Determining Your Body Type

Body type. 

It is a phrase that is thrown around a lot in the image and styling world.  Many women are concerned about their body type.  What is it?  How can it be used to find clothing that is flattering?  How do you know what your body type is? 

Well, I’m here to break it all down for you.

What is a body type?

Your body type is determined by the proportions created by four zones of your body: the chest, the shoulders, the waist, and the hips. 

It has nothing to do with weight, bone structure, height, or your body mass index (BMI).  The majority of people fall into one of five categories: rectangle, pear, hourglass, inverted triangle, and apple.  There are a few subcategories that are used in certain circles to account for the uniqueness of some bodies that seem to crossover.  For the purpose of this article I will just be focusing on the main five.

How do you determine your body type?

The best way is to take your measurements.  Always use a cloth or plastic tailor’s measuring tape, never a retractable construction version. 

  • To measure your chest, hold one end at the fullest side of one breast, pull the tape vertical across the nipple line, and meet around your back to the end you started with.  Be sure to not pull tight into the skin but hold the tape right at where your clothing touches the skin.

  • Measuring your shoulder line can be tricky on your own.  It is best to enlist the help of a friend.  Stand upright with your shoulders relaxed yet back.  This is the time to practice good posture.  Have your friend hold the beginning of the measuring tape at the tip of one shoulder.  Wrap the tape vertical across the decolletage area and meet around the back to the start.  As with the chest to not pull into the skin.

  • To measure the waist, wrap the tape around your natural waist that lies just below the rib cage.  Do not suck in or cinch the tape into your waist.  You want the most accurate measurement.

  • To measure the hips, wrap the tape around your body vertically at the fullest part of the buttocks.  As with the waist do not cinch the tape into your skin.  Hold the tape securely at the area where clothing lays on your skin.

What body type are you?

Rectangle – Your four zone measurements will be almost the same.  There can be a slight difference but not more than a couple numbers off one way or the other.

Pear – Your hips will be the largest number of the four, your waist the smallest, and the chest and shoulders will be in between. 

Inverted Triangle – Your shoulders and chest will be the largest numbers, your hips will be the smallest, and your waist will be in between.

Hourglass – Your hips and shoulder/chest will be almost the same.  Your waist will be at least 25% smaller than your hips and chest.

Apple – Your chest and waist measurements will be almost the same.  Your hips will be smaller than the hips and chest measurement.

I hope this helps get you started on figuring out your body type. 

Stay tuned for future posts about dressing each of the body types.  As always follow Alexander Personal Image Styling on Instagram @alexanderpersonalimagestyling for more tips and tricks on your personal brand journey.