How to Determine Your Body Shape

"Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Your Body Shape"


The 5 main body shapes (or silhouettes if you will) are Hourglass, Rectangle, Pear, Apple and Inverted Triangle Body Shape.

Girl determining her body shape in front of mirror

Of course, there are women who won't fit into any categories to a T. You might be petite or plus size. Thin-boned or thick-boned. Large-chested, something in the middle or small-chested. You might have high hips. Slim, curvy, chubby or overweight. And the list goes on.

With that being said, these body features (take note of the word 'features' not silhouette) will often "distort" your perception of your own body figure, making it harder for you to put yourself in a category.

What Do We Mean By "Body Shape"?

The thing with us image consultants and body shapes, is that we use the term "shape" to describe the overall silhouette of your body. Meaning - the contours of your body figure based on your waistline. Basically, it's how your upper, mid and lower half are in proportion with each other. This means we don't always take "problem areas" such as short legs, or a large bust or flabby arms into consideration!

Mini notebook icon Note: If you just want to know how to wear and what clothes to wear if you have a long torso/short legs or short torso/long legs, etc. then go straight to the vertical proportions-section. If you're new to body shapes, please click here or continue reading the rest of this page first.


How to Determine Your Body Shape

When you gain weight, pay attention to where the pounds get stored, because that's often a clue to what type of body shape you have. This is just a guideline, not a gospel ;)

1. Step a few feet away from a full-length mirror and observe your overall body shape.

Do this naked as underwear can also disguise what's really there. For example: Wearing boy shorts can emphasize your hips and make you look more bottom heavy

2. Now, focus on the shape of your torso. And visualize a dress form - shoulders to hips.

It's the contours of your torso; from the thinnest part of your waist to your rib cage and hip line that will determine your overall body shape.

Mini notebook icon Another trick is to measure the widest point of your shoulders and hips, and the thinnest part of your waist. An hourglass is always between 8" to 12" smaller than the hip or bust measurement. See more further down this page.

After analyzing your torso shape let's look at which category your body falls into: 


The Body Shapes
- 5 main combinations of torso proportions:

I recommend that you also take the time to take your body measurements as the number are great at indicating your true body shape!
  • Pear: Torso and upper body smaller than your hips with waist definition
  • Inverted triangle: Torso and upper body wider than your hips - with little waist definition
  • Rectangle: Torso and upper body are the same width as your hips - little waist definition
  • Hourglass: Torso and hips are approximately the same width - with waist definition
  • Apple: Torso and upper body wider than your hips - with little or no waist definition. You might have weight surrounding your waist.

Let's take a closer look at each torso combination(body shape)!

Here are the 5 Common Body Shapes


Pear body shape pin

Pear Body Shape

1. You have a well-defined waist

2. Your bust and shoulders are proportionally narrower than your hip-line

3. Your thighs and maybe your butt might be full and rounded

4. Narrow or sloping shoulders

5. You may have short and/or full/muscular legs

Click here (opens in a new window) for fashion advice and tips on how to dress for your curvascious pear shape


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Inverted triangle body shape pin

Inverted Triangle Body Shape

1. Your bust and shoulders are proportionally wider than your hips

2. Your hips are narrow or at least narrower than your bust and shoulders

3. You may have slim legs which often comes with this body shape

4. You might have a flat butt

5. You project a sporty-athletic physique. Your figure looks toppled.

Click here (opens in a new window) for advice and tips on how to dress for your athletic shape.


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Rectangle body shape pin

Rectangle Body Shape

1. Your bust and shoulders are about the same width as your hip-line

2. You might look shorter and heavier than you really are

3. You have little or no waist definition

4. Waist measures from 1" to 8" smaller than the bust

5. You may have gained weight or given birth

Click here (opens in a new window) for advice and tips on how to dress for your boyish shape.


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Hourglass body shape pin

Hourglass Body Shape

1. Your bust and shoulders are at the same width as your hips

2. You have a defined waist

3. When gaining weight, the fat usually stores evenly throughout your body

4. Your waist is 8" to 12" smaller than the hip or bust measurement

5. Your figure resembles a coke bottle.

Click here (opens in a new window) for advice and tips on how to dress for your proportional body shape.

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Apple body shape pin

Apple Body Shape

1. You have the appearance of being round, slightly wide around the waistline

2. Your waistline lacks or has no waist defintion

3. Your hips and butt might be wide and full along with your waist

4. Your silhouette is round usually due to overweight or childbirth

5. Bust, waist and hips are very close in measurements.

Click here (opens in a new window) for advice and tips on how to dress for your round body shape.


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If You Can't Seem to Fit in a Specific Shape

What's most important here is to take a note of the proportions of your body - lower compared to upper half. And then figure out what needs to be trimmed or added to create a proportional body shape.

Let me explain:

Let's say this guide identifies your frame as an inverted triangle body shape. You definitely have wide shoulders and bust but you do have a waist and little bit of curves. Now what category do belong to now? You could still be an Inverted Triangle because your upper half, the shoulders and bust, are despite everything else, the most prominent area of your body figure.

Your goal should then be to balance it out by adding more width to your lower body to make your upper body look less prominent.

To give you an example here are two ladies who both have an hourglass body shape but with a few differences:

Celebs with hourglass body shape
Image via BULLS

Kelly Brook is apparently a slimmer version of an hourglass body shape because of her thin bone structure, overall petite size and teeny tiny waist (mind me, but Kelly Brook is definitely wearing a waist cincher ;-) ).

Kate Winslet on the other hand is an Hourglass but with a less defined waist and rounded hips. She could almost pass up for a rectangle or a pear shape. For some this would make her.. a rectangle-hourglass-pear, right? This usually confuses you because it doesn't indicate what specific category she's in.

Without knowing Kate's body measurements I would consider her an Hourglass but with a voluptuous bottom (but it's still proportional with her upper half), because her waist has definition - being narrower than her upper and bottom body, and not least her upper and lower body are at the same width.

Forget about squeezing yourself in one single group! Look at the bigger picture - if your overall figure is an hourglass but you have some extra weight around the waist find ways to slim that area down (eg. follow my Apple shape tips) as well as follow the guidelines for your main body shape (or torso shape if you will)! Learn more about how to achieve a proportional silhouette no matter body shape.

The chic fashionista Anna Villaruel says The whole point of figuring out your body shape is to guide yourself to creating a proportional hourglass silhouette on your frame to de-emphasize parts that you feel self-conscious about and that draw attention - and rather give more room for attention to your other fantastic assets such as a pretty face, lovely hands, great legs, etc.

By dressing proportionally in conjunction with your body figure, you'll avoid the unnecessary 'heavy point' that will take whole center-stage and leave your best features in the dark.


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Related Content:

Guide to Effective Closet Organizing - step-by-step method to organize your clothes and accessories How to Take Your Body Measurements for the Perfect Fit How to Find and Define Your Personal Style How to Dress Your Vertical Body Shape
How to Improve Your Self Confidence and Look Your Best in Clothes Guide to Petite Clothing and Fashion Guide to Womens Plus Size Clothing Golden Rules to Dressing and Styling for All Body Shapes



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More Shopping & Chic Inspiration at the TCF Blog:
The Chic Fashionista's Latest Trends Picks - Chic Runway Looks and Must-have Trends and Trendessentials The Chic Fashionista's Chic Inspiration-blog - Outfit ideas, celeb style and trend styling tips The Chic Fashionista's Stylish Finds - Latest trends and shopping picks, sales & discounts, link round-ups and featured posts & blogs/sites Learn more about the fashion basics on how to look your best and dress stylish

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