How to determine your vertical body type

by Sylvia

What is my vertical body type

One of the best things you can do to look good after 40, or at any age for that matter, is to dress for your body type. The first step in that process is to know and understand your body proportions. In previous articles we discussed the different body shapes or horizontal body types. Another important factor in understanding your shape is your vertical body type.

verticalbodytypeupfrontWhat is your vertical body type?

Have a look at the image on the right. The body is divided into four sections:

  1. The top of the head to the nipple line (with bra on).
  2. The nipple line to the hipline (fullest part of the bottom).
  3. The hipline to the centre of the kneecap.
  4. The kneecap to the floor.

Almost everyone has different proportions and women can be placed in one of three main categories:

The balanced body

Being one of the main vertical body types, you have this vertical body type when:

  • balanced

    Your upper body length is almost the same as your lower body length

  • You height from your hipline to the ground is equal to half your full height
  • Your waist is equal to your bent elbow
  •  The short segments (bust-to-hip and hip-to-knee) are similar in length as are the long segments (head-to-bust and knee-to-floor).

Many women with this vertical body shape are also petite  (<160cm (5’3”)) . As women grow older this body type can pose a problem as many women will gain weight around the waist, which may lead to a feeling of being short waisted.

How to dress the belanced vertical body shape?

Your dressing aim is to elongate the short segments (bust to hip and hip to knee)

  • Wear tops that are medium to long
  • Focus your attention on the face with accessories like jewelry and scarves
  • Do not tuck your tops
  • Get pants and skirts either without waistband or only a narrow waistband
  • Better to use tops and bottoms in one color and to avoid contrasting colors at the waistline
  • Wear dresses that flow through the waist
  • Avoid wide belts
  • Avoid empire waist dresses

Long legs short torso

shorttorsoMost often seen with tall women although there are always the exceptions. You have this body type when:

  • Your legs tend to be very long as compared to the torso length
  • The height from ground to hip is higher than half your full height
  • You appear high waisted, higher than your bent elbow
  • Weigh gain tends to be aorund the midriff

How to dress for the longs legs / short torso vertical body type?

Your dressing aim is to visually lengthen your short torso.

  • You can leave your blouses tucked out to elongate the waist
  • Long jackets, top and over blouses
  • Accessories that draw the eyes down
  • Skirts and pants without waistbands
  • Wear low waisted skirts and pants
  • Narrow non-contrasting belts
  • Low to medium heels.

Short leg / long torso

longtorsoThese women are usually short to average in height, you have this body type when:

  • The upper body tends to be longer that the lower body
  • Often has a low, heavy bottom
  • Weight tends to form on the thighs and bottom

How to dress the sthort leg / long torso vertical body type?

The dressing aim for this body type is to lengthen the legs and shorten the torso.
  • Wear short to medium-long tops and jackets
  • If your horizontal body type permits tuck in your tops
  • Accessorieze for focus on the upper side op the body
  • Sraight skirt enlongate more than a-lines or flared skirts
  • Wear medium to wide belts
  • Classic wide pants will look great on you
  • Keep socks, shoes and bottoms all in the same color
  • Wear heals
  • Avoid cropped pants
  • Avoid tight tapered skirts and pants
  • Avoid skirts and trousers with a dropped waistband

Here is an example of the difference dressing correctly can make

The latter (long torso / short legs) is my own vertical body type and dressing correctly can make a real difference. I don’t always get it right, as in terms of comfort, I prefer to wear belts and skirts low waisted. Since I have reasonable height and provided I wear high heals, I get away with it (barely), but it’s definitely something i need to do less of. See what a big difference it makes if I emphasize my upper half and apply all ‘rules’ to enlongate my legs.

The silhouette at the left is far too boxy and not so flattering at all. The skirt on the left does not fit me properly in the waist. I try to compensate with my thick belt, but it isn’t short enough. The skirt is too short and boxy for my body type and I should not wear this skirt without heals.

In the picture on the right, I actually appear to have long legs…

Dressing for longer legs

Please note that the guidelines above are for general guidance only. Everyone is different and you certainly don’t have to stick to the above guidelines to dress well!

How about you. Do you know your vertical body type? Do you take it into account when you are dressing yourself?

All the best,

I hope that you got a clearer idea what body type you are? If you like to kickstart your style right now, you may like to join the free Find Your Style Challenge which will get your style on track in no time!


1 Sherry @ Girls Day Out

Thank you for following me….I am starting to follow you regularly, as well! I love this blog! It is so relevant. I am hoping you can help me with my problem. I can’t tell which body type I am! AND I often think I am dressing the best way and then my OOTD pics look completely different than I look in the mirror. So, I am logging into My Professional Stylist right now! I will let you know how it urns out. Cheers! xoxo

2 Sylvia

Yes, please let me know how you went with that. I think that program is really good at finding your body type and the styles that are best for you. If you need more help, then let me know.

