Style and Styling

Does X Mark Your Shape?

The X Body Shape

Happy day, dearest reader!

If you are new here, welcome! It’s lovely to meet you! If you missed my last post, we are working on some back to basics. All the students going back to school are starting off the year with a review/refresher from last year, so I thought the timing was right for a style school refresh about body shape! In the last post I discussed the most common female body shape, the A shape. Today we’ll start on another curvy female shape, the X shape. So, does X mark your shape?

To determine body shape, we look at the width of the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at the waist and whether it is defined or undefined. The X Shape has been considered an “ideal” shape for a woman for centuries, sometimes more padded, and sometimes less padded.  The X is one of the balanced shapes, meaning that the visual width of the hips and shoulders is the same. Look at a capital letter X. If you imagine the top of the X as the shoulders, the middle is the defined waist, and the bottom of the X is the hips, you get a feeling for look of an X. The X shaped woman has a defined waist, and the shoulders and hips are equal in width. The X (like our friend the A) is a feminine, curvy, (and desirable) shape! X’s can feel as if modern clothing isn’t made for them, and that they should have lived in the 1950’s. If your body shape has been described as an hourglass, you may be an X.

How to Find Your Body Shape

Put Away That Measuring Tape! We have all heard the old 36-24-36 ideal of curvaceous womanhood, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story! That 36-24-36 could be an A, X, or 8, and dress very differently to (ahem) maximize her assets. 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 it as soon as you are done unless you want it showing up on someone else’s phone! How do I know? 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 widest part is across your thighs, you’re an A Shape.)

If the line from your hips to your shoulders is vertical, and your waist is well defined, your body shape is an X or an 8. What? Do you remember that above I said that if your body shape is similar to an hourglass, you may be an X. Yes, there are two hourglass-y shapes. The difference is the structure of the hip bones. (And that completely changes how to dress them!) If you are an X shape, your waist widens smoothly to the hip line, like the legs of that X. Another hint that you may be an X rather than an 8: You’re torso length is proportional or long-waisted. Remember, X’s can be very thin, or quite voluptuous; that doesn’t change the fact that they are still X’s!

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

X’s: What to Wear

X’s are lucky, because they already have the balanced figure so many women would love to have! But they may not feel lucky, because many popular styles hide the waist, leaving the X undefined, and square looking. In general, drawing attention to the waist, with a waistband or belt is a great look for the X. (If you are busty and not wanting to draw attention, you may choose to skip this advice, as highlighting your small waist can make your bust look larger.) Wrap dresses are amazing on X’s (Thank you, Diane von Furstenburg!), as are wrap tops. Fit and flare dresses are custom made for the X as well. A-line skirts are fabulous for the X’s figure, as are straight or trouser leg jeans, especially if they zip up the side. X women often have a hard time finding jeans that fit well; thank goodness there are more curvy jeans out there than ever before! If you are self-conscious about your curves and don’t want to show off your waist, make sure that your tops and jackets are shaped, or princess seamed. Properly placed darts will make you look 10 pounds thinner in an instant!

X’s: What to Avoid

Losing the waist can make an X look heavy and boxy. Avoid blousy oversized tops that hide the waist, and boxy tops and dresses. Long straight jackets and cardigans (boyfriend style) are less than flattering on an X (Unless belted… Then they are great!) and double breasted pieces often just make the X shape look bulky. Tunics can be a real challenge for an X. Belted tunics are rare, and belting those meant to hang straight can result in too much booty hanging out, or wreak havoc with the design. Many X’s find it helpful to avoid stiff fabrics (unless immaculately tailored) as they can add bulk to her curves. Ending your tops at the widest part of the hips will create an unbalanced look, so be sure to shorten tops to end above the leg crease but below the waist. Make sure jackets are belted, or nipped in at the waist. Even the drawstring on an anorak makes a difference! On trousers, avoid tapers, cuffs, and embroidery on the rear or thighs.

When You Love It Anyway

It may need altering to keep you looking your best. Like many other body shapes, a good tailor or seamstress can be the X’s best friend. He or she can add darts and princess seams to baggy tops, tunics and dresses. If trousers and jeans that fit are not to be found, buy your bottoms to fit your hips, and have a tailor take in the waistband. You don’t need the bulk (or discomfort!) created from belting a too large waistband to keep your pants up!

As I said above, another option for X’s is to belt it! This fall, belts are everywhere, so take advantage and belt away! Coats and jackets are showing up with self-belts, and leather belts over coats and blazers are popular. This is a great season to make shapeless garments work better for you!

So, how about you? Are you an X Shape? Or maybe you’re thinking you’re an 8. (She’s the next installment!) What’s your favorite figure flatterer? What do you have in your closet that you love and wear even if it doesn’t make the best of your assets? I love to hear from you; let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,


  • Christina

    If you are a combination of 8 and X, does one of them dominates or could you have an equal amount of both? How does a combination of them look like? Do you have a celebrity example?

    • Liz K

      I’m trying hard to think of how an X and an 8 could be combined… The difference between the two is the placement of the hipbones. The higher shelf-like hip is characteristic of an 8. An X has a lower smoother line to the hip. I’m not seeing the two together since they are based on the structure of the pelvis. I know that probably doesn’t answer your question!

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