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The benefits of knowing your body shape

Illustrations by Diego Sabogal

Determining your body shape can help you make more informed choices about the clothing styles that best complement your natural silhouette. Women’s bodies are diverse, and while the pear, apple, and other fruit descriptors are popular, they are just broad generalizations. Here’s how you can determine your body shape:

1. Gather Your Tools: You'll need a measuring tape, a full-length mirror, and possibly a friend to help with the measurements.

2. Take Your Measurements:

  • Bust: Measure around the fullest part of your chest.

  • Waist: Measure the smallest part of your waist, usually just above the navel.

  • Hips: Measure the widest part, usually at the top of your legs or around your buttocks.

3. Evaluate Your Proportions: Based on your measurements and observations, you can categorize your body shape:

  • Pear or Triangle: Your hips are wider than both your bust and waist. This means you might have fuller hips and thighs, with a smaller bust and waist in comparison.

  • Apple or Inverted Triangle: Your bust and/or waist are larger than your hips. This could mean you have broader shoulders, a larger bust, and a fuller midsection with slimmer hips and thighs.

  • Hourglass: Your bust and hip measurements are roughly equal with a much narrower waist in between. This body shape has a defined waist, and the bust and hip areas are balanced.

  • Rectangle or Straight: Your bust, waist, and hip measurements are relatively similar. This body shape might not have very defined curves and might look more up and down.

  • Oval or Diamond: You might carry weight around the midsection with narrower hips and bust in comparison. The waist is wider than the bust and hips.

4. Look Beyond Measurements: It's essential to consider other aspects of your physique:

  • Shoulder width: Are they broad, average, or narrow in relation to your body?

  • Weight distribution: Do you tend to gain weight in the midsection, hips, thighs, or is it evenly distributed?

5. Remember It’s Just a Guide: These categories are broad and might not fit everyone perfectly. Many women find they’re a mix of shapes or don't fit neatly into any category. That’s completely normal! The goal is not to box yourself into a specific shape but to gain a better understanding of your body to make wardrobe choices that make you feel confident and comfortable.

6. Body Shape is Different from Body Size: Remember, body shape is about proportions and how your body's natural contours are distributed. It doesn't correlate with weight or body size. A person can be a size 2 or a size 22 and still have an hourglass shape, for example.

Conclusion: While determining your body shape can be a useful tool in understanding how to choose clothing styles that best complement your physique, it's crucial to wear what makes you feel good. Fashion guidelines can be bent and broken; the key is to wear your clothes with confidence.

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