Knowing Your Body Type

Knowing Your Body Type

Posted by Candice Evangeline on 2017 May 24th

"Not every trend is for every body, and that’s okay." -Hillary Kerr

Last week on Fashion FriYay, I went over the importance of knowing your measurements. If you missed it,read that first. Using these measurements, you can officially determine your body type.   I use a mix of the classic HOAX method, based on the book by Mary Duffy, The H-O-A-X Fashion Formula: Dress the Body Type You Have to Look Like the Body You Want, with some calculations used from Bradley Bayou.  The graphic below is from Mary Duffy's website, Fashion 4 the Rest of us and describes what her method is based on. 


The concept of dressing for your shape isn't meant to restrict you.  Rather, the intent is to create balance, using  elements like shapes, patterns and colours together to create optical illusions.  For instance, if you carry your weight up top, the key is to minimize the top while emphasizing the bottom.  When you complete this, your mind set will shift from phrases like "My thighs are my problem area." to "I carry my weight in my hips and thighs."  See the difference between the two?  One places blame and is self deprecating, while the latter is a simple factual, statement. By being factual, we can start to take negative self talk out of shopping and dressing. 

I've added 2 additional shapes, the Y and the S.  Y is a more athletic build than that of the O, but based on measurements, may be put into the same category. The shapes do differ when it comes to dressing, particularly, because the Y shape is usually not as busty as the O shape.  

The second is the S shape which is similar to that of the X, however, the larger part of the hip sits up high.  Again, making dressing slightly different than the X but is often placed in the same category.  I am an S figure - we are sort of between the X and H shape, and the Y is between the H and the O shape.   

Depending on height, weight and torso to leg length ratio, there are many variations of body types, but these ones sum up the most common frames.  For further reading, check out the above noted authors.   Also remember, your body type is based on bone structure.  Baby, you were born this way!  So let's embrace and flaunt what we've got. 


H = Straight and is the most common body type.  You're an H if your waist is less than 25% smaller than your bust  (waist ÷  bust ≥ .75)

Weight tends to sit in the lower abdomen and toward the back of the high hip.  Hips to bust and legs to arms are all fairly even in ratio.

Ideal cuts: 

  • Skinny Jeans
  • Blouses
  • Suiting
  • Tailored dresses
  • Colour blocking that adds curve (like the Deep Vee suit)
  • Gathered skirts
  • Tapered pencil skirts
  • Slim boot cuts

Things to avoid: 

  • Shapeless dresses are hit and miss
  • Wide waist belts
  • Untucked blouses

Because the H shape is most common, most clothes are cut to fit you.  That and the fact that your weight is fairly evenly distributed, there isn't a lot you can't wear.   It's really more of a matter of whether or not you want to create the illusion of more curves.  If you fall into this category and still find shopping and getting the right fit difficult, take note of your height and weight.  This will help you determine what colours and patterns to look for.  If you are petite, avoid large prints and try lighter and brighter colours.  In the event you are larger in stature or taller than average, avoid dainty prints and pastels or light neutrals.  

O = Sometimes referred to as the inverted triangle or apple shape.  This is you if you have a bust measurement that is 5% or more than your hip measurement. (bust ÷ hips ≥ 1.05)

Weight is carried in the stomach and bust.  Hips, legs and arms are slender, with your legs usually being your best asset.   This can also be classified as the Y shape (see below if you're unsure).   They measure about the same, but have some notable differences. 

Ideal Cuts/styles:  

  • V- necks
  • Ruched bodices (Like the Tankini)
  • A-Line skirts
  • Empire waists
  • Mini Skirts
  • Skirts with volume
  • Kimono tops
  • Boot leg pants or jeans that widen above the knee

Things to Avoid:

  • Turtle/high necks
  • Volume at the bust or shoulders, like padding or gathers
  • Spaghetti straps
  • Things you can't wear a supportive bra with

Remember that the key here is to minimize your top half with pieces that cut it, like  V necks, U necks or anything that simply doesn't come up high.  Aim for deeper and darker colours and large prints on top, along with any kind of interesting details that will create the illusion of a waist line.  You can go a bit brighter on the bottom or use volume to create the illusion of a larger bottom half.  V necks and above the knee A-Line skirts are your best friends. 

A = Sometimes referred to as the triangle or pear.  If your hips are more than 5% bigger than your shoulders or bust (hips ÷ shoulders or bust ≥ 1.05), then you are an A shape.

Weight sits in the hips and thighs.  Bust, shoulders, waist and arms are slender.  

