Style and Styling

8 Body Shape

Previously, I have talked about the different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with the way your “meat” is attached to those bones. To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at whether the waist is defined or not.  The first very common body shape we talked about is the A. Then we tackled the X, one of two body shapes often referred to as “hourglass” figures. The other hourglass figure is the 8.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

(This first part is the same for all body shapes!) To determine your body shape, take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground and your waist is defined, you are an X or an 8 shape. The difference between the two can be subtle, but the difference in how to dress their shapes is enormous!  Both are often referred to as an hourglass figure, so how do you tell if you are an X or an 8? An 8 has a high hip shelf, and an X has a smooth transition from the waist to the widest part of the hip. X’s are oftenlong-waisted, and 8’s are frequently shorter-waisted. 8’s are more prone to love handles, and X’s are less love handle prone. (Marilyn Monroe was an 8; Sophia Vergara is an X.)

8’s What to Wear

If the goal is to create a balanced figure, then 8’s want to highlight the waist, without creating a “poof” that will widen the hips. Where the X looks great in an A-line, the 8 looks better in a pencil skirt. Likewise, a sheath dress (especially belted) is usually a better choice than a flared one for the 8. If you are an X that becomes an A when you put on a few pounds (like yours truly), you may find a slight A-line skirt more forgiving than the pencil. Long-waisted 8’s can wear a belt, but many 8’s find belting causes clothing to poof out making tummy and hips look larger than they are. Fitted pieces may belt better than blousy ones, depending on the fabric. Finding trousers that are high enough in the back to cover the “handles” can be a challenge, especially in the current low-rise environment; many trousers hit mid-love-handle or ride below them making an 8 look heavy or sloppy. Peplum tops and jackets generally flatter an 8; they give room for that high hip! Tops should end just below that high hipbone. Finding fabrics that drape, but do not cling is key to looking smooth, and not lumpy. Belted coats are fabulous on an 8!

8’s What to Avoid

Tunics, which have been everywhere these past few seasons, are not 8 friendly, unless you find one with waist definition. 8’s should avoid boxy tops, and straight tops and jackets. Wide trousers and flares should be left in the shop, as they widen the figure of an 8 rather than creating balance. Steer clear of tops that hide your waist, or are too tight across your hips. Pleated skirts are also to be avoided as they can bubble out over the hip, but sewn down pleats that release around the leg crease can be flattering. Staying away from clingy fabrics, and bias cuts that Saran Wrap themselves to your curves will create a smoother, more flattering line.

When You Love It Anyway

If you can’t live without that tunic, belt it! Want to wear that wide legged jean? Then tuck in the front of your top to draw the eye to highlight your waist. Even a 1/2 tuck will do! This particular 8 finds the 1/2-tuck a blessing! It gives definition to my waist, while creating a drape in back that covers my “handles.” If belting a top or jacket creates too much “poof”, try sliding the belt up a little higher, and loosen it a notch to highlight your waist and ease the fabric. And always make sure to shift most of the gathers created to the front and back, away from your hipbones! Tee too blousy, or too long? Create a waist by gathering fabric on the reverse side and securing it with a rubber band  (known as a Kimtuck), or pull the excess together at the hem, slip the tail through a belt loop, and into your waistband.




    Liz, Pray you have a blessed Palm Sunday! I am a 8 but I have gained weight in my tummy area with menopause. As a result I try to avoid showing this area. I am short waisted but have long legs. I have a womanly body. This has caused me some problems in dressing myself in the last few years. I would diffinately say dressing isn’t fun anymore as a result!

    • Liz K

      I envy you your long legs, Natalie! There’s nothing wrong with a womanly body, it’s beautiful! Dressing can be fun for any shape and size. It’s about embracing who you are right now, and blessing her with the same care you would another. So many women are waiting for the body they had 1o pounds ago, or 10 years ago. Love the body you have right now. It’s a gift and a temple of the Spirit. Honor that temple.

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