Pear shape? Apple? Pomegranate? If you can’t figure out where you fit into the fruit bowl, you’re not alone. Figuring out your own body shape can be tough. We often struggle to see ourselves clearly, falling prey to wishful thinking on the one hand, or paranoid distortion on the other.
But fashion guru Bradley Bayou has come up with a simple, objective way to figure out your body shape. Forget scrutinising yourself in your underwear – all you need is a tape measure and a calculator.
How to measure your body shape
- – Shoulders: From the tip of one shoulder all the way round to the other. Hold the measuring tape high up, so that it almost slips off (you may need to enlist a helping hand for this one!
- – Bust: Hold the tape measure taut around the fullest part of your chest (but don’t squish!)
- – Waist: Measure around the smallest part of your natural waist, just above your belly button.
- – Hips: Measure around the fullest part of your bum, just below the hip bone.
If you have especially broad or narrow shoulders, or an especially full bust, you may find that you span more than one category.
Now comes the fun part. Once you’ve figured out your body shape, you can shop to flatter it using our canny styling tricks. Remember, no one body shape is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another and, though your body shape may change with weight gain or loss, there’s much more to shape than size.
You might be a skinny apple shape or a plus-size pear – it’s all about proportion. Once you begin to see the ins and outs of your particular body shape more clearly, you’ll be able to create or conceal them as you please. If you’re broad of hip and narrow of shoulder, for example, a statement sleeve will bring balance to your silhouette. Read on to discover your body shape – and how to style it to perfection.
Hourglass body shape
You have an hourglass figure if:
- – Your waist measurement is no more than 75% of your hip and bust or shoulder measurements
- – Your hip and bust or shoulder measurements are roughly equal (within 5%)
How to dress an hourglass figure
The typical hourglass body shape combines a small waist with a full bust and curvy hips and thighs. Think Marilyn Monroe or Christina Hendricks. Whether you happen to be size 8 or 18, your figure is already in proportion, so you need do nothing but dress to enhance it! I
If your bust makes you feel self-conscious or frumpy, though, think about adding length to your upper body (by opting for scoop, sweetheart or V-neck necklines and open-collared shirt styles) and defining your waist.
Bruce by Bruce Oldfield Wrap Dress, £99, John Lewis
Struggle to find clothes to fit your curves? Seek out pieces with lycra content, or buy garments to fit your bust and hips and have them tailored to fit you at the waist. Avoid empire line and sheath style dresses which swamp your curves; instead, wear fitted or belted clothing to enhance your tiny waist. Make a beeline for high-waisted skirt and trouser styles – if you’re a fan of floaty tops, tuck them in! Opt for fitted or belted jackets and coats, and look out for single- rather than double-breasted styles.
Pear body shape
You have a pear shaped body if:
- – Your hips are at least 5% wider than your bust or shoulders
How to dress a pear-shaped figure
Pear shaped ladies tend to have curvy hips and thighs, relatively narrow shoulders, a modest bust and a small waist. You’ll probably wear your skirts and trousers at least one size bigger than your tops, and may struggle to find clothes which fit around the waist and hips.
Ruffle Sleeve Top, £35, Next; High Waisted Wide Leg Trouser, £42, Lipsy
Ruffle Sleeve Top: Buy now from next.co.uk for £35
High Waisted Wide Leg Trouser: Buy now from next.co.uk for £42
You can create the illusion of an hourglass silhouette by dressing to define your waist and draw attention away from your lower body and toward your upper body. Emphasise your waist by tucking shirts and tops into high-waisted skirts and trousers, opting for fitted or belted dresses and choosing cropped jackets or belted A-line coats.
Draw the eye up and away from your hips with bold necklaces, scarves and earrings, tops in light, bright colours and standout patterns and embellished necklines. Double-breasted jacket styles, ruffles, pussy bow detailing and statement sleeves will boost busts and broaden shoulders to bring balance to your figure.
Minimise hips and thighs by opting for darker tones and clean lines below the waistband and avoiding tops and jackets which finish at the hipline. Wide leg trousers or flares will counterbalance curvier hips.
Apple body shape
You have an apple shaped body if:
- – Your hip, shoulder and waist measurements are all roughly equal (within 5%)
How to dress an apple-shaped figure
If you have a relatively large bust and slim legs, but tend to gain weight around your midriff, you are an apple shape. Enhance your natural body shape by dressing to highlight your curvy bust, slim hips and slender legs whilst minimising your tummy.
Waterfall Jacket, £79, Phase Eight
Open-collared, scoop and V-neck tops will lengthen your upper body, as will long drop-style earrings, textured scarves and handbags with long shoulder straps. Emphasise slim hips and legs with tops and jackets which finish at the hipline (longer tunic-style tops tend to shorten legs), drawing attention away from your midriff with embellishment, colour or detailing around the neck and/or hemline.
Look out for fluid fabrics with plenty of movement: bias-cut skirts and empire-line tops are your friends. Softly gathered wrap-style midi dresses, flowing maxi dresses and straight-cut shift dresses all suit curvier tummies, whilst semi-fitted waterfall-style coats and jackets are particularly flattering.
Don’t attempt to ‘create’ a waist with belts or detailing – draw attention to the narrowest parts of your figure, instead. Don’t shy away from prints, though – according to some of the world’s top stylists, “the bigger the print, the smaller the body”! Vertical stripes are particularly slimming.
Athletic body shape
You have an athletic body if:
- – Your hip, bust and shoulder measurements are roughly equal (within 5%)
- – Your waist measurement is 75-95% of your shoulder or bust measurement
How to dress an athletic figure
Athletic body types tend to have a ‘straight up and down’ figure with a small bum and bust. Most models share this body type – because it allows you to get away with wearing pretty much anything!
Tie Front Frill Wrap Dress, £59, Marks & Spencer
Conscious of your lack of curves? Focus on defining your waistline whilst adding volume above and below. Think pussy bow blouses, belted billowy dresses, statement sleeves, high necklines, A-line skirt styles, pleats and ruffles galore. This is your chance to go wild with colour, detail and embellishment, so make the most of it!