How to Determine and Dress your body type

How to Determine and Dress your body type - Blue Sky Fashions & Lingerie

Have you ever anxiously awaited for your dress to arrive in the mail, only to throw it on and let out an audible sigh of disappointment?  

How to determine your body shape is an integral first step to styling clothes and choosing clothes that look best on you.  We all want the hourglass figure of Marilyn Monroe, the height of a supermodel, and maybe the perky chest of our youth.  But, just because we don’t check those boxes doesn’t mean we can’t dress for our body shape and highlight our own best attributes. 

Before we go over how to find your body shape (both using measurements and without them), let’s go over the basics of body shape. 

What is female body shape?

Female body shape is the proportions of your body in relation to your shoulder, bust, waist, and hip measurements.  Depending on your proportions and measurements of your body it will fall into one of the following categories: inverted triangle, triangle/pear, rectangular, oval/apple, or hourglass.
It is possible that you fall into more than one body shape category if your measurements are very close, and if that is the case you should take both body shapes into consideration when shopping and styling yourself.

Taking measurements to determine your body shape 

In order to determine your body shape, we need to first start by taking measurements. It’s a quick and painless process, but here’s what you need to start: 

  1. Fabric tape Measure
  2. Fitted clothes:  Opt for a top that doesn’t squish your chest down and doesn’t have padding.  Avoid any heavily padded bras.  And I find leggings work well for bottoms.
  3. Pen and paper to write measurements down 

Time: It takes about 5 minutes to do and can be done solo or with the help or a trusted friend/family member. 

You will be measuring 4 points along your body.  You will measure your shoulders, your bust (widest part), your natural waist, and your hips (widest portion).  

No-measurements body shape approach

Now, for some people getting a measuring tape out and writing down their body measurements in ink sounds like a nightmare.  And, I totally respect that and understand how that could be triggering.

If you don’t want to use a measuring tape you can find your body shape without measurements by just looking in the mirror.  You will need to be wearing form-fitting clothing as mentioned before.

Here’s how to determine your body shape without measurements:

Stand with your feet should width apart directly in front of a full-length mirror. Wearing an all-black outfit can help you see your shape more clearly.  Evaluate your body from top to bottom and see where the widest part of your body is.

What is my body shape? And what does it mean? 

So by now you either have your measurements in hand or a rough idea of your body shape from looking in the mirror. 

What you need to remember is that body shape is a tool to improve your style, and no one body shape is better or worse than another.  Use this information to make more informed decisions on your clothing styles, points of emphasis, and silhouettes. 

Inverted triangle body shape

If you have an inverted triangle body shape :

  • Your shoulders and bust are wider than your hips
  • You gain weight in your upper body first 
  • You don’t have a lot of waist definition
  • A smaller butt 
  • prominent shoulders.

For this body type, your shoulder and bust measurements will be larger than your hip measurement. 

Dressing Inverted Triangle Body Shape:

Anything with a nipped-in waist will help balance out your body shape.  Opt for fitted jackets, flares, or anything with a higher rise.  Avoid tops with large shoulder details especially when paired with skinny bottoms. Wrap tops and dresses also work well as they help accentuate the waist and don’t hug your bottom half.

The goal with this body shape is to add some waist definition and add the illusion of curves to our bottom half. 


Style icons with inverted triangle shape: Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Demi Moore 


Triangle Body Shape (or pear body shape) 

If you have a triangle body shape (which is the most common among women):

  • Your hips are larger than your bust 
  • Your waist is defined and smaller than your hips 
  • You tend to gain weight in your hips and thighs
  • You may have narrow shoulders (although again as we mentioned your body shape can change based on whether you use your bust measurements or your shoulders, so don’t get too hung up on this). 

The triangle body shape consists of a larger hip measurement and a smaller waist and bust/shoulders measurement. 

Dressing the triangle body shape:

When dressing the triangle body shape we want to highlight our small waists and minimize the attention on our lower half.  While it is great to have those curves, the best outfits exude a feeling of balance. 

Opt for a roomier bottom that doesn’t draw attention to your larger hips. Fit-and-flare dresses work well for this body type. High-rise pants are your friend, as are straight-leg pants. 

Avoid having tops that end right at your hips, or anything that has volume around your hips, as that will make your body feel unbalanced.  Puff sleeve blouses are a great option to help add some volume to your shoulders. Off-the-shoulder dresses and tops can achieve this as well. 


Style Icons with triangle body shape: Beyonce, J Lo, and Kim Kardashian (although she does a lot to try and look more hourglass!)


Rectangular Body Shape 

If you have a rectangle body shape:

  • Your bust, waist, and hips are almost equal
  • You have little definition in your waist 
  • You don’t have curves

The rectangle body shape is also called the “athletic” body shape and has a roughly equal size bust, waist, and hips.   

Dressing the rectangular body shape:

The rectangular body shape is very flexible because of the balanced proportions between the upper and lower half.  Our goal then is to add some definition to the waist and to add the illusion of more curves.  Boat necklines can help broaden our shoulders, paired with wide legs will create a more narrow waist.

You will want to avoid boxy cuts and anything that is too straight up and down.  High-rise bottoms and belts will help define your waist and give the illusion of an hourglass shape. 

Embellished dresses also work well. They highlight the waist while also adding some volume to the shoulders and hips. 


Style Icons with rectangle body shape:  Nicole Kidman, Kate Middleton, Natalie Portman, and Cameron Diaz.


Apple or Oval Body Shape 

If you have an oval or apple body shape:

  • Your waist is equal to, or greater than your bust and hip measurements 
  • You have no definition in your waist 
  • You (generally) have a larger bust 
  • You gain weight in your middle/stomach first. 

If your waist is larger than your bust, waist, or hips by about 2 inches, you probably have a circle body shape. 


Dressing the circle body shape: 

This body shape goes by many names: circle, oval, and apple.  It can be one of the trickier body shapes to style because you want pieces that draw the attention away from your midsection and ideally elongate your entire frame.  

In order to do this, structured pieces will be helpful.  Empire cuts and wrap styles will also help define your waist and give you the illusion of more balance.  

Avoid boxy cuts or anything with a lot of embellishment along the waistline.  Anything that draws more attention to your middle should be used carefully.  And, generally, avoid clingy tops that will highlight any bumps.

Longer jackets and cardigans will help draw the eye vertically and help this body shape.


Style icons with a circle body shape: Queen Latifah, Amy Schumer, and Jennifer Hudson.

Hourglass Body Shape 

If you have an hourglass body shape:

  • Your bust/shoulders and hips are about equal in measurements
  • You have a very well defined waist 
  • You most likely have a larger bust and butt 

How to dress an hourglass body shape:

The hourglass body shape is very coveted because of the balanced proportions and well-defined waist. 

Wrap tops and dresses highlight your petite waist and curves well.  High-rise bottoms also draw attention to your proportions, however it can be hard to find jeans that fit your waist properly at times.

Boxy items can make you appear larger, as it eliminates your waist and only highlights the larger portions of your body.  Similarly, low-rise pants can overly-accentuate your hip without any waist definition. Pencil skirts work very well with this body shape, but should ideally hit above your knee.

High-waist wide-leg trousers will be extremely flattering.  As are tops that cinch in at the waist or are generally fitted. You want to make sure tops fit your bust and waist well.


Style icons with hourglass body shape: Blake Lively, Christina Hendricks, Marilyn Monroe, and Scarlette Johansson. 

Knowing your body type is not about changing how you look, in fact, it is about leaning into your ideal silhouettes that highlight your body shape’s strengths.