Body Proportions Explained – Balanced with a Short Mid-Body


Body Proportions

There are body shapes (X, A, H, I, O, V, 8) which tell us where to add detail and where to use horizontals to balance or draw attention, and where to use verticals to elongate.  Then there are body proportions, which tell us where to end hems of sleeves, tops, jackets, skirts and pants, and how long necklaces should be.  If you’re not sure of your proportions, watch the video here.

There are 3 common body proportional variations:

The Balanced Upper and Lower Body, but with a Shorter Mid-Section

This is a pretty common body proportion variation.  Many women don’t have either super long legs or a super long body.  They have fairly even upper and lower bodies (a titch of a difference doesn’t really matter), but what they do have is a short waist and short thigh proportion which shortens their mid-body area.

Often the top of head to bust peak is long, and knee to the ground is also longer, while the middle of the body is overall shorter in comparison.

How to dress and flatter the balanced body with a shorter waist and thigh proportionIf you have a long chin to mid-bust point and long knee to the sole of the foot proportion, but your thigh is short as is your waist, and if both halves of your body are relatively equal, then you may have a balanced body, but with a short mid-body.

How to Flatter Your Shorter Mid-Body

 How to dress body proportions - balanced with a shorter mid-body
You want to create balance with your longer proportions.  To do this you want to create the illusion of elongation through your shorter sections and then use detail and interest in your longer sections.
  •  Since you have a long decolletage, play it up, wear great jewellery, or put interesting detail and necklines on to draw attention to it.
  •  As you have longer calves, draw attention to your feet with fabulous shoes. Skirt hems can also be detailed to draw the eye to this longer proportion.
  •  Keep your shorter mid-body clear of detail. Avoid wide belts. Use empire waist garments to create the illusion of a longer waist.
  • Use vertical detailing through your body to elongate – think about an open jacket or cardigan which creates long vertical lines through your body.
  • Wear a column of colour on the inside, that is a similar top and bottom colour (in value, aka depth of colour) so that you don’t draw an obvious horizontal across your mid-section further shortening it down.
  • End skirts and dresses on or at your knee, no longer than just under the knee (unless it’s a maxi length) as this will create the illusion of longer thighs and legs.
  • If you do tuck in a top (not highly recommended for your shape) blouse, blouse, blouse it.  The top needs to be more voluminous and full so that it’s easy to blouse it over the waistband of your pant or skirt.
  • Wear a mid-rise pant or jean as it balances your body.
If you want to know more about dressing your body shape and proportions and would like my professional opinion on identifying what works for you, you can get this as part of my 7 Steps to Style program – learning all about what suits your body is just one of the 7 Steps in the program and will help you identify where you’re going right and wrong in your current wardrobe so that you stop making costly shopping errors in the future.

7 Steps to Style is the best style program available

More Tips on Dressing Your Proportions

How to Measure Your Body Proportions

How to Dress With Conflicting Body Shape Advice

Choosing Top Lengths for Skirts and Pants

Which are the Best Proportions to Flatter Your Proportions

How to Find the Best Point to End Your Tops and Jackets

How to Find Your Ideal Skirt or Dress Hem Length

13 Ways to Flatter a Super Long Torso or Long Rise

Body Proportions Explained – Long Rise

How to dress the balanced but with a short mid-body proportions so that you look longer through your body and thighs


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • Wow. I don't think I can even imagine this body proportion (though I may well have it!) – for some reason I find these proportion posts challenging to understand (not because of how you describe it, which is very clear). It's just some kind of visual block I guess.

  • This is me! (although I try to think of myself as long-legged, rather than short bodied) Imogen your tips are spot on. Princess lines work really well for me, as do knee length skirts and deep necklines.

  • K.Line – just looking at your pic on your blog you look fairly balanced.

    Goodworks – glad to be of assistance!

    Jamtart – I like to think of myself as long legged too!
    Always accentuate the positive.

  • This isn't quite my body type since I don't really have super-long legs, but a lot of the rest of it (short waist, long decolletage) fits, and your tips are *really* helpful. I do some of these things already like wear empire waists with a wide band to balance the disparity between waist and hip, but sometimes I just have a hunch that something works but I'm not sure why. Thanks for helping me understand.

  • If I’m proportional from chin to mid-bust and from mid-knee to foot, and short in the other measurements, does that still count?

  • I am exactly this, so thank you, Imogen.

    But I do have a clash in my mind now regarding body shape and body proportions.

    I am a figure 8. Most of my fat is concentrated on the hips high up and lower abs. I never liked wearing empire waist garments as I always thought that I look pregnant in them!
    Especially this kind really never suited me I felt:

    Also , for figure 8s, you suggest the waist should be emphasised with belts?! For my body proportions I shouldn’t stress my waist though, you say??

    Please advise!

  • Thank you Imogen! This has helped me a lot. Just to clarify, if I am short waisted yet have a long rise, with shorter thighs and longer calves, are these my best styling options or is there something different I should try?

  • yes- this describes me and i have struggled for so long with trying to find my type. i have a long neck with very thin, long extremities but thick upper thighs(they’re the widest part of me), wide ribcage, short thighs and long pelvis. at my thinnest i lose all curves and look like a boy. it’s so hard to find the right clothes for my type as i just feel dumpy no matter what. i hate it!

  • Thank you for this explanation. it is helping me understand my proportions more clearly. I am a v shape with a short waist, balanced body, 36D bra. When you say no waist detail is that structure of the top and also pattern? I believe that dense patterns will be more flattering but should I just focus on plain colored tops?

  • Hi Imogene,
    This is very interesting. I have a short body with long legs – I never knew! And a long decolletage but I am not short waisted but short in the other half – my waist to hip is short. It is very strange somethings work and others are terrible. Empire waists look terrible on me. Do you have any other suggestions for this unusual combination?
    Thank you,

    • Yes some people have a short rise – less common but still happens – you’ll find then that you’ll easily get bunching and extra fabric at the front of pants at the zip if the rise is too long for you.

  • I have an X body, but I’m fairly sure I have a short mid-body too. According to this I’m not supposed to add details to my waist, but the X shape guide tells the opposite.

  • Uhm, is it possible to have a balanced body but long waisted?? Cause I think that’s me… or I just have a very long rise and it makes me look short legged.
    Ahh!! I just wish I had this body type

    • Absolutely it’s possible! You’re a human and human’s are all unique – these are general categories. Are you long from bust to waist, or from waist to leg-break? Long waist is bust to waist. Long Rise is waist to leg-break (crotch) and is fairly common – just search LONG RISE here on the blog to get tips on dressing it!

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