your shoulders will look. That's why tops with a v-neck or a large curved neck are perfect.

This also means that you should avoid wearing polo necks. Those make the shoulders look so wide because they don't show any skin whatsoever.

As long as you pick out tops with the right neckline, you can wear any length sleeves you want.

By bear78 — On Apr 08, 2012

@ysmina-- Yea, strapless looks good on wide shoulders. But I avoid them because I'm really conscious about my arms.

I have what you would call an apple or strawberry figure. I have a thinner legs compared to my body but a big waist, wide shoulders and big arms. I want to minimize my shoulders, hide my arms and make my top look more balanced with my legs. Strapless doesn't really work for me for that reason.

Isn't there another way to minimize broad shoulders without wearing strapless?

By ysmina — On Apr 07, 2012

I also have broad shoulders and I don't think that broad shoulders on women look bad at all.

I'm a big fan of a show on TV that's about fashion and styling. I listen to the style experts all the time because they give tips on dressing according to body shape.

When they have female participants with broad shoulders, they always suggest that they wear blouses or dresses that keep the shoulders bare. They dislike it when people wear sleepless tops. Apparently, that makes the shoulders look cut and makes it appear even wider than it is.

So the trick is to keep them bare which works to make them invisible in a way. Since there is no cloth there, the attention goes to where the clothing emphasizes.

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