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 type 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.
According to fashion guru Bradley Bayou, there are three factors which determine your body type – your silhouette, your measurements (shoulders, bust, hips, waist) and your weight. Bradley has come up with a simple and objective way to figure out your body type. Forget scrutinising yourself in your underwear – all you need is a tape measure and a calculator.
How to measure your body shape
- – Shoulders: Measure from the tip of one shoulder on one side all the way round to the other. Hold the measuring tape high up to the widest point, so that it almost slips off (you may need to enlist a helping hand for this one!).
- – Bust: Make sure you are standing upright. 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 type, you can shop to flatter your body shape using our canny styling tips and 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. And much much more to us than our bodies!
You might be a slimmer 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 dress your body as you please.
But of course it’s important to remember that you can dress in any way you want – as long as you feel comfortable.
We spoke to aesthetics specialist Dr Galyna Selezneva on the best ways to dress for your body type. Read on to discover your body shape – and how to style it to perfection.
Dr Galyna said, “Let’s establish something first, all bodies are unique and beautiful. Especially in the current world of woman empowerment and body positivity I am observing so much more confidence from my patients embracing their bodies. And, partly this confidence comes from liking what they see in the mirror.
“Dressing for your body shape is essential because at times women can get preoccupied with certain parts of their bodies, tummies or saddle bags for example, and ignore all the positive and beautiful part aspects, so making sure that you stress what you like is part of feeling confident!”
Here’s our list of the most common body types and how you should dress for them:
Hourglass shaped body type
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%)
- – The hourglass body shape is the most balanced – with the top and bottom parts proportioned fairly evenly, and a well defined waistline.
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!
Dr Galyna said, “I’m sure we all know that pencil skirts will look amazing on an hourglass (every single one of Marylin Monroe’s outfits) but let’s take it to modern world. Think suits, tailored (double breasted jackets) trousers suits that elongate your legs and show off your waist. A good bra is key as usually hourglass shape bodies tend to have larger breasts and at times woman want to hide it. Modern print T shirts with central print will draw attention to the chest so if you don’t want extra attention opt for monotones and smaller prints. Belts are a must!”
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.
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 waist. Make a beeline for high-waisted skirt and trouser styles – if you’re a fan of floaty tops, tuck them in!
We love this pretty dress…
Phase Eight Evadine Dress, Jade, £99, John Lewis
Pear shaped body type
You have a pear shaped body if:
- – Your hips are at least 5% wider than your bust or shoulders
- -Your lower half (bum and thighs) are visibly bigger than your upper-body
- – With a pear shaped body you can create the illusion of an hourglass figure
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. Pear-shaped women should remember to bring attention to their top-half with ruffles and prints, and avoid should avoid drawing attention to your lower-half. If styled correctly you can create the illusion of having an hourglass figure by striking a balance between your narrow shoulders and wider hips.
Ruffle Sleeve T-shirt, £24.99, Mango; Buckle High Waist Trousers, £49.99, Mango
Dr Galyna said, “It’s very trendy at the moment and of course the Kardashians made it sexy to have a ‘big bum’. Simple rule: bring attention to your upper body. Especially décolletage area, use visual tricks such as Vneck and Scoop Neck tops, chunky/multiple necklaces and even earrings.”
You can create the illusion of an hourglass silhouette by dressing to define your waist with a belt or buckle 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 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 simple 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.
Dr Galyna said, “Other advice is to visually elongate legs but wearing boot cut trousers and comfortable heel, chunky heels are very in. Oh, and dresses don’t need to be old fashion A shape, try asymmetric hemlines and layers.”
Apple shaped body type
You have an apple shaped body if:
- – Your hip, shoulder and waist measurements are all roughly equal (within 5%)
- – Your hips are also the widest part of your body
- – Most weight is carried on the upper-half of your body and your midriff appears heavier.
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. The idea here is to draw attention away from your tummy and highlight your strengths. Opt for V neck dresses and shirts that create the illusion of an elongated torso.
Waterfall Jacket, £36, Wallis
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.
Dr Galyna said, “To look confident you might use few tricks: think Fabric. Try to go for heavier and natural fabric that doesn’t cling as much. Patterns are very in fashion and flowers in particular, use this visual weapon. Ignore completely the temptation to ‘buy bigger’ and try to hide it. We need visual illusion and vertical lines – always eccentric of the narrowest pint of your abdomen – invest in a wraparound dress!”
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 shaped body type
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
- – You have not much definition to your shape – so work on enhancing your waist
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! Be sure to enhance your arms, defined shoulders and legs, and always draw attention to your waist to give the illusion of an hourglass figure.
Midi Wrap Dress, £75, & Other Stories
Conscious of your lack of curves?
Dr Galyna said, “To showcase the body type at its best let’s think: feminine lines, there might be less defined waist line and at times using a belt will do miracles, in general body con dresses will create extra curves… Colour blocks can also define areas you want to draw attention to. This is also where investment into a good pair of jeans, high waist and bum definition is needed. This is usually the easiest body shape to find clothes for. At times, a pair of good shape wear for special occasions does the trick.”
Focus on defining your waistline whilst adding volume above and below with layers and ruffles. 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 bright colour, patterns, detail and embellishment, so make the most of it!
Sleeveless and strapless tops and dresses are ideal for an athletic body type. A-line skirts, ruffles and layered tops are your thing, and add long or double-breasted blazers, jackets, duster coats, ponchos and capes to your wardrobe.