The pear, the apple on a stick or, my favourite, the inverted triangle - all rather unnerving terms that we use to categorise and label female body types. We are relentless in our quest to be thin. Painfully so. No longer is just healthy acceptable - but instead of mastering the art of playing to our strengths, most of us spend a huge amount of time angrily prodding ourselves with the "I'm just not quite good enough" stick. Yet you are in luck: fashion is a mastery of disguise, so take advantage rather than shy away.
It's all about balance. Think of yourself as a set of scales; if one end outweighs the other we need to add to the opposite in order to equalise. If you are bottom heavy, go for a strong shoulder; likewise, if you are top heavy, balance out your bottom half by building with multiple layering and pattern.
Your first intention should be to get a well-fitted bra. This is imperative to achieving the well-formed silhouette. It will streamline the body and can fool others into thinking you have lost 10 pounds overnight.
Often what we perceive to be our biggest flaw is, in fact, just the opposite and needs to be accentuated. If you are curvy don't hide away in a shapeless sack, but find your waist and use it. Same goes for those with a boyish figure - use it to your advantage, as most women would kill for the options you have with cigarette trousers or the upcoming 1920s trend for a dropped waist.
That said, you still must be somewhat realistic about your limits. Most manufacturers use the hourglass figure as their blueprint, so try to balance out your outfit to achieve as close a shape to that as possible. Aim for a vertical line starting at your neckline downwards - a V-neck is good, a polo neck is not if it cuts you in two. Adding a long necklace also will lengthen the torso, adding to your imaginary vertical line.
A high waistline works with an hourglass figure yet not with a boyish shape. Go for a trapeze cut if you don't want to draw attention to the area.
Play with colour combinations. A two-tone outfit can be a clever way of evening out proportion problems, a louder top half adding the illusion of substance. Pattern is often neglected when we think of tricks to flatter, which is a shame - a huge, bold pattern can deviate attention away from something we wish to avoid, and fine florals or repeat prints can trick the eye into shrinking an area.
No matter what you think, fashion is not an exclusive club you are not invited to. Most of the time it is simply there to help, so try not to fear your perceived flaws - as I can bet my life most people are a whole lot less interested in them than you are.
This week's highs and lows
DREAMY DRESSES Subtle tones, elongating fabric cuts and draping are perfectly combined at Theyskens' Theory.
HAIR BOTOX Yes, yes, it's not actually Botox, but this new hair treatment sounds a lot like a new Brazilian Blowout (and we all know how bad that turned out to be).
OMBRE NAILS This is one trend - seen at Jen Kao Spring/Summer 2012 - we didn't think would grow on us but it has.
WILD WAVES We're not sure what good could come out of this brocade, pom-pom, fluoro mess by Meadham Kirchoff.
ALL THAT GLITTERS After a few months of sparkle excess we thought we'd get bored, but we're still loving the look (and this Miu Miu bag from Net-A-Porter) for next season, too.