How To Make Wide Shoulders Look Smaller

Some women feel very uncomfortable and wonder how to make wide shoulders look smaller. Firstly, I hope you may feel a lot more confident when you realise how many 'pin-up' celebrities also share your attributes: Cameron Diaz, Charlize Theron, Megan Fox, Angelina Jolie to name a few.

I could title this page how to hide wide shoulders. Like so many style tricks, it is all about leading the eye away from some areas and focusing on others. The dress below is a good example. It is almost impossible for your eyes not to be drawn down to the striking stripes.

How to make wide shoulders look smaller

As for all female body types, there are good and bad clothes to wear to suit your figure.

This page looks at the most flattering clothes for women with wide shoulders. This page should be read in conjunction with it's 'sister' pages:

As for all female body types, there are good and bad clothes to wear to suit your figure.

This page looks at the most flattering clothes for women with wide shoulders.

How to Hide Wide Shoulders

 This page should be read in conjunction with it's 'sister' pages:

...and yes I know, the broad shouldered celebrities in some of these photos are often thin and gorgeous, but the principles are still the same.

Wide Shoulders Solutions - V Necks

De-emphasising wide shoulders
How to make wide shoulders look smaller

V neckline dresses are a good choice for women with wide shoulders but, as I explain in the right hand column using examples of broad shouldered celebrities, not wide V necks. Naturally deep V necks will work but that is very much a personal choice,

The V shape will draw the eyes in and down away from the danger area. The whole issue of straps is important and I discuss this in more depth on the page women with broad shoulders.

However, you will also see the advantage of a monochrome colour creating a long vertical look.

Note that the red dress has short sleeves whereas the tapework number is sleeveless. Both styles work well. Always remember to go for the option that suits you best. Of course, generally speaking the bigger the arms the lower the sleeve length, works best.

Scoop And Round Necklines for Broad Shoulders

Scoop necks or other round necklines. Generally you want to avoid square shapes as you do not want to emphasize square shoulders. Instead opt for nice soft round or curved lines have the opposite effect and suggest curvaceousness.

I love this tip because it is so simple and yet so effective and works for all female body types.

Mono paisley Maxi Dress With Crochet Front Trim
David Emanuel Half Sleeve Lace Dress

These are two interesting examples. On the left you have a maxi dress, perfect for warm weather occasions especially because it can be teamed with heels or sandals. Note the gentle neckline.

On the right is a monochrome dress which draws the eyes down and a relatively shallow round neck, which is useful for comparison purposes.

As an alternative try other curved styles. In fact many of the features discussed on these pages regarding big boobs work just as well for wide shoulders. The principle is the same, de-emphasizing your top half, be it big breasts, or shoulders, or both!

Dark Colours Help Hide Wide Shoulders

PattyBoutik Boat Neck Raglan 3/4 Sleeve Stretch Blouse Top

Dark colours; possibly the oldest trick in the book. Dark colours give a slimming effect as your eye narrows so wear them on your top half. This is a simple trick which also works well for ladies with big busts.

Dark does not necessarily just mean black, try dark purples, greys and browns. Do not just think dark shirt, dark jackets work very well. I love Jessica Biel's clever use of light colours under the dark top (pic in right hand column). A very simple, easy to adopt, concept for casual wear.

JS Boutique Women's Color Block Short Dress with Beaded Middle
Three Seasons Maternity Women Sleeveless Solid Top Printed Skirt Dress

In contrast, wear lighter colours below the bust or waist, to draw the eye down. That lighter block of colour will help balance the broader top half. It's science at it's most useful. Lots of detail below the waist also has the same effect.

It is useful to compare the two outfits above and I hope you can see how the model in the white top looks like she has wider shoulders. Oh and in case you are wondering about the outfit on the right, it is a maternity dress. 

Stripes and Wide Shoulders

Young Aloud Stripes Mesh Sleeveless Long Maxi Dress
Striped Bodycon Dress in the style of Kristen Stewart - Cream

Again, something most people almost instictively know is to avoid horizontal stripes on top as they draw the eye across from side to side. Actually that is not necessarily true. The whole issue is far more complicated than that and I address it on a page on striped dresses.

