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What is Your Body Shape?

female horizontal body shapesThe Female Horizontal Body Types:Hourglass, Inverted Triangle, Triangle, Rectangle, Diamond, Oval

If you like your body shape you are either male or a very unusual female! However, whether you like your body or not, if you understand what your current shape and proportions are and know a few style guidelines for your shape you are well on your way to looking your best.


The female body types most people are familiar with are what image consultants refer to as the horizontal body shapes. These are:

  • Hourglass
  • Inverted triangle (also referred to a the cone or v shape)
  • Triangle (also referred to as pear)
  • Rectangle (also called the ruler, the brick, or the straight body)
  • Diamond (one of 2 apple shapes), and
  • Oval (the second apple shape)

Your horizontal shape is important for the clothing silhouettes and design elements that will book best on you. However, the other important proportion is your vertical body type. There are 3 of these: short legs long body; balanced body; and long legs short body.

vertical body shapesThe Female Vertical Body Proportions: Short Legs Long Body, Balanced Body, Long Legs Short Body

Your vertical proportion is important for the lengths of clothes (both for tops and for bottoms) that will be most flattering on you.

However, for your most flattering styles, you also need to take other aspects of your body into account. These include:

Please note...

Dressing to flatter your shape is one of the fundamental steps to looking your best. However, it is just 1 of 6 steps. Be sure to check out all of the 6 steps to savvy style to ensure you know all the fundamentals as well as how to build your own inspirational wardrobe.

  • Your face shape

  • Need Help With Your Body Shape Assessment?

    If you would like help assessing your body shape I offer this service as part of my in-person Style Consultation or as an online service.

  • Your weight

  • Your height

  • Your bone structure

  • Your shoulder size and angle

  • Your neck length and circumference

  • Your age

  • Any figure variations such as a large bottom, a large stomach, or saddle bags

Get started by assessing your vertical body type and your horizontal body type.

What is the Perfect Shape?

Luckily beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, the current stereotype of the ideal female body shape is moderately tall with a body balanced vertically, an hourglass figure and an oval shaped face.

For males the ideal is tall with a balanced vertical body and a trapezoid torso (that is, broad shoulders and chest tapering to medium waist and hips) and an oval face.

So, You Don’t Have The Ideal Shape?

Not many of us do (only something like 2% of the population).  However, you can create the illusion of a perfect body by choosing clothes to create the illusion of the ideal proportions.  It's all about balancing your perceived shape to the ideal shape (or moving your appearance in that direction, anyway).

For example, as a female, if you have long legs and a short, rectangle torso you can create the illusion of a longer, leaner, inverted triangle torso (the next best female shape).  Do this by choosing tops that emphasize your shoulders and that flow through the waist, with a hemline between the lower hip to the tip of your fingers and with no horizontal seams across your torso.

As a male, if you have short legs and a long rectangle torso you can create the illusion of longer legs and a shorter trapezoid body by choosing shirts that make your shoulders look wider and tuck in your shirt to make your torso look shorter (as long as your stomach isn't too big).  Choose trousers that are darker than your shirt and shoes in the same color as your trousers, or darker, to make your legs look longer.

Changing Shape

Of course understanding your current shape doesn't rule out changing your shape through diet and exercise or, more drastically, through plastic surgery.  The idea is to make the most of whatever shape you are now. 

If you do change shape by more than 5.5cm (2 inches) then you should re-assess your body shape and ensure your clothing choices still flatter your current shape.

Determine Your Vertical Body Type

Start by assessing your vertical body proportions.  This is the proportion of the bottom half of your body compared to your top half.

Vertical shape is important for identifying your best garment lengths (tops and bottoms) and will come into play in determining if you should tuck-in tops or wear top garments un-tucked.

There are three vertical body types and these are applicable to both males and females.  

The most accurate way to determine your vertical shape is to measure your full height and the height to your low hip-line (your low hip-line is the circumference around your hips where your bottom is fullest) and determine where your hip-line comes in relation to your height.  

Alternatively use the rough assessment guidelines below...

Short Legs, Long Torso

body shape short legs long torso

If your legs are short compared to your upper body you have short legs and a long torso...

  • Your hip-line height is less than half your height

  • You may also have a low waist -- your waist will be lower than your bent elbow

  • You will have a long torso -- typically you will put on weight first on your thighs and hips

  • Your bottom will typically be low and heavy

  • You may also be short – although tall people can also be short legged


Your main style aims are to create the illusion of longer legs and a shorter torso.

Do wear...

  • Jewellery, scarves and garment designs that draw the observer's eye up towards your shoulders and face

  • Short to medium-long tops

  • Tucked-in tops (if young and slim)

  • Layered tops

  • Medium or light tops and dark pants or skirts

  • Medium to wide belts

  • Straight skirts

  • Straight or boot-leg pants

  • Pant, sock and shoe colors the same

  • Medium to high heels

  • Pant hems to the ground

Don't wear...

  • Long tops (if you are short)

  • Pants or skirts with a dropped waistband

  • Tight or tapered skirts

  • Tight or tapered pants

  • Cropped pants

Balanced Body

body shape balanced body

If your upper body length is about the same as your lower body length you have a balanced body...

  • Your hip-line height is half your full height

  • Your waist is at your bent elbow

  • Females may be low busted

  • You tend to put on weight around your torso or hips and thighs

  • You probabaly have a round well formed bottom or you have a flat bottom

  • You have proportionally slim arms and legs


If you are less than 160cm (5’3”) with a small to medium body scale then you are also petite.

Your main style aim is to elongate your mid-torso.

Do wear...

