I have a pear body type. This means that I’ve got wide hips. Why is this important? Because it helps me identify which clothes, brands, and fabrics will best flatter my body type. Certain silhouettes make my natural curves sing; others do nothing for me.
It’s why I’m on a quest. The challenge? Exploring various female body types. The reward? Identifying what does (and doesn’t) make each of the six most common female body types look its absolute best.
What do I need to know about body types?
Women’s bodies come in myriad shapes and sizes. It’s what makes us unique, and it’s why it’s important to say, first and foremost, that there isn’t a “perfect” or “typical” body. Some of us are curvy; some of us are athletic with good muscle mass; and some of us have broad shoulders. In other words, we’re all a little bit different, and that’s a good thing. It’s also important to note that the female body shape has less to do with body weight and more to do with bone structure. Even if you lose body fat and gain muscle, your fat distribution may still fall under one of these different body shapes — which is why it’s all about rocking what you’ve got. Most shapes can be included in one of six broad categories.
Women with this body shape have hips and shoulders of equal width and a defined waist. Clothes fitted around the waist and bust flatter an hourglass figure because they accentuate its va-va-voom silhouette. Within this curvy category of hourglass body shapes are Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett Johansson, and Sofia Vergara.
Here some tips for dressing the hourglass shape:
- Tip #1: Since an hourglass figure is defined by a slim waist, clothing that’s nipped at the waist shows curves to their best advantage. For maximum effect, accentuate the waist with belted dresses and cinched blazers.
- Tip #2: Avoid straight cuts, boxy styles, and baggy clothing that hides the waist.
- Tip #3: Create balance between top and bottom halves by going monochromatic. Choose a similar color for tops and pants or skirts.
The Pear Shape
Those with a pear body type (like me!) have wider hips and rounded backsides and thighs with a small waist, bust, and narrow shoulders. When it comes to dressing for this body type, it’s all about balance. Well-known socialites that have a pear body shape include Kim Kardashian and Eva Longoria.
Here are some tried and tested tricks for my fellow pear-shaped gals:
- Tip #1: Reach for blouses and dresses with embellished necklines that draw the eye up toward the slimmest part of a pear-shaped body.
- Tip #2: Keep hems of dresses, pants, and skirts wide to balance the body. Pair with a pointy-toe shoe to elongate your legs.
- Tip #3: Layering garments can balance this body type by adding visual interest to the upper half of the body.
The Apple Shape
Ladies with an apple body shape are broader in the upper body than the lower body, and they occasionally have a less-defined waistline. Celebrities with an apple shape include Queen Latifah, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Drew Barrymore.
These tips make the apple shape the apple of everyone’s eye:
- Tip #1: Invest in a good bra. Support is key for the often ample-bosomed apple shape.
- Tip #2: Limit embellishments to above the bust and below the hipline.
- Tip #3: Opt for breezy A-line silhouettes; flowy tunics; relaxed button-ups; and V-neck anything.
Do you have a relatively straight torso? Are your hip and shoulder measurements nearly the same? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, chances are you’ve been blessed with a rectangle body type. This body type is characterized by equal bust, waist, and hip measurements. Famous women with a rectangle body type include Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Moss.
Show off your modelesque physique with these tips:
- Tip #1: Opt for short jackets and mid-waisted skirts that give shape to the waist, and tuck shirts in to accentuate it.
- Tip #2: Look for tops with embellishments like ruching around the shoulders and bust.
- Tip #3: Wear different colors on top and bottom. This draws attention to the individual parts of your body, and creates definition.
The Inverted Triangle Shape
If your shoulders are broader than your hips, you likely have an inverted triangle body shape. Famous personalities like Demi Moore, Naomi Campbell, Renée Zellweger, and Angelina Jolie all fall into this category.
Even out your top and bottom halves with these helpful hints:
- Tip #1: Boyfriend jeans look fantastic on inverted triangle shapes. A-line and full skirts are also lovely, as they create width and balance.
- Tip #2: Opt for tops that accentuate a vertical line — V-necks, for example — and keep shirts unbuttoned.
- Tip #3: If you have a large bust, reach for tops that balance your chest with your hips.
The Athletic Body Type
Women with an athletic body shape often (unfairly) define themselves as having a boyish figure. If you have too many curves to be considered a rectangle body shape, but you’re on the cusp, chances are you have an athletic body shape. Here, hip and shoulder measurements are nearly equal. In other words, you have this common body type if your weight is evenly distributed across your entire body. Women with an athletic body type include Jessica Biel, Lucy Liu, and Serena Williams.
Here are three outfit hacks for ladies with an athletic body type:
- Tip #1: Elastic waistlines — and for the more daring among us, cropped tops — create and accentuate the waistline and midsection.
- Tip #2: Floor-grazing flares and bootcut jeans with heels elongate, slim, and give the illusion of height. Those on the petite side can balance a short frame with wide-leg styles, gathered waists, and even cargo pants.
- Tip #3: Choose tops that can be tucked in to add curves to a straight waistline.
How do you find your body shape?
To identify your body type, look in a full-length mirror to see which shape your body resembles most. If this doesn’t work for you, use a tape measure to measure four areas: bust, shoulders, waist, and hips. The relationship between these measurements will determine your body type. Still need some help? The next time you go shopping for new clothes, ask an associate to take your measurements. More often than not, they’ll be glad to help.
The Final Word
Now that you’ve identified your body shape, it’s time to put this knowledge to use. Making informed choices while shopping for new clothes and getting dressed each morning will make you a much more confident — and happier — person. It’s not about your BMI, your bust measurements, or the bodies you see on social media. Rather, it’s about embracing your hard-working, perfectly-designed, beautiful body, and dressing to enhance the wonderful qualities that make it uniquely to you. That said, certain body types do have accompanying health risks, which is yet another — and frankly, much more important — reason to know your body type.
At the end of the day, different body types make the world go round. Find the clothes that complement your specific body shape and go forth with confidence!