Before I start work with my clients, I ask them to fill out a questionnaire, to help me better understand them and find out with what they want help. One of the most frequent responses about a client’s goals is to learn to dress his or her Body Shape.
A Little History
The “ideal” body shape has changed dramatically over time., and differs from culture to culture. In western culture, for much of history, extra weight was a status symbol signifying that you were well off. You had more than enough to eat! Think of all those amazing paintings by Rubens. Botticelli’s Venus, as trim as she is, still sports a little tummy pooch. No ripped abs or muscled legs for her! Her attendant is a well-built woman, with thighs that could certainly be called strong and generous. The nipped and corseted women of the past may have been striving for the ideal of a tiny waist, but were still expected to be full elsewhere. So when did society’s obsession with thin begin? We most commonly associate the 1920’s with the beginning of the thin craze, but the boyish figure obsession of that era passed and in the 1930’s and 40’s curves ruled again. In the 60’s, Twiggy and the Youthquake brought the “skinny kid” figure back into style, and we still struggle with an obsession with thinness today. If you have ever felt trapped in the wrong time for your body style-wise, you are not alone!
What is Body Shape?
Put simply, your Body Shape is your skeleton, and your silhouette. Your body shape is determined by your skeleton, most notably your hips and shoulders, and how they are related. This is (for the most part) determined by your genes and your environment when you were growing up. There is really not much you can do to change the skeleton you have. (Although, you CAN control the kind of skeleton you WILL have when you are 80, so please eat well, don’t smoke, and do weight bearing exercise!)
If you Google “body shape” you will find oodles of images, and geometric and object shape names! Brick, bell, rectangle, triangle, apple, pear, hourglass, inverted triangle, oval, straw, column, straight, spoon, diamond, and the list goes on. I am not impressed by being called a fruit shape, and even less so a brick. My training was with the amazing Imogen Lamport from AOPI, and I love her letter and number based system that leaves those negative word connotations behind.
The Basic Body Shapes
The basic female body shapes are I, H, O, X, A, V, and 8. 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. The balanced shapes are I, H, O, X, and 8. Now you can be a plump balanced shape or a slim balanced shape, your weight is not relevant, here. The unbalanced shapes are the A, and the V. You can imagine an A having wider hips than shoulders, and a V having wider shoulders than hips. (Often referred to as a “swimmer’s body…) Again, you can be a curvier A or V, or a more slender A, or V. Every body shape has its benefits and challenges, and almost everyone I have met wishes they had a different one! Every body shape is beautiful, and every body shape can look amazing when properly dressed!
Next week we will talk more about figuring out your body shape, but if you can’t wait that long, contact me and I would love to get you started with a consultation!