Real Life Body Shapes – H


real life body shapes H shape - how to dress and flatter
On to the next shape – today we have an H body shape (rectangle body shape).

What you will notice is that there is not much definition between the shoulders, waist and hips, sure there is a little curve here and there, but not a really defined waist curve.

Here is another H – you will notice that there is not much waist definition.

Hs commonly have short waists and flat bottoms (but not always).

How to dress your H shape:

  • So what to wear – clothes that don’t focus attention on your waist.  Notice how all the pictures above have emphasis either above or below the natural waist, not on it.
  • One of the most important things to remember when you are an H shape is that you need to find a great supportive bra – keeping ‘the girls’ up high will give you a more defined waist.
  • Tops that end just below the hip bone are often the best length.  Alternatively try a longer tunic top over a pair of skinny jeans or leggings.  If you need to belt the tunic top, belt it low on your hips, not at your waist.
  • Empire tops are often flattering, just avoid the ones with gathers under the bust as they may make you look pregnant.
  • Garments like trench coats can be very hard to wear for an H – the only ones I’ve found to work are single breasted, already fitted and shaped, and then I tie the belt at the back.
  • Look for clothes with fitting and seaming – such as princess seams which help to create a long, lean line.
  • You will often find that a wide variety of pant styles suit the H shape.  From wide legs to straight legs, bootlegs to flares, give them a try and see what you prefer.
  • Keep detail above the buts and below the thighs for the most flattering appearance.
  • Skirts too can be in a variety of shapes, from straight to a-line, trumpet to bubble.  The worst skirts for you are those that gather or pleat around the waist.  Dropped waist styles work well though.
  • Small busted Hs will have a much easier time belting garments than larger busted Hs.

More tips for H shapes have a look here.

Celebrities with H shape bodies include Anne Hathaway and Kim Catrall.

whats my body shape


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  • Yay! I love the visual examples. I'm an A and I'm pretty sure of it, but I'd love to see an example of this shape too. I liked the celebrity version, but pear-shaped stars usually hide their lower body, so we can't really see the shape.

  • Ooh! I think this is my body type. My shoulders are wider than my hips but for the most part, shoulders, waist and hips are very similar (only 9" difference between my waist and hips.) It's funny because the polyvore you posted is very much what I prefer to wear–the empire waist line, low slung belt and cropped shrugs.

    I noticed that skinny jeans were not on your list of flattering jeans. Was this a conscious omission? I tried to make them work but thought I looked like an ice cream cone unless I had some scrunched boots to balance myself out.

    So glad you're posting these real people pics!

  • It could be me in that picture! (Until someone proves I'm really an O…) I love being the same body type as Kim Catrall – I'm suddenly feeling very sexy, and believe me, I don't often feel sexy! 🙂

    BTW, I love your blog, it's the first thing I check every morning after checking my mail!!! I have learned so much from you! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!


  • Another great article, Imogen! BTW, I have tried to email you with a photo (three times!) but can't get through to your email account. Don't know whether it is your computer or mine, or perhaps they have gone into your spam messages? 🙂

  • Imogen — just wanted to pop by and tell you there's an award for you at my blog…you've been very kind to me many times during my ordeal this past year and I wanted to say a little thank you. I can't tell you how much your thoughtfulness has meant 🙂

  • I'm and H. I'll be darned.

    The last time I did one of these things I was told I was an hourglass with a small bust. My shoulders and hips are pretty much exactly the same but my waist used to be very small in relationship. My bust has always been disproportionally small due to multiple injuries as a child.

    Well I am not so well defined in the waist anymore. Thanks menopot.

    Reading the description, looking at the pictures and the recommended fashions (which I know for a fact are flattering on me), I am convinced.

    I makes picking out what works so much easier when you have some kind of frame work. This is brilliant.

  • Well! I've been trying to decide, and I think this is me! An "H". I've been tossing up between the H and X. But as I have a shorter waist, I think it's definitely the H. I'm so happy!
    Now off to look at what works.

    I've also mentioned you on my blog, and on a forum I belong to. a few girls have discovered their shape finally. You rock.

  • Hi Imogen

    I'm still confused. Think I'm an H with shoulders waist the hips more or less in line (view from the front) with 5" to 6" (depending on whether I've been on a binge) difference between my waist and hips. However I'm long in the upper body with shorter legs (head to crotch measures 34" and crotch to floor 30". Oh, and I've got a long flattish behind and to top it all sloping shoulders. My shoulders are as wide as my hips though so definitely not an 'A'.

