Most of you will know the classic body shapes; hourglass, rectangle, triangle and pear shaped. But how do you know what body shape you are? Determining which of the four categories you fall into is as simple as three measurements.
- Measure around your shoulders no more than three inches below the point. You might need a friend to help you with this.
- Measure around your waist.
- Measure around your hips, at the widest part.
Your body shape is determined by the relationship between the measurements.
TRIANGLE: Your shoulders are more than 5% larger than your hips.
PEAR SHAPED: You hips are more than 5% larger than your shoulders.
HOURGLASS: You shoulder and hip measurement are within 5% of each other and your waist is at least 25% less than the larger of the other two.
RECTANGLE: You shoulder and hip measurement are within 5% of each other and you waist is less than 25% less than the larger of the other two.
To calculate the percentage difference take the difference and divide by the largest measurement and multiply by 100. For instance if your shoulders are 38 inches, waist 30 inches and hips 40 inches then the difference between shoulders and hips is 2, divide by 40 times 100 or 5%. The difference between waist and hips is 10, divided by 40, times 100 equals 25%. Therefore the body shape is hourglass.
Body Shape Is More Than Just Proportion
Don’t get too caught up in working out the figures exactly, unless of course you want to, because these four basic categories are just a starting point.
In his book The Science of Sexy Bradley Bayou, designer and stylist to the stars, gives 48 distinct body types. The archetypal four I’ve already discussed and then they are further categorized based on height and weight.
Height is broken into three categories; petite (or short), medium and tall.
Weight is broken into four categories; slender, average, full figured and plus sized.
Each person supposedly fits into these three categories; body proportion, height and weight.
Why go to so much trouble?
There are different considerations for each body type. For instance if you’re petite then you’ll need to stay away from anything overly frilly or cluttered as it will have a tendency to make you look like a giant doll whereas if you’re slender design elements are a good idea as they can add interest to your frame.
For instance from the calculations above I am a pear shape, medium height, plus size women. But it turns out my breasts are so large that ain’t nobody looking at my shoulders so in order to deal with my breasts I really need to follow the guidelines for hourglass. It really kind of seems confusing but actually it’s not.
You are the shape you are. If you’re anything like me it’s unlikely that you’ll fit exactly into any particular pigeon hole just because someone came up with a formula. There are many formulas and personally I prefer the 12 shapes of Trinny and Susannah.
The thing to remember about these body shapes is that they have no meaning other than discussing clothes. They have no purpose other than to give generic examples of what is likely to fit and flatter a body with particular characteristics.
So your next step after defining your shape is to get an idea of what clothes work for you and which ones won’t.
If you have a question or comment I’d love to hear from you.