Body Shapes Explained – Figure 8 Shape

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What is the difference between an 8 shape and an X shape?  Well they both have defined waists, and their hips and shoulders are both fairly proportioned, (though sometimes you can have an 8 shape that has narrower shoulders, more like the A shape, but their hips are a different shape to a traditional A/pear).

The 8 shape carries her weight at the high hip, just under the waist, on the bottom,  rather than the low hip/thigh area which is where the X shape carries hers.
 X shape vs 8 Shape body
 
This is why she looks better in a straight skirt than an A line or flared skirt, which looks better on the X shape body.
 
The figure 8 body needs skirts and dresses to fall smoothly over the hips and go straight down, if they flare, because the high hip is much wider than the waist, they will flare out too quickly and make the wearer look very wide.
Pants should also be straight or bootleg, but not wide or flared.  
 
Avoid boxy or straight jackets, the 8 shapes must have waist shaping in her tops.  She’ll often find a peplum will be most attractive as longer straighter jackets may be too tight around her hips, but too loose at the waist.
 
She’ll find that she always needs to have the waist band taken in on pants and skirts.  Pants with a wide waistband may work best for her shape.
 
Clothes from www.nordstrom.com  

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44 Comments

  • I still have no idea what shape I am. These descriptions are great, I just find it impossible to figure it out. 🙁 I don’t know if I’m a x, 8, or even an H.

  • Imogen, how do you figure out which shape you are?

    I’m really struggling at the moment to find spring/summer clothes that don’t look too young for me. I don’t know why but a lot of stuff looks too fancy or ruffled, and that’s just not me 🙁

    I always end up feeling too warm in the warmer months, because I never quite get a good combination of clothes. I don’t like strappy tops, because I need to wear a bra, and I don’t have the figure for shorts or skimpy stuff. I’m a UK size 18, with big thighs and I’m self concious about my midriff. Any suggestions would be wonderful.

  • oh wow, this was very helpful…i always thought i was an “A” , but i have a hard time dressing my small waist and larger high hip. this makes more sense that i am an “8”. (off i go to search your blog for 8 polyvores ;o)

  • I really can’t figure out my shape either, to be honest. Can you give an example of an X shape vs. C Zeta Jones (the 8)? Thanks, K

  • I too am having a hard tome knowing if I am an X or an 8. I have to have all of my waists taken in and I could carry a tray on my backside, but my thighs carry a lot of weight. I would think that I am an X?

  • Imogen, thanks a million for posting this. I’m fairly sure I am an “8 shape” since most of your suggestions align with what tends to be most flattering on me. I also love your suggestion to take a photograph of yourself straight on from the back so you can see your true torso shape. Thank you so much for jumping into the discussion on YLF and offering so much help!

  • I am very scared about the back-side photo….
    I think I might rather just imagine what I look like…
    and the Beyonce photo will do …thanks! :):)

  • If you’d like me to have a look at your body shape, take front, side and back photos of yourself in close fitting clothes and post a link here for me to look at and I’ll let you know!

  • tooblonde1 – great – glad to help!

    K.line – will look for one – the X carries her weight lower and the waist gently slopes to the width at the thighs, rather than it suddenly coming out from under the waist.

    Cosmo – you sound more 8 than X but we can figure it out in LA hopefully! Email me via my contact page on my website re the workshop there.

    Kari – thanks – it is interesting to see ourselves from the view we never do!

    Kelee – you don’t need to take a photo of your backside!

  • Thank you Imogen – that was great! I much prefer your body shape definitions to Trinny and Susannah’s
    I’m now pretty sure I’m an 8. I look better in pencil skirts or gentle A lines. Very full skirts make my waist look tiny – but make my hips look as wide as a house (even though they’re not).Not really sure if I carry my weight on my hips or thighs (I would have said both!)-neither sticks out wider than the other.
    One question – when we take the back-view shot of ourselves, what should we be looking for in our torso shape?

