When you’re shopping for clothes, it’s not enough to pick out items that look great. You need to make sure that they look great on you. This might mean spending a lot of time testing outfits in the changing room of your favourite shop – but if you know exactly what body type you have, you can whittle down your shortlist more quickly.
The four body shapes
We’re all proportioned slightly differently. But for the most part, it’s useful to think of four distinct types of frame. These are:
You can determine your body shape with the help of a mirror or measuring tape. You might find it easy to see which category you fall into at a glance. You might need to break out the measuring tape and find the precise ratio between your waistline, shoulders, bust and hips.
So, what should women of different shapes be thinking about? Let’s run through a few of them.
If you’re a rectangle, then you aren’t especially curvy. Your bust, waist and hip measurements will be roughly equal. You might look for women’s tops with sweetheart or v-necklines to help project the impression of curviness, even where there’s little of it to draw attention to. You might look to accentuate your waist with low-rise trousers and other tricks.
Apple-shape figures tend to have narrower hips, and wider busts and waists. Your best features are probably your legs – so show them off with the help of a miniskirt. Look for clothing that gets the best from your neckline and shoulders. Scoopneck and boatneck tops tend to work reliably well.
As you might expect, the pear means having more weight around your bottom and less around your top. You might offset this imbalance by looking for tops and dresses that draw attention further up. Crew necks and boat necks work well. You might look to create contrast above the waist while tending toward more muted, darker colours below it. Avoid high-waisted trousers and jeans.
If you’re an hourglass, then you’ll have a narrower waist, and your shoulders and hips will be roughly proportionate. This is probably something you want to flaunt, rather than hide – so look for figure-hugging skirts and dresses. The shorter they are, the longer your legs will look. If you have a larger bust, then you might avoid embellishments like ruffles which can risk creating a top-heavy appearance.
The Bottom Line
What looks good on one might not suit another. For decades, the fashion industry has catered mostly to a particular kind of slim build – mostly because this is the easiest type of body to cater to. But nowadays, catwalks have gotten that little bit more diverse, and there are options out there for just about everyone. Bear in mind that body shapes can shift subtly over time, so it’s always worth reviewing if you find that your clothes aren’t suiting you as they once did.