What’s your body shape?

Identifying your shape

Plus-size choices have multiplied in the past 20 years.  It took a while (you can read about my woes as a teenager), but finally we can (if we bite the bullet and pay for international shipping) actually dress to suit our personality-of-the-day, be it sexy, goth, sweet, glamourous or kick-ass career woman.

Now that we have much wider choice, are we buying silhouettes that suit us? While there’s lots to be said about dressing whatever rocks your boat, most women we know would like to dress to look 5 kg slimmer than they actually are, and like they have a balanced body line. The key to this is knowing what is your body shape.

To find out:

  1. Wear a form-fitting camisole and bottom, and look at yourself straight in the mirror.
  2. Compare the width of (a) shoulder joint to shoulder joint (where your arms join your shoulders), and (b) the widest part of your hips.
  3. Evaluate if you have a defined waistline.


pear shaped body line

1 – Narrow Shoulder/ Wider Hip. In this body type, you can see there is more waist definition from hip to waist than there is from waist to shoulder.  This is known as the classic pear or cello shape.

olympic swimmer body line

2 – Wide Shoulder / Narrow Hip. For women with this body type, there is more waist definition from shoulder to waist than there is from waist to hip.  Women with this shape have a tapered or curved ribcage that is wide at top and narrow towards the waistline, and a pelvic bone that is set high. Whenever you feel you look like an Olympic swimmer, remember most models are this shape.

hourglas body line waist defined

3 – Balanced Shoulder and Hip, with defined waist. There is the same amount of waist definition from shoulder to waist and hip to waist.  True hourglasses have a short ribcage, and a low pelvic bone.

hourglass body line waist undefined

4 – Balanced Shoulder and Hip, undefined waist. These girls have long ribcages, and only a little gap between the bottom of the ribcage to the pelvic bone, giving the body a rectangular look.

The above are the 4 distinct body-line types. As in life, there are always exceptions. Some women carry a lot of their excess weight on their upper arms, which might make their upper-body look wider than their actual bone structure. In such cases, even if their shoulder joints and hips are aligned in a straight line (technically Type 3 or 4), it is best for them to dress as though they have the Type 2 bodyline.

You might already be well-acquainted with your body-line already. I however, only recently found out I was Type 4, when I thought I was Type 2 all my life! So, it might be worthwhile to have a good look at your body in the mirror.

Another thing to note, our body proportions are the result of our bone structure which we are BORN with. For example, whether we have a defined waist or not depends on the distance between our lowest rib and the top of our pelvic bone.  If we have a big gap, then the chances of having a defined waist is high, if there is only a little gap, then most likely we will have not much of a waist. You cannot exercise your way into having a defined waist if you are not built for it.

(Look at the fantastically fit Cameron Diaz, you cannot accuse her of not exercising enough). So, don’t obsess or beat yourself up for not having a conventionally-desirable hip-waist ratio, ok?

Look out for our blog posts in the coming weeks about how to dress for your body shape…

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