As unique individuals, not only are our personalities different, but so too are our physical features, from the shape of our bodies to the texture of our hair. So when it comes to choosing outfits, what makes one women look great can make another women look a little ridiculous. Knowing more about the varying shapes of our bodies, however, can help us work out what compliments our figures best and how to bring attention to the right places.
Pear or apple? Lollipop or skittle? British style gurus Trinny and Susannah believe each of our bodies fall into one of their 12 different body shapes.
Women in group 1 are those with broad shoulders but without a defined waist. Within this group are apples, bricks and goblets. If you’re an apple, your largest part of the body is your tummy and your body shape is generally rounded and soft. Think Jennifer Hudson. You’re a brick if you are, go figure, square shaped and lack curves, like Kim Catrall. And goblets have broad shoulders, no defined waist, narrow hips, a generous bust and long legs. A celebrity goblet would be Catherine zeta Jones.
Women in group 2 have breasts and hips that are similar sizes. Shapes in this group are the hourglass, vase and cello. An hourglass is someone with feminine curves, a big bust and hips, and a small waist. Salma Hayek is in this category. The vase is a stretched version of the hourglass, having the same curves but taller, like Kate Winslet. If you’re a cello, you have broad shoulders but a curvier waist. Your celebrity equal would be someone like Oprah.
In group 3 are women who have hips that are wider than their shoulders – the pear, skittle and bell. A pear isn’t necessarily chubby but you’ll carry more weight below the waist and have larger thighs and calves. For example, Katie Holmes. The skittle body shape has a smaller bottom than the pear and rather than the pear’s ‘saddlebags’ (when your hips, upper outer thighs and bottom are large relative to the rest of your body), has all-round chunky thighs. A celeb skittle is Halle Berry. And the bell body shape is someone who has small shoulders, a small, short waist and a large bottom and thighs. Hilary Clinton is a bell.
Finally, women in group 4 encompass everyone else; the columns, lollipops and cornets. Someone with a column body shape, for example Gwyneth Paltrow, is generally taller and has shoulders the same size as their hips, as well as a slim waist and long legs. If you’re a lollipop, like Angelina Jolie, you will have a generous bosom, long legs and a slim waist and hips. Last but not least, the cornet is boyish and athletic and has smaller breasts, broad shoulders and long legs. A celebrity example is Cameron Diaz.
If you’re still not sure which body shape you are, use a calculator tool online that estimates your shape depending on your bust, waist and hip size – http://www.calculator.net/body-type-calculator.html – or take Trinny and Susannah’s body shape quiz –http://bodyshapestyle.com/2011/03/11/what-trinny-and-susannah-body-shape-am-i/
Once you know which category your body shape fits into, you can get a much better idea of what outfits best suit you. Here are some basic tips, courtesy of Trinny and Susannah, to help you dress better for your unique shape.
Apples, the aim of the dress-up game is de-emphasising your tummy and drawing attention elsewhere. Clothes that will make your middle look wider and therefore which should be avoided include t-shirts square or tight t-shirts, pleated skirts or trousers, shapeless jeans and anything bulky. Clothes that will accentuate your figure include flat-fronted trousers that fasten on the side and preferably have a wide leg, ruched shirts with open necklines, shirts with waistlines under your breasts that fall loosely over your stomach, denim trousers rather than jeans (again with a wide leg and fastening on the side if possible) and a straight lapel jacket or cardigan or duster coat over a more fitted shirt. For shoes, your slim ankles will look best in a small wedge, or a higher wedge for fancier occasions.
Bricks need to accentuate their curves and can do so with layers, gathers and knots as well as wide lapels with deep v-necks. Don’t wear manly, shapeless clothes or anything boxy. Also avoid strapless clothing, mini skirts, double-breasted jackets and heavy, wedge shoes. Rather, go for fitted tank tops and fitted knit wear, trousers with drapes that allow movement, draping tops, asymmetrical skirts, high wrap dresses, panelled skirts and curvy shoes with delicate heels or patterned curvier heels. Also, don’t be scared of using plenty of pattern and try a wide lapel jacket with a belt, length of the jacket on or below the hip line with the belt tied at the waist.
