By Stephanie Pollard
We’ve all been there, in the dressing room.
The warm lighting, spotless full-length mirror, the peppy sales associate, and the outfit, all waiting for your opinion.
What do you think?
“Not bad...” you say while checking yourself out in the mirror, giving the sales associate their cue to let you know it’s 40 per cent off (“that’s a steal!”), and that you can “totally wear this again.” Ten minutes later you’re at the checkout, giddy with the newest fashion addition to your closet and a promise that you will wear this outfit again.
We’ve all been there.
Officially, dressing for your body type can be described as the process of figuring out how an outfit can look the most flattering on someone’s body based on their measurements, which gets placed into one of five universal categories: inverted triangle, pear, hourglass, round, and rectangle. The goal is to combine your measurements and styling techniques to highlight the parts of your body you love, and take the focus away from areas you don’t feel great about. While the idea of measuring yourself can feel daunting, even painful, finding your body type works better as a guide than a rule — things change, and it works best when you use the advice that makes sense for you.
How to Measure Yourself
What you need: full-length mirror, tape measure, something for notes, and yourself (in your underwear, or a sports bra and leggings).
Shoulders: measure your shoulders by wrapping the tape measure loosely around the tops of your shoulders, at the broadest part above the shoulder blades.
Bust: wrap the tape measure over the fullest part of your bust, holding it just tight enough that it feels secure but comfortable. Don’t worry if you’re measuring while wearing a bra, especially if you normally wear one.
Waist: Remember, you’re measuring the narrowest part of your natural waist, which is right above the belly button.
Hips: Same as your shoulders and bust, wrap the tape measure around the widest part of your hips, just below your hip bones and around your bottom — it’s also okay if you’re wearing underwear here too.
What’s My Body Shape? What Women’s Clothing Works for Me?
Once you’re done measuring, your body type might fall into one (or a blend) of these shapes:
Circle (aka Round)
This body shape means your shoulder, bust, and hip measurements are pretty close, and your shoulders and hips might be a bit narrower. This body type might also have a larger bust as well as an undefined waist. Like the hourglass body shape, bring attention to the whole look by wearing fit and flare, wrap styles, or tops with a deep-V. Wearing baggier tops and dresses might make you look bigger than you are, especially if the top has a detail like ruffles.
Also known as the athletic body type, the inverted triangle is a body shape where the shoulders happen to have a larger measurement than your hips. To give yourself a little more curves on the lower half, go for styles that tend to be fuller and flare at the hips. Think peplum tops, midi skirts, A-line or fit-and-flare dresses. You might want to skip the statement shoulder trend, or any outfit that makes you look wider on top.
The pear shape is a body type where the hip measurements are wider than the shoulders and bust — if you find you need to go a whole size up for your bottoms to fit, this category is probably for you. Waist-cinching pieces like high-waist jeans or pencil skirts (ideally in darker colours), paired with statement blouses or single-breasted jackets makes you look taller and balanced from head to toe. Proceed with caution on bottoms that are printed, bright, and made with a chunkier fabric.
Don’t let the name of this body type get to you. The rectangular body shape just means the measurements are pretty consistent, to the point where you probably could (or did) model at some point. Different from more top-heavy body types, prints, texture, bold colours, fuller silhouettes and expert tailoring is a friend of the rectangular body shape — just be careful to get anything you can’t “fill” out, like tops with demi-cups.
The hourglass is a body type where the waist measurement is the smallest, the shoulders and hips are roughly the same and you might have a larger bust or bottom. While this body type is often called ideal, it’s not the easiest dress since one unflattering piece can throw off the entire look. Celebrating the defined waist with a statement belt or wrap dress is always a great outfit choice, along with pieces that are fit and flare. Baggier silhouettes don’t look great on this body type, save the shapeless (i.e. really comfortable) pieces for weekends at home.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Dressing by body type is a fun, reliable way to add to your personal style by finding women’s clothes that look best on your body shape. The best part? Your body type is mostly based on your bone structure — your size may change, your body type won’t.
Sympli Clothing Has All Women’s Body Types Covered