    Think I was probably an 'I' in a younger life. What's your assessment please?

    • Mary – some people class Hs as Apples, but I distinguish them from 0s (which are more rounded) as they dress quite differently. Plus, who wants to be called an apple anyway?

  • I am debating whether I am a H or a 8. Shoulders and hips are the same width and waist is 6″ smaller than hips. I have large bust and high hip shelf which is what leads me to think I might be a 8.

    Could I be a H with a leaning towards an 8 in the hip area?

    thanks for any additional help.

  • I love your blog, Imogen! Thanks for explaining all the body shapes. I’m pretty sure I’m an H. I’ve understood for a while that tops look better on me not tucked in, & that empire waist dresses & tops look good on me – now I understand why!

  • Thank you! I supposed myself to be an O (“apple”). However when I was yonger, I was a V, and it was not very comfortable because of being petite. Now I am glad to find myself as H, and I urgently need to check my wardrobe, cause a lot of my clothes don’t suit me and I felt it before. I will not waste my money no longer) Thank you dear!

  • I found my shape! I was reading the wrong one. I’m totally and H. Little curve, short torso, long lean legs and kind of a flat bottom! Sorry for the comment on the 8 shape 🙂

    I totally agree with these pieces of advice. I’d like to remark that I like to highlight my gams, since they are pretty and lean, so if you are and H, show them as much as you can!

  • Just found your blog and love how informative it is! However, I was wondering if you could elaborate more on the difference between H and I shapes. I have zero curves so I know I’m one of these two. I’m very short waisted (although you say that’s not a requirement for an H), and nearly all the styles I gravitate to are recommended for H’s. But I’m also very slender so at first glance I thought the “long and lean” description of an I might be me — but a lot of the voluminous and double-breasted styles recommended for I’s feel too overwhelming on my figure. I’m just confused as to how the descriptions for H and I sound very similar (lack of curves) but the styles recommended for each are very different!

    • Jen – I suppose the question is – do you feel boyish or just thick through the middle? Does a belt give you the illusion of curves or just emphasize that you have a broad waist?

      • Interesting! Sometimes I think a long, belted, single-breasted trench or coat works for me. However, whenever I try to belt regular clothes I do feel like the belt just emphasizes my lack of waist. I usually hear that straight figures should wear belts to create the illusion of a waist, but it never works for me!

        • I have the exact same question about H and I! I wonder if I was more of an “I” when I was younger, but now that I have gained some weight, I felt more like a H. Like Jen, I have long (mid-thigh), belted single-breasted blazer (part of a pant suit) that I think works on me – though it does have a slightly dramatic collar so it draws attention more to that than the waist. I guess I will try wearing the belt behind me next time to see if it looks better. When I wear belts for other clothes etc it just emphasizes I have no waist, whether they are thin or thick belts…

  • Hmm… It seems that I’m not alone in my relative body type-confused state. I’m wondering if any of the readers/ Imogen can help me decide where I belong: H or X. I’m relatively young (not near menopause age) have never had children – just adding this info in case it plays a role. I’m 1.75m tall and have relatively broad shoulders (just over 100cm when you measure around them); a smaller bust (87cm) and waist (71cm) and a broader hip area (97cm). On paper it seems like a X shape, but I have a short waist and tend to look rectangular. I would dearly like to know since the advice for these two body types are worlds apart. I would appreciate some input. Thank you very much!

    • I think I have a similar body shape like you, although I’m less tall than you.
      I also don’t know whether I’m H or X because of my waist shape and size.

      Imogen, can you help us out?

  • I am debating between H and V. I’m 5’4″, shoulders are 42 inches around, bust is 44.5, waist is 37, hips are 42. I wear a 27-28 inch inseam. I have thin thighs- I have been able to get my thighs into an American size 6 or 8 while my waist needs a 16-18 (for the record my underbust is 38 inches and my ribs are quite visible, so I can’t lose any more weight.) My hips can usually wear a US size 12.

    I bloat frequently due to food sensitivity issues, on any given day I could bloat from my natural 37 waist to a 42 or beyond, though I usually don’t bloat more than two or three inches. On some occasions I have bloated more than 10 inches in less than 24 hours. But my unbloated waist is 37 inches.