Ideal Cuts/Styles:

  • Ruffled blouses
  • One shoulder tops (Like the Tiki Lady suit)
  • Shorter jackets and cardigans
  • Low rise jeans and pants 
  • Wide leg or bootleg bottoms
  • Fit & flair dresses
  • Anything with volume through the shoulders 
  • Strapless dresses & blouses

Things to Avoid:

  • Long blouses, jackets and cardigans
  • High waist cuts
  • Tapered legs

Anything that creates some volume on top, or simply shows off your slender upper half is what you want to aim for.  A boat neck sweater with gathers on the shoulder, paired with a low rise, wide leg trouser is an ideal look for you.  Pants and jeans may be hard to fit - check out  Silver jeans, they have always been known as the best jeans for larger bottoms and are a personal favorite.

X = The classic 50's Pin-Up or Marilyn Monroe. With the waist being at least 25% smaller than the bust (waist ÷ bust ≤ 0.75), your waist is at least 25% smaller than your hips (waist ÷ hips ≤ 0.75), and bust and hip measurements are within 5% of each other. Weight is evenly distributed, but is most noticeable around the inner thigh and triceps.  

Ideal Cuts: 

  • V necks 
  • Mid rise pants and jeans
  • Kimono and wrap tops
  • Stretch fabrics
  • Skirts that hit below the knee
  • Cropped tops
  • Halter tops (Like the PinUp style)

Things to Avoid:

  • Anything that adds extra volume to hip or bust
  • Pleated or gathered waist pants or skirts
  • Turtle necks/high necks (unless they have a key hole)
  • Button down dresses and blouses
  • Baggy or shapeless clothing - anything that hides the waist. 

Similar to the H shape, because you are evenly distributed, creating balance isn't the difficult part.  What is, is finding items that define curves without emphasizing them too much. Depending on how much emphasis you want on your natural curves, over pieces can be a great way to minimize the vava voom, without making you look like your wearing a shapeless sack. For more casual looks, a skinny jean, fitted tee and a looser over piece can work wonders to create a more streamlined look.  

Y = You may measure like the O, but carry less weight in the bust.  You are more of an athletic build or an inverted triangle, with wider shoulders, small bust and narrow hip. 

Ideal Styles/Cuts: 

  • Short Shorts and mini skirts
  • Wide leg or boot cut pants & jeans
  • Mid rise bottoms
  • Jackets with waist contour or button
  • Empire waists
  • Jackets that define a waist line 
  • Anything that adds some curve (like the Deep Vee suit)

Things to Avoid: 

  • Spaghetti straps
  • Boat necks
  • Low rise pants and skirts

Similarly to the O shape, your legs are your best asset, so go for skirts and shorts, or even capris.   Aim for higher rises which will add more shape to your hips.  Avoid anything high up on the neck, but unlike the O shape, you are not as busty, so you can have some fun with less supportive strappy tops.  

S = You measure like the X, but your high hip is almost the same size as your low hip, sometimes wider.  Your hips sit more like a shelf and weight is carried at the sides of the high hip.  Your torso may be a bit shorter than your legs, and therefore, carry less weight around the inner thighs and triceps.  Your legs may be longer and slimmer than that of a classic X. 

Ideal Cuts: 

  • Mid rise bottoms with wide waist bands
  • Slim boot cut bottoms
  • Skinny jeans and pants (best when mid rise)
  • V necks and halter tops
  • Wrap tops
  • Cowl necks (like the Modest Miss)

Things to Avoid: 

  • Low or high rise bottoms
  • High waist styles
  • High necks
  • Shapeless clothing

Mid rise bottoms with wide waist bands will be your best friend.  High waist styles put too much emphasis on the sides of the hips where weight is carried and low rises may create a muffin top.  Because the high hip is wider, pants can be tricky.  Opt for things with a lot of stretch,  Silver jeans are another great option for this figure.

The next time you go shopping, try some of the styles noted as being well suited for your shape, especially if you haven't tried them before, or have been gravitating to the styles noted as being not as suitable.  See if there is a difference in how you feel when trying on these pieces.  The remaining tools to build your body positive wardrobe, are to determine the colours best suited to your skin tone, identify staple items that are worth the investment and how to use colour, pattern, texture and shine to create a balanced outfit that shows off your unique personality.  These will be discussed in the final 2 episodes of Fashion Fri Yay!  

If you haven't Entered the $100 giveaway its not too late!  You will be entered a draw to win one of 3 $100 credits to Evangeline Rose Swim. Plus, get all the tips emailed straight to your inbox! This series is designed to arm you with a set of tools to build a body positive wardrobe.   On June 2nd, I will be answering your questions during a live Q&A on Instagram and announcing 3 winners.    See full contest details.

Hope to see you there!