How I figured out that I’m not a pear.
Okay, so I must have flipped past those fashion magazine articles about body shapes as fruit a million times. And honestly, I thought they were pretty dumb. Be that as it may, I somehow still managed to identify as a pear.
That is until I bought a book called, The Ultimate Book Of Outfit Formulas by Alison Lumbatis*. In her little book, Alison motivated me to take my body measurements.
And as a result of this exercise, I got me some concrete numbers. I discovered I’ve been wrong about my body shape for eons.
I’ve been choosing clothes for the body I thought I had.
According to my measurements, my shoulders and hips are very close in size. And my waist is quite a bit smaller. The mind-blowing part was that I learned where my real waist actually is. Uh-huh.
So the numbers showed me that I’m not a pear but a curvy body shape. Say what? I had to do extra math steps provided by Alison just to prove it to myself. (More on the extra math part coming up.)
I’ve never thought of myself as a curvy or hourglass body shape until now. I thought only busty ladies could have the honor of that prestigious body type. Go figure. Although I have a small chest, I have wide shoulders.
It turns out that I’m a flat-chested hourglass. And I’m surprisingly thrilled about it. Ha!
How many of us are walking around with a distorted body image? Get out your measuring tape, ladies. The truth will set you free.
And to be clear, our goal here is not to label ourselves as fruit shapes. Nope. Our goal is to get real about our distorted body image. And to have more fun with our personal style.
How I found my real waist.
After taking my measurements, I realized that I’d been confusing my belly with my waist. Now I know better.
Your real waist is at the narrowest part of your waist. It’s not to be confused with your belly area no matter how low the rise of your pants may be.
And now I’d like to pay homage to the humble elastic waistband. Whoever invented elastic waistbands is a saint. Seriously. A skirt with an elastic waistband always sits comfortably at your real waist.
And if you’re like me and you’ve never bothered taking your body measurements, well, you may be in for a surprise. You may find out that you’re choosing clothes for the body type you think you have.
Your body shape is determined by four basic measurements:
How to measure yourself in 4 steps:
Grab a measuring tape, a pencil, and some paper, get naked and take these four measurements.
1. Measure your shoulders
Wrap the measuring tape tightly around the tops of your shoulders like a shawl. Hold it just tightly enough that it stays there but almost slips off. What you want is the widest circumference of your shoulders.
2. Measure your bust
Wrap the measuring tape straight across your back and the fullest point of your bust. Keep the tape flat. Pull it snugly but not tight.
3. Measure your waist
Wrap the measuring tape around the narrowest part of your waist. Keep the tape flat. Pull it snugly but not tight. Note that your natural waist is higher than your belly button.
4. Measure your hips
Wrap the measuring tape at the widest part of your hips below your hip bone and the largest part of your butt. Keep the tape flat. Note that the widest part of your hips is probably level with your crotch.
I must admit that it took me a few times to get my shoulders because I did it by myself. If you can get someone to help you, your measurements will be more accurate. Oh, and stand up straight in front of a mirror so you can see how you’re holding the tape.
Knowing your body shape is a gift you give yourself.
Okay, so that was the hard part. Let’s take a look at your measurements and find out which of the four basic body types you fall into.
The four basic body types:
• The pear shape or triangle = When your hips are wider than your shoulders.
• The apple shape or inverted triangle = When your shoulders or bust are wider than your hips.
• The athletic shape or rectangle = When your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips are very close in size with no defined waistline.
• The curvy shape or hourglass = When your shoulders and hips are about the same size with a defined waist.
Dressing for your body type.
Figuring out your body type opens up a whole new way of looking at your personal style and the clothes in your closet. So once you figure out your body type, you can start dressing in a way that feels good.
And before we proceed, I’d like you to erase the word “flatter” from your vocabulary. Because within the context of body types, what we usually mean when we say flatter is hide. We’ve been told that a flattering figure hides the parts of our body that are considered less than ideal.
It's not about hiding what you've got but about enhancing what you love.
So forget the word flatter and use the word flaunt instead.
Because if you’re hiding underneath your clothes, you’re hiding from yourself.
Knowing your body type is a gift you give yourself. Ya know what they say about knowledge. Yep, knowledge is power.
