Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women 40

Updated 12th August 2015
Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
What does ice-cream cone, uniform of American footballer and Charlene Wittstock have in common?

Alphabet V
They all have wide upper half and narrow lower half ain’t it? Doesn’t the alphabet V come to mind immediately?

In short someone with broad shoulders (also called inverted triangle) will have this sort of silhouette (well mostly, unless your waist and hips are wide too). Charlene Wittstock who is the Princess of Monaco and the wife of Albert II, Prince of Monaco has broad shoulders. She was a former Olympic swimmer hence that explain her built.

However there are also women out there who are not swimmers or athletes but are gifted with natural broad shoulders. I said gifted because it’s not a bad thing. You might think it is with the ugly ‘men’s back’ but in fact women with broad shoulders look nice, elegant and attractive in the right choice of clothing because the clothes hang on to the body beautifully.

But wait, how do you know if you have broad shoulders or narrow shoulders?
If you have broad shoulders, your shoulders will be wider than your hips. As for narrow shoulders, it’s the opposite; your shoulders will be narrower than your hips.

If you have narrow shoulders, read our tips on how to broaden narrow shoulders for women. And if you are pear, banana, apple or hourglass body shape, you can read more tips on them too.

I have broad shoulders. Here’s what I should do…

The trick to minimizing broad shoulders for women are as below:
1. Balancing the lower body with volume.
2. Soften the shoulders area.
3. Trick the observer’s eyes into looking elsewhere.
4. Add details that lure the eyes into looking up and down instead of left and right (across).

Let’s learn the tips and tricks to minimizing broad shoulders for women:

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
1. Wear necklines that create narrow shoulders illusion.
Go for V-neck, plunging V-neck, scoop, halter, wide straps or gathered neckline evening dresses or top. If you want to wear one shoulder top or dress, go for one that has diagonal pleating. The diagonal lines will help distract the observer’s eyes and also soften the shoulders area.

At our Paris Ciel boutique, we offer a wide range of top quality evening dresses which will cater for your broad shoulders.

From left to right: V-neck evening dresshalter evening dresswide strap evening dress – plunging V-neck dress

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
2. Avoid necklines that elongate your broad shoulders.
Absolute no to bateau, off-the-shoulders, spaghetti straps, square and strapless necklines. These necklines will only broaden your shoulders.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
3. Wear dark colour tops and light colour bottom.
Dark colour like black is known to make you look smaller because it has the slimming effect. When you wear dark tops, you’re making your upper body smaller and with light bottom, you’re making your lower body ‘heavier’ hence it helps to balance out your proportion. Don’t just stick with black, you can go for dark brown, dark purple, dark navy or dark grey for example.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
4. Wear diagonal cut sleeves.
Diagonal cut sleeves will soften the shoulders area because of its diagonal cut.

5. Avoid puffy sleeves and horizontal cut sleeves.
Puffy sleeves will only make your shoulder broader and same goes with horizontal cut sleeves because you’re adding horizontal detailing (across) which adds weight to your shoulders.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
6. Wear tops with raglan sleeves, dolman sleeves and kimono sleeves.
Raglan sleeves has diagonal seam from armhole to collarbone which actually works to de-emphasize your broad shoulders. Although dolman sleeves is wide at the armhole and narrow at the wrist, it is cut as part of the bodice hence there is no stitching at the armhole-shoulders area. As a result dolman sleeves has the influence of minimizing the appearance of the shoulders because dolman sleeves has the effect of sloping your shoulders. Kimono sleeves on the other hand is wide from the armhole and flares out to the wrist or elbow which help soften the shoulders.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
7. Avoid shoulder pads in tops, jackets and dresses.
Shoulder pads adds volume to your shoulders. You don’t want to look like someone from the American football team now do you? Avoid wearing shoulder pads at any cost in tops, jackets and dresses. Epaulette should be a no-no too.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
8. Wear embellishment and detailing on your skirt and bottom dress.
Trick the observer’s eyes into looking at your bottom half by adding embellishment and detailing like beadings, lace, applique, ruffles, prints or pleating. This will also help create more curves at your lower half.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
9. Avoid embellishment and detailing on your shoulders and upper top.
Embellishment and detailing like applique, lace, bold prints and so on will only add unnecessary weight to your upper top and lure the eyes to your shoulders. Do not wear horizontal stripes or prints at all.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
10. Wear narrow collars and lapels or go collarless.
Do not wear jackets, cardigans or tops with wide collars and lapels. This will only draw attention to your shoulders. Go for narrow lapels and collarless jackets, cardigans or tops instead. Mandarin collars will do too.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
11. Wear long necklace.
Long necklace attract the observer’s eyes into looking up and down instead of left to right which create an elongating vertical line on your body.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
12. Volumized your hairstyle. Wear your hairstyle long.
Straight flat hair will only attract the eyes to your shoulders and so does short hair that falls above shoulders. Wear your hair long and volumized with hair mousse, curling iron or by perming. This will balance out your shoulders.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
13. Wear coat, cardigan, jacket and pants with pockets.
To balance out your lower top and bottom, wear coat with patch pockets that end at the hips. Cropped jacket will make you look squarish and is better if you avoid it. Pants and jeans with pocket detailing are a welcome sight. Cargo pants will also help create curves for a well-proportioned body.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
14. Wear wide pants or jeans.
Go for bootlegs/bell-bottoms, flared and wide-leg pants or jeans to emphasize your lower half.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
15. Wear skirt that flares out.
Flare skirt like A-line and pleated skirt will add volume to your lower half thus balance your overall body. Tulip skirt is recommended too. Avoid straight cut skirt as it create a slim bottom which will only attract attention to your upper half and hence shoulders.

Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women
16. Wear evening dresses that flares out and adds volume at the bottom.
Dress silhouette like A-line, ball gown, mermaid, trumpet and empire are great choice to de-emphasize your shoulders. Bias cut and shift dress are also good because it helps create appealing look at the bottom.

For more tips on choosing evening dresses for broad shoulders, check out this guide: BEST Evening Dresses Solutions for Broad Shoulders Women

From left to right: A-line evening dressbias cut evening dressball gown – shift dress

Tweet: Learn how to minimize broad shoulders for women with these awesome tips — via @Paris_Ciel

Do you have broad shoulders?
What do you think is the pro of having broad shoulders? How do you style and dress your daily outfit around your wide shoulders? Share your secret tips with our readers.

Next post, let’s learn how to broaden narrow shoulders for women.

Photos source: Polyvore,, aprica via photopin cc

40 thoughts on “Tips & Tricks to Minimizing Broad Shoulders for Women

  1. Reply Alana Sep 20,2014 5:17 am

    Very helpful! Learned some new tips to tame my shoulders ha ha!

  2. Reply Carolyn Oct 17,2014 8:02 pm

    Thank you for all the hard work you put into this page.
    Having shoulders like a linebacker and hips like a 12 year old boy makes fashion a difficult journey. You gave lots of ideas for different tastes (not all of us feel comfortable dressing ‘up’) and it was great that you included accessories and pictures (not all sites include pictures!)
    I don’t really have any suggestion except I did buy a button down casual shirt that flared slightly at the bottom, a bit fitted around the waist and had a busy pattern (like some thing you would find at the GAP, casual hipster….gardener….sorta…. )
    Anyways, I get lots of compliments that it is a flattering look, so I keep my eye out for more items like that
    Again thank you for the advise, it is a great help to the fashoinably lame :)

  3. Reply Ems Nov 3,2014 11:23 pm

    Best Inverted Triangle guide I have found, and I searched a LOT. Thanks!

  4. Reply Sandy Dec 7,2014 9:57 pm

    Great advice! I like to wear tops that show off my shoulders and then wear a full/circle skirt. That combination creates a defined hourglass shape and makes my waist look tiny.

  5. Reply Queen Jan 15,2015 1:09 pm

    Thanks for that! I sometimes feel insecure about my broad shoulders. But fortunately I have hips that come out just as far as my shoulders so it kinda balances out.

  6. Reply Des Jan 17,2015 9:16 pm

    Good tips but not all can be applied to everyone. Hair style is one. First, I have straight flat lifeless hair and the best stylists on earth can’t change that. Wearing it long just makes it look stringy and trashy. Second, I’m also very short and as well as having broad shoulders I have “shapely” legs. And not in a good way. Shapely being muscular and thick, not muscular in an attractive way. The tips to draw attention down to the legs is out of the question. I’d much rather highlight shapely shoulders than draw attention to chubby knees. And wide legs pants? Not on a 5’0″ girl. Boot cut at the bottom maybe, but absolutely not wide leg the whole way. Some good tips on sleeves and lapels though. Will have to look more at those on my next shopping trip.

    • Reply amykhew Jan 19,2015 12:51 am

      Hi Des, thanks for reading this guide!

      Not everyone has only broad shoulders. There’s other characteristics to look at too. I’m glad you’re taking this article as a guide and not a definite rule. You know what works best for you. :)

  7. Reply Khay Jan 19,2015 6:56 pm

    Thank you so much for this information! Now I know what to wear and what not to wear. Haha! I have been very worried about finding the perfect outfit for the upcoming party that I’ll be attending, I don’t know what dress will perfectly fit me. BUT, thanks to you post. Now, I’m worry-free. Hehe! :)

  8. Reply Apple Feb 1,2015 4:44 pm

    Great article! I love how you provided so many options. The pictures were very helpful too, especially for someone like me who isn’t familar with dress cuts and all those fashion terms. Hehe Thank you so much!

