Style and Styling

Bless Your Heart (Shape)!

The Heart Shape Body

Happy day, dear reader!

Woo hoo! Welcome to the final post in our series about body shape. If this is your first visit, we are finishing a back-to-school refresher about body shape, or shapes as the case may be. If you want to find out more about why body shape matters, check out this introduction. Otherwise, you are welcome to read the previous posts in the series about the A ShapeX Shape8 ShapeV Shape, I Shape, H Shape, and O Shape. Yes, there are eight different female body shapes, and an infinite number of variations on these eight depending on your proportions, and weight distribution!

If you’ve just joined us, your body shape is the silhouette, or shadow, you create.  The width of your shoulders and hips and their relationship to each other, and the definition of your waist, determine what that shadow looks like. The Heart Shape is a little unusual. It’s a variation on an I Shape (or sometimes a V Shape). The Heart may have wider shoulders than hips, in the case of the V base, or shoulders the same visual width as the hips, as in the I base. The large breasts are the defining factor of this silhouette.  Because of this, the Heart has her own set of dressing tips.

Finding Your Body Shape

Let’s start by finding your balance.

Get Out Your Camera! A measuring tape doesn’t tell the whole story! To determine your body shape, take a photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami, or if you are feeling brave, a one piece swimsuit. (Note: If you share cloud storage, delete the image as soon as you are done! Don’t ask…) 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 line from your hips to your shoulders is vertical and perpendicular to the ground, you are a balanced shape. The balanced shapes are X, 8, H, I, and O. If the line angles in or out, your shape is unbalanced; you may be a V, A, or Heart.

Now, 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 rib cage 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. The Heart shape based on a V silhouette may be waisted. The Heart based on an I silhouette is not.

Now that we’ve sorted that, what’s next? Your body’s scale and proportions play into your best choices, but in general…

Heart Shape: What to Wear

Dressing a Heart Shape can be tricky. Some Heart Shapes are proud of their large bust, and want to show it off. Other Hearts are self-conscious about their large bust and prefer to downplay their blessings. Dressing any shape depends on what assets to showcase, but especially in the case of the Heart! For either base, finding a well-fitting supportive bra is key to a polished look. Get professionally fitted; your average department store lingerie department is not likely to have a large enough cup size on a small enough band for you. Let’s start with the base. For general guidelines, the Heart with a V Shaped base should start here. The Heart with an I Shaped base can read more here.

Hello, Girls! If you wish is to showcase “the girls,” be aware of where you are taking them. In studies, females dressed more provocatively are judged less competent, and assessed as of inferior job status. Forewarned is forearmed. The first way to draw attention to your assets is obvious. Cleavage, and snug fitting tops. The second is less so. Highlight the waist. When you pull in the waist, the shift in scale causes the breasts to appear even larger than they are. (Think Dolly Parton…)

Hello, You! Heart Shaped women who want to avoid drawing attention to the bust, will prefer to focus attention above the bust, or down on the legs. In this case, check out the recommendations for the bottom half of the V Shape, and H Shape, and the curve creating ideas for the bottom of an I Shape.

As counter-intuitive as it might seem, covering up the bust with a high neckline (crew neck, turtle neck, or boat neck) makes the chest look even larger. A vee or scoop neckline is more flattering. The eye is attracted to skin, and when we open up some skin on the upper chest (collarbones, not cleavage), it draws the eye there, and away from the bust. Large busted women look great in large statement necklaces that might overwhelm a less endowed friend. The reason is that the scale of the large necklace is more in scale with the bust. Choose a top that does not pull across the bust, and watch the cleavage. Solid tops or all over patterns work better than stripes and placed patterns. Ensure that detailing, like appliques, designs, or seaming on tops stays above the bust. Be especially careful with patterned tops and dresses. Try them on. Pattern placement can make all the difference. (No one needs a large flower centered on a breast!) Buy tops that fit through the bust and have them altered to fit the rest of you!

Heart Shaped ladies often have slender shapely legs that prove a great distraction! Interesting hemlines, and border prints on skirts are great for Heart Shapes. Detailing across the hips and thighs of jeans (embroidery or whiskering) works well for a Heart Shape, too. Attention getting shoes and boots can also be fun, and provide great balance to the bust!  Dresses and tops with princess seaming to lengthen your middle are flattering. Vertical patterns, like striping on tops can be great, but make sure the stripes are not warping across the breasts. Jackets with strong vertical lines, seaming, front openings, and peaked lapels are also a good choice to keep the eye moving up and down. Flared wrap dresses (that stay closed properly!) are a great choice for the Heart Shape.

In this example, the wider legs on the trouser help balance the bust. The flare of the denim skirt does the same, while showing off the legs, and creating a column of color. The v neck on the dress focuses the eye above the bust, and the shape of the skirt adds balancing volume and shows off the waist without cutting off the wearer as a wide contrasting waistband would.

Heart Shape: What to Avoid

The Heart Shape should avoid ruffles, pleating, and gathers at or above the bust. They create ease, but also the illusion of even more fullness in this area. Soft woven fabrics that skim the body will flatter more than a clingy knitted or jersey fabric. Boxy shirts will leave you looking shapeless and create a square torso effect. Stay away from tightly cinched dresses and tops, and tucked in tops. Give double breasted dresses, coats, and jackets a miss; they will widen you.

When looking for short necklaces, leave behind the dainty little pieces (unless worn in multiples for a more bold effect). These delicate pieces will create a scale imbalance, making the bust look even larger in comparison. Many large busted women prefer to avoid long necklaces that fall “off the shelf” and bob about, or fall into “the crevasse.”

When You Love It Anyway

Special retailers for the busty woman, and a tailor will be the Heart Shape’s best friend. You love the belted look that is everywhere this fall and winter? Go monochrome. Wear a column of color, and accent with a belt in the same family. If you want a trench coat, hunt for a single breasted version. Buy tops to fit your bust, and have the waist and sleeves taken in to remove excess fabric. You may also need the hem leveled. Just have to have that long necklace? A pendant necklace can create an intentional v-shape, and help prevent the chain from “lasso-ing” a breast as you go about your day.

Now that we have tackled all the body shapes, can you better appreciate the beauty of your own shape? I hope so! That’s the goal of this series. Have you learned anything new? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,


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