Four Basic Body Shapes and the Styles That Flatter Them

Women are constantly bombarded with images of the “perfect” woman with the “perfect “ body shape.  The reality is, of course, that there is no perfect woman, nor is there any “perfect” body shape.  Rather than long for a body shape you can’t have (after all, God wires each of us differently for a reason), rejoice in the body shape you have, and choose clothes that will flatter it and fit comfortably.  The truth is that a perfect woman is a woman comfortable in her own skin wearing clothes that make her feel good.
If this is the kind of perfection you wish to achieve, come along for just a few minutes for a brief look at the four basic kinds of body types, and see what kind of clothes flatter your fit the most.four body types

1) The Four Types of Body Shapes

The female body type can be broken down into four basic shapes:  the apple shape, the banana shape, the pear shape and the hourglass shape.  Studies have shown that, while society in general considers the hourglass shape to be the “idyllic” female body shape, statistically, nature is not as fond of it – one study by North Carolina State University of 6000 women found that 46% of the women had the banana shape, 20% were pear shaped, just under 14% were apple shaped and only 8% possessed the hourglass shape.

2) What defines each shape?
The apple shape is also referred to as the “triangle downward” shape.
Apple shaped women’s shoulders are wider than their hips.  They tend to have slim legs, while their upper body, especially their chest and abdomen appear larger than the rest of the body.
apple-Catherine Zeta-Jones
The banana shape is also referred to as a “rectangular” shape.
In this shape, a women’s waist is less than 9” smaller than the hip or bust measurements, making her shape consistent throughout.
banana-kirsten-dunst

The pear shape is referred to as the “triangle upward” shape.
In this shape, a woman’s bust is smaller than her hips and thighs, which is where the upward triangle image comes from.
pear-Eva-Longoria-Bridesmaid-Dress
The final shape is referred to as the “hourglass” shape.
In this body shape, the bust and hip measurements are close to the same, while the waist is smaller than both.  This gives the illusion of a more balanced figure.  (In point of fact, everyone’s body is just a little bit asymmetrical; there will be differences from one half to another.)  hourglass-kim_bride

No matter which body type you have, flattering fashions exist that you will enjoy wearing.
3) What types of clothes work best for each type of figure?
The Apple Shape:  Empire line clothing, along with longer skirt and dress lengths will flatter your body shape.  (Empire clothing is made with a very high waist line, with a looser flowing skirt beneath it.)  Lower necklines also will draw the eye upwards toward your face.  Clothing that emphasizes the lower half of your figure, such as pleated or tiered skirts, are to be avoided.

The Banana Shape:  Structured dresses or coats that cinch in with a belt create the illusion of a smaller waist, and if your bust is small, you also are one  of the lucky women who can easily wear high-necked tops, which can be tricky for other body shapes.  Pants with a belt at the waist also create a clean, elegant look for this body type.  Sheath dresses or other dresses with little shape should be avoided, as they only emphasize the rectangular part of your shape.

The Pear Shape:  Bold, bright tops and accessories around the neckline such as scarves and jewelry will help balance the larger bottom half of your body by drawing the eye upwards to your pretty face.  Large collars and lapels, including very fashionable asymmetrical  looks, also help with this body type.  Pencil skirts, on the other hand, will tend to accentuate your large hips and thighs, so you may want to avoid them.

The Hourglass Shape:  Any dress or look that makes your shape noticeable, such as dresses with cinched waists, or flared or wide-leg pants, are a good bet for you.  The one look you want to avoid at all costs is a baggy, shapeless look,  which will hide your well-proportioned figure from others.

4) Final Thoughts
These ideas are, of course, general guidelines.  Rules are made to be broken, and with each body type there will be outfits that fall outside these parameters that you may want to try.  Go for it – but remember to stock your wardrobe with plenty of clothes that fall within the parameters women with your shape have discovered work for them.  After all, the prettiest women are those women who feel pretty, regardless of their shape or size.

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