  9. Reply Gabriela Feb 14,2015 2:47 am

    Thanks a lot for this, I appreciate it! I have days where I am so insecure about my shoulders despite them not being extremely broad. I like to wear midi skirts that flare, dresses that flare, and if I am in the mood to wear skinny jeans, then I’ll end up topping it off with a tucked in super loose shirt (sometimes you can pull it off with showing one of your shoulders too and a jacket, it looks super good!). But, to anyone out there who has insecurities about their shoulders, don’t. They make you who you are and they’re attractive and look beautiful as is.

  10. Reply Em Feb 20,2015 8:31 pm

    Love these ideas. Not only do I have broad shoulders, but I am a body builder who is quite fond of my muscular shoulders and arms. These tips will help extenuate my physique in a softer, more feminine form. Thank you!

  11. Reply sania Feb 22,2015 5:42 pm

    hi this is an amazing guide!!Im currently in college and i seem to find my broad shoulders have always been a barrier in my confidence. Thankyou for sheading some light on this topic i feel confident already!!

  12. Reply Shannon Feb 23,2015 7:49 pm

    Thank you for this! Only thing is that I do love a pixie cut for my broad shoulders. I feel that it draws attention to my eyes and upward, and makes me look longer and leaner. That cut plus my usual of dark-coloured deep v-neck (tucked in at the front if it’s a simple tee), dark bootcut denim that grazes the floor, and a simple pair of nude heels, and I feel at my best. Throw in one of your skinny-lapel blazers and a long necklace and you can go anywhere, anytime…at least in casual Southern California!

  13. Reply Holly Mar 5,2015 3:52 am

    Such a wonderful article! Thank you so much for the advice. I have broad shoulders as well (product of being a swimmer) but my arms are unfortunately not very slim at all. I’m an average sized girl, but martial arts kind of beefed up the upper part of my arm too. Any advice on what type of evening gown to go for?
    Thanks again!

  14. Reply Hellia Mar 17,2015 10:53 pm

    A question , how do you know if you have broad shoulder or narrow shoulder

    • Reply amykhew Mar 18,2015 12:19 am

      Hi Hellia, you have broad shoulders if your shoulders are wider than your hips. For narrow shoulders, the shoulders are narrower than the hips.

  15. Reply Lydia Apr 2,2015 5:17 am

    Wow super helpful! Love that you have all the illustrations to spell out what to do or avoid.

  16. Reply AmySue May 28,2015 11:26 pm

    I am 5’9″ and 125 lbs, but when I am in pictures, I look HUGE I mean much much larger than the girls who are double my BMI. I think it has to do with my shoulders, so I hope this helps when I am in family photographs. I am always so dissappointed that all my hard work exercising/watching what I eat doesn’t look good in pictures! Anyway, thank you so much for this great site!

    • Reply amykhew May 28,2015 11:44 pm

      Hi AmySue, one way to look less huge in photographs is don’t stand straight looking at the photographer (shoulders horizontal). Instead stand side way (with one shoulder at the front and one at the back). I’m glad you find this site useful. :)

  17. Reply Alex Jun 4,2015 3:50 pm

    Hey, I really enjoyed the article it was very well written! I read your post for petite girls too and it says not to wear dresses that poof at the bottom (the type of dress you should wear if you have wide shoulders) so what kind of fancy dresses should a petite girl with broad shoulders wear? Thanks..

    • Reply amykhew Jun 8,2015 2:23 am

      Hi Alex, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. If you’re petite and have wide shoulders, A-line, empire, asymmetrical and dress with train with flatter you.

  18. Reply Charlize Jul 14,2015 11:55 pm

    Great article. Most of what you wrote I do myself like the long chains and patterned bottoms. I am 5ft 8 and have the typical V shaped body but I absolutely hate boot cut jeans and flared skirts. I wear skinny jeans and tight skirts but I always wear a jacket/blazer in winter or waist jackets/ open sleeveless blouse in summer.

    I can’t say I love my broad shoulders…at all!! And I’m not trying to embrace them, I just have to work with what God gave me. Sometimes I look in the mirror head on and I’m like “yes I look great” but then I look at my back reflection and it’s a totally different feeling. I get really down. It doesn’t last for long though, I just don’t think about it, besides I can’t see me from behind when I’m out :-)

    • Reply amykhew Jul 15,2015 12:15 am

      Hi Charlize, I love your attitude with working with what God gave you. :) When you walk, walk with great posture then your back will look great with confidence.

  19. Reply fadia Aug 18,2015 8:35 pm

    Helpful!! i have broad shoulders ….i want to know that will sleeveless jackets suits me?

  20. Reply DEE38 Sep 11,2015 8:20 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Being transgendered it really helps to know how to balance my look. Would pleated pants also help balance things out.

    • Reply amykhew Sep 14,2015 8:21 am

      Hi Dee38, you’re welcome. :) Pleated pants will lure the eyes at your lower half which of course is good because it takes the eyes off the shoulders.

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