3 Cath

I seem to have lost my ‘mojo’ completely. I,ve just recently been described as a ‘blimp.’
5’0′ , short legs and torso, every thing I put on makes me feel blah. Help!!

4 Sylvia

Hi Cath, First of all anyone who describes you like that is not worth tallking too. Completely ignore! Everybody can look great no matter how small or tall, as long as you pick the right clothes for your height and body type and pick clothes that excite you and make you feel YOU. This reminds me that it is high time that I write an article on how to dress when you are petite. I will do so next week, so please stay tuned for that. Meanwhile you may want to start reading my articles on how to find your style, and finding your style statement, so you will understand which clothes will make you feel better!

5 stephanie

Suppose one is well proportioned like myself? I am almost 6 ft and am not sure what body type I have but I am well proportioned. I have long legs, a long torso, long arms, long neck. Does that mean I can wear anything?

6 Sylvia

Hi Stephanie. You certainly have a lot more choices. But as a well proportioned person, you are still likely to fit in one of the body types, probably rectangular, inverted triangle or hourglass, so it’s still worthwhile looking at what best suits you.

7 Tammy Turner

Hi, I am very interested in what you have to say, I am 5ft.2inches tall and I am a size 34 dd bust and my lower half is very curvy, my fiance says I am balanced vertical shape, but I am so confused, should I wear high waisted pants , sweaters that come to my hip, and high heels, I do not like showing my curvy bottom so much, what should I do , i feel frumpy in everything I wear, HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you,

8 Sylvia

Hi Tammy, It’s difficult to be very specific as I don’t have all your measurements but from what I know you will look best in v-line tops, a-line skirts and dresses, long lapel, single button jackets and straight or wide legged trousers. You may want to seek more help or upload looks to the style forum . You can also try out the online professional stylist program or my personal styling service.

9 chris

Hi there! Can you help me? I’m a Balanced Verticle Body Type. 5 ft 1″… 120lbs… Although I work out, I still seem to carry my weight in the middle but I do great job hiding it! 🙂 This extra weight def makes me appear more short waisted than I already am! I have a formal event coming up….Can I pull off a long evening gown? Or, should I stick with a shorter (a little above the knee) cocktail dress? My husband will be wearing a tux. My legs are in decent shape…I’m in my early 50’s. Can you please let my know what styles I should be looking for depending on long gown or short cocktail dress? eg… Can I do one shoulder? Strapless? Or should I just stick to the “V” neckline? I want to look age appropriate/ elegant Thanks!

10 Sylvia

Hi Chris, It’s difficult to give you advice based on the info you have given me. But I feel that any body shape can pull of a long dress. I love one shoulder dresses and that could suit you too. A nice long dress in one colour, perhaps with subtle draping, can also really make you look taller, which is always nice for evening.

11 Liv

Hi, I’m 150.5cm and from the hip to the floor I’m 78.5. Does this classify me as long legs/short torso even though I’m short? Also, is your inseam relevant? Because I heard that to tell your vertical body type you had to measure your inseam instead of your hip to floor. Thanks 🙂

12 Sylvia

Yes, that’s right. I would measure it from the widest point of your hip to the floor.

13 Tonix

I am an hourglass/rectangle, short leg/long torso but I cheat by always wearing 4 or 5 inch heeled shoes or boots. This give me a longer and more balanced look. I know this is ‘cheating’ but I am only 5 foot 1 1/2 inches tall and very slim so I feel insignificant rather than petite without them. I suppose there will come a time when I no longer have the balance to wear high heels. Any advice ?

14 Jo

Wow!!! Seeing those photos of you at the end! I am that body shape, and now all is made clear! I just need to lose the 10kgs so I can wear nice trousers again 😉

15 Tracey Jennings

On my way out to meet a friend, but will definitely be back later to look at this again and do measurements to see where i fit in… Great and very useful information… Great Post Sylvia!

16 Louise

Love what you are telling me, however I need some help! I am 168cm tall,hourglass tending to go pear shape,with my hip to floor measurement 2cm shorter than the top of my head to my widest part, please help. I enjoy flats but know heels look better and wide legged trousers shorten and widen me.

17 Sylvia

This is not an absolute science Louise. It’s about creating a nice silhouette that works best and combines both vertical and horizontal body type. Do the measurements to get an idea but then trust your intuition.

18 Judy

Thank-you Sylvia, this was very informative! I believe, I’m a balanced vertical body type..I’m 5’8” and have a 42c bust line, my waist line is equal to my hip line and this can be a problem when buying pants. Do you have any suggestion?

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