Style and Styling

What’s YOUR Body Shape?

A Back to Basics Post

Happy day, reader dear!

Measurements, smeasurements! Like the number on the scale, no one wants theirs to be public information. Which is one of the reasons I throw “with no judgements, no measurements, and a dose of fun” into my patter when explaining what I do to others. Measurements aren’t necessary to determine your body shape. I can hear the sigh of relief. Your skeleton is the main determinant of your body shape and we don’t measure your skeleton with a tape measure! For a primer with more information about body shape, read here

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, cast by the body. Your shoulders, hips, and waist and their relationship to each other define the shadow and your body shape. Some people suggest pinning a long strip of paper to the wall and having a helper trace the outline of your body onto the paper. I find this method challenging and inaccurate, because it is hard to keep the pencil point from wobbling in and out. Also, it tickles when the tracer gets to sensitive spots! There is no accurate tracing when you are squirming about!

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. It is quite common for the widest spot to be at the upper thigh. If the line from your widest spot to your shoulders is vertical and perpendicular (forms a T with) the ground, your shape is balanced. For reference, the balanced shapes are X, 8, H, I, and O. If the line slants, your shape is unbalanced; you may be a V, A, or Heart.

Now, let’s see how you are waisted!

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. If this is not the case, 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 about the same, or needs to be let out, you have an unwaisted shape. Waisted shapes are the X, 8, A, sometimes a V and Heart. The unwaisted shapes are the H, I, and O.

Let’s run some of the combinations!

Balanced + Unwaisted = H Shape, I Shape or O Shape I’s tend to be very thin. H is the most common Balanced Unwaisted shape. If your bust is very large, Heart Shape is possible. If your tummy is larger than your bust, you are most likely an O.

Balanced + Waisted = X Shape or 8 Shape

Unbalanced (wider hips) + Waisted = A Shape

Unbalanced (wider shoulders) + Waisted = V Shape or possibly Heart Shape.

Now that we’ve narrowed down (no pun intended) the options, you can read more about each of the body shapes by clicking the links above. Since some combinations have more than one body shape, read about each for more specifics to determine which suits you best. Please remember that all the shapes are beautiful! AND each has both positives and negatives…

So… How about you! Did you take on the challenge? Do you know your Body Shape now? Or are you stuck between two? That can happen! Let me know in the comments below… If you had any AHA moments reading about the body shapes, let me know that, too!

Stylishly yours,


  • Leslie Susan Clingan

    I think I am an X or 8 over here. Pretty well balanced but my hips might be a little larger in proportion to my shoulders and chest. Used to be really waisted as a young girl before children and had trouble finding anything that fit both my hips and waist. Your trick for figuring out body shape is really a good one.

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for the visit, Leslie! Although both called hourglass figures, the difference between the X and the 8 is subtle… It’s all about the placement of the hips. I’m an 8; my hips (the tops of my pelvic bone) jut out like a shelf. Those bones are prominent, and when I am trim, there’s actually a dip between that high jutting out point and the lower insertion point where my leg and pelvis (the hip joint) come together. An X’s figure sweeps smoothly out from the waist to the widest spot with no “bump.” Hope that helps! Another hint is whether you feel like you are long-waisted or short-waisted. Often X’s are longer-waisted, and 8’s–shorter. (Not a rule, but relatively common!)

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