February 8th, 2012
Celebrity Style, Fashion Bomb 101
Fashion Bomb 101: How to Dress for an Athletic Body Type
By Claire

Michelle writes, “I work out regularly and have a fairly toned body. It’s easy for me to gain muscle definition quickly. I’m conscious about wearing things that can help me to look more feminine. Can you give any advice on how to dress sexy and classy if I have an ‘athlete’s body.’?”
For tips on do’s and don’ts, I thought: why not look to red carpet regular Serena Williams?

As we all know, sometimes she gets it spot on, and other times…well. Let’s peruse her hottest looks to see how you can dress it up yourself.

1. Do wear draped dresses that nip in at the waist:

Draping and ruching can add just a bit of volume, while a cinched mid section gives the illusion of a supremely feminine hourglass shape.

If your dress isn’t already snatched, a simple belt will do…

No need to go all ‘gladiator. ‘

2. Don’t go for a clunky shoe:

If you have athletic legs, a chunky wedge, for example, will only accentuate your muscular build. Opt instead for something more streamlined and delicate, like a sleek pump or strappy sandal….

…just make sure they fit:)
3. Do opt for sleeves if you’re self conscious about your arms:

Put the guns away by opting for a full or abbreviated sleeve. There’s nothing at all wrong with a muscular arm, but you could give off a ‘body builder’ essence if you’re not careful.

4. Don’t be afraid of excess fabric.

If your goal is to appear curvier, opt for a tulip skirt or a silhouette that adds some volume to your lower body.

…even a floor grazing maxi skirt can work wonders.
If you’d consider your shape more ‘boxy’ than bodacious, then the same rules apply…
5. Add volume with faux fur, ruffles, and other wardrobe tricks:

If you want to create curves, a bit of bulk won’t hurt.

6. Balance your frame by draping fabric at the top, and showing off your legs (or vice versa):

Don’t be afraid to flaunt your assets, but don’t overwhelm with both arms and legs. Choose one to show, and one to cover.

That does it for my tips!
Do you guys have anything to add?

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16 Responses to “Fashion Bomb 101: How to Dress for an Athletic Body Type”

  1. sham says:

    Great post!

    I have a rather athletic build, but people keep telling me that I don’t look big or bulky :S Hope I’m not dysmorphic

    My tips are: make sure that you have great posture, do at least 30 min running once or twice a week. This will give you a leaner look (remember runners look lean) If you go overboard on the weightlifting you will look rather pitbull-y

    I like to wear lighter colours (cream! beige, light blue) because it is soft compared to the ‘hard bod’

    Don’t wear foundation that’s too dark or too harsh makeup otherwise, this wont be flattering.

    Be proud, nothing’s worse than a strong physique and a wimpy demeanor lol

  2. FYI says:

    This is PRECISELY why I come to the Fashion Bomb! Thank you for these tips. My sprinter frame will definitely be looking accentuated with all this in mind!

  3. Soul Touch says:

    I have a body a lot like Serena’s…thank you so much.

  4. Mary says:

    ciaras red dress is everything……!

  5. Sabrina says:

    ALOT of women will feel much better and confident after reading this..because there are alot of toned women..I’m grateful for this topic here :)

  6. Runcrazee says:

    To Sham from Runcrazee: You are off the mark when said, ” If you go overboard on the weightlifting you will look rather pitbull-y.” This is not true in the least. In fact, the correct strength program will keep you long and lean. Cardio alone will not accomplish this. Most women get it twisted when they say they do not want to lift weights because they do not want to look manly. NEWS FLASH when you incorporate some type of strength training into your workout regime a couple of times of week, you will burn more calories. Long after you stop lifting your metabolism continues to spike and you continue to burn calories for approximately 24 hours. You cannot do this with cardio alone. As soon as you stop running, you stop burning calories. WEIGHTS, WEIGHTS, WEIGHTS will lift your butt, decrease your thighs, cinch your waist, and overall sculpt your body into a beautiful, sexy fine specimen! DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE WEIGHT ROOM! Do your research ladies. The added benefits of incorporating strength training will pay off!

  7. Runcrazee says:

    P.S. To look “pitbull-y” there is supplementation involved. As women, we do not have enough testosterone to get results like that without taking things to enhance our muscle building qualities! Sorry, I am out of control on this issue because being a cardio queen will not keep it right and tight!

  8. MyfirstloveisParis says:

    Runcrazee, I have heard that a lot and you are right but I have to qualify it by saying different women respond differently to weight lifting. My mother builds muscle in her arms so quickly after 2 weeks of consistent weight lifting she will have Serena-esque arms (and on her 5 foot, 110 pound frame as you can imagine it looks odd). I build muscle ridiculously quickly in my legs, doing consistent leg weights will give me huge quads (which also looks odd on my 5’2 115 frame) so like Sham I make sure and do my cardio so I don’t get too bulky. It’s all about balance :)

  9. Truth Teller says:


  10. Sticky-n-Sweet says:

    My Army-girl arms rejoice at this post! Now, if we could get a post on making a torso look longer, I’d be in bizness, ya know?

  11. medschool says:

    To Runcrazee:

    I was with you 100% until your 2nd post. Some women do have a higher than normal testosterone count. On average, women have more estrodial (estrogent) than testosterone which is why it takes more for women compared to men to “bulk” up. That being said, some women’s estrogen:testosterone ratio are close to being even if not decreased overall (because their testosterone levels are higher than the estrogen). I’m all about giving knowledge but ACCURATE knowledge and I just got out of endocrine block so I can’t help but educate.
    Moving on, I loved this post! For the most part, I have Ciara’s built except I have large traps like a sprinter (I played volleyball in college even though that was going on 3 years ago) so any tips are great tips!

  12. medschool says:

    *estrogen (not estrogent)

  13. Char says:

    Unfortunately I don’t have this problem – but I want to applaud the awesome tips and well written article!

  14. Anayo says:

    thank you so much! i definitely have an athletic build (broad shoulders, super toned calves, almost no hips) but i love to dress stylishly, so it’s rough to say the least.

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