The O Body Shape
Happiest of days to you, dear reader!
Welcome to the penultimate (Not a word I get to use daily!) post in this women’s body shape series. If you’ve been reading along with us, we have covered six of the eight women’s body shapes so far. If you’d like to get caught up, you can pop into this post to find out more about body shape and why it matters; it has links to the previous posts in the series. Today’s shape is the generous and curvy O. O’s are often post-menopausal and commonly develop from an H that has gained weight around the middle. The next and final post will tackle the Heart Shape.
How to Find Your Body Shape
No Measuring Tape Needed! Forget the old 36-24-36 ideal of curvaceous womanhood; numbers don’t tell the whole story!
Body shape is the silhouette, or shadow, we cast with our body. Our shoulders, hips, and waist and their relationship to each other define the shadow and our body shape. The O is one of the balanced shapes, meaning that the visual width of the hips and shoulders is the same. Look at a capital letter O. If you imagine the top of the O as the shoulders, the middle is the waist, and the bottom of the O is the hips, you get a feeling for look of an O Shaped woman. The O shaped woman has shoulders and hips that appear equal in width, and an undefined waist.
Let’s start by finding your balance.
Get Out Your Camera! 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. For reference, the balanced shapes are X, 8, H, I, and O. If not, 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 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. If you need to let the ribbon out, your body shape is likely an O.
Since O’s are a balanced, unwaisted shape, they often find dressing their tummy, which is larger than the hips or bust, to be a challenge. Frequently, O’s are short waisted, which is why weight settles there. Famous O’s include Melissa McCarthy, Queen Latifah, and Dame Judy Dench.
Now that we’ve sorted that, what’s next? Your body’s scale and proportions play into your best choices, but in general…
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. Wearing one color (monochromatic) from shoulder to hip prevents attention focus on the middle, and creates a longer line. Longer = Visually More Slender. A scooped or v neckline is more flattering than a crew, and keeps the eye on the face (rather than the tummy). Soft dresses and tops that skim over your curves are better than clingy knits. Jackets with strong vertical lines, seaming, front openings, 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.
Here you can see the fun colored shoes, and bright jewelry are attention getters, and draw the eye away from the tummy. The swing dress is a great silhouette for an O Shape, and can also be worn as a tunic with shorts or trousers. I would love the tank tunic on the left, with the denim shorts in hot weather, and topped with a long duster style jacket in the yellow to create a column of color with the yellow trousers when the temps cool down.
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, like the trench are not the O’s best choice. Worn with the wrong top, skinny jeans can create what an O shaped friend of mine 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 the shapes) can be your best friend! You will need to buy bottoms to fit your waist, and have the hips and thighs taken in to remove excess fabric. (Some O’s find maternity pants fit more comfortably, and flatter better than regular trousers.) 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.
So, here we are. We have almost finished the body shape identification posts. Have you found your body shape yet? What are your biggest struggles with your shape? Did anything in your shape post resonate? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below! That’s why we’re here…
PS: Sorry this went out late today… Operator error. Too much packed into this weekend! (See Instagram for details!)