Knowing your body shape is the foundation of finding your style. I’ll be writing up some posts on my philosophy around wearing what you want vs dressing in what is most “flattering” but we’ve got to start at the very beginning first. Today I wanted to take the time to explore the fundamentals before we start expanding on what to wear.
There are five basic body shapes: hourglass, straight, pear, apple and inverted triangle. You may see them by different names here and there, but the actual body shape is the same.
Shapes are a little easier for our straight size friends because there aren’t typically areas of larger fat deposits trying to mask an underlying shape. When working with plus size women, I’ve noticed that many will categorize themselves as an apple shape simply because they have a larger tummy. That’s not true, ma’am and here’s how you know what you really are:
We are going to look at your overall silhouette when discovering body shape, and the easiest way to do this is to imagine what the shadow behind you would look like if a light was shining directly onto your front. You can even literally shine a light on your back while facing a wall and see your actual shadow for reference if it helps.
One of the most visible shapes in fashion is the hourglass figure, but it doesn’t necessarily make it the easiest to dress. It can often come with a need for tailoring, especially at the waist.
When looking at the ratios in the image below- imagine a scale of 1-4, with four being the largest. In an hourglass shape, your bust and hips are both at the largest end of the scale with your waist being about half that.
Some special notations here are that your shoulders and hips must be within 5% of one another when measuring around, and your waist should be at least 25% smaller than your hips.
Straight or Rectangle
Opposite of the hourglass shape is the straight or rectangle. It is personally one of my favorites to dress because you can create virtually any shape you’d like with the clothes you choose.
Your ratios are straight 4s here, with very little variation from shoulders to waist to hips. You can have a variety of bust sizes and still be a straight body shape. You can also have a bit of a tummy and still be a rectangular body type. Remember that we are looking at the shadow from front to back, not from the body profile.
Once you start reaching the larger cup sizes or a shift in balance from top to bottom, you’ll move into the inverted triangle category we talk more about below.
Inverted Triangle or Top Heavy
Ratios start to become a little more flexible in the top heavy category. You can have a 4:3:2 or a 4:3:1 and still fit, so long as you are widest in your shoulders/bust. Often our DDD+ cup size friends fall into this category if they don’t also have thicker hips.
The apple body shape is often falsely claimed by our plus size friends because they give their tummy a little too much power. An apple body shape is signaled by having a smaller bust (Usually B cup and below) and a full tummy with thinner legs.
If you are widest at your waist and love your slimmer legs, you may have found your home in the apple category.
Pear or Bottom Heavy
Opposite of the apple, you have pear. Pear body shapes are largest in the hips. You can also see some variety in ratios in this shape with a 4:3:2 or a 4:2:1, etc.
The key difference between having a pear shape and an hourglass shape is the difference in measurements between the hips and shoulders/bust. If your top is more than 5% smaller than your hips, you will fall into the pear category.
Let us know in the comments body shape you fall under. We will explore how to dress each shape in an upcoming blog post, but if you’re new to this idea we can help! Schedule your free body shape consultation today.