More on How to Figure Out Your Body Shape


More tips on how to figure out your body shape, and how body shapes can change with weight


Yes, body shapes can be confusing, we are all unique, so there is no exact standard for body shapes, but these are guidelines.  You can be a mix of body shapes, though you will probably find that you fall more into one shape than another.  If you have the top half of an A and the bottom of an 8, then dress them according to the guidelines for each of these shapes.
Tips on understanding the defining points of your body shape – which are waist, hips and shoulders (not the bust) can be found here in this pot – check out the pictures so you can see the differences.

Body Shapes explained - how tofigure out your body shape

Your Body Shape Questions Answered

Vicki asked:

Interesting! How does the I differ from the H? They appear very similar, yet the H is advised not to belt at the waist but the I can? The real people photos really help to see the real shapes in the “raw” so to speak. 

  • What I find the difference is that I shapes tend to have longer waists than Hs, who are also broader all over than I’s.
  • I shapes normally feel boyish, whilst Hs feel more solid.  Hs are likely to have wider pelvises and rib cages than I’s.
  • Is are naturally very slim with narrow hips and shoulders, whilst Hs can just be very short waisted, which is why they have no defined waist, or they may even be Xs who have gone through menopause and started to carry their weight around their middle a little more, losing what was once a defined waist.

Just-Fee asked:

Just found this and I have to say it’s really amazing! I’m stuck between two of your shapes the V and the 8, as I have wider shoulders than hips but a high waist. Any advice? 

  • This is more unusual, but then dress your shoulders as a V and your bottom half as an 8.  Keep the shoulder broadening detail to a minimum, instead look to balance your shoulders by visually narrowing them.
  • It’s not uncommon to have A shape shoulders and 8 shape hips too.

Lisa asked:

Do body shapes change with weight?

  • Body shapes can change with weight gain and loss.  For example an 8 shape may turn into an H shape if they put on some weight (and they have a short waist proportionally) and then if they on even more weight turn into an O shape.
  • An H shape who puts on weight will become an O shape.
  • An X shape who puts on weight most likely becomes an A shape (but some will become more H or O depending on weight gain and waist length).
  • A V shape may become an O shape or H shape with weight gain.

You may notice that the Os are missing from the above pic, at the time I wrote this I didn’t have pictures.  Find out more about O shapes here.

You can also do my body shape calculator quiz and download your free body shape bible here.

whats my body shape


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  • Imogen, thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. I had a consultation with you last October and it has improved my clothing choices. In fact I just wrote a blogpost about how I am applying the concepts in my sewing. I feel so much better in my clothes!

  • Imogen – this was so helpful. I tried to take a picture and send it in, but just couldn't manage the logistics. Thanks to your other readers I believe I am a V. Is it possible for Vs to have very small waists? Not that I do any more – 2 kids and all – but I used to have a 25 inch waist and 16.5 inch shoulders. V? Yes?

  • Thanks Imogen, that is great! I was checking out my daughters over the weekend – the 16 year old is an H – very short, shoulders and hips even, low hip wider, little waist definition, large bust. On the other hand the older 19 year old daughter is an X like me but much smaller – in height, weight and bone structure. So some I in there too I suppose. My youngest is hardest to buy for as many items just make her look fat (not good for a teenager)even though she isn't. Need to make sure bust is defined. Actually I wonder if she is an O? Mmm, I will see if she will let me take her photo tonight 🙂

  • Hi Imogen, me again. Just checked O shape and dd no 2 is not that. Still has a defined waist – just not as defined as her sister and me. And belts don't suit her around the waist – not enough room. Think I will stick with the H 🙂

  • Basic Question – Do body shapes change as we grow older / fatter / slimmer? Post pregnancy, my hips are definitely wider than my chest, but it wasn't always so….

  • Although you have shown and written so much about these body shapes, I am still a bit confused. IMO I am an I, short body, there is a small waist curve ( very wide belts don´t feel good ), but I am all legs. Especially my calves are long and slim. The few extra kilos, I have added due to the cold, endless winter, which caused me anxiety, so that 1 ate too much chocolate, have all centered in the tummy section. And I am desperate to get it all off. I feel that I have turned a bit towards X shape.Grr.. What to do? I do like the tulip shape on skirts and I don´t like tunics at all. Dresses feel most comfortable covering the knees or hitting mid-calf. I rather wear cup sleeves, extra long sleeves or 3/4, 4/5 sleeves. Why oh why is it that I feel SO uncomfortable in long, wide leg pants??

  • Imogen – you definitely deserve an award for this brilliant series – consider yourself duly awarded! Now just picture yourself holding up that Gold Cup!! 🙂 The pictures with the X, A and so on shapes superimposed are very helpful, as are the comments! It is also very useful to hear what other people with similar body shapes wear! Metscan – I have very slim calves, too, and tiny feet, and rarely wear baggy trousers as I don't like the feel of too much material flapping around! The only way I could contemplate wearing them would be with heels and a very fitted low-necked top!

