Happy day, dear reader!
One of the first things women often want to know first when I do a style consultation, is “What’s my body shape?” Or they know their body shape, or think they do. Some women are remembering and dressing a body they used to have. They may not see that a weight gain has changed their shape. Others who have lost weight are still dressing the woman they were 30 pounds ago. I work with women of all shapes and sizes. I think they’re all beautiful! It’s not the size, or shape that makes a woman beautiful, it’s the woman inside, loving who she is right now, confidently taking on the world. Now, that’s beautiful!
Knowing your body and its shape can help with that confidence. It helps with learning to love the body you live in. Yes, loving the one you have right now. Not the one you had, or the one you will have…
What Determines Body Shape?
Your body shape is determined by your skeleton. Imagine your shadow. Your body shape is the shadow or silhouette seen when looking at yourself face on. It is determined primarily by the visual width of your shoulders and hips, and the relationship between them, NOT by your measurements. (That means that the old 36, 24, 36 is irrelevant!) Your shape is (for the most part) determined by your genes and your environment when you were growing up.
What Are the Body Shapes?
There are eight basic female body shapes. There are also hundreds of variations on these depending on height, proportions, and the distribution of muscle and fat on each woman. The basic body shapes are A, H, I, O, V, X, 8, and the Heart. 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. You might have 44″ hips because you have been doing bucketloads of squats at the gym, but that strong rounded booty in the back isn’t reflected in your front-on silhouette! The balanced shapes are I, H, O, X, and 8. You can be a plump balanced shape or a slim balanced shape, weight is not relevant. The unbalanced shapes are A, V, and the Heart. You can be a slim or plump unbalanced shape, too!
Can I Change My Body Shape?
Do you want the good news, or the bad news first? Most people opt for the bad first. No, you can’t really change your overall body shape. As I said earlier, body shape is determined by your skeleton, and unless you are having some sort of bone altering surgery, there’s not a good way to change your shape. That said, some shapes change over time and with weight gain or weight loss. For example, I’m an 8 Shape, but when I gain weight, I do so in my hips and thighs, not in my middle like many other 8’s. So I can be an 8 Shape or an A Shape if I don’t keep track of what I put in my mouth! Other 8’s put on pounds in their torsos, and can morph into H’s. This particular change is quite common during and after menopause. Some shapes stay the same with weight gain, but become a more pronounced version. Most A’s I talk to, complain that it doesn’t matter how much they diet or exercise, they still have those hips and thighs… (I wish they’d embrace those beautiful curves that the I’s would love to have!)
What’s the Best Body Shape?
There is no best! All the body shapes are beautiful, and all have their pluses and minuses. Almost everyone I meet wishes they had a different one! Most curvy women I work with would like fewer curves, and most of the straighter ones want more. It seems that the grass is always greener! Every body shape can look amazing when properly dressed. Ideal body shape has changed dramatically throughout the ages, but the X has been considered the female standard of beauty through most of time. Our current obsession with the very thin and commonly described pre-pubescent female shape (common to models) is only about 50 years old, and certainly has not done any good for the self-image of women. It has however, made the weight loss, plastic surgery, and shapewear industries a pretty penny.
How Should I Dress My Body Shape?
You shouldn’t! How you dress shouldn’t be determined by your body shape. Your personality should be the primary determinant in what you wear. Then your lifestyle. That said, knowing your body shape helps you decide where to put the emphasis when dressing, and what lines, and shapes will be the most flattering on you. What do you want to camouflage? What do you want to accent? Here’s an example of what I mean: I have a client who is an A shape. If she dressed just her shape, she would wear fit and flare dresses, or straight legged trousers. But those don’t fit her personality or lifestyle at all! She looks amazing in her narrow pants, worn with a belted top worn under a loose cardigan that skims over her hips. This works for her personality, job, AND makes the most of her shape.
How about you? Do you know your body shape? What do you find to be the biggest challenge dressing your shape? What’s the best thing about your body shape? Please share in the comments below!
Many thanks to the BA Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge for her fab Friday Link-Up festival!