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The Best Clothing for Athletic Body Types

by Virginia Pond

Whether you spend hours pumping iron at the gym or came by your toned physique as naturally as others do their freckles, being strong is definitely something to take pride in. However, some women with muscular figures have trouble finding clothes that flatter their straighter frames. By choosing styles and silhouettes that create feminine curves and highlight toned limbs, athletic women can feel just as confident in a slinky dress as they do in their gym shorts.

Working Girl

Because ladies with athletic figures tend to have straighter hips, suits can look extra boxy on their frames. If your workplace requires conservative clothing, look for skirts made of a stretchy material that will hug and enhance your curves. Make sure suit jackets nip in at the waist to create the illusion of an hourglass shape, and finish the whole look with a pair of heels that highlight your shapely legs. If your office has a more casual dress code, look for polished separates you can mix into your weekend wardrobe. A pair of wide-leg trousers in a bold color flatter muscular thighs and balance out broader upper bodies. Flowy, bohemian-style tops can add subtle volume to smaller chests and soften muscular shoulders.

Weekend Wear

While sweats and T-shirts are perfect when you're shaping those toned muscles, they aren't the best for showing them off during Sunday brunch. Take your weekend outfits up a notch with tops that boast a special detail, such as ruffles, a pretty pattern, rouching or a halter neck. All these little embellishments help add fullness to your top half and showcase your rocking arms. Jeans are a weekend must, but make sure you stay away from any straight or "boyfriend" styles that can make athletic frames look even straighter. Instead, look for a pair of low rise, boot cut jeans that emphasize your curves.

Painting the Town

A night of partying lets you up your outfit's sex appeal. A body-hugging frock that hits just a few inches above the knee is tastefully sultry and shows off your hard work at the gym without revealing too much. An asymmetrical neckline or a dress with one shoulder strap highlights toned triceps, especially when punctuated with a wrist full of sparkly bracelets. Make the most of your killer legs with a pair of strappy high-heeled sandals that accentuate your calves. If you're more comfortable in a skirt, keep it on the short side. A mini A-line skirt adds flirty volume to your lower half, makes your waist look small and once again shows off your gams.

Belle of the Ball

Formal occasions such as evening weddings, galas and formal work events give you an opportunity to pull out all the sartorial stops and model a dramatic gown. Women with athletic builds look stunningly statuesque in floor-sweeping gowns that fit close to the body. A dress that flares slightly at the bottom balances out a muscular upper back, while a halter neck draws the eye toward the face and away from broad shoulders.

About the Author

Virginia Pond is a Chicago-based writer. She earned her bachelor's degree in English from Indiana University.

Photo Credits

  • Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images