Did you know that we have a lateral body shape, as well as the regular “horizontal” body shape (what we call “body shape“) and also a vertical body shape (also called body proportions).
Your lateral body shape is your body in profile or the side view.
Along with our front view/body shape, we also tend to have a side view that is either more round or elliptical.
Round lateral body shapes people carry weight through their stomach or bottom and the width of the lower body is similar in profile as it is in silhouette. They have a curved appearance from the side (in profile).
Elliptical people tend to be flatter and thinner from the side, but often broader from the front view. This is why if you’ve seen a magazine article with “all these women are the same size” yet when you look at the pictures, there appears to be a big difference – the diameters may be the same, but the shape is different and is one of the many reasons I don’t use measurements as a guide when deciding on horizontal body shape (as the circumference measurement doesn’t tell you what the silhouette looks like).
Round Lateral Body Shape
If you are rounder when seen from the side, make sure you break the side of your body up with seams and other side details – a skirt with no side seams will make you appear bigger and broader.
The round lateral body shape is more common on the O shape, X shape, 8 Shape and A Shape horizontal body shapes. Of course I have seen the H shape and V shape as rounded lateral body shapes as well!
Elliptical Lateral Body Shape
If you are more elliptical, make sure you break up the front of your body up with vertical details such as seams and trouser creases, though you can wear skirts with no side seams.
The H shape, V shape and I shape are most commonly elliptical, though I do know of A shapes and X shapes who are elliptical.
You can find out more about flattering your body shapes (lateral, vertical and horizontal) in my 7 Steps to Style program – plus discover your ideal colour palette and how to best wear them, figure out the influence of your personality on your clothing choices (from prints and patterns to accessories and clothing styles, fabrics and construction), along with how to wardrobe for you and your lifestyle. Find out more here.
Oh I must be round – I've got a backside but tummy is not too bad and I always wear your skirt style recommendation, except when I want drama.
Oh,you have helped to solve some of the questions I have raised here:
Oh, that explains why I hate things without side seams.
Make Do – can go either out forward or backward to be rounder.
Eternal Voyager – thanks – and thanks for the link! Glad it helps.
Betty – thanks so much for commenting!
This reminds me of an anecdote about Jessye Norman, the opera singer and large woman. She was being photographed for a magazine piece, and the photographer, trying to make her look slimmer, suggested she stand sideways. "Honey, I ain't GOT no sideways", she replied.
Round all the way, baby! And I love Duchesse's Jessye Norman quote. What a hoot!
This one is hard — I think I'm a "round", but I'm entirely following the seams/no seams theory.
I once read that some people look better from the front (me!), and some from the side (elliptical?).
This is a bit wierd, but if you bisected a round and elliptical person at the hips, one would be a circle (ish), and the other an ellipse?
I'm not sure I'm following the "whys" on skirt styles, though. One a round person, will seams give you a "side" even though you don't actually have one? Is the goal for a round to look less round and for an ellipse to look less broad?
And I'm afraid I don't really see the difference in the two "do"s in the picture. The only difference I see is length, and hemlines/slits.
Can you expand some more?
Thanks for the great blog, I'm learning so much from it.
I say, sometimes you must read my mind or otherwise you're omniconscient because I've been thinking about this suject for the past couple of weeks.I'm completly eliptical and I've considered walking like the egyptian figures because it would be so much more flatering LOL but your advise, as always is much better. I will have it in consideration next time I buy clothes.
You're just wonderful 🙂
I am round in a Picasso kind of way. Question: If I get in an elliptical machine will it turn me into an elliptical?
Sara – the 'round' do's have side seams and splits up the side.
The elliptical do's have either centre front seams or other vertical detail such as the rows of buttons on the front of the garment.
The do's for both have vertical detail at both the front and sides of the skirts.
Does this make more sense?
Belette – Elliptical machines are just torture devices!
Duchesse – that is a great quote!
Sara – yes – we want to break up the widest part – so ellipts want to look less broad from the front, and rounds less wide from the side – vertical seams or details will do this.
I've been thinking, does this mean that front creases in pants are good for an eliptical shape?
Thanks, Imogen, I think I missed the vertical details in the elliptical "dos". So — to summarize — pick your least flattering view and break it up. Got it. 🙂 thanks.
I really don´t know into which category I belong. I´m small breasted and slender, but my belly pops out after eating.
Imogen, I have never heard anyone address this before. You always bring up the most interesting points about body type!
I am absolutely an elliptical person, and you're right that skirts or dresses with lots of chopped up horizontal seams look awful on my hips. Even though my behind and chest are large, they look quite a bit smaller from side view than they do from full on. Hmm, maybe I should start taking all of my daily outfit photographs from the side instead!
nurmisur – yes front creases on trousers are great!
Sara – happy to help.
Metscan – if you look at yourself in the mirror and measure the visual width of your hips, then turn to the side – and measure the visual width of your buttock/stomach – is there a big difference or are they fairly similar?
Kari – I'm with you and much prefer a 3/4 or side view!
Thank you Imogen for making it simple for me. I took a look and I´d say it´s about 50/50, so does that mean that I can skip this worry?
Metscan – yes – don't worry about this step!
What do you do if you are wide from both views though????
Yublocka – If you’re neither round nor elliptical, then don’t worry! Generally side seams on skirts are a good option, as are creases down the front of trousers, but neither are essential for you.
a question; does clothing fabricants take note on this? because Im very elliptical and the side-view fit is a wildcard to me. people have different skeletal postures, too.
Hmmm… this is intriguing. From the front my hips are v broad and there’s loads of fat accumulated on the high hip (the shelf… being an 8). Everywhere else is super slender. From the sides I have my incredibly flabby stomach and my voluminous butt massively sticking out, everywhere else is again very thin with almost no fat to pinch. I sometimes feel like a spider, may not weigh much but the overall small amount of excess fat on me seems to be concentrated in the most awkward places: just in the middle, nowhere else, making me feel totally out of proportion…
You are fabulous! Thank you so much!