However, vertical stripes do help to elongate. Subtle issues but worth keeping in mind. Remember this applies to patterns, pleats or seams. Interestingly, the dress on the right is by a firm that specialises in copying dresses worn by celebrities - in this case by Kristen Stewart.

Sleeves

Avoid detail at the shoulder

I would caution about wearing cap, puffy, ruffled, pleated or any sleeve with lot of details near the shoulder. The logic is simply that you do not want to create any impression of width anywhere on your shoulders. That said, width lower down on the sleeve is welcome.

A good choice is the Raglan sleeve (on the right). The seam of a sleeve normally runs from the armpit over the shoulder; here it runs up to the collar. This diagonal line, helps break up the square look of the shoulder, as well as drawing the eye down.

Many people believe they are more comfortable and allow the arms to move more freely, which is why they are regularly used in sports clothing.

Another benefit is the ability to use different colours to highlight the style. A dark colour at the shoulder is particularly beneficial.

Raglan SleevesRaglan Sleeves

Forgive me if I drift off subject for a moment but I think the history here is interesting. The sleeve was named after Fitzroy Somerset, First Baron of Raglan who lost his arm at the Battle of Waterloo.

To make his clothes fit and feel better, his tailors started to use this design on all his clothes. The name Raglan sleeve has stuck.

Laura Ashley Floral Botanic Print Kimono Sleeve DressKimono Sleeves
Koh Koh Women's Batwing Dolman Sleeve Maxi DressBatwing Sleeves

Kimono sleeves and bat wing sleeves also work well for women with wide shoulders as they partly distract and partly balance out the upper width.

In fact, diagonal cut sleeves work really well to soften this area.

How to Hide Wide Shoulders? Get Naked!

Oasis Zanzibar Stripe Lace Shell Top, Black / White
Zen Silk Camisole

Another good tip is to get naked. Well your sleeves at least. The sleeveless look is very effective for reducing any thoughts of wide shoulders. Bare flesh automatically attracts the eye and two vertical, often slim, stripes of flesh will take the eye down. The fact that they move (yes Sherlock) also helps.

This is a simple thing to do. The only hassle is that a lot of sleeveless blouses have spaghetti straps, which you want to avoid. That said, there are plenty of wider strap alternatives. You can either go for the completely sleeveless look or a small cap sleeve alternative - as shown.

You will probably instinctively know this but I should emphasise that you should avoid strapless or off the shoulder tops. Naked flesh grabs the eye and you do not want to be drawing the attention there.

Note also the peplum band on the floral blouse on the left. This is generally a very flattering style for broad shoulders women. It is interesting to see that both models are also wearing a bracelet. Again, a simple enough ploy to draw that eye down.

The alternative way to get naked is with your legs or midriff  - see more below.

Now I will say straight up that this is only for certain women but if you have the body for it, you could consider flashing that midriff. The same principle as above applies. Naked flesh draws the eye. If you can, emphasise that waist. If not bare flesh, try a colourful, wide belt or a peplum band - see below.

Note also the smooth lines and the lack of any detail at the shoulder - that is something you want to avoid.

Flash Those Pins

Women Girls Stretch Waist Flared Plain Pleated Casual Mini Skater Skirt
Sarah Jessica Dress

Now, like most things to do with clothes and all the various female body types, this will only work for some of you. However, if you are young enough or have great legs, wearing a short dress, skirt or even shorts, can really work well.

Am I losing the plot? I do not think so. Many women with wide shoulders have athletic body shapes and athletic bodies often means long, toned legs.

Why does flashing the flesh work? Well simply put all that naked expanse of leg, even in nylons, will draw the eye down. Even better, legs are long vertical stripey things which helps give the overall impression of length, not width and width is something we are looking to avoid.

Wide Shoulders? Get Loose

Dipped hem peplum blouse

Have you ever considered being a loose woman?

Loose flowing tops suggest where your body begins and ends but blur the edges beautifully, thus reducing the impact of size. The eye will be confused and because it cannot make an instantaneous decision, will move onto other body parts to try and make an informed decision.

