Knowing your body type is very helpful when it comes to finding flattering styles. This, of course, depends on what you’re going for when it comes to clothing. These body shape suggestions assume you’re going for styles that are the most figure flattering based on standards here in the US. Under each description, we explain what part of the figure the styles are meant to accentuate and based on that you can determine if the suggestions are for you or not. It’s good to know what’s generally out there but it’s better to do you!

The fashion industry generally classifies women into 4 main body types: Apples, bananas, pears, and hourglass.

However, the International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology breaks down women’s body shapes into 7 categories: Hourglass, bottom hourglass, top hourglass, spoon, triangle, inverted triangle, and rectangle.

Before you start reading further, and to save you the trouble of guessing, enter in your measurements to find your body type which will be based on the 7 types as defined by the International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology.

Here’s a handy tape measure you can print out if you need one. Please make sure to select the correct units.

Body Shape Calculator

The 7 body types

As an hourglass, your body shape is balanced and harmonious and your waist is clearly defined. Your bust and hips are proportional and well-balanced. When it comes to your hourglass figure, your goal is to accentuate that waist of yours and highlight your neckline.

Famous Hourglasses
Kate Winslet

Main traits
Hip and bust are well-balanced giving you that harmonious look
Narrow, defined waist
Broader shoulders that align with hips
Evenly distributed weight gain
Upper body and legs are proportional

Clothes to avoid
Flowy or loose-fitting dresses
Non-structured tops
Baggy sleeves
Chunky boots

Most flattering clothing
Mostly anything fitted that comes in at the waist
Cardigans and tops with plunging necks
Fitted dresses that come in at the waist
Double button jackets
Pencil skirts

As a bottom hourglass, you have a similar shape to the full hourglass. However, even though you still have a clearly defined waist, your bust is smaller than your hips. As a bottom hourglass, you’re going to want to highlight your top half while making your bottom half look proportional to it.

Famous bottom hourglasses
Jennifer Lopez

Main traits
Bust is smaller than your hips
Narrow, defined waist
Broader shoulders that align with hips
Evenly distributed weight gain
Upper body and legs are proportional

Clothes to avoid
Flowy tops
Baggy sleeves
Dresses with unfitted tops
Clothing that sits on your hips

Most flattering clothing
Mostly anything fitted at the top that comes in at the waist
Sleeveless dresses to showcase your shoulders
Flowy skirts
Dresses with flowy bottom halves

As a top hourglass, your body shape is similar to the full hourglass also with a beautifully defined waist. But, unlike the bottom hourglass, you’ve guessed it! Your bust is larger than your hips. As a top hourglass, you’re trying to avoid bulk in both your top and bottom half to avoid you looking bigger than you intend.

Famous top hourglasses
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Renee Zellweger

Main traits
Broader shoulders
Wider back
Larger bust
Defined waist
Upper body and legs are proportional

Clothes to avoid
In general, you want to avoid clothing that bulks you up especially around your waist. Clothing that bulks your bust and/or hips, will make you look boxy
Baggy trousers
Baggy or formless clothing, eg. Shift dresses
Wide leg pants
Double-breasted jackets

Most flattering clothing
Clothing that’s not too baggy, but also not too fitted.
Tops with narrow v-necks
Tops that come in at the waist
Tailored shirts and jackets.
Dark colored tops.
Boot cut or slightly flared legs
Full or A-line skirts

As a spoon, you’ve been blessed with larger hips that tend to be bigger than the rest of your body. This creates a shape that resembles the number 8. As a spoon you let your hips speak for themselves. You don’t need any extra clothing speaking for them or drawing more attention to them than you want.

Famous spoons
Salma Hayek
Cheryl Burke

Main traits
Your top half is heavier than your bottom half.
Great arms and legs
Beautiful shoulders
Weight that focuses on the stomach area
Love handles

Clothes to avoid
Clothing that adds bulk to your waist stomach or waist.
Embellished pockets and flaps
Flared pants

Most flattering clothing
Clothing that’s not too baggy, but also not too fitted.
Tops with empire waists
Strapless tops
Straight leg pants
Tops with details around busts
Simple colors

As a triangle, you have a slim upper body and wide hips (typically wider than the shoulders). As a triangle, your waist is not clearly accentuated and so many of your style choices will revolve around defining it. Many styles also focus on avoiding bulk in the hip and thigh area.

Famous Triangles
Christina Aguilera

Main traits
You have a  small top half as well as small bust
Your arms and shoulders appear proportionately slimmer
Your hips are larger than your bust

Clothes to avoid
Anything that brings attention to the hip area
Patterns or pockets on your thigh and hip area
Bags that sit on your hips
Hemlines that end on your the full parts of your leg
Dropped waistlines or dropped panels

Most flattering clothing
Anything that enhances your shoulders
Strapless dresses with full skirts
Long A-line skirts
Belted coats

As an inverted triangle, you have shoulders and bust areas that are broader than your hips. Many of these suggestions will be focused on drawing attention to the smallest part of your body.

Famous Apples
Elizabeth Hurley
Jennifer Hudson

Main traits
Broader shoulders
Average to larger bust
Fuller, undefined midsection
Narrower hips
Flatter butt
Good legs

Clothes to avoid
Baggy clothes
Skin tight clothing such as leggings or body con dresses
High-waisted clothing that cuts you in half but doesn’t actually bring your waist in visually
Sleeves that stop at your bust
Anything that adds detail to your shoulders like puffy sleeves or shoulder pads

Most flattering clothing
Tops or dresses that define your waist
Peplum tops and coats that flare from the waist
Fitted bodices with flared skirts
High waisted puff, full circle and tulip skirts shapes are great
A-line dresses and skirts
Dresses and skirts with pleats, panels, ruffles

As a rectangle, you have a body shape that is generally characterized by its lack of curves. However, lucky for you, this is one of the easier body shapes to dress. The main aim when dressing a rectangle is to create curves. However, the bonus of your body shape is that you can easily get away with going for a look without curves.

Famous rectangles
Kate Moss
Cameron Diaz

Main traits
Broader shoulders
Thick thighs and calves
Small bust
Slight or no waist
Hips about the same size as shoulder
Small/flat butt
Longer legs

Clothes to avoid
Anything boxy or unstructured
Strapless tops and dresses
Boxy mini skirts

Most flattering clothing:
Fitted tops and tanks that are tucked in
Layered fitted tops
The idea is to wear tops that accentuate or create a waist
Structured dresses and  jackets that cinch at the waist

The Takeaway

Knowing your body type is helpful because it gives you a better idea when it comes to knowing the parts of your body you want to hide and those you want to accentuate. Of course, these are general guidelines and if the list says to stay away from something that you absolutely love, more power to you. Feel free, please do you.

And of course, we wouldn’t be Thread Life if we didn’t encourage you to keep your purchases sustainable! You can learn more about how we define sustainability here. But if it seems like too much work for you, we’re here to help and make it. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll find it for you.

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