Style and Styling

O 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 A, X, 8, I, and V and H. 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 and H do not. Today’s shape is the generous and curvy O, another shape without a defined waist. O’s are often post-menopausal and most commonly develop from an H that has gained weight.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

First, let’s determine your Balance.

Tape Measure Not Necessary… Just Use a Ribbon!

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.

O’s are a unwaisted shape. They usually feel that their biggest challenge is dressing their tummy, which is larger than the hips or bust. Frequently, O’s are short waisted. Famous O’s include Melissa McCarthy, Queen Latifah, and Dame Judy Dench.

O’s What to Wear

O’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. Keeping with one color (monochromatic) from shoulder to hip prevents attention focus on the middle. A scooped or v neckline is more flattering than a crew. Soft dresses and tops that skim over your curves are better than clingy knits.  Jackets with strong vertical lines, seaming, front opening, and lapels are also a good choice. Attention getting shoes and boots are also fun, especially for taller women. Swing tops and coats are an O’s friend, especially worn with a nicely tailored trouser.

O’s What to Avoid

Even though an peasant type top with seaming across the bust might seem to be a good choice, the gathers that usually fall from it are not, as they add bulk to your middle. Likewise, avoid stiff fabrics that stand away from your frame. 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. Belting, color blocking, or seams and details at the waist are other O no-go’s. Belted coats and jackets are not the O’s best choice. Skinny jeans can create what an O shaped friend called the ice-cream cone silhouette!

When You Love It Anyway

Your favorite top is a gathered blouson? Tame the volume and create vertical lines with a more structured jacket on top, and make sure the waistband falls well below your tummy. Love that long pendant necklace that bounces off your tummy? Shorten it to keep attention up near your face. Maybe that means putting it on a different chain, or taking it to the jeweler for repair. If you must wear a trench coat, leave it open, or draw the belt to the back. Even better, take off the belt and remove the loops! 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. If you adore that striped top, make sure the stripes are very narrow, rather than wide, and top your stripes with an open topper with strong vertical lines.

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!


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