The 8 Body Shape
Happy day, my dear reader!
Welcome to this third style school refresher about body shapes! If you missed the first two, you can read about the A Shape here, and the X Shape here. I’m not playing fair with the title today… It’s a trick question! All shapes are great! And it is so much easier to shop and dress if you know your shape and what works best for it. The shape I want to talk about today is near and dear to my heart, the 8 Shape.
If you have been with me all along, you might remember that in the last post I talked about there being two hourglass shapes. It’s true, there are, and the difference in bone structure makes a world of difference in dressing these two curvy waisted shapes. Like the X, the 8 is also a balanced shape, meaning that the visual width of the shoulders and hips is equal (or very close). If you are an hourglass who never looks right in the silhouettes described for an X, you may very well be an 8! I can empathize. I’m an 8 Shape, and all my life was told that those silhouettes were perfect for me, but often they made me look short-er (I’m already short!) and heavier than I am. I didn’t understand why, until I was introduced to the 8, and how differently she dresses.
Finding Your Body Shape
Put Away That Measuring Tape! We have all heard the old 36-24-36 ideal of curvaceous womanhood, but the numbers aren’t the important part! You could be a 36-24-36 A, X, or 8, and each of these shapes has different ways to best maximize her assets. Let’s get brave! To determine your body shape, take a photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami, or if you are feeling extra brave, a one piece swimsuit. (PS: You may want to delete it as soon as you are done if you share cloud storage. I’d rather not go into it…)
Printing out your picture is even better; it helps to be able to 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 the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. (If the widest part is across your thighs, you’re most likely an A Shape.)
If the line from your hips to your shoulders is vertical (not angled in or out), and your waist is well defined, your body shape is an X or an 8. What? Yes, like I said above, there are two “hourglass” shapes. The difference is the structure of the hip bones. (And that completely changes how to dress these two shapes!) An X Shape’s waist widens smoothly to the hip line, like the legs of that X. The 8 Shape has high hips that create a shelf. Think about a (naked) Barbie doll. Her tiny waist pops right out into her hips. No smooth transition from waist to hips. Another hint that you may be an 8 rather than an X: 8’s are often short-waisted; there’s not a lot of room between the ribcage and those high hipbones. (Love handles are another common 8 feature. No matter how slim we are!) Like the other shapes we’ve discussed so far, 8’s can be very thin, or very curvy; that doesn’t change the fact that they are still 8’s! Some 8’s change shape when they gain weight, depending on where it settles. They may become more H-like (We’ll get to them soon!), or others like me gain in the backside and thighs and become more A Shaped.
Now that you know if you are an 8 Shape, here are some helpful hints. Your body’s scale, proportions, and variations (like bust size, etc.) play into your best choices, but in general…
8’s: What to Wear
Like the lucky X Shaped woman, the 8 already has a balanced figure, but needs to highlight it in a different way than her X Shaped sister. An 8 Shape also wants to create a waist focus, but without creating a “poof” that will further 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), a slight A-line skirt may be more forgiving than the pencil. Longer-waisted 8’s can wear a belt, but many 8’s find belting causes clothing to pop out making the tummy and hips look larger than they are. A belt in the same color as the top or dress brings focus to the waist without shortening it. Fitted pieces 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; thank goodness higher rise trousers are making a comeback. Those that hit mid-love-handle or ride below them make an 8 look heavy or sloppy. Well cut peplum tops and jackets flatter an 8; they leave 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! They draw attention to that waist, and still have hip room.
8’s: What to Avoid
Tunics, which have been everywhere the past few years, are generally 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. The 8 Shaped woman should steer clear of tops that hide the waist, or are too tight across the 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 are often 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. (You can see here how pulling the fabric in creates a waist focus.)
So how about you? Have you found your body shape yet? If you are an 8, did some lights go on as you read this? Or are you an X who has been trying to dress in the shapes that work better for an 8? Share your experience in the comments below… I love to hear from you!