Whether you’re dressing for a night out on Richmond Row or just to study at Weldon, picking an outfit can sometimes can seem like the hardest part of your day. When it comes to dressing for your body, it’s about shape not size. It is your body’s relative proportion that is important rather than your actual size. So whether you’re a size 2 or 12, your body shape is key to flattering your figure. Ladies, learn to love the skin you’re in, and get to know your curves.
So what actually is your body type? First you must assess both your vertical body type and your horizontal body shape. Your vertical body type is the proportion of the bottom half of your body compared to your top half. Your horizontal body shape is the relationship between your chest, waist and hip-line. Your horizontal shape will help you assess what styles of clothes are best suited for you, whereas your vertical type will help you decide lengths and how to wear certain styles.
To help you cut down the hours spent fretting in front of the mirror and tearing apart your closet, here is the girls guide to dressing for your body shape.
Horizontal Body Shape
We all think of the fruit basket when it comes to body shapes. The classic apple, banana, pear and even the upside down strawberry. To make is simpler there are 5 main horizontal body shapes: The hourglass, the inverted triangle (here is where the strawberry comes in), the triangle or pear, the rectangle or banana, and the apple or diamond.
While the hourglass figure is considered the ideal silhouette, there are still many dos and don’ts when it comes to dressing for this body type. Those blessed with an hourglass shape are naturally balanced. You are also blessed by not being named after a fruit. Your full hip-line and your full bust-line are the same width and your waist is well defined meaning automatic curves. Those with an hourglass shape will most likely have a balanced vertical body shape. You want to make sure to emphasize your proportionate figure, rather than getting lost in a loose dress. For those individuals with the hourglass shape here is your dressing checklist:
- Belts and waistbands that emphasize your waist
- Tailored pieces that show off your curves
- Low to medium-low necklines
- High necklines, especially if you have a big bust
- Baggy and loose styles
- Blouses that flare from the bust-line with volume
A few celebrity inspirations with hourglass figures are the young Sophia Loren and Scarlett Johansson.
The Inverted triangle
Women who have the inverted-triangle silhouette tend to have broad shoulders and narrow hips. Those with the inverted-triangle shape tend to have a proportionally large bust, broad shoulders, or even both. If you have an inverted triangle body shape you are usually referred to as top heavy and are most likely a long legged vertical body shape with slim legs. If you have the inverted body shape you could also have a flat bottom. For this body shape it is important to find clothing that helps elongate the torso. For those with the inverted-triangle shape here is your checklist:
- Flowing fabrics and dresses that flow through the waist
- A-line skirts that show off your legs
- Three-quarter length sleeves
- Long or low necklines
- Halter or strapless tops with plunging necklines
- Wrapping scarves and big collars
- Higher necklines
- Styles that emphasize your shoulders
- Avoid high-waisted styles
Celebrities with the inverted-triangle shape are Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angelina Jolie. Both of these stunning celebs rock halter or strapless dresses to flatter their inverted-triangle figure.
Triangle shape, which is otherwise known as pear shape is for woman who are bottom heavy. Those who tend to be small on top and bigger on the bottom are typically considered to have a triangle shape. This body type is the opposite of the inverted-triangle shape. You probably also have a small to medium bust and a round bottom. You most likely have a balanced body or short-legged vertical body shape. Since women with a triangle figure have small shoulders and curvaceous hips, the idea is to pull the focus up and add interest to the top half by highlighting your more slender upper body. Your triangle body type checklist of do’s and dont’s is below!
- Bold shoulders and statement necklaces
- Styles that emphasize your waist
- Medium or high necklines
- Short sleeves
- Anything that bulks or emphasizes your hips
- Baggy or loose fitting clothes
- Anything that shows your small bust
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Sandra Bullock, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez and Eva Longoria all have pear-shaped or triangular bodies.
Someone who is straight all the way through from top to bottom is typically considered to have a rectangle body type, and will want to create curves and define her waistline. Those with the rectangular shape are called rulers or bananas. If you have a rectangle shape you will tend to have a boyish figure. Your full bust-line and full hip-line are about the same width and you have little waist definition. Those with a rectangle body shape tend to have small limbs and have a balanced body or long legged vertical body shape. Your main style aim is to create curves. If you have a rectangle body shape follow the checklist below.
- Jackets and blazers
- V-neck tops
- Wrap dresses and tops
- Baggy clothing, especially baggy tops
- Wide leg or mid-rise pants
- Square necklines
Our celebrity inspiration with a rectangular body shape is Cameron Diaz.
Woman with the apple shape are also referred to as having an oval shape or diamond shape. The difference between the oval and the diamond shapes is whether your stomach is low (this is the oval shape) or high (this is the diamond shape). Characterized by an undefined waist-line, you have the overall appearance of being round. Those with an apple body shape tend to have large hips and thighs. The main aim is to create the illusion of a longer body and attract the attention upwards. Follow this checklist if you have an apple shape:
- Earrings and statement necklaces
- Un-tucked tops and looser styles
- Low and long necklines
- Straight skirts
- Large patterns
- Well-fitted styles
- Belts and tucked in tops
- Tapered pants and skirts
Oprah Winfrey is a celebrity with an apple shaped body.
Vertical Body Style
Once you have decided your horizontal body shape it is key to determine your vertical body style. There are 3 main vertical body styles: Balanced body, long torso-short legs and short torso-long legs.
The Balanced Body
This is the most common body type for woman. The woman is almost perfectly divided in half at the hip-line. If you have a balanced body your upper body length is about the same as your lower body length. With increasing maturity or weight gain, you often complain of feeling short-waisted and you tend to put on weight around your torso or hips and thighs. Petite women also usually fall into this category. Your main aim is to elongate your mid-torso.
- Statement jewellery and collars
- Low-rise pants and skirts
- Long un-tucked tops
- High-rise pants
- Thick waist-lines and belts
- Crop tops
Long Torso, Short Legs
If this is your body type your legs are short compared to your upper body. You will typically be bottom heavy and short, although many tall woman have this body type. You will put on weight on your legs and thighs first because your long torso is usually more slender. Your main style aims are to create the illusion of longer legs and a shorter torso.
- Tucked-in tops and layered tops
- Cropped tops
- Medium to wide belts
- Jewellery, scarves and designs that focus your eye upwards
- Medium to high heels
- Tight or tapered skirts or pants
- Cropped pants
- Long blouses if you are short
Short Torso, Long Legs
This body style is typical of tall woman but again many short woman have it as well. Your hip-line height is higher than half your full height and you are high-waisted. You will have a proportionally short torso so you will tend to gain weight on your stomach and the back of your hips. You want to be creating the illusion of a longer torso while still emphasizing your long legs.
- Prints on skirts and pants
- Un-tucked tops
- Low-rise or hipster pants
- Skirts and pants in the lighter colors
- Pin stripes or long stripes
- Empire line tops and dresses
- Pants or skirts with a high waistband
- High socks
If you find yourself struggling on how to classify your body type ask an honest friend to judge it for you, we often don’t see ourselves the way we actually are. Good luck ladies!