Don’t Waste Your Money – H Shape


What are the features that an H Shape should avoid taking to the change room to stop depression setting in when on a shopping trip?

  1. Waisted garments and those with detail at the waist.
  2. Pockets on or near the waist.
  3. Bands on jumpers (sweaters) at the waist
  4. Gathered, paperbag or pleats at the waist
  5. Double breasted trench coats.

Plus just don’t bother to tuck tops in, it rarely works.

What are your H shape tips?


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  • I'm an H with a very round profile. Straightish side seams with a little shaping in the front and back work. Longer tops that end just above the crotch hit me at a narrower point since I have almost no hip curve. Slim cut, but not tapered pants, are good. Low hip banding on full tops works. I never tuck in tops. I find that going with the rectangular looks works. Don't fight nature. (Being able to sew what I want doesn't hurt either.)

    As usual, your blog is very helpful and fun to read.

  • Good points to remember! I stopped tucking in my shirts twenty years ago and never looked back! πŸ™‚

    Jackets with princess seaming are our friends, likewise lightweight knit or jersey tops that skim but don't cling. Long-over-lean proportioning works well for me as I'm short-waisted, but may not for all H shapes.

  • Thank you, Imogen.
    @ jeanie: I think you're my twin sister πŸ™‚
    I sew too, please tell me your most succesfull patterns.Would love to see pictures.

    anna, the netherlands

  • @ anna, I like Kwiksew for tops, but for the last few years I've used Wild Ginger PMB for almost all of my garment sewing. Nothing like custom fit! My hemlines are level and on grain! As I grow older, 67, my body is less and less like a 22 y/o model. I have few pix, and none of them really available.

  • This + your "how TO dress the H shape" posts pretty much cover it.

    I'd add:

    1) Try not to punch out people who are always insisting you tuck or wear waisted items.

    2) Crew necks worn without a top layer — or at least a vertically oriented scarf — mean you'll be all blocky torso, all the time.

    3) If it's standing still and you can rouche (ruch) it, do so.

  • Jersey, in my case black, is my BFF. A tall, stretched out H or maybe "8", drape is everything for me, no big volumes, but no skin tight either.

    No dolman sleeves, which make a fuller bust dowdy.

  • Not an H shape but wanted to say that I love, love love the "new" (new to me) layout of your blog. And love that I can read related articles. You are my source of late night reads!!

  • I'm a rounded H and I find that belting things a titch higher than my natural waist (an area that is thinner than my natural waist) makes me look much longer and leaner.

    Ditto the seaming that curves in and out. Visually provides an hourglass shape without accentuating my thicker waist.

    I'm working hard on dropping some excess pounds right now so I'm eager to see what shape I am in a few months. Maybe the same, maybe different. I'll get to go back and explore Imogen's archives!

  • >Are you going to do a don't waste >your money for an 8 shape? Pretty >please?

    And an X shape? Pretty PRETTY please? Especially with a long rise?

    – tall & slim anon

  • I appreciate that an H shouldn't wear a belt at the waist. But I have heard (from other sources)that seam lines at the waist, to give an illusion of a waist, are a good idea. I'm confused. What kinds of details at the waist are good? Which are not so good?

  • Mary – thanks for your comment. There are lots of sources out there with different takes on shapes and what they should wear – this is mine.

    I'm an H shape, so spend lots of time dressing this shape body. I try on lots of different shapes of clothing to see what works and what doesn't.

    What tends to happen, if you put seaming or any other horiztonal detail at the natural waist of an H shape is that it accentuates the boxiness of the shape (so this is why I don't find wrap dresses work on an H shape, even though everyone else in the world will tell you they do).

    Instead I look for clothes that bypass the waist, but are still shaped (so not boxy in shape in themselves) which actually gives you more of the illusion of a waist.

    What is best to do is try on lots of different clothing styles yourself and see what works for you – take some photos so you can see more objectively if that helps.

  • Shirts with ruching on the side help pull in at what waist I have while allowing room for my bust & hip. I also love anything with princess seaming. I also found a dress shirt I love that has light boning in it to reinforce the princess seaming with slight flare at the bottom. No crew necks. I'm glad I found this site and look forward to using all these H shape tips!!!

  • I am so happy I found your site. I think I am an H, but I seem to love O clothes and mostly long but tailored jackets to the mid thigh. I think I am low contrast (medium blonde, fair skin, green eyes), however; I have taken over 1000 photos of myself in different outfits trying to figure out color, contrast and shape in order to clean out my closet and keep the right stuff. (is that pathetic or what?) I have purged large amounts of clothes and re-bought about 3 times, and still don't have the answer. But now I have found your blog,so I am going to go back to the photos and read all your past advice to try to get it right to do one last closet purge. I am sure I will have some questions. This has been a frustrating and expensive process for me so far and I am looking forward to getting it right and shopping and dressing with confidence! It is nice to see that others also struggle with all of this. Thank you!