Goblets should draw the focus away from the top half of their body and subsequently highlight other features. So avoid baggy clothes, especially on the lower half and having the brightest colours on your top half. Also stay clear of chunky heels, shift dresses, double-breasted jackets, wide leg trousers, high neck lines and chunky knits or tops with added texture, like tassels. Instead, wear dresses and shirts with an empire waist (the waist line is raised above the natural waistline, sometimes as high as just below the bust), low waisted slim jeans to accentuate your long legs, wide neck tops, fitted jackets, scoop neck dresses, skirts with a fluted hemline and round, thicker heels.
Hourglass ladies, wear a good, supportive bra that fits well, go for classic rather than casual and avoid bulky clothes and high necklines. Additionally, don’t buy tops with anything extra on them, such as frills or bows and avoid big belts and pointy shoes. And embrace V-neck fitted cardigans, drapey trousers with a soft fabric, fitted blouses and dresses to elongate the waist, open-necked jacket nipped in the waist, scoop neck t-shirts and curvy shoes with rounded or peep toes.
Vases should accentuate their legs and keep their outfits simple and clean. Avoid ruffles on shirts, high neck shirts, baggy clothing, wide leg trousers and wedge shoes, and choose straight leg jeans (with slanted pockets on the side rather than having them front of your hips), fitted shirts, puffed sleeves, structured and classic dresses that offer support, single button jackets, scooped or square necklines, knit and/or empire waisted dresses, high waisted pencil skirts and curvy shoes with a slender heel.
If you’re a cello, be sure to take care of your posture and use your full height, and highlight your waist. Avoid mini skirts, skinny jeans, polo necks, satin, long jackets and ankle boots. Choose wide, scoop neck tops, shirts without lapels, single button jackets, empire waisted dresses with halternecks, panelled skirts, V-necks, simple wide leg trousers without side pockets and wedges with a platform.
For pears, it’s about finding the balance between your two halves, the top and bottom. So again, no slouching and minimise your lower half in simple ways. Avoid mini skirts, wearing bright colours on your bottom half, bias cut skirts (cut diagonally), skinny jeans, stilletos and ankle strap shoes. Rather opt for wide legged trousers in darker colours with a straight leg and flat front, A-line skirts, strapless dresses with a full skirt, high necked shirts, belted coats, straight boots and chunky heels. Finally, use patterns and textures on your top half and add a shrug to again draw attention to your top half.
Skittles need to emphasise their top half and de-emphasise their bottom half. You can do this with bold, eye-catching tops, fitted clothing on your top half and jewellery. Avoid skinny jeans, pencil skirts, cropped trousers and ankle straps, and go instead for bold and eye-catching shirts and tops with detail, panelled skirts and vertical lines on your thighs and bottom, dresses with flared skirts, fitted shirts and knits, wide leg trousers, jackets that hug your waist and high, chunky heels to add height.
If you’re a bell, the trick is to make use of your waist and bring attention to your face. Stay away from wide, v-neck lines, tapered trousers, bias cut skirts or dresses and long jackets. Choose textured fabrics, cowl neck jumpers, gillets or vests worn over fitted shirts or jumpers, elaborate necklaces around your throat to draw attention to your face, jackets that finish on your hip bones, pleated skirts, A-line shirt dresses, wide leg trousers and simple shoes with a smaller but feminine heel and no straps.
Columns have it pretty easy when it comes to looking good in most things, but be careful not to wear shapeless clothes and make use of blocks of colour. Avoid straight dresses, cropped tops and dropped waists. Instead, go for slightly flared trousers, A-line skirts, single button jackets, bias-cut dresses, three-quarter length coats with a belt to accentuate your waist, cropped trousers, round neck jumpers and blouses that are textured and gathered at the waist.
With their endless limbs, lollipops need to avoid looking like sticks, or lollipops, and create the illusion of curves. Clothes not to wear include turtlenecks, shift dresses, high cut tops, high waisted trousers and anything with vertical stripes. Clothes to wear include flared trousers, fitted dresses, drapey fabrics, scoop neck tops, waistcoats or anything fitted through your waist, flute skirts, wide neck jackets and coats and stilettos.
The cornets out there need to learn to create angles and balance out their shoulders. Avoid shapeless clothes, three-quarter length sleeves, scooped necklines, shoulder pads and platform shoes. Opt for skinny jeans, cigarette trousers, wide lapels to break up the expanse of your shoulders, asymmetrical tops, dresses and jumpers that fit around your middle and flare over your hips, flared skirts, angular dresses, draping jersey dresses, fluted skirts and slim-heeled shoes for your delicate ankles.