  • Imogen, I was unable to reply to your email…it bounced back for some unknown reason.

    I sent you a .pdf file of my laser body scan, and you suggested I might be an H instead of an 8. After reading your latest post, I realized that I have attributes of both. When I have been working out (and am not carrying much extra weight), I'm somewhat closer to an 8. But when I have a few extra pounds (as I do right now), I am decidedly more H-shaped, with a less-defined and shorter waist than an 8.

    There is a lot of overlap in the style advice for those two shapes, so I'm in the process of sorting through it all, but I think I have a much clearer idea of what my shape is now. Thanks so much!

  • Pearlaceous: Could it actually be so simple, that if your calves are very thin, the flapping is the thing that annoys? Could it psychologic too? I mean that if small calves are considered desirable, then hiding them does not make you feel good? And vice versa; it feels ok to hide wide calves with wide legged pants. LOL for my analyzing stuff. My feet are not small, they are narrow.

  • Metscan – I think you are right and we should definitely show off our slimmest parts and not hide them! But I am only 5 ft 3" and I think that's another reason baggy trousers do not look good on me! Maybe they look better on taller people? Imogen??? 🙂

  • Great post as usual, Imogen, but I'm still wondering exactly what I am. I am long-waisted and going by bust-waist-hip measurements, an hourglass (36"-25"-36"). However, viewed from the front my shoulders are definitely the widest part of me. Does this make me an X or a V?

  • Pearlaceous: Well, I am 5ft 10, and I feel absolutely lost with wide pant legs. I feel that wearing them, I´m huge, and trying to hide my hugeness. I have a fantasy, that capris, which hit the imagined widest point of my calves, worn with a definite heel, and a top, knit with 3/4 sleeves would satisfy me. I´m tall, and have no need to hide it. I hope Imogen has answers for us ?!!

  • This has been very helpful and interesting to follow. I used to be a solid H but having lost weight I am not completely certain of my shape anymore. I am short-waisted but I have a solid 11" between my bust waist, and hips, and I am slim (36-25-36), so my waist is not exactly undefined, nor do I carry my weight in my tummy. My hips are neither boyish and square nor curvy, but my bottom is curvy. I do wear belts now, which I never did before, though they must be slim and stretchy to fit me properly. When I do wear belts, though, you can see how small my waist really is, which is why I have started wearing them.

    I'm too curvy to be an I, too defined to be an H, but I don't have the graceful long waist of an 8 or X. Very confusing!

  • Maya – you don't have to be long waisted to be an 8 or X, I guess that both 8 photo examples are short waisted…

  • A little sewing – thanks for the link and I'm glad it's helped!

    LPC – yes Vs can have small waists, they just have broader shoulders. Small waisted Vs can belt easily. X has shoulders and hips about equal width, V has wider shoulders than hips.

    Vicki – love you to send in your daughters photos.

    Metscan – send me a photo!

    Anon – look at shoulders vs hip width to see whether you are V or X

    Maya – send me a photo – you don't have to have a really long waist to be an X – that's just the examples that have been sent in. 8s don't necessarily have long waists either – but have the high hip.

  • I don't know what body shape I am….I'm thinking 8, because the tips for 8 make the most sense for me; such as, I wear high-waisted pencil skirts really well & boxy tops look bad on me. Except being thin, I wear skirts that flare widely from the upper hip very well (but not A-line). I also have the pant problem of pulling across the crotch &/or gapping at the back waist band.

    I may also be an "I" because I am thin….or a V cause I have wide shoulders?

    My measurements are 33-25-37, with 36" shoulders (broad) and a bubble butt (not as wide in the hips as I sound – no saddle bags & I have thin thighs). I'm also 5'8 with long legs (34" inseam).

    Does this sound like 8, X, I or V? Or something else altogether?

    here's a photo from the front:

    and back:

  • Orange Appled – you are definitely a slim X shape, which means you can wear the straighter shapes of the 8 as well as the more flared shapes of the X. You have a lovely long smooth line from waist to low hip (which is your widest point).

    Hope this helps.

  • Thanks for your reply Imogen. I don't have any leggings/cami pictures (and it's a bit late to take any), but perhaps you can piece together these?

    This one shows my waist:


    And a pretty form-fitting dress:

    This belt was too wide so I didn't end up buying it, but it is one of the few piccies I have where I'm not wearing a dress and you can actually see my hips…sort of!

    Let me know if you need something clearer…

  • Maya – from your photos you still look Hish, though you may be somewhere between an H and an X, so dress using both those guidelines, depending how you feel about each garment. As you have a larger bust it can make your waist look even shorter, which makes it harder to dress in some of the Xs shapes.

