FASHION AND BEAUTY 101: What's your body shape?

Marwa Raaffat, Wednesday 15 Dec 2010

Our body shape is unique and different. When dressing your body shape the guidelines are very personalised and individual, like tailoring an outfit

Female body shapes
Female body shapes


To keep things simple and fun I have started with the most common body shapes and the basic dressing guidelines. This is essential information and will help you build a stylish, yet easy-to-wear wardrobe.

They are six recognised horizontal figure types:


Hip and bust measurements are very similar with the waist about 10 inches smaller. Women with this body shape often have the good fortune that weight gain or loss is evenly distributed and will go unnoticed for a long period of time, (famous hourglass figure of all time - Marilyn Monroe)

Your goal: This figure is considered the perfect body shape.  Since the aim or the goal with dressing all body types is to create an hourglass or inverted triangle.

 Dressing guidelines: Clothing is easy to fit and find. Factors such as weight, skin tone, prominent features and age become increasingly important to be well-dressed.



The second most desirable figure shape - the body is larger above the waist then below. It is produced by a proportionally-large bust line and small hips. Long-legged women often have this body shape. (famous figure for this striking shape, - beautiful Angelina Jolie)

Your goal:  Balance full upper body by increasing the visual width below the waist

Dressing guidelines: A-line skirts or skirts with patterns or bold textures.  Horizontal stripes below the waist and fuller-leg trousers.  Single-breasted jackets and garments that are smooth and soft in texture. Wear vertical lines in garments worn above the waist or throughout the entire garment.  Narrow collars and lapels. Short, loose sleeves hemmed just above or below the fullest part of the bust.



This is one of the most common body types .The body is larger below the waist then above. You may necessarily have a large hip line. Possibly you have a small bust line which makes you appear triangular. Short-legged and balanced-bodied women are commonly this shape. Alternatively, thighs and bottom may be fuller. (famous figure for this shape - stunning Latina, Jennifer Lopez).

Your goal:  Width needs to be created in the upper body to balance the full lower half.

Dressing guidelines: Shoulder pads are the most slimming accessory when worn, as long as they are not apparent and the good thing is they are back in fashion!  Horizontal necklines.  Smooth, matt fabrics below the waistline, darker colours in skirts and pants, straight or slightly-tapered trousers and skirts. High-positioned accessories and medium to high heels.



Another common figure shape. Little or no waist line definition, long-legged and balanced women most commonly have this shape. Some hourglass figures may become rectangular with weight gain or maturity or women in sport. (famous figure for this shape – beautiful, blonde Cameron Diaz)

Your goal:  Visually thin and lengthen torso, also create strong shoulder line and the illusion of a waistline.

Dressing guidelines: Colour blocking to create the illusion of a waistline, semi-fitted or slight shape in clothes, soft, fabric tops and matching skirts.  Single breasted jackets and fitted vests left open.



These are full-bodied women with an oval appearance that is round, especially in the torso area.

Your goal: Visually elongate your body and create an inverted triangular body type (famous figure for this shape – attractive, classy Kathy Bates)

Dressing guidelines: Single breasted jackets in a boxy, blazer style. Over-blouses, tops and jackets worn at least to the hip line. Vertical lines and designs whatever possible from top to bottom. Well-fitted bras, support garments for torso and stockings. Straight and soft pants.   Dresses that flow through the waistline. Tunic tops, medium to long vest, worn open



The mid body is larger than the upper or lower body, causing a diamond like appearance.

Your goal: Visually thin and lengthen torso by creating shoulder definition, camouflage the waistline. An inverted triangle shape will be created that will balance large midriff or stomach.

Dressing guidelines:  Emphasise shoulder line with squared-off shoulder pads. Well-fitted bras to keep bust high (push-up bra).  Dresses without waistline, straight or flowing jackets or vests.   Straight or slightly tapered skirts and trousers.

So, which shape are you?



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