Our Guide to Discovering Your Body Type

What do we mean by Body Type?

While us ladies might not enjoy being boxed into a certain category, it is helpful to know that a few categories have been defined by dressmakers, traditionally based on the most commonly found body shapes. This pared-down list of shapes is most helpful when it comes to selecting styles of clothing that best suit us, and are flattering too.

Ever try on a dress or outfit and feel like it was tailor-made specially for you?

What body type classification provides is a handy guide for us to determine what range or category we’re in. Wouldn’t it be awesome if all clothing tags included the suggested body type icons that the outfit we’re clutching would be most flattering on? I mean, just a suggestion, right?

This would eliminate those disappointing change room moments where we leave empty handed anyway, having spent 48.5 minutes cringing at our mirrored selves in the cramped prison-canteen-lit cubicle…  Or is that just me?

Now, back to the shapes. For ease of pattern making and dress design, our body types are grouped into a small selection, with the accompanying icons (again, purely for ease of reference). The terms are as follows: ‘hourglass’, ‘rectangle’, ‘triangle’, or ’round’ shape, depending on our average measurements which in turn define our body’s silhouette. Dress design is most often based around these common shapes:

[Image credit: Thinkstock by Getty Images)
Let’s start a Movement. I would love to see these icons appearing on ALL clothing labels.

So many times I have heard the stories of brides who walked into their consultation with their dream dress in mind, only to settle on something entirely different. It happens quite often, because the role of the bridal boutique consultant is to help you determine the style best suited to your body type. They are trained to listen to you, and also to assess your best features, then offer the dress silhouette options to accentuate those features for you. When it all comes together, it is a moment of of pure joy, often accompanied by tears!


This body shape is quite aptly named for its resemblance to that of an hourglass, where your upper and lower halves are equally wide while your waist in the middle is narrow in circumference, making the ratio wide-narrow-wide. So if you have strong broad shoulders, narrow waist, balanced with hips of the same width as your shoulders then it is likely that you fall into this category. Photoshopped Cosmopolitan cover models spring to mind. Generally speaking, any style or silhouette works with the hourglass – lucky you!


Also termed apple or circle shaped, a round body type is where your bust and middle are larger than your shoulders and hips, without a defined narrow waistline. Not all round bodies are overweight (by modern standards), it’s just the luscious shape of you. It could mean that you tend to have rounded shoulders, narrow hips, lean arms and legs, but prone to weight gain around your middle and bust area first. Looking at the illustration above, one can see that A-Line and Empire styles would be very flattering on a rounder, top-heavy figure.


Typically you have evenly proportioned curves, forming a more or less straight line from top to bottom without a defined narrow waist. This body type is actually one of the easiest to dress. I mean, you can slay in a sheath style! Not too many of us can pull that off – other than the hourglass. However, try to avoid boxy outfits, and instead choose items which create a waistline, or add a belt or sash in the middle to draw the eye towards it.


Although pear-shaped may not be our favourite term to be labelled as, we should embrace it and not run from it, if it happens to be what Mother Nature gave us. It simply means that our hips (and derrière) are wider than our shoulder measurements, and makes for a very sexy and womanly silhouette. Just ask the men throughout the ages. Scrap that – men love ALL our shapes. So, other than the tricky Sheath style, you can dazzle in any of the other dress styles!

Inverted Triangle

The main defining feature of this shape is that your shoulders are broad and proportionately wider than your hips, quite the opposite of the triangle. You are probably slim and athletic too. Although many fit brides with this shape may go straight to the Mermaid rail, in fact this style ends up making them look a bit too top-heavy, as the eye is drawn straight to their broad shoulders. The aim of clever styling is that it evens out our proportions, adds definition where there may be none, and plays down the obvious. This is why A-Line, Empire or Ballgown is going to give this shape that extreme Wow Factor we’re all craving.

It bears noting that our body type can and will change over the years.

So, for example having children and the natural ageing process can both play a role in our changing shapes. Take it in your stride and if necessary reassess your body type at a later stage of your life to ensure that you always look your best in whatever style you are rocking!

Read more: Dress Silhouettes To Flatter Your Body Shape

Featured image: Farah & Her Bridesmaids. Photo by Tauriq Dolley

Words: Gill Lewis © Confetti Chicks

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