How To Determine Your Body Type

Most of us are familiar with the concept of knowing our body type, but many women probably still don’t know what their unique body type actually is. Knowing your body type and how to choose the right pieces is the foundation for being a stylish woman who is happy with her wardrobe. So let’s dive in to how to determine your body type.

Measure Yourself

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I don’t want to measure myself…it’s depressing. Just get over that because working with your shape (whatever it might be) will always be more flattering than working against it. No one else will know and if you are unhappy with the numbers then set a goal and move on. Let’s not dwell on things we can’t instantly change.

Measure your shoulders, bust, waist, and hips.

Calculate Your Shape

Now, we have to do a little math. Trust me, if I can do this anyone can! You can use the shoulder and bust measurements interchangeably. This can be helpful if you have particularly large or small shoulders or bust. Using the different numbers can put you in a different body shape category…that’s okay. Most of us are a combination of more than one body shape.

Inverted Triangle

Your shoulders or bust are larger than your hips. You are an inverted triangle if your shoulder or bust measurement is more than 5% bigger than your hip measurement (shoulders or bust ÷ hips ≥ 1.05).

Styles That Flatter the Inverted Triangle: You will look best in fitted tops and jackets that nip in at the waist and pants with a flare style. The idea is to correct the proportions by creating a defined waist and pants that balance out your larger shoulders and/or bust. Soften the broad shoulder line with draping fabrics and avoid tops with necklines that broaden the shoulders. Add volume to the hips to balance out proportions. Peplum tops would be great for this. For pants avoid skinny styles and opt for wide leg pants to add volume to your bottom half.

You may want to check out this post which highlights ways to cinch in your waist.

Angelina Jolie is one of the most famous examples of on inverted triangle body type.


Your shoulders, bust, and hips are around the same size with no defined waist. You are a rectangle if your waist is less than 25% smaller than your shoulder or bust (waist ÷ shoulders or bust ≥ .75) and your shoulder, bust, and hip measurements are within 5% of each other.

To determine this, pick the largest number of the three (shoulders, bust, waist). Usually it is the shoulders. Multiple the largest number by 0.95. If the two smaller numbers are larger than the result of your larger number x 0.95, then your shoulders, bust, and hips are within 5% of each other.

Example: Shoulders are 34″ Bust – 34″ Waist 32″

Styles That Flatter The Rectangle Shape: If you are a rectangle shape, you can wear the voluminous styles that many of us stay away from. Your goal is to create some curves where there are none. You will want to especially add volume to the top half of your body. Avoid shapeless silhouettes and aim for ones that extend your long vertical line and embrace your lean shape. You will also want to define your waist. Consider tops with embellishments and ruffles.

Triangle or Pear Shape

If your hips are wider than your shoulders, then you are a triangle or pear shape. Confirm by checking the numbers! You are a triangle (also known as pear) if your hips are more than 5% bigger than your shoulders or bust (hips ÷ shoulders or bust ≥ 1.05).

Style tips for triangle or pear shape: Fit and flare styles are your best cut since they show off your waist and have more room for your curvier bottom half. You will want to emphasize the upper body and downplay the lower body. Wear bright colors and prints on the upper body and dark colors on the lower body. Also avoid wearing pants that cut off at the ankle.


You are an hourglass if your shoulders and hips are around the same size and you have a very defined waist. Confirm by checking the numbers! You are an hourglass if your waist is at least 25% smaller than your shoulder or bust (waist ÷ shoulders or bust ≤ 0.75), your waist is at least 25% smaller than your hips (waist ÷ hips ≤ 0.75), and your shoulder and hip measurements are within 5% of each other.

To calculate the 5% measurement, look at your hip and shoulder numbers. Pick the larger of the two, and multiple that number by 0.95. The result should be smaller than the other number.

Example: Shoulder = 42″ Hips = 41″(42 x 0.95 = 40.66) Since 40.66 is less than 41″ this is within 5%

Style Tips For An Hourglass Shape: Since the hourglass shape is naturally balanced with the top and bottom half being similar in proportion, they key is to not mess that up with your clothing choices. You will want items that draw attention to your curvy silhouette without cluttering it up. This means simple, clean lines that do not emphasize the shoulders or the hips. Steer clear of any styles that hide the waist. Also, V-necklines and fitted sleeves will typically be more flattering.

What If I Don’t Fit Any Of These?

It’s very possible that your measurements do not put you clearly in one category or another. After all, we are all unique and don’t fit molds. These categories are guidelines, and there will be overlap.

This happened to me when I plugged in my measurements. I was off by just a few tenths of a point, but I most closely fit into the hourglass category. I also have very broad shoulders and a large bust, so I can take away some style tips from the inverted triangle shape as well.

Here is a simple example of how to dress your body type.

This pink polka dot top is pretty, but the ruffles on the shoulders really accentuate my already broad shoulders and large upper body.

In contrast, this wrap style top is much more flattering and makes me look thinner even though the sleeves are slightly puffy.

This sweater has some volume in the sleeves which I can get away with…the shoulder area drapes nicely and minimizes my broad shoulders and draws the eye to the arms instead.

Flare or wide leg jeans help balance out proportions if you have broad shoulders or a large bust.

Now you know how to determine your body type. Spend some time really studying what your body type is and then narrow your wardrobe down to only those items that show you in your best light. Pinterest in a great resource to help you find examples of outfits for your body type.

You may also enjoy learning how to find you best colors. This post will show you how.