How to determine body shape

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How to determine your body shape
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Although I laid out some basic guidelines on how to dress after 40, I feel that it’s even more important that you dress for your body shape. I feel that you can ignore some of the guidelines mentioned there, so long as you know your strengths and dress according to your body type. This is the first in a series of articles on how to dress for your body shape. First of all we need to determine what your body shape  is.

So let’s have a look at 5 basic female body shapes.

There are several ways to define your body shape. The most basic way to do it is to determine if you are either a

  • Hourglass
  • Inverted triangle
  • Pear (also called triangle or spoon)
  • Rectangle (also called ruler or banana)
  • Apple (also called cone or downwards triangle, and in MyProfessionalStylist this shape is actually divided into an oval and a diamond)
You can  split these main categories in sub categories to further customize your body shape, but let’s keep it simple for now.

How do you find out which one you are?

Characteristics of the hourglass:

  • Well defined (narrow) waist
  • Hip and bust tend to be almost the same and quite big

Charateristics of the inverted rectangle are:

  • Shoulders are wider than the hip
  • Bust tends to be proportionally large
  • Hips are small

Characteristics of the rectangle are:

  • No defined waist
  • The hips tend to have a similar width as the shoulders
  • You do not have a lot of curves
  • Your bust tends to be small or average

Characteristics of the pear:

  • The hips are wider than the shoulder
  • Fat tends to accumulated on the hips and buttocks

Characteristics of the apple

  • No defined waist
  • Weight tends to form on the stomach
  • Average bust size

Determining your body shape with measurements

If you know the measurements of your bust, waist and hips you can also use this online calculator which will give you a general idea. Please note that we are all diferrent and the 5 mentioned shapes above are just the 5 basic shapes. For example when I changed my bust size with just 1 cm, I got different results. But we are all leaning towards one of these basic shapes and only few of us will be exactly one of these.

In my case I’m lingering between a pear and a rectangle. My hips are wider than my bust and my waist is not so defined. But if I add 1 cm to my bust in the calculator above, I’m defined as a rectangle, because my bust and hip size are quite similar. All this may well change in the future as many women over 40 get a completely different body shape once they go through (peri)menopause, so in that case the style of clothes you chose may have to change as well.

If you want more information on body shapes or if you would like to find out which clothes would be great for your body shape, I recommend trying MyProfessionalStylist. This program helps you to determine both your horizontal body type as well as your vertical type so you will get accurate recommendations on the best clothes to wear for you.

For more information on how to dress for your particular body type you can also read my articles:

I hope you got a clearer idea what body type you are? In upcoming articles I will go into more details and look at the styles that work for your body type. So make sure you either subscribe to my mailing list in the box at the right or through RSS.

P.S. If you like to find out more about your horizontal and vertical body type and how to dress it, then  check out the online My Private Stylist program for instant analysis and dressing advice for your body type!

Image by MyPrivateStylist

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracy (The Wardrobe Wanderer)

It looks as though I’m closest to the rectangle, although after losing a lot of weight recently, I have a bit more of a waist. Fun stuff – thank you for sharing!

Reply

Sylvia

Most people are a combination of 2 different types. Some ‘systems’ even identify 12 body types. I intend to write more about body types, so stay tuned!

Reply

celeste

Hi Sylvia! I have an hourglass body type but I am quite short (1,56 – 53 kgs). What is your advice when it comes to how short women should dress?
Thanks!

Reply

Sylvia

Hi Celeste. I actually wrote a whole article about this: How to dress when you are short or petite

Reply

celeste

Just read it! Thanks Sylvia! I

Reply

Angela

I have a weird body type. Can you help me out 47-43-50. Obviously plus size and would seem to be banana or rectangle. However I have a small ribcage that gives me a shape like hourglass when you look front on.. But tiny shoulders. A hot mess…lol. What do you think I am?!!

Reply

Sylvia

Your measurements suggest a rectangle shape, but as you mention every body is different. However, never refer to yourself as weird or a hot mess. Every body is unique and beautiful! Perhaps experiment with the guidelines of rectangle and hourglass and see what looks best. Also, you can check out some guidelines on how to dress for narrow shoulders

Reply

Rita

I just tried the online calculator and the results said “Sorry, your body is not in the 4 shapes we calculate”. I’ve always known I was a bit odd! LOL!

Reply

Sylvia

How strange! Most of us lean towards one of these categories. It’s never completely correct though as we all have different shapes. Did you try it more than once and got the same result?

Reply

Courtney Stewart

I’m a pear. Good thing I like pears! My legs aren’t heavy but I definitely do tend to gain weight in my butt and thighs and I have narrow shoulders. I probably need to read up on what not to wear for my body type as I have some asymetrical dresses that never look quite right on me.

Reply

D

Meh I’m still really confused can you please help me?
Well my bust is 40 inches
Waist 31 inches
Hips 42 inches

Reply

Sylvia

You are most likely an hourglass, but have a read through the descriptions and see what best describes you. You may have a combination of 2 types as all bodies are different of course..

Reply

Laura

why does the apple have her hands behind her back and look ugly ?????? i know its the dreaded shape but thanks for making every apple fell ugly

Reply

Sylvia

I did not create the drawing and am not sure why she is drawn a different way. I do not agree that she looks ugly though. Every body is beautiful!

Reply

Antionette Blake

As I age, I am becoming more and more apple shaped!

Reply

Stacey

A concise and easy to follow guide … thanks for this!

Reply

Sylvia

You are very welcome Stacey. Hope you enjoy the rest of the site too!

Reply

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