Remember those measurements in Determining Your Body Shape, Part 1? Let’s take a look at what they mean. (I prefer body shapes to body types because shapes: triangle, hourglass, diamond, are often used to describe what our measurements mean.)
When I was learning pattern making, there were specific formulas for each body shape. The first three are industry designations that account for height.:
Tall: 5’8′ and above. Tall women may have athletic, hourglass, inverted triangle, etc. builds. Tall reflects height and often, a longer distance between shoulder and waist and longer legs. Some garments are specifically cut for tall women. Some clothing brands don’t fit terribly well. (At 5’8″, I find Banana Republic trousers and jeans are always too short.) Some women are both Tall and Misses or, even, Petite; usually tall women have long legs.
Petite: 5’3″ or below. Petite women can have athletic, hourglass, inverted triangle, etc. builds. Again, Petite reflects height and often, a shorter distance between shoulder and waist and shorter legs. Many garments are specifically cut for petites. Some women are both Petite and Misses or, even, Tall.
Misses: 5’4 to 5’6. (I don’t know why 5’7″ women aren’t included. Perhaps they are born wearing clothing that grows with them.) Misses can have any body shape. Some women are not Misses on both the top and bottom. They may have longer legs or the distance between shoulder and waist may be shorter or longer than the average (about 17″ to 18″). (Note: Misses is not pictured on the chart.*)
The remaining body shapes, reflect the relationship between bust, waist, and hip measurements. (BTW: Different charts use different names to describe the same shapes.)
Slender: Slender is really only a partial description of a body shape. It indicates that bust and hips are about 32″ to 34″ or less, smaller than average. (32″ to 34″ does not refer to the size of the bra band but to the measurement of the bust at the fullest part.) Many women are slender on one half but average or even heavy on the other. (I worked with a designer who was very slender on top and about four sizes bigger on bottom. She joked, “I’m two totally separate people.”)
Athletic: Bust and hips are about the same size. Waist is no less than 3″ smaller than bust or hips. Shoulders tend to be broad and well developed. Slender women often, but not always, need a very small bra cup size. (This shape is often referred to as “rectangle.”)
Inverted Triangle: Waist is 7″ to 10″ smaller than bust. Hips are at least 3″ larger than bust.
Hourglass:Waist and hips are about the same size (within 3″). Waist is at least 9″ smaller than bust and hips.
Pear: Bust is more than 3″ smaller than hips. Waist is about is about 10″ smaller than bust. Thighs tend to be heavy.
Apple: Bust, waist and hips are almost the same size (within about 3″). If weight is gained, it tends to be most noticeable around the abdomen.
But wait! There’s more!
As many as twelve (12) body shapes (possibly more) have been defined. They don’t take into account height or that some women’s bodies combine petite and misses or tall. Chances are excellent that more body shapes will be defined. Still, when we have a general idea of our body shapes, we can reduce the frustration because certain styles never fit and begin making choices that flatter us.
Stay tuned for more…
- Misses is considered to be the average height.