  • I’m also an H-V shape, I just learned a term for it. Thanks! I appreciate your site, but wanted to add to the DON’T list and give some more ideas for girls my shape.

    My “waist” is less than 2″ from end of last rib to hip. I’m 5’4″ and almost all leg with wide shoulders and H the rest of the way down. Shoulders 31″ Breast 26″ Ribs 25″ Waist 25″ Hips 25″ Butt 28″
    My torso and leg length appear balanced, so it surprises my girlfriends when they feel where my hips to ribs are. Guess I have looong ribs, ha!

    What works for me is to NEVER wear clothes too tight or too baggy at the waist.
    NO belts outside of dresses or coats. waist!
    I do wear wide belts on low-rise jeans (on the hips), with stylish patterns or buttons on back pockets, attention shifter. πŸ˜‰

    Wear flattering jeans like low-rise waists, boot-cut, stright-legged, or flare work with almost any top.
    The key is to have the hip and thigh area fitted, not too tight and NEVER baggy; to show off the asset of nice legs. Which btw, diverts away from having no waist.

    I often wear colorful or heavy shoes or boots to draw attention away from mid-section (since there isn’t one)! This gives weight to my lower body to balance out my wide shoulders, short neck, small breasts, and virtually no waist.

    On top, I like to wear shirts with a V-neck to give the illusion that my neck is longer; and it breaks up the boxy shape of having wide shoulders. I prefer button-up shirts, with V sweater layer. V-neck sweaters with peek-a-boo patterned undergarments. Long T-shirts layered that stop just past my hip, mid-butt; topped with a slightly shorter collared jacket, blazer, or button-up.

    I do tuck my button-down shirts in, with low-rise straight-legged slacks and skinny belt. However, I will always wear a tailored blazer on top with interesting jewelry on ears and neck instead of wrists, to draw attention up or colorful or designer shoes for downward attention, or both! Ha!

    Last of all, always wear a REAL BRA! Girls like me, H-shaped need all the curves we can get. Sports bras are not flattering at all and make us look more like a 2×4, not pretty. I’m athletic, and I love my sports bras, but had to give in to real bras to make clothes hang right.

    *Turtle necks (short neck)
    *Square tops (wide shoulders)
    *Mid-drift shirts (no waist)
    *Tight-fitting tops (shows of muffin top, gross!) <-hard to not have with no waistline
    *Baggy tops (adds too much weight)
    *Baggy bottoms (adds weight and makes me appear shorter, hides best body asset)
    *Pencil pants (makes top look too heavy – disproportionate)
    *Straight dresses or skirts (not enough curve)
    *Short coats or Trench Coats (shows no waist / covers too much leg)
    NO HORIZONTAL STRIPES!!! EVER!! Vertical, diagnal, or broken up patters drawing attention up are best.

    Thanks again for your site! You're the best!

  • Imogen, it has been a long time since I have thought on the matter, but pleats and gathers around the waist/upper hip have generally not been recommended for H-Shapes. But what do you think about pleats and gathers in a mid-hip drop waist? I’ve toyed with the idea for myself (and I am very flat in the mid hips). Does this seem workable for some H-shaped women? I notice that not H-shaped women are exactly the same in the hips shape, so I was just wondering…

  • One thing Ihave found is that I can’t wear much that doesn’t have a v-neck. I look like a linebacker that way. I’m a bit busty and wide at the shoulder. Anything bulky without a v-neck or that has any kind of dropped sleeve seam makes me look super wide, as do turtle necks. I’m not sure if I’m an H or a V (my hips are not significantly smaller than my shoulders and I do not have a waist). What to do….

  • Finally, someone who gets my body shape and is saying the things I’ve learned. There is just one thing you posted that I need to try, and it’s the dress. I’m a separates gal because they just work better. I have 2 dresses, so now I’m on the hunt for that style you posted. I’m a busty, small-shouldered H. I was a definite pear, but no thanks to surgeries, a crushed shoulder, and age, my body shape has really changed, and gone are tucked in shirts and mock turtles. I do adore my Burberry trench, which was a gift, but I usually just wear it open. I usually pin one thing from a fashion blog, but I’m following you now.

    • Thanks Gael – all bodies, even if they have a loose “shape” are still unique and you need to figure out what works for you as opposed to the “general” rules! Thanks for following x

  • Okay so several years later, I’m just jumping on the bandwagon. I’m not sure how I would describe my body shape. Narrow shoulders, big busted, pretty narrow from below my bust down. So maybe I’m a champagne flute or a red wine glass. I’ve been loving the tips and will definitely change my shopping habits. I’m trying to create my first capsule wardrobe. Any ideas? When I read all the comments it soo makes sense. Thanks.

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