You have the power to let go of choosing clothes for:
• The body you think you have
• The body you think you should have
• The body you wish you had
You don't need to hide underneath your clothes. All you need to do is experiment and try different styles, colors, materials, and combinations.
Here are a few suggestions on how to experiment:
• To flaunt your lower body, try wearing dresses that add volume to your hips like flowy tunics, maxi dresses, and wrap dresses
• To flaunt your upper body, try wearing tops with ruffles at the neck, shoulders, or chest. You can also try accentuating your upper body with bright colors or accessories.
• To flaunt your legs, try wearing loose tops with fitted pants or leggings.
• To flaunt your waist, try accentuating your figure with a cinched belt or flat-front high-waisted pants.
“Outfits are all about balance, and learning your body shape can help you take that to the next level.”
- Alison Lumbatis*
Dress for the way you want to feel.
Think of your closet as your feel-good battery. And think of your clothes as items that serve you energetically. So this means your clothes are either charging your feel-good battery or draining it. What items in your closet do you think are draining your battery?
Well, for starters, any clothes that no longer fit you. It doesn’t matter how lovely they are, how much they cost, or who gave them to you. If they make you feel bad because you can’t wear them anymore, then they’re sucking the life out of you.
The only rule of dressing for your body type is to know what feels good and what feels right for you.
A closet full of stuff that fits you and helps you feel happy and energized is worth gold. Knowing your body shape is a gift you give yourself.
So it’s well worth your time to take your body measurements and know your body type. Forget about the body type fruit name, forget about hiding parts of your body. Empower yourself with the knowledge of your body type to choose clothes for the beautiful body you have. And. not for the body you think you should have or wish you had.
Learn to balance your outfits and flaunt what you love. And if you’re having a hard time finding something to love about yourself, then think about it this way:
Learn to dress in a way that charges your feel-good battery and expresses that which makes you uniquely you.
Clarifying any doubts about what your body type is.
And just when you thought you’d never have to do fractions again, here’s some extra math for ya.
“If you’re not 100% sure and want to get really mathematical, try this. A fashion expert named Bradley Bayou developed some equations to help double-check that you landed on the correct body type.”
- Alison Lumbatis*
A more in-depth look at your proportions:
• The pear shape or triangle
For example, if your shoulders measure 36 inches, your hips will be 37.75 inches or larger.
Your shoulders or bust is more than 5 percent bigger than your hips:
(hips) ∻ (shoulders or bust) = greater than 1.05
• The apple shape or inverted triangle
For example, if your shoulders measure 36 inches, your waist will be 34.25 inches or smaller.
Your hips are more than 5 percent bigger than your shoulders or bust:
(shoulders or bust) ∻ (hips) = greater than 1.05
• The athletic shape or rectangle
For example, if your shoulders measure 36 inches, your waist will be 27 inches or more.
1. Your waist is less than 25 percent smaller than your shoulders or bust:
(waist) ∻ (shoulders or bust) = greater than 0.75
2. Your shoulders, bust, and hips are within 5 percent of each other:
Call the largest of the three measurements t. The other two measurements will be y and z:
t = shoulders
y = bust
z = hips
t x 0.95 = greater than y or z
• The curvy shape or hourglass
For example, if your shoulders and hips measure 36 inches, your waist will be 27 inches or smaller.
1. Your waist is at least 25 percent smaller than your shoulders or bust
(waist) ∻ (shoulders or bust) =/less than 0.75
2. Your shoulders and hips are within 5 percent of each other:
Call the larger of the two measurements t. The smaller will be y:
t = shoulders
y = hips
t x 0.95 = greater than y
Figuring out your body type opens up a whole new way of looking at your personal style and the clothes in your closet. You don't need to hide underneath your clothes. All you need to do is experiment and try different styles, colors, materials, and combinations.
Forget about flattering and think about flaunting instead. Because it's not about hiding what you've got but about enhancing what you love.
Finally, if you want to read all about outfits and enhancing your style, try Alison’s fabulous book:
*Lumbatis, A. (2021.) The ultimate book of outfit formulas. A stylish solution to What should I wear? Ten Peaks Press.