I use 4 basic body types when assessing an individual’s proportions. These 4 types are meant to be broad classifiers to serve as a starting point for determining fit constraints. Below I describe the types, provide clothing suggestions and examples of celebrities for each type. Please keep in mind that there are many additional considerations that need to be evaluated and sometimes they are more critical than the body type! (More on that in a later post).
Body type Reminders
- No body type is “better” than another – I’m a firm believer that there is no ideal body-type. There are appealing attributes about each one and variety is what makes life interesting! You’ll see below that each body-type is represented by gorgeous celebrities because beauty comes in different packages. It’s important not to forget this!
- More than one body type may be applicable – The 4 body-types aren’t an exact science. There’s a sliding scale. For example, people can be borderline pear or slightly rectangle. You can also be a mix of two types. Hourglass and rectangle are a common combination for women who are slender, their hips and shoulders are the same width, but their waist is not overly defined.
- Bodies can change over time – Your body shape may shift. Common reasons include: having a baby, gaining/losing weight, or lifting weights.
The 4 Body types
Definitions of hourglass can vary significantly. For my purposes, I consider hourglass shape those women with shoulders and hips of the same width and a clearly defined waist. This can be arbitrary and subject to much debate but the idea is that proportions are symmetrical and a waistline is visible. I don’t need to sing the praises of this type since I find that most women want to claim this as their shape!
- Fit challenges: This type is blessed with a versatile shape but many hourglasses find they prefer waist definition to avoid looking larger than they actually are.
- Suggested styles: Belted looks at the waist, sheath dresses, pencil skirts
- Celebrity examples: Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry, Julia Louis-Drefus
Pears’ hips are wider than their shoulders which is an incredibly feminine and sexy figure. Many famous sirens have this shape, as seen below. This is also the most common body type!
- Fit challenges: To balance out a pear’s proportions, volume can be added to the top and minimized on the bottom.
- Suggested styles: A-line/flared skirts, jackets are meant for pears, voluminous tops, bulky sweaters, skinny jeans
- Celebrity examples: Jennifer Lopez, Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce
Rectangles have a slender shape with even shoulders and hips. They also have less-clearly defined waist than hourglass, and small to medium sized bust.
- Fit challenges: Dresses can be difficult to fill out and waist definition can be tricky.
- Suggested styles: Pencil skirts add curves, skinny leg jeans/pants are meant for Rectangles
- Celebrity examples: Nicole Kidman, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow
Inverted Triangles have strong shoulder lines and slim hips. Women often think this is an undesirable shape, but you might be surprised that many beautiful celebrities are this type (see list below), you just never noticed! Inverted triangles are often slightly rectangular as well.
- Fit challenges: To balance proportions it’s important to add volume to the bottom half and to limit volume on the top half.
- Suggested styles: Boyfriend jeans are meant for ITs, fit to flare dresses, A-line skirts, and wrap dresses for those ITs with large bustline
- Celebrity examples: Renee Zellweger, Demi Moore, Evangeline Lilly
I hope the above descriptions illustrate how variety of body types is a good thing, that neither one is the “best” and all shapes can look stunning. In upcoming posts I’ll provide more details for each body type and to dress your shape!