  • Jamtart – glad you prefer my shapes!

    When taking a photo from the back you’re just looking at the outline. It’s just another angle – sometimes breasts distract us from our silhouette, and from the back view it’s easier to see our shape.

  • Cosmo – from the photos, bit hard to tell as your arms are outstretched, but you appear to be an X – your weight appears lower down on the hip, rather than just under the waist. I didn’t get your email? Can you resend?

  • I have always found these body shape to letter analogies (or to geometric shapes) frustrating and not very helpful.

    Bodies are three dimensional, and there are other considerations… like shoulder line and proportion, length of neck, arms and waist, and whether one’s butt is flat or round, and high or low. These characteristics are usually missing in generic shape descriptions. The best help I’ve received is from a skilled image professional, salesperson or designer, standing in the room with the clothes.

  • Duchesse – you are so right – all the body shape tells you is the outer silhouette from the front – it doesn’t tell you all the other things – it’s only a very small part of the equation – but people want to know,

    The body shape just gives you an idea of some of the shapes of clothes that suit you and where to place detail – that’s it. It’s not proportion – which I think is more important than shape!

  • Great explanation! Definitely I’m an 8 – high hips are my nemesis, and you are spot on about the straighter skirts working better on me than the A-line ones. I knew this was the case, and I’ve been trying to put this into words for a long time, but you’ve done it brilliantly.

  • THANKS so much for this advice. Finally I understand more or less what flatters me. I seem to be an 8 shape, but I carry a lot of fat on my belly, it looks like im pregnant but im not :(. So I go between o and 8 advice

  • I am sure I’m an 8 shape (sometimes its called a spoon, right?), although less of one since I became moderately overweight. This is enormously helpful advice. I have always noticed that I need waist definition and that my legs remain shapely and thin even when my belly/hips do not. Pencil skirts with wide waist bands that sit just below the natural waist are excellent. I also find that “curvy” jeans don’t work because they are cut for X shapes, with sloping rather than straight hips. This puzzled me until I found that straight jeans work better as long as they sit on the high hip not the waist. Yet then 8s need a belt to keep the pants from slipping down.

    However, few things you mention don’t square with my experience, perhaps this is because I am short waisted. But I bet most 8s are shorter waisted and Xs. I cannot ever, even when I was thin, wear anything belted at the natural waist, especially things like trench coats or belted dresses. It ads bulk to the waist and highlights the unflattering curve at the high hip, this making the waist disappear into the hip. I also never need to take in waist bands, mostly because pants sit below the the waist a bit these days. Pants that sit at the waist never work for me because they are not shaped for my larger high hip. Is there a way to explain this discrepancy with your advice? Do other 8s have this experience?

    • Alli – we are all unique. This advice is general – body shape is only one small element – body proportion is often more important than shape, plus there are the other elements of scale, personality , fabric choice etc.

      The shorter your waist, the harder it is to belt. You may find for your body that belting doesn’t work. But maybe you also need to look at your fabric choices. You need soft fabrics that drape. If your trench is too stiff it will add bulk.

    • Alli, I think I have the same body type as you, difficult to dress for sure! I find knit fitted tops work best to hug my waist and fit snugly over the high hip to minimise bulk and maintain a waist.

  • Hi

    I’m a bit confused between 8 and H shape. I definitely have the high hip shelf but my waist seems to be disappearing 🙂 with a few extra kilos. I’m pretty short, 5ft2 with very little difference between ribs and hip. Medium to full bust (10D).

    My greatest struggles are waistbands on pants – usually go for hipster / low rise but this higlights my high hip love handles and I’m constantly pulling them up all day long. High waists, never fit either the waist is too large or hips don’t fit. Similarly, trying to find the right spot to belt loose tops / jackets is near impossible. I either end up with an empire line and look vaguely pregnant or the belt sits just on top on my high hip awkwardly.

    Help!!!

