Know Your Body Shape and Dress to Flatter

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Body shape plays a major role in determining what current fashions and favorite classic styles best flatter your curves. Use this handy guide to find out your shape, and in no time you’ll be a better dressed, more confident version of yourself. And then you’ll just win, all day long. (Or, at least you’ll look like it.)

How to Find Your Body Shape

The most easily recognizable body shapes are the rectangle, triangle or pear, inverted triangle, diamond or oval, and the hourglass. The best way to figure out your own shape is to take your measurements to determine your proportions. This may sound like a little bit of work, but it is a pretty foolproof method for determining your body shape.

The four key measurements you will want to take are your shoulder, bust, waist, and hip. Here are some tips for taking the following measurements:

  • Shoulders: To determine your body shape, you will want to measure your shoulders from edge to edge. Place the end of the tape measure on the edge of your shoulder, right before it begins to slope downward, and extend the tape measure, following the natural curve of your shoulders, until you reach the edge of your opposite shoulder.
    Tip: Never pull the tape measure straight across from shoulder to shoulder, as this will throw your measurement off.
  • Bust: To measure your bust, be sure to wear a non-padded and natural-shaped bra. Begin by placing the tape measure around your back, making sure that the tape is even and straight behind your bust. Next, bring the tape measure across your apex, (typically this will be across your nipples) which will likely be the fullest part of your breast.
    Tip: If you are measuring yourself, be sure to relax your upper arms at your sides to get an accurate measurement.
  • Waist: To measure your waist, bend to your left and right sides. Where your body naturally bends on each side is where you want to measure. Be sure to keep your tape measure straight and even around your body.
    Tip: If you are having a hard time finding your natural waist, use your belly button as a marker and measure around your torso, keeping the tape straight and even. While this is not the industry standard for taking a waist measurement, it can often be helpful when measuring for shape.
  • Hip: Use your lower hip measurement. To obtain your lower hip, first visually identify the fullest part of your hips/seat. Most women are fullest approximately 8-11 inches down from their waists. Once you find the location, wrap the tape measure around your hips, keeping the tape even and straight.
    Tip: If you are very tall and/or full in the hips, the measurement may be farther from your waist than average.

Crunch the Numbers to Find Your Shape

Once you have taken these four measurements, use the numbers you obtained to map your body shape.

  • Rectangle: If your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips are similar in size, and you do not have a strongly defined waist, you have a rectangle shape.
  • Triangle/Pear: If your shoulders and bust are smaller than your hip measurement, you are consistent with a triangle, or pear, shape.
  • Inverted Triangle: If your shoulder and bust measure larger than your waist and hips, you have an inverted triangle shape.
  • Diamond/Oval: If your waist measures larger than your shoulder, bust, and hips, you are consistent with a diamond or oval shape.
  • Hourglass: If your waist is your smallest measurement, and your shoulders and bust are similar in size to your hips, you have an hourglass shape.

Choose Outerwear That Complements

  • Rectangle: Choose a jacket that is fitted at the waist and looser on the top and bottom, which will help to create a curvier silhouette.
  • Triangle/Pear: Choose a structured jacket, which will build up your shoulders and balance your curves.
  • Inverted Triangle: A jacket with a defined waist and flared bottom will balance out a broader top.
  • Diamond/Oval: Opt for a jacket that is looser in the middle and fitted in the arms and elsewhere, which will balance out your curves.
  • Hourglass: Choose a fitted jacket with a defined and/or belted waist, which will enhance, rather than hide, your curves.

With just a little time, a tape measure, and a reality check, finding your shape can help you shop and dress better. Knowing what makes you look good is also a great way to boost your mood and lend you the confidence to succeed, so find your shape, and you’ll find your style.

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