Body shape is a tricky one. It’s one of those things that everybody knows about, but not many are really all that sure of what they are. And believe it or not, it does make a difference. Body shapes, just like sizes or colours, go in and out of fashion. It’s why one season you’ll be able to find all sorts of clothes that fit you beautifully, and the next struggle to find a single thing. The important thing to remember is that all women come in all shapes, regardless of their size. You can get curvaceous hourglass size 20’s and bottom heavy, pear-like size 8’s. It’s all about how your bones and skin sit. But generally, there are 3 ‘overarching’ body shapes, with a lot of different subsets within them. And today, we want to break open the myth and help you work out what to wear to flatter your own body shape.
Apples and Oranges
The easiest way to figure out if you’re an oval is by getting out the cloth tape measure. Measure around your hips, waist and bust. If your waist measurement is larger than your bust and your hips, you are considered an oval. Oval shapes tend to carry their weight in their midsections, meaning that your waistline isn’t naturally that defined. To create that desirable ‘hourglass’ or to flatter your oval figure, you should be looking for certain styles. We all know that confidence can come from the clothes we wear and learning how to dress your shape so that you feel amazing is definitely a part of that. When shopping for an oval body shape, you should look for clothes that hang from the shoulder and give the impression of bigger hips and a defined waistline. Clothes that taper at the top into a defined waistline and flare out at the hips are the oval’s best friend. Tops with nipped or belted waists are great for this, wrap tops with empire line detailing are a personal favourite and any top with a square, wide or V neck to help with the tapering effect. Tailored jackets with simple sleeves help accentuate the waistline you are trying to create but avoid doing up any buttons above the bust – this way the jacket flares out around the hips. Pair these top options with bottoms that will minimise your lower half. Bootcut jeans are perfect for ovals as they follow your natural curves. Full, tiered, flared or bubble skirts are all great options for the oval, and any trousers with full or wide legs and a mid-rise waist. If you’re a dress kind of girl, look for the classic A-line numbers that cut in at the waist and flare out at the bottom or empire lines that draw attention just below the bust and flow down loosely. But above all, pick clothes that make you feel amazing – you will always look your best when you feel confident and beautiful.
It’s Hip to Be Rectangles
Now we are only a few years away from 2020, and I believe we should be bringing back the roaring 20’s with style. In the 20’s women favoured a more androgynous look, opting to downplay their waists and wear bras that flattened their breasts rather than extenuate them. Beauty in the 1920’s was a curveless, boyish body, aka the rectangle. To achieve this shape, women opted for dresses with a lot of detail at the bottom and top to draw attention away from their waists, instead focusing on shoulders and hips and flattening their breasts. However today we want to give more of an hourglass impression, so us rectangles need to look for jackets tailored around the waist, medium to high necklines on tops to accentuate our long necks and lots of belts to create a waistline. Tops and jackets with shoulder pads can also help create the illusion of shape, especially when paired with an A-line skirt or slightly flared trousers. Halter necks and empire line dresses are also great for rectangular women. Sadly, there isn’t a lot of this around at the moment, but we are starting to see things like bootleg jeans and empire waist dresses slowly coming back into fashion. Let’s hope that the change keeps coming and 2020 will be the year of the rectangle!
Hips Don’t Lie
The hourglass figure is one of the most coveted body shapes, as the even curves of the bust and hips combined with a narrow waist make it an inherently feminine and attractive shape. Thousands of women aspire to be (or to appear) an hourglass shape, but the reality is only 8% of women have this body shape. There are workouts you can do that claim to enhance the hourglass shape, and many women across the world will undergo plastic surgery to reduce the size of their waist and accent their bust and hips.
Bearing this in mind, the thing that interests me is the number of women who worry that their hips are too big when big hips are one of the main hallmarks of the desirable hourglass figure. The hourglass is defined by a hip and bust of almost equal size with a narrow waistline in between. This is because body fat for this shape tends to be distributed around the upper and lower body, so hourglass women will have larger arms, chests, hips and bottoms than their waist or abdomen. You would think then that big hips would be desirable, but you would be amazed at how many women I overhear in changing rooms complaining about the size of their hips. It seems that, like many things, we often want the opposite of what we have.
No two women will ever be the same shape, and the variety of size and shapes out there goes far beyond the standard ‘rectangle, inverted triangle, hourglass, pear’ that high street designers seem to cater for. You should always try to dress for your body shape to get the most out of your clothes, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Above all, women should feel confident and comfortable in what they wear, and if that means ignoring the ‘rules’, then so be it!