  • Hi Imogen! Would Jessica Paré be considered an H? I was trying to figure out some young celebrities from who I can look for inspiration.

    Also, what about Olivia Palermo? Either she is an H or an I. What do you think?



  • Imogen, I was just wondering about gathers and empire waists. The rule is not to wear gathers under the bust, but then I noticed your red dress in the Polyvore. It has a similar cut to a sundress I own. The sundress has a mock-smoked top that reaches to about the same point as the bodice part of your red dress. The fabric is a soft cotton and there are gathers below the smocking. I don’t *think* it makes me look pregnant, and I think the outline as the fabric falls is mostly vertical.

    I have noticed that *any* empire waist that comes just above my natural waistline just makes me look like I have a fat waist, but if it’s a little higher–say just under the bust or 1-2″ below, it’s not so critical. I definitely cannot do gathers below that point. Have you a thought on the matter? I wonder if it has to do again with where the thinnest part of the body is above the waistline…?

    • To me – an empire waist is one that comes in just under the bust. Otherwise if it’s further down it’s more “waist” than empire.

      The gathering, really depends on the shape of your stomach. If you have a flatter tummy you will look more pregnant if it balloons over your tummy (also consider the drape of the fabric, if it’s drapey then it won’t balloon in the way that it will if it’s stiffer).

  • Hi Imogen. I have a drop waist skirt that I love. A very busy pattern (for me who usually does plains) I am struggling for a top to go with it, given that the best length for me is just past the hip. I feel (.and May be wrong) that this would bring it down below the seam of where the skirt joins and broaden me right where I dint need to be broadened lol Until I learned I was H I probably would have tucked in a roll neck jumper or Metalicus basic tee top. I tried to add a pic but couldn’t
    Grateful for any suggestions
    Thanks Jen.

  • Hi Imogen,

    I just discovered your blog. I think I’m an H with shoulders and hips same width front on and with middle aged spread in the waist and “love handles” adding to my high hip, I show few curves any more. I am having a problem with dresses or skirt shapes. Is Empire waist the only dress style? I’m 5’10” and my bust is not ample in comparison to my waist and hips. My smallest measurement is on my rib cage above the waist and below the bra line. From the side I show and belly and a rear that isn’t just flat. Anything that falls from above the waist looks like a sack or if it skims along the waist and hugs lower showcases the lumps and bumps seen from the side. So, do I look at “Fit and Flare” styles? I’m confused! and over 50!

  • Thank you so much! I used one of those body type calculators and it said I was an inverted triangle, but I thought it was because I appear that way in numbers due to my flat rear. I am an H from the front and probably an O from the side? Is that possible? 🙂 I am truly one or both, not an inverted triangle. 🙁


  • Hi, I have also been trying to figure out my body shape. I am 5′ 3″, short legs 28 inseam, maybe 6 inches between waist and hips, shoulders the same width as hips. Does this make me an H? Also short waisted. 140lbs. It’s very confusing and I wish I were taller. Would really appreciate some help. Would like to look nice finally.

    • Hi Jan, Do you have a defined or undefined waist? That is what is most likely to make you an H shape. You sound more H but measurements are not accurate in determining body shape. You need to make a judgement based on what you see when you look in the mirror front on. I do body shape analysis as part of my 7 Steps to Style program which you find here if you’d like my professional opinion.

  • I have finally found my body shape and a list of what to wear that’s perfect for me.
    I knew I had found the perfect shape when I read to avoid the empire shape tops that gathers under the bust as they may make you look pregnant.
    The advise on skirts is also perfect for me, as the worst skirts for me are those that gather or pleat around the waist.

    I can’t thank you enough, I can now finally go shopping with confidence, I always hated to try things on, but now I know it’s because I picked up the wrong items.

  • After many years of confusion about my body shape, I’ve finally discovered mine is an H. Really happy to land on this! Many sites say that my shape can wear skinny jeans well but my shoulders are a bit broader than my hips and skinny jeans make me look unbalanced. What’s your take on skinny jeans for H types Imogene?

    • I’m an H and wear skinny jeans – but really it’s up to you if your shoulders are broader (that’s slightly V shaped) that you may find you want the balance of a bootleg or flare.

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