  • That's probably about right. I thought I was a mix of some sort. I didn't feel like a typical H because I do not feel that my midsection requires any camouflaging anymore. Were it not for my bust, I probably would be "boyish" and more I-like than H-like because I wouldn't have as much curve and my waist would appear longer.

    On the other hand, X's don't seem to have to go out of their way to show off their pretty waistlines, so I didn't feel quite X-ish either. If I don't define the small space where my waist is using some kind of structure or belt, no one would know it was there! Like you, my ribcage is almost directly on top of my hips, so even though my waist is small it will never be that defined. I have to create that definition myself with clothes.

    Anyway, thanks again Imogen. I will embrace both shapes!

  • Imogen,I somewhat identify with both of these ladies. Is an H-and-X shape something like the M-shape category in I haven't done my measurements in a long time, but I plugged in my old ones there and came up as M.

    I've lost my waist definition with age and resemble more an H from the front, though there is more definition front-to-back now. (I was skinny until age 33 and still can't adjust to having breasts.) My hips have a top shelf and are flat on the sides, but gently curve in just under the bottom so that they are not totally straight. My shoulders are slightly broad but still fall in a straight line with hips, my rib cage is straight though my shoulders seem to have a more gentle slope than most H's.

    I seem to have more grace in general than most H's. I sure don't have the heavy thighs of an X, nor do I have bird-like thighs.

  • great blog! i'm confused over what my body shape is. I rarely find clothes that fit and Im not sure if it is because Im skinny or curvy. I'm average tall, 5'6, and have a small waist, 24,5 inch, but not sure of waist etiquette, long or short, Ive got 5,5 inch rib-to-hip but prominent high hip- alas short waist and need clothes with a silouette. Am I a hourglass? My shoulder width and lower hip from the front, is 16.5 and 15,5 inches, whole shoulder measurement is 38 and hip 38. but the high hip is 14 inches, or 34,5. Im sorry if I sound like a robot with all the numbers, but I need to get it straight. my underbust is 28,5 and my "lowest rib" 26,5, bust 36,5. inseam 33', boot-to-hip 40, rise 13,5. everything I wear seem to be the wrong size in either the torso or hip area. What kind of "waist" is this? Got any clues at all for a long-seated but small-waisted girl with big hips and butt?

  • man that a lot of numbers- figuratively speaking, I have a small frame and big boobs, and very wide hips and a long "seat" or rise, but what about the waist? the above mentioned 5,5 inch is from lowest rib to top of iliac bone, so it's not short waisted (?)- and my torso/leg is balanced, but my hip bones are very high, while my buttocks low, and the emphasis of the proportions is on my 38 hip in comparison to my 25 waist. it's hard to not get the "bowling" or "tent"-look, while Im actually very curvy. How can I balance my proportions please?

  • oh im sorry i just forgot to say that what Im after here is to "elongate" my curvy but small torso a little, but without emphasising the hip/butt area too much.

  • Hey um when I initially saw the picture I was sure I was a V with a little longer shoulder than waist , but now im confused with the x , ive been loosing a lot of weight , my widest point is right under my belly button (the part that connects the muffin tops on the side haha) , I have a smaller busy, my waist I consider it high theres hardly any space between brastrap & waist. I have big thighs & small arms but I find my shoulders okay, eventhough they appear to be same lenght or a tiny bit wider. I will put some pictures up if you would be so nice to tell me which one I am X V or H.


  • Hi Imogen…Great site!

    I always thought I was a pear or A shape but when I wear the clothes, especially the skirts I look shorter and fatter…could I be a spoon and or something else and how can I tell?
    When I look at the shapes together I seem to see bits of both in me adn I know I can’t be 🙂

  • Hi Imogen,

    This is great stuff! I not sure, but i think i may be an H shape? My measuremennts are: 42 shoulders, 36 C bust, waist 32 and hip 40.

    Please help

    Thank you

    • Jade I really can’t tell your body shape from measurements as they don’t necessarily reflect your silhouette. You need to take a photo of yourself in close fitting clothes and have a look at your outline.

  • Can a V shape have broad saddlebags and a tiny waist (waist 26.5″, low hip 40″)? I dont know if I’m an X or a V, or an X with wider shoulders, because a V isn’t supposed to have a small waist and considerably wider saddlebags (than waist i.e.) right? It’s just that my shoulders are somewhat broader than my hips, but I’m noticeably curvy lower down.

    • Hi Mepragoo – yes you could be an X with broad shoulders – you can dress your shoulders for V but the rest of your body for X – remember body shapes are vague guidelines that are trying to fit billions of womens bodies into just a few shapes! There could be masses of variations on these shapes.

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