How to Dress for Athletic Body Type: Practical Guide

Curious to know how to style your athletic body type? Let’s discover the nitty-gritties of an athletic shape and ‘a la mode’ tips to up your fashion game.

Clothing & model images: Victoria’s Secret

While the hourglass and curvy bodies get all the love in the media, let’s be honest, we all love an athletic body. Structured shoulders, toned abs, what’s not to love?

Do you have to be an athlete to have an athletic body type? No. It’s not at all obligatory to play a certain sport or to be a professional athlete to pull off one. As I myself have an athletic body type, I have learnt, through years of experimentation, how to style it. Being a passionate footballer and sports enthusiast, I have matured to tailor my clothing style to suit an athletic body type.


Yes, we are well-built, we are muscular, and we are robust as well. Nothing stops us from looking beautiful inside out; but only when we dress congruously. Why hesitate when we can ace the perfect look for all the occasions?

Undoubtedly, if you dress it well, an athletic body type is at the top of all the body types. In fact, it is ultimate for most kinds of dressing styles. Being a professional or not, it is exemplary to have an athletic body. So let’s break down some tips that will help you rock those abs!

Understanding the Athletic Body Type

An athletic body type can be simply termed as a shape with well-toned muscles especially calves, tight core, hip and shoulder aligned and well-structured throughout the body. The weight of your body is equally distributed throughout. Low body fat and a not-so-curvy shape sums up our body type.

The waist is not well defined and the curves are relatively less in us. Shoulders are squared and distinct. This doesn’t imply that we have a very masculine body shape. We draw a very fine line between a medium muscular, well-toned body and a masculine body type. It’s rare to have curves in an athletic body type but it’s possible. Consider Serena Williams (tennis) for an instance.

There’s a fine line when it comes to differentiating between athletic body type and rectangular body type (straight silhouette). If you are affirmative to the above shape, then take a look further to dress up fabulously.

How to Make an Athletic Body?

“The body achieves what mind believes” – said Napoleon Hill. So can you actually make your body type athletic? One of the most desirable of all body types, athletic body is not as easy to achieve as we think. For some it’s a gift from the genes while for some its blood, sweat and tears to gain one.

Most of the times your agility, fitness levels and endurance define you physique. With a healthy lifestyle and hours and hours of an athletic lifestyle, it’s possible to achieve an athletic body shape. However, you can tone your muscles, but your hip to bust ratio may not change much.

Dressing the Athletic Body

Some of leading females who flaunt the best athletic type include Ronda Rousey (UFC), Alex Morgan (footballer), Anastasia Ashley (surfer), Alicia Schmidt (athlete), Naomi Osaka (tennis), PV Sindhu (badminton player) and Smriti Mandana (cricketer).

(L to R): Ronda Rousey- American professional wrestler, Naomi Osaka- Japanese tennis champion; (bottom) Alex Morgan- American soccer player and Alicia Schmidt- German runner.

Renowned footballer Alex Morgan’s stylist Jasmine Caccamo said in an interview for InStyle, “The key is showing off your best features.” Alex is known for her experimental and color blocking fashion sense.

Celebrities Who Have an Athletic Body Type

The biggies in the entertainment industry like Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Aniston, Alessandra Ambrosio, Deepika Padukone and many more to name have somewhat of the athletic body. Obviously, it’s not necessary to be an athlete to have well-toned muscles and athletic body type.

(L to R): Deepika Padukone- Indian actress; Beyonce- American singer and songwriter; (bottom) Jennifer Aniston- American actress and Alessandra Ambrosio- Brazilian model.

However, the amount of efforts they put in to maintain it and also look hot in the fashion game is incredible. Surely, many of them engage themselves in a variety of sports too, like Disha’s expertise in martial arts and Jennifer Lawrence’s proficiency in softball and field hockey.

Dance can help you accomplish it too. Vanessa Hudgens is a trained dancer and all her outfits flatter her.

Getting Dressed

The secret to dressing perfectly is flexing your muscles but at the same time being mindful of your composition. When your mood is to stay cozy and convenient you opt for an oversized wardrobe piece. When you want to spotlight yourself, don’t hesitate to highlight your toned body through body-hugging styles.

Experiment with different patterns, silhouettes and colors to understand what suits you best. No matter how you dress, you tend to highlight the best side of your body. Get started and explore the chicest options.

