A Guide To Dressing For Your Body Shape

Why body shapes are useful

Before we start, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not fond of using fruit metaphors to describe your body, and I’m certainly not here to label you or tell you what you must wear.

The only reason you might want to know your body shape is because you may find it useful! Think of it as a tool to boost your confidence. It can help you understand why some things might look great on you, and why some things simply might not. Clothes shopping doesn’t have to be a chore! With your body shape in mind, finding that perfect outfit, a new favorite garment or building a wardrobe you love is a breeze.

Familiar fruity shapes just happen to be easier to visualize than their technical counterparts, such as oblate spheroid for apple, or pyriform for pear. A visual shorthand, if you will.

There isn’t an ideal or most desirable shape. Bodies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, which is part of what makes us unique. Your body is BEAUTIFUL no matter what shape it is. And you can wear absolutely whatever makes you feel great. I’m all about expressing yourself in whatever you think is most flattering. BE YOU is one of our mottos after all!

So, continue reading to determine your body shape and my best tips for dressing it.

In this guide

Determining your body shape

Before we dive into all of the shapes, let’s first figure out which one you are.

The most accurate way of determining your shape is by measuring yourself. The three key areas to measure are your shoulders, waist and hips. Some stylists measure the bust area as well. The shape of your body is then revealed by assessing how those areas relate to each other.

Take the quiz

Instead of busting out the measuring tape, I’ve created a quick quiz to help make things easier for you. In literally less than five questions, you’ll know which one of the five main body shapes you have (see what I did there?).

Measure yourself

If you like to dot all your i’s and would prefer to measure, I’ll explain how below. Measuring yourself is the least subjective way of determining your body shape. If you have a few minutes to do so, I recommend it.

Plus, having your measurements on hand is convenient when shopping online!

How to measure the key areas of your body

Firstly, grab a cloth tape measure and strip down to your underwear. Stand straight and hold the tape close to your body, but not so tight that it compresses your skin. You might find another pair of hands useful!

Shoulders
Wrap the tape around the highest, broadest point of your shoulders.

Waist
Wrap the tape around the narrowest point of your waist, usually just above the belly button.

Hips
Wrap the tape below your hip bones, over the fullest area, around your hips and bottom.

Bust
Wrap the tape around your bust at its fullest point. Optional

dressing for your body shape

The 5 main body shapes

Although us women are all a little bit different, our most common body shapes are: apple, pear, hourglass, inverted triangle and rectangle. These generic shapes are based on bone structure, not size or weight. You can use your measurements to determine your body shape by reading the descriptions below. Or if you took the quiz, you can skim through this info to find what’s relevant to you. 

Each one of the five generic body shapes has a defining characteristic:

  • The apple’s middle and upper body is wider than their lower body.
  • The pear’s lower body is wider than their the upper body.
  • The hourglass’s upper and lower body are equal, with a defined waist.
  • The inverted triangle’s upper body is wider than their lower body.
  • The rectangle’s upper, middle and lower body are equal.

According to this 2004 study, figure typing has been around for many years. In the 1900s, these terms were mostly used by the clothing and pattern making industry for sizing standardization. There are many other (often confusing) terms, like Christmas tree, spoon and diamond. The terms were later replaced by three-dimensional body scanning for improved accuracy. 

So, I think it is safe to say that body shape theory is somewhat outdated, but it has its merits. Knowing your shape can be helpful in balancing out (not hiding!) particular body parts. This is what makes clothing look more flattering, as it is all about balance. The more balanced your outfit is, the more visually appealing it will be. By simply selecting certain fits and cuts, you can play up or play down certain features of your body. ‍Isn’t that part of what makes fashion so great?!

Lets dive a little deeper.

The Apple

If your shoulder and waist measurements are wider than your hip measurement, you’re likely an apple. Apples tend to have a large bust, full midsection, narrow hips and a less defined waist. Slender legs and flat bottoms are common too. Apple bodies appear round and slightly top-heavy, resembling the fruit they’re named after. 

The Pear

Pear body shapes are characterized by a smaller upper body and wider lower body, as the name suggests. If your shoulder, bust and waist measurements are smaller than your hip measurement, you’re likely a pear. Pears tend to have a small bust, flatter midsection, defined waist and large hips. In fact, the hips are the widest part of the pear body shape. Full bottoms, thighs and legs are common too.

The Hourglass

You’re likely an hourglass if your shoulder and hip measurements are equal, but your waist is significantly smaller. Hourglasses tend to have a defined waist, thanks to larger hips. Round bottoms, full thighs and a larger bust are common too. 

The Inverted Triangle

If your shoulder measurement is the largest of all measurements, you’re likely an inverted triangle. Inverted triangles tend to have broad shoulders, narrow hips, little waist definition and are often athletic. Flat bottoms and long legs are common too.

The Rectangle

If all of your measurements are fairly equal, you’re likely a rectangle. Rectangles tend to be tall and athletic, with very little waist definition and no curves. Flat bottoms, a small bust and straight shoulders are common too.

dressing for your body shape

One shape doesn’t fit all

If you’re torn between shapes, you’re not alone! Body shaping isn’t an exact science, and we aren’t made from a mold to conform to a certain shape. You may have characteristics of more than one shape. These are just the five main shapes – there are a few more and they can even be be subcategorized! Since we’re not really concerned with an exact categorization here, it doesn’t really matter which shape you are. Use the shape you resonate with the most as your primary body shape. The goal is to identify prominent characteristics of your body shape, then use the styling tips below to your advantage. And remember, the actual measurements mean nothing!

Dressing for your body shape

Now that you have a better understanding of your body shape, the fun begins! Using your newfound knowledge and a few visual balancing tricks, you can build the wardrobe of your dreams. Find your shape/s below and read the tips to get started.

Note: this is a general guide to be taken with a pinch of salt. You should always wear whatever makes YOU feel great!

Apple body shape tips

If you have an apple body shape, you should highlight your shoulders and legs to create balance.

Pear body shape tips

Since this shape is characterized by a lower body that is wider than the the upper body, you should highlight your shoulders and define your waist to create balance.

Hourglass body shape tips

Because this shape is naturally balanced, you should maintain it by proportionally dressing your upper and lower body, while defining your waist.

Inverted Triangle body shape tips

To balance your broad shoulders, you should highlight your hips and legs, while defining your waist.

Rectangle body shape tips

Since your upper and lower body are already balanced, you should define your waist, or add visual volume to your upper and lower body to break up the rectangle shape.

Takeaway

You’ve learnt a bit about body shapes, determined your shape/s and know all the best tips for dressing it. Whatever your shape is, the most important thing to remember is that it’s all about balance. Use your outfit to balance out your shape and strategically draw the eye wherever you want it to go. You’re beautiful and your clothes should make you feel that way!

Ready to find that perfect outfit?

We’ve got something for all shapes and sizes at engayla.com

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