3 Ways to Figure Out Your Body Shape

This might surprise you to hear, but I don’t ever use a measuring tape when I am helping my clients figure out their body types.

With all of the body shape calculators and rules available to determine our body types, why wouldn’t I use them? There are actually quite a few reasons!

First off, tape measures are scary! We’ve all heard somewhere in our lives that 36-24-36 are the perfect proportions, and when our measurements are nowhere near that…even if you are really happy with your body, seeing the “wrong” numbers can set off an alarm in your head.

Next, even though I know my clients beforehand, or we have a phone consultation and start a great relationship, we’re still virtually strangers. Are you comfortable with a stranger putting her hands on you and taking your measurements? I’m not!

And lastly, the measurements don’t really mean a lot. Most of us don’t fall into the exact specifications of size charts and body shape calculators. Worst of all, measurements can fool us into thinking we’re bigger than we are and bigger than we should be.

Instead of measuring, I use 3 “tools” to begin help you figure out your body shape and learn to dress it.  Today I’m sharing the tools with you, so you can start your journey to dressing your body shape, loving your wardrobe and feeling more confident!

Here are 3 Ways to Figure Out Your Body Shape


  1. Ask yourself these 2 questions:

If you gain weight, do you gain it:

  1. Mid-section and bust
  2. Hips and thighs
  3. Mid-section only
  4. All over

If you gain weight, do you gain it:

  1. Mid-section and bust
  2. Hips and thighs
  3. Mid-section only
  4. All over
  1. Go through your closet, and look at your sizes—write them down.
  2. Take an assessment of your clothes that work for you and those that don’t.

What works well on your body and what doesn’t? (You may find staying in your closet can trigger thoughts for this exercise.)

Are there styles that you always get compliments on? Do you like to highlight your waist or your bust or your legs?

And what do you really dislike? Do you hate pants with a defined waistline or turtleneck sweaters? What’s comfortable? What’s not?

Take note of everything you that comes up for you that feels flattering and what you find totally unflattering (a.k.a. you feel fat, frumpy etc. in.) You are more intuitive and know more than you think.

Now that you’ve gathered all of your data, you can begin to make some conclusions.

Let’s start with where you gain or lose weight. Here are a few common scenarios.

  1. If you gain weight in your torso and mid-section first; and lose it in your lower body…chances are good you’re an inverted triangle.
  2. If you gain weight in your lower body first; and lose it in your torso and mid-section …chances are good you’re a triangle.
  3. If you gain and lose weight evenly throughout your body, you are probably a rectangle or hourglass.
  4. If you gain or lose weight mostly through your mid-section, you are possibly an apple/oval.

Now, look at your clothes sizes you wrote down. Do they vary greatly between top and bottom?

If your tops are typically 2 or more sizes bigger than your bottoms, you are most likely an inverted triangle. You can be an inverted triangle with one size difference if it’s consistent and you have wide shoulders.

Conversely, if your bottoms are consistently 2 or more sizes different than your tops, you are most likely a pear or as I like to call it, a triangle.

If your tops and bottoms are the same size, but much of the time the waists are too big on your pants and skirts, you are most likely an hourglass.

If your tops and bottoms are the same size, and you have trouble filling out the hips and busts, you are most likely a rectangle.

If your tops and bottoms are the same size, but you often find you need to alter your pants to make them fit in the seat and legs, you are most likely an apple/oval.

You may have already formed your conclusions. But if you haven’t, take a good look at the body assessment you wrote out.

  • Do you find jackets and blouses constricting, but wide leg pants swallow you up? Are your legs your favorite feature? You may be an inverted triangle.
  • Are pants your hardest item to shop for? And you favor boot cut jeans over skinnies? Chances are highly likely you are a triangle.
  • Do you gravitate to high waisted pants? Do you feel lumpy in fitted tops? You are most likely an oval.
  • Are belts your favorite accessory? Most likely you are an hourglass.
  • Are you pretty neutral about your clothes; shopping is pretty easy; but you’d love to have a few more curves? It’s likely you’re a rectangle.

Are you starting to feel more confident about identifying your body shape? I hope so! And I hope it was painless going through these exercises to figure out your body shape without a tape measure.

Not quite sure yet? Don’t worry if you’re still not 100% certain. It’s a process…a journey. I’m a style expert, and I’m still discovering new things about my body shape almost daily. The important thing is to give yourself some grace and learn to love your style.

If this area is truly giving you unneeded anxiety, perhaps we should talk. Even if you’re not in Colorado’s front range, we can work together virtually. I have all the tools and a trained eye! I’m happy to help you dress your body shape from afar. Please feel free to reach out!

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10 comments on “3 Ways to Figure Out Your Body Shape

  1. I have a large bust, but have been labelled as a pear on various sites. Is it true you can be a pear with a large chest?

    1. Hi Diane,

      Sure. Being labeled a “pear” is more to do with the proportions of your upper and lower body. Is your hip measurement quite a bit larger than your bust measurement? You don’t necessarily need to measure, as I mention in the article. You can simply look at yourself in close fitting clothes.

      Or do you wear a size or 2 larger in pants then tops?

      You may also be a pear if your shoulders are quite small and/or sloping.

      There are so many variables…I also wonder if you’re possibly a bottom heavy hourglass. Here, you are fairly similar in size on the top and bottom and have a small waist.

      I hope this helps! Let me know!

      1. Hi, my shoulders are narrower than my hips. My bust however is almost same size as hips.
        I wear same size top and bottom.

        43-37-45 bust, waist hip


  2. Hi Diane,

    Sorry to be so late with this comment!

    I typically help women figure out their body shape in an organic manner. Without actually seeing you, it’s difficult to give you a firm answer, but because your shoulders are narrower than your hips, it’s a good bet you’re a triangle/pear. I imagine your overall appearance is a little larger on the bottom than top.

    My body is similar except I’m an inverted triangle. My hips and bust are very similar in measurement, but my shoulders are wider than my hips. I definitely downplay my upper body, focusing on my lower body.

    I’d say if you’re still unsure, try experimenting with dressing for a triangle and see if you like your appearance better. What makes you feel best? In the end, that’s truly what matters!

    I’m doing virtual consulting now and would be happy to jump on a call with you if you’re interested. Just click the red button at the top of the page or the green “yes” button at the bottom.

    1. Hi Meagan,
      Since you’re only 13, chances are your figure might change in the next several years. I think you should enjoy clothes and wear what you want without worrying about it. Have fun finding your style!

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