Dressing Tips for Athletic Body Type

Yes to the Dresses

  • Thanks to your toned physique, bodycon dresses are predominantly the most go-to outfits for you. They’re the best way to showcase your muscles, toned legs and broad shoulders.
  • Try plunging neckline to show off your collar bones and backless dresses for toned back muscles.
  • Wrap dresses and mini one-shoulder dresses showcase your casual side. For creating a leg-statement, go for a slip dress with a thigh high slit.
  • You can also try color blocking dresses to put emphasis on your legs, or to make your waist seem smaller.
  • It completely works when you try bold colors and animal prints too.

Dressing Up for Different Occasions

  • Going for a casual day out? Here is what we advise to wear. Go for corsets, denims, white shirts and co-ordinates.
  • You can also try simple tees with frayed jeans and crop jackets.
  • Formal occasions are the most charming events of all to dress up. Mermaid gowns accentuate your toned legs. No shoulder metallic gowns are also a win-win.
  • For parties, try mini dresses or one-shoulder dresses to show off those legs and shoulders in a subtle way.
  • Bikinis and trikinis on a vacation are meant for athletic body type (wink).

Top of the Line for Athletic Body Type

  • Tube blouse exposing your abs and highlighting our collar bones looks best on an athletic body type.
  • Button up shirts look ideal.
  • Try smocked pattern and sweetheart neckline which allows you to highlight your tight core and collar bones as well.
  • An athletic body looks best when sheer tops and shirts (fabric organza and tulle) and bardots come along.
  • To stay in your element is to dress and flex your abs with crop tops, preferably oversized. Yes, totally a heads up!
  • Bodysuits (full sleeves or straps) fit like a glove. Style tip: pair them with frayed jeans and mid tops (sneakers) to show your persona.

Rock Bottoms

  • When we complement our broad shoulders, we do it best with absolute bottom wear. Denim shorts? Roger that.
  • Skorts to accentuate the thighs. “Denim is a love that never fades,” says Elio Fiorucci. Denims in any form and in any length are a confidence booster.
  • Bodycon skirts with mini hemlines blaze your buttocks.
  • Try cargos for casual outings whereas boyfriend jeans for dates are a relief to play with. They will never disappoint your athletic body type.

Not Without Accessories

It is not only important to dress up but to make a complete ensemble. Ensemble is only half done without jewelry and bags. So, what sort of jewelry we mean here?

  • Statement neckpieces, anklets, watches are the most effective to highlight your toned abs, calves and collar bones.
  • Ankle length boots and mid-tops are a pure comfort while mules, pumps and ankle straps are a go-to for gala affairs.
  • Caps are an athlete’s first love.
  • For handbags, go for medium sized bags and cross-body mobile purses for casual outfits. You can also rock totes and fanny packs. You can keep your hands free with the help of a bum bag or cross body bag.

Experimenting Patterns

Patterns come into play when you go over the board and experiment with dressing. Stripes make you look bold, houndstooth will make you classy while gingham and plaid with put you in your element. Last but not the least, animal prints will make you prevail confidence.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Considering broad shoulder and collar bones, boat necks are a tough choice. Instead, try V-necks to draw attention to the cleavage, à la JLo.
  • Floral prints of any sorts usually don’t go with your athletic personality. You can try solid colors, color-blocking or abstract prints.
  • Below the waist tops and loose patterned tops like balloon tops, smock peplum are not preferable. They hide your muscles and well-built body. Instead, go for button-ups, crop tees or bodysuits.
  • I don’t personally prefer wearing midi dresses they are a no show for our body type. Try minis to show off those legs.
  • Layering is an aye-aye. Trench coats and leather jackets make you look stunning day in day out. You can also go for crop jackets and capes.

All that matters is how good you feel once you are dressed. You and I are different. You set an example for yourself when you are confident about dressing in your own way.

If you have an athletic body type, you are full of surprises! You build your style guide as that’s the way ahead. We’d love to see your way of styling the athletic body type, so share you style game and tag us @shilpaahujadotcom. Keep experimenting and let us know what you tried to make your body type look fabulous. Until next time…

Read next:
How to Choose the Best Jeans for Your Body Type
How to Dress for Spoon Body Type: Clothing and Fashion Tips

Leave a Comment

Discover the magazine

August 2022-shilpa-ahuja-cover-editorial-online-fashion-magazine

August 2022 Issue

The Men’s Fashion Issue Gender-Fluid Fashion for All! August 2022 Issue | Model: Reza Moosavi (@rezamoosavi1); Photographer: Rose (Fatemeh Marzoughi @rosephotoart); Stylist: Komeil Mohammadi (@komeil_mohammadi); Hair: Komeil Ghorbani (@comeilghorbaniiii) Men’s Fashion Trends … Read more