    C.

  • Hello! After reading this article and the X hourglass article, I’m more confused about my body shape. I have the high hip with long legs and short torso like an 8, but my widest point is at my thighs not my hip. My shoulders and hips are in line with a defined waist, so I know I bestow a version of an hourglass. I’m just having lots of trouble finding what types of jeans would look nice. My high hip is visible, and then my hips slowly, but gradually, slope down to my thighs for the widest part. I haven’t found an article describing what I have, and the types of pants that flatter it, and I figured this was the best place to ask.

  • Hi Imogen,
    Thank you so much for this great explanation. Myself, like few others here, found a bit stuck: 8 or x? I have a very defined waist and I do tend to put weight on my thighs and bum first.
    However I am finding hard to understand the difference between high and low hip. Also when you say that the 8 tends to put weight on the high hip just below the waist is this what are also known as saddlebags?? I will try to send some pics or myself as you advised.
    Hope you will have some time to take a look at them:)
    Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with us!

  • Hello,
    first at all, sorry for my terrible English. I`m from Germany and in our country nobody knows the bodyshape of 8, even no style consultant. Is it possible to send you a picture of me and you tell me if I`m really a shape 8 body type? Here i was told to be a rectangle and a pear and a hourglass, i really don`t felt that this is right and the styles that should fit for a pear and a rectangle don`t suit me. I´m so happy to read this article and got some hope that I´m not alone with this kind of body. Maybe you can someday give more examples for styling an 8 body? Here in Germany you can`t find anything about this shape!
    Thank you so much!
    Andrea

  • I seem to be like the few others confused between an X and an 8. I have very high hip bones, 4 inches below my natural waist, 1 inch from my belly button, they’re prominent, but not super “shelfy” and I have the hip dip or violin hips that seem to be distinctive to 8 shapes. However, I carry the majority of my weight in my thighs, secondarily my hips/lower stomach, but my widest point is just under my butt, like your example of an X shape. I have broad shoulders equal to my widest point below my butt, small chest, defined-ish waist (carried twins to term so I got a little extra love hanging there these days,) and high prominent hips with hip dips. If this all made sense, can you help me draw a conclusion? Thanks so much!

  • Hello! Im a girl from sweden that has allways wondered what body shape I have, but I have never known who to ask. Can you possibly help me figure it out? Can I send you a picture of me and you can give me an answer to my email ?

  • Hi, I was wondering if I may send you my photo as I cannot make out if I am a 8 shape or x. I never know if I can wear belts. Thanks Imogen

  • I think I may be a figure 8 shape. The post talks about always needing to have pants taken in at the waist. But I find I have the opposite problem there- they’re always too tight in the waist, except when I wear high rise pants. Which makes sense because if they hit ABOVE the top of the shelf (ie; if they hit where my body has begun to curve sharply inward), there are no problems. But for typical lower rise pants that are more commonly found here in the US at the “younger” stores, they seem to hit right at my widest part.

    So can the opposite also be true, depending on the rise?

    I also have a lot of problems finding shirts – even simple t shirts – that don’t cling in the wrong areas. I am skinny, but every t shirt clings to my stomach. I think because my hips are set so high, the widest part of me is right around my lower stomach/high hip, where shirts tend to fall. Wearing higher rise pants helps so at least I don’t get a muffin-top, but even then, shirts still cling badly.

  • I am a classic 8-shape and my biggest problem is ladie´s trousers. If they fit in the waist, there will always be an empty bag shape across the lower hip/thigh area. I discovered by trying on my husband´s old suit trousers that men´s trousers fit me so much better! Now, that´s all I ever buy.

  • Hi. I’m 16 and my body measurements are
    Bust 32
    Waist 23.25
    Hip 32
    My widest lower point is my hip bone. I wonder if I have figure 8 or I shape. Can you identify my body shape. Thanks
    English is not my first language so I’m sorry for any mistakes.

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