Above left has both a peplum band and a dipped hem for a double draw on your eyes.

An Old Dictum of Fashion:

If you are wearing a floaty top. Wear a tight skirt / pants (trousers). It is all about contrast and balance. The opposite is also true; tight top, loose-fit pants / trousers or floaty skirt.

Wide Shoulders? - Get Some Length

2 in 1 Metallic Dress and Plisse Cardigan
Joanna Hope Dress and Jacket Set

Go for length. By drawing the eye down vertically you are countering the width above. Subtle but very effective. This can be as simple as a jacket hem ending on your hips rather than at the waist. So forget what you tell him, length matters!

In the two examples above, both dresses have jackets

Party dress - dress - UK Sexy Womens Girls Ladies Sleeveless Long Bodycon
Monochrome Summer Dress

Another simple trick is to use a monochrome colour the whole way through your outfit as the eye will flow down it unimpeded. The red dress above is a great example and the flared skirt balances out the shoulders.

Of course, as with much in fashion, there is a counter argument - go short. There is a good argument for flashing your pins. If you have good legs and it is age appropriate, consider a skirt or dress length that highlights your legs.

It is the classic trick of drawing the eye away from what you wish to conceal and towards a good feature. As I keep saying, bare flesh will draw the eye, be it chest or legs.

I would add that if you are going to go short (that is for length, not the money markets) make sure you cover up your shoulders. Some will say it looks cheap to flash the flesh at both the top and the bottom. I will tone that down and merely say it looks inappropriate. This is another old dictum of fashion so break the rule and feel the wrath of the fashion Gods.

Big Bottoms!

Closet Peplum Floral Mini Skirt
Your Gallery Women's Backless See Through Lace Front Peplum Skirt Bodycon Dress

This advice is primarily aimed at the many ladies with wide shoulders and slim hips. To provide balance you need to emphasize the hips or bottom half. Do not be alarmed, this does not involve anything outlandish. You will be probably even be surprised at how subtle these concepts are.

A peplum band at the waist, hips or thigh, a low slung belt, detail at the hips, even side pockets - all can provide a little extra bulk, without making you look fat. Similarly wide legged pants (trousers), horizontal striped skirts, skater skirts or that perennial favourite the A line skirt.

Look at the subtle detail on Elizabeth Hurley's hips. As for the lady in the white dress, this is almost the epitome of flattering clothes for wide shoulders. Floaty material, dolman sleeves, a peplum band at the hip, noticeable accessories and bare arms. This lady really knows her stuff.

Accessorise

Accessories can provide an abundant source of subtle aids to help many female body types but they certainly can help to tone down wide shoulders:

  • Hair: Not really an accessory as such but you know where I am coming from. If you have long hair, sweep it forward to hang over your shoulders. Many female swimmers have long locks which they use to good advantage.
  • Shoes: Likewise shoes. A high heel can elongate you height and that long lean look will help counter any thoughts of wide shoulders.
  • Earrings: Big, bright, bold baubles, bring the eye in towards your face.
  • Necklaces: Similarly a bit of sparkle centrally around your neck can attract the eye in. Long or big striking necklaces act like a V neckline.
  • Scarf: A scarf draped centrally has the same effect.

....and finally

a good look for wide shouldersSubtle but effective

Not really a clothing tip but more a general one. When having your photo taken or even when chatting to someone, angle your body in slightly to reduce the full frontal effect, but turn your head to the camera / person.

Oh and did you notice the scoopneck, wider straps, vertical stripes and the sleeveless look. It is all subtle but these things add up.

There ends page 1 of 2 on flattering clothes for how to make wide shoulders look smaller but there is more. 

What now?

  1. If you missed it, the evil ugly sister of this page, detailing the worst clothes for women with broad shoulders, is just but a click away. Get ready to "know thine enemy".
  2. If you are willing to share your own tips or thoughts on this subject with other readers, please go to the section at the bottom of the page on the page about broad shoulders.
  3. Broad shouldered Celebrities - it is always interesting to see pictures of these ladies and how they dress.
  4. You can go back to the section on female body types and the best and worst clothes and styles to suit them.
  5. This site is primarily focused clothes for bigger breasts, if you are interested in this subject pop over to the home page.
  6. Give us a vote of confidence at Facebook - see below.