  • Jewellery, scarves and garment designs that draw the observer's eye up towards your shoulders and face

  • Medium-long tops

  • Un-tucked tops

  • Tops and bottoms in the same color

  • Tops and dresses that flow through the waist

  • Skirts and pants with narrow waistbands or no waistband

  • Straight or flared skirts

  • Waisted, low-rise or hipster pants

  • Straight or flared pants

Don't wear...

  • Short tops

  • Empire line tops and dresses

  • Wide belts

  • Pants or skirts with a high waistband

Long Legs, Short Torso

body shape long legs short torso

If your legs are longer than your upper body you have a long legged vertical body type...

  • Your hipline height is higher than half your full height

  • You should also have a high waist -- your waist will be higher than your bent elbow

  • You will have a proportionally short torso

  • Your bottom will typically be round and high

  • You tend to put on weight around your waist, above your waist or on the back of your hips

  • You may also be tall -- although short people can also be long legged


Your main style aims are to create visual balance by creating the illusion of a longer mid-torso and shorter legs.

Do wear...

  • Design details that draw the eye down, such as border prints on skirts and pants (unless you are short)

  • Medium-long to long accessories (unless you are short)

  • Skirts and pants in the lighter colors than tops

  • Medium-long to long tops (if you are short, no longer than knuckle length)

  • Un-tucked tops

  • Tops and dresses that flow through the waist

  • Skirts and pants with narrow waistbands or no waistband

  • Straight and flared skirts

  • Low-rise or hipster pants

  • Straight and flared pants

Don't wear...

  • Focal points that draw the eye upwards

  • Pin stripes

  • Short tops

  • Empire line tops and dresses

  • Wide belts

  • Pants or skirts with a high waistband

  • Tapered pants and skirts

Determine Your Horizontal Body Type


Need Help With Your Body Shape Assessment?

Before you can dress for your shape you need to understand what your shape and body proportions are. For professional help, either in-person or online, use my image consulting services.

Your horizontal shape is the relationship between your chest, waist and hip-line. It is their relative proportion to each other that is important rather than their actual size. 

Your horizontal body type is used to identify the clothing styles that will suit you best. Although it is important to note that other factors can change some of these recommendations, such as face shape, neck and shoulder size and prominent features.


If you are male identify your horizontal body shape here.

If you are female identify your horizontal body shape from the pictures and descriptions below. 

To do this assessment stand in front of a full length mirror. A long straight object such as a long ruler or a broom handle will also be useful to work out whether your hip-line is narrower, wider, or the same width as your bust-line. The easiest way to see this is to hold the ruler under your arm pit, in-line with your shoulder joint, and rest it on your hip. 

Select the link on your horizontal body shape, below, to find out the general style aims and specific dos and don’ts for your horizontal body type.

Hourglass Figure

body shape hourglass figure

This is known as the ideal body shape. You have an hourglass figure if...

  • Your full hip-line and your full bust-line are the same width and your waist is well defined

  • You most likely have a balanced body vertical body shape

Check the general style guidelines for your hourglass figure by clicking here

Get personalized style recommendations that take all of your body proportions into account by clicking here.

Inverted Triangle

body shape inverted triangle

This is the second best female shape. You have an inverted triangle body shape if...

  • You have a proportionally large bust, or you have broad shoulders, or both

  • You have narrow hips with a well defined waist

  • You most likely are a long legged vertical body shape with proportionally slim legs

  • You may also have a flat bottom

Check the general style guidelines for your inverted triangle figure by clicking here

Get personalized style recommendations that take all of your body proportions into account by clicking here.

Triangle or Pear Shape Body

body shape triangle

The triangle body type is often also referred to as pear-shaped. You have this shape if...

  • Your full bust-line is proportionally narrower than your full hip-line and you have a well defined waist

  • You typically have narrow shoulders

  • You most likely have a balanced body or short legged vertical body shape

  • Your thighs are typically full

  • You may also have a full rounded bottom

Check the general style guidelines for your triangle figure by clicking here

Get personalized style recommendations that take all of your body proportions into account by clicking here.

Rectangle

body shape rectangle

You have a rectangle body if...

  • Your full bust-line and full hip-line are about the same width and you have little waist definition

  • Your legs and arms will typically be proportionally slender

  • You have a small to medium bust

  • You most likely have a balanced body or long legged vertical body shape

  • You may also have a flat bottom

  • You may have had an hourglass figure when you were younger or slimmer

  • You may look shorter and heavier than you really are

Check the general style guidelines for your rectangle figure by clicking here

Get personalized style recommendations that take all of your body proportions into account by clicking here.

Oval

body shape oval

This body shape is also often referred to as an apple shape. You have an oval horizontal body if...

  • You have the overall appearance of being round especially around the waist-line

  • Your waistline is undefined

  • You have a large, low stomach

  • You may have "love handles"

  • Your hips are wide

  • Your upper thighs are full

  • You may also have a full bottom or a flat bottom

Check the general style guidelines for your oval figure by clicking here

Get personalized style recommendations that take all of your body proportions into account by clicking here.

Diamond

body shape diamond

This body shape is also referred to as an apple shape. You have this body shape if...

  • Your waist is undefined

  • You have a large, high stomach

  • You may have "love handles"

  • You may also have a full bottom or a flat bottom

Check the general style guidelines for your diamond figure by clicking here

Get personalized style recommendations that take all of your body proportions into account by clicking here.

Still not sure which shape you are?

It can be difficult to be objective about your own body shape. So, if you still can't decide which shape you are...


>> Now take the guess work out of discovering the best styles for your body proportions

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