Don't shop for one body part—a bottom you want to hide, for instance—but for your whole shape. Most of us fall into one of three categories:
Type A: These women, who are smaller on top than on the bottom, want to draw the eye upward. They should avoid busy prints on the lower body, as well as jackets that cut across the widest part of the hips. Empire-cut dresses and boatneck shirts often look very nice on this figure. Vintage clothes from the seventies—such as A-line dresses and skirts—are cut well for type A women.
Type B: Women who are roughly the same at the shoulders and hips with a smaller waist want styles that skim their hourglass curves. Oval-necked shirts, wide-legged pants, and torso-skimming dresses usually flatter this body type. Styles from the fifties are good for type B women who like vintage clothes.
Type C: With shoulders broader than hips and a straightish waistline, C women often look great in tailored shirts and virtually any kind of pants, except pleated trousers (which look terrible on most everyone). Sixties-era shift dresses flatter most type C women.
— Kendall Farr, author of The Pocket Stylist