Did you like this page, did you learn something, maybe it reinforced you own views? I want to give as much (hopefully helpful) advice to the busty sisterhood as I can.

Please remember, we are all different. You may like to wear certain clothes and styles which I am suggesting that you should not. That is your absolute right. Do what makes you feel good. This site undeniably goes for the more modest approach because I feel all busty ladies already know how to be more racy if they wish.

It would really help me improve the site profile if you would click the Facebook 'Like' button. Pretty please! Susan

Please share this page

A Scene From A Nightmare?

Emphasising wide shouldersBritney Spears

Worry ye not. This page is devoted to tips, tricks, illusions and plain common sense to banish your worst nightmares and help make wide shoulders look smaller.

Hey and remember, many women who think they have wide shoulders actually have small hips and small butt. That is something millions of pear shaped ladies can only dream of. 


Celebrity Watch

Wide V neck dressJessica Biel

V necks are an excellent choice but not wide V necks. If you look at the photo of Jessica Biel (a celebrity widely touted to have wide shoulders), you will get the sense of a broad chest and shoulders because the V is too wide.

Contrast that with Cameron Diaz's narrow, or let's face it normal, V neck below. The shape accentuates the vertical and opens up her lovely face. No hint of wide shoulders here!

As you can see, you can learn a lot from examining photos of broad shouldered celebrities, particularly in their more casual outfits.

A narrow V neck suits wide shouldersCameron Diaz

Note the collar. With collars or lepels, go for collarless, narrow or thin. That Cameron knows what she is doing.


Megan Fox may have wide shoulders but she models a gentle curved look with that neckline.

However I generally advise against spaghetti straps unless you are very slim.

Curved necklines work well on women with broad shouldersMegan Fox

Cameron Diaz also has an athletic build and broad shoulders but again comes up trumps with a rounded collar and wide straps.

In fact this gal is a useful role model, so next time she appears in a magazine, take a good look.

Wide straps and dark colours work well on broad shouldersCameron Diaz

The Dark on Top Argument Demonstrated

Dark colours on top work well for wide shouldersJessica Biel

Using celebrities with wide shoulders to demonstate this point. First Jessica Biel in a very simple casual look.

Curved necklines are good for women with big shoulders

The glamorous Miss Jolie doing wonderful work as an ambassador on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict zones.

Not just dark colours but a nice curved neckline too.


Looking at it From The Opposite Perspective

It is often interesting on occasion to see what the 'opposition' suggests. In this instance I have permed a few 'gems' from a male orientated site which includes the following, "...want to look big and buff with a shirt on. You want wider shoulders? try the following techniques:"

  • Avoid baggy clothing
  • Wear shoulder pads but ...don't go overboard...
  • Pick shirts that have high sleeves and fit tighter than usual.

As I say. Interesting. It does strengthen the argument for floaty fabrics which blur the boundaries and create less harsh definition.


Female Attractiveness

We all have different attitudes to the importance of one's attractiveness to others. If you do have any concerns  about your shoulders you may be pleased to note that the main determinant of female attractiveness, as judged by both men and women, is primarily determined by BMI, body mass index.

If you are interested to read an academic paper on the issue of female physical attractiveness, please click the link.

Do you have any thoughts or tips, on the issue of dressing shoulders, you can share with other readers?

If so, please go to the sister page, broad shoulders and head to the bottom where you can leave a comment.


Sleb Watching

Wide Sleeved topCharlize Theron

Charlize Theron has wide shoulders and a very athletic figure. Here she wears a wide sleeved, 'soft' flowing top above. The gentle flowing look also distracts the eye and brings it down.




Please Spread the Word

If you are particularly interested in fashion; clothes for big breasts; or simply have a top heavy friend that you know might appreciate the site; please help me reach others by tweeting or sharing through any social media you use.

Nothing helps a site like this more than 'normal' people (not clever marketeers) simply sharing a page or two.

Susan