I is for I Know My Body Shape (I Think)

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.

6 thoughts on “I is for I Know My Body Shape (I Think)

    • You’ve inspired my post for Saturday (J). The charts I was able to find have women who look slender (except for the apple shape). The average woman has a larger body than those depicted but isn’t reflected on body-shape charts. If I can find a better chart, I will. But do take your measurements discover what your body shape really is. And seriously ask yourself, What would change for me if I discover I have an apple shape?

  1. He He I am looking like an apple definitely but would love to become an hourglass. For that I need to exercise and diet both of which I’m allergic too 🙂 But yes, I think it’s more important to be healthy and lean than to be stick-thin, don’t you think?

    • Most women can’t change their body shape. Slowly lifting 3 to 8 lb weights and using proper form will sculpt a woman’s body. It may or may not change her overall body shape. Body shape seems to be genetically programmed. (I weighed 104 lbs part of the time I was dancing but my hips were still wide. My doctors, of course, told me if I didn’t gain weight they’d put me in hospital. They didn’t care about my proportionately wide hips.)

      “Healthy and lean” or toned is the way to go. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I’m a petite, hourglass shape – however, I can’t wear petite clothing – my legs are too long. I love my figure most days, but some days it’s a struggle. I have to remind myself that the shape put out there by the media isn’t realistic. I’m glad to see th standard shifting now.

    • You might try petites on top and regular on the bottom. Though you’ll need to have trousers and jeans tailored, it’s worth it.

      Thanks for visiting. Please come again.

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