Style and Styling

H 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. So far, we have tackled the AX, 8, I, and V. 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 three (A, X and 8) are waisted shapes; the V may have a waist, but the I does not. Today’s shape is the H, and like the I is a balanced shape without a defined waist. Many women who were 8’s when younger, find themselves becoming H’s if they put on weight with menopause.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

First, let’s determine your Balance.

The best way to determine your body shape is to 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, or the outer thigh. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground, or straight up and down, you have a balanced shape. If your lines angle out or in, you have an unbalanced shape.

Next, let’s see how you are waisted.

First look at your waist on your photo. If you are very waisted, you may see a dramatic gap between the side of your waist on the photo and the vertical line you drew between your shoulders and hips. For most women, the best way to tell whether your figure is waisted or not is to wrap a ribbon around your ribcage below the bust. Hold the end in place and slide the ribbon down to your waist. Bend sideways like a teapot to find the spot I am talking about! If you have to draw the ribbon in to measure around your waist, your shape is waisted. If the ribbon stays the same, or needs to be let out, you have an unwaisted shape.

H’s are a balanced, unwaisted shape. That means that an H’s hips and shoulders are the same visual width across, and the waist is not pronounced. Frequently, H’s are short waisted. Famous H’s include Princess Diana, Julianne Moore, and Anne Hathaway.

H’s What to Wear

H’s generally want to avoid drawing attention to the waist area, but prefer to focus attention on the bust and above, or to the legs. Keep detailing, like appliques, designs, or seaming on tops at the bust or above. Dresses and tops with princess seaming to lengthen your middle are flattering. Vertical patterns, like striping on tops, elongate the middle as well. Jackets with strong vertical lines, seaming, front opening, and lapels are also a good choice. Keeping with one color (monochromatic) from shoulder to hip prevents attention focus on the middle. Interesting hemlines, and border prints on skirts are great for H’s. Attention getting shoes and boots are also fun, especially for taller women.

H’s What to Avoid

Since the ribcage is the smallest part of your waist area, a horizontal here may seem like a good choice. Even though an empire waist is great, the gathers that usually fall from it are not, as they add bulk to your middle. Traditional denim jackets and other cropped styles create unwanted horizontal lines through the waist area. Stay away from gathered and pleated waists, cinched dresses, and tucked in tops. Stark color contrast at the waist is to be avoided, but a dark under layer with an open light colored topper can camouflage a thicker middle. Make sure tops skim the body, and do not cling. Belted coats and jackets are not the best choice.

When You Love It Anyway

You love the belted look that is everywhere this fall and winter, you can finesse it by wearing your belt under a jacket, and over a column of color. You get the visual effect of the belt, and the visual effect is shortened by the open edges of the jacket, creating an illusion of narrowness. Your favorite top is a blousy empire waist? Tame the volume and create vertical lines with a more structured jacket on top. If you must wear a trench coat, leave it open, or draw the belt to the back. Tailoring, like for all other shapes can be your best friend! Buy bottoms to fit your waist, and have the hips and thighs taken in to remove excess fabric.

We have almost finished the body shape identification posts. Have you found yours yet? What are your struggles? Please let me know in the comments below!



    Liz, I have a question about shape. If I as alays a X or a 8 then I gained eight all over and then in my aist after menopause. Am I a H ?

    • Liz K

      That depends, Natalie! Is you waist still defined? X’s often stay X’s; they just become curvier versions gaining in bust, waist and hips. 8’s can become H’s when they gain weight through the midsection. If you waist has lost its definition, it sounds like you might be an H. Here’s another article about getting to your body shape that might help:

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