Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: O

O Body Shape

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!

What’s Shape Got to Do with It? (Apologies to Tina Turner…)

What’s Shape Got to Do with It? (Apologies to Tina Turner…)

Before I start work with my clients, I ask them to fill out a questionnaire, to help me better understand them and find out with what they want help. One of the most frequent responses about a client’s goals is to learn to dress his or her Body Shape.

A Little History

The “ideal” body shape has changed dramatically over time., and differs from culture to culture. In western culture, for much of history, extra weight was a status symbol signifying that you were well off. You had more than enough to eat! Think of all those amazing paintings by Rubens. Botticelli’s Venus, as trim as she is, still sports a little tummy pooch. No ripped abs or muscled legs for her! Her attendant is a well-built woman, with thighs that could certainly be called strong and generous. The nipped and corseted women of the past may have been striving for the ideal of a tiny waist, but were still expected to be full elsewhere. So when did society’s obsession with thin begin? We most commonly associate the 1920’s with the beginning of the thin craze, but the boyish figure obsession of that era passed and in the 1930’s and 40’s curves ruled again. In the 60’s, Twiggy and the Youthquake brought the “skinny kid” figure  back into style, and we still struggle with an obsession with thinness today. If you have ever felt trapped in the wrong time for your body style-wise, you are not alone!

What is Body Shape?

Put simply, your Body Shape is your skeleton, and your silhouette. Your body shape is determined by your skeleton, most notably your hips and shoulders, and how they are related. This is (for the most part) determined by your genes and your environment when you were growing up. There is really not much you can do to change the skeleton you have. (Although, you CAN control the kind of skeleton you WILL have when you are 80, so please eat well, don’t smoke, and do weight bearing exercise!)

If you Google “body shape” you will find oodles of images, and geometric and object shape names! Brick, bell, rectangle, triangle, apple, pear, hourglass, inverted triangle, oval, straw, column, straight, spoon, diamond, and the list goes on. I am not impressed by being called a fruit shape, and even less so a brick. My training was with the amazing Imogen Lamport from AOPI, and I love her letter and number based system that leaves those negative word connotations behind.

The Basic Body Shapes

The basic female body shapes are I, H, O, X, A, V, and 8. Five of the shapes are balanced, meaning that the shoulders and hips are equal in width. This is NOT the same as being the same measurement around! This is a visual measurement across the shoulders and hips. The balanced shapes are I, H, O, X, and 8. Now you can be a plump balanced shape or a slim balanced shape, your weight is not relevant, here. The unbalanced shapes are the A, and the V. You can imagine an A having wider hips than shoulders, and a V having wider shoulders than hips. (Often referred to as a “swimmer’s body…) Again, you can be a curvier A or V, or a more slender A, or V. Every body shape has its benefits and challenges, and almost everyone I have met wishes they had a different one! Every body shape is beautiful, and every body shape can look amazing when properly dressed!

Next week we will talk more about figuring out your body shape, but if you can’t wait that long, contact me and I would love to get you started with a consultation!