Real Life Body Shapes – V


Real life body shapes V shape - how to dress and flatter



Here we have one version of a V body shape (inverted triangle) body.  You will notice that her shoulders are broader than hips, but there is not a lot of curve through the body either.

Some Vs are significantly wider than their hips, others are just a bit wider (like this example).

How to dress your V shape body:

V Shape Petite

  • If you shoulders are significantly wider, avoid straight shaped skirts on your lower half, you need some flare to balance your hips.  If you are only a bit wider you can wear straight, A-line and flared skirts all equally well.
  • Look for tops with raglan sleeves and dolmen sleeves that will de-emphasise your shoulders.
  • Avoid puffed sleeves and epaulets, any kind of shoulder detail will make you look like an American Football linebacker (I think that’s the technically correct term).
  • Wide collars on shirts and jackets are not great.
  • Collarless jackets and those with modified collars, like the mandarin collar work well for you.
  • Avoid spaghetti straps – they just make your shoulders look broader – look for halternecks and wider straps on sleeveless garments.  Often those cut in a little (racer back) are more flattering than straighter shapes.
  • Jeans can be straight, boot cut, skinny, wide leg, trouser cut.
  • Gathered necklines can work for you really well.
  • Depending on your chin/jaw shape, which influences your best necklines, look for Vs and Scoops, rather than Boat necks and Square necklines if you want to make you shoulders less prominent.
  • Also be aware of your neck length when choosing necklines, if you have a shorter neck (like my lovely model today) look for lower necklines to help elongate.  If you have a long neck, and a smaller bust go for higher necklines like crew and turtlenecks.
  • Longer necklaces that fall to the bust or below can really work well on V shapes as it helps to create an elongating line down the front of your body.
  • If you are long waisted try belting. A tunic top that isn’t fitted and just hangs off your shoulders may need some definition and a belt can make a difference here.  Lower hip belts may work better than waist belts.
  • If you have narrow hips, try wearing  slightly longer tops that end at the widest point of your hips, this will add more curve.  If you don’t want to draw attention to your hips go for tops that end just under your hip bone (the bone that juts out at the front below your waist).
  • Jackets can end at the hip bone or below.  Generally cropped jackets will make you look more boxy and are better avoided.  Boyfriend styles may work on your shape.
  • Shift dresses, shirt dresses and bias cut dresses can all be options for you.
  • Avoid fabrics on your upper body that are too floppy, especially if you tend to have a muscled appearance, go for fabrics with a bit more weight and structure.
  • If you have a small bust you can really rock the trapeze shape top.  Also tops with layers of flounces or frills can really look great.
  • As you have broader shoulders than hips, you can easily wear coloured and patterned skirts, making your bottom half the focal point, rather than your top half.
  • Wear a darker top and lighter bottom to help balance your proportions.
  • If you have a flat butt, look for detail on jeans pockets, and pocket flaps on back pockets to give you more shape.
  • You may find that your pants always work themselves down during the day and you feel you have to hitch them up, a higher rise may help with this.
For more V shape tips check out this post.
Celebrities with your shape include Jennifer Garner, Demi Moore, Naomi Campbell and Rene Zellweger .


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  • Yes – this is me! And this why I never feel I look good in patterned tops! The best skirts for me are knee length, straight or bias cut with a little flip out at the knee. Not so sure whether I can pull off big A-line shapes and I never know whether or not to wear longer skirts – I feel dowdy in them. Still – learning all the time! Thank you, Imogen!

  • "Linebacker" is definitely the correct term! Great tutorial! Since I carry extra weight around my hips I often long for the V shape instead of my own.

  • What a surprise! I had no idea that I could be a V. For some reason, I thought the V had to be more exaggerated and the body type super slim. Didn't realize that a V could be stocky! It's no wonder that I feel like an ice cream cone at times. It also explains why some of my V neck tops that are wide at the neck look "off" even though I seem to be following the rules ( for an H.) The same goes for straight skirts.

    I'm so grateful for your post. My daughters and I are a family of football linebackers–your terminology is correct by the way. My youngest has my body type almost exactly only she was blessed with a round butt. My oldest is taller and slimmer and has a defined waist–something I've always wanted! I have a better idea of how to minimize that shoulder line now–which will help us all. Thanks so much, Imogen!

  • Anon, I don't see a V shape in your picture. what I see is a very nice X, the enviable hourglass.It's hard to tell, but I think what may be bothering you about your shoulders is that they're square, not broad. The angle they form with your neck is closer to 90 degrees than most designers' clothing models. Imogene, what's the fix for this? A tailor, or just learning to love the collarbones?

  • Pearlaceous – yes it's you – longer skirts need heels for many to stop from looking frumpy. Knee length is often best.

    Kellygirl – thanks – glad you feel like you've learned something today!

  • Imogen, I have v-shape shoulders with a defined waist and x-shape hips (I think). I’m also high-waisted with a lower bustline and with long legs. How might you recommend I balance all of these aspects? Is there one of them that I might benefit from concentrating on more than the others? I can post a picture if that might help.

  • Dear Imogen, I read this note about the V shape and I see that you (and other stylists too) advise dolmen sleeves to de-emphasise the shoulders. I don’t agree with this tip because that is true that we can not see the shoulder line this way but the whole upper torso becomes very large, especially if the breasts are big or the chest is wide! I am a tall slim V shape with medium breasts, very large shoulders and loooong arms. If I wear a dolmen blouse I look like Arnie in the Conan…. I usually suggest dolmen sleeves for a tall X or pear (with pad shoulders) who has very small breasts and narrow chest to enlarge the chest area and the upper torso. What do you think about it? Do I know wrong this rule? Thank you for your help, your tips are always useful for me, and I don’t feel embarrassed to learn somebody who is more educated in our profession than I am!! Kathy

    • Hi Kathy,

      A dolman sleeve (has stitching down the top and joins the sleeve from the neck down the top of the arm) is not necessarily a batwing (though commonly they go together). Batwings are absolutely no good for V shapes, but if it’s a slim dolman sleeve it can work really well. That’s my take!

  • I think this is my figure but a much disproportionate one/less flattering than those pics shown above bc my hips & legs are too thin looks weird compared to my upper half since I’m skinny.. I don’t like it bc I don’t know how to dress this figure/I’m having a hard time. All the clothes I like/own/want to wear just doesn’t look good on me at all.. :/ (My measurements are: shoulder: 35.5″ breast: 28.7/29″ waist: 23.5/24″ hip(sits low): 31.5″ And I’m only 4’11” weigh around 85lbs) But I’m trying to gain more weight & learn to live with it. Oh and btw no I’m a grown woman not a teen who hasn’t hit puberty yet. lol

  • Dear Imogen,
    Thanx for the info. I am a plus size with a V shape. i ave a short neck, ny shoulder is 20″, bust 50, waist
    45, hips 47. I find it hard to find clothes that fit me nicely. what styles would you reccommend please?

    • Hi Posh, have a look through all the posts related to the V shape then look also at the proportions and body variations and start figuring out what works for your unique body.

  • Imogen, it took a lot of racking my brain to figure out what my shape is. I thought I was an hourglass until I came to this page. I know now that I have slightly wider shoulders than my hips, and a short waisted small waist. I’ve realised waist belts are not the way to go thanks to another page on your site, so thanks!

    I would love to hear your input. My issues are: appearing flat chested in summer strap tops even though I’m a 30dd (because of my shoulders), not having the confidence to wear corporate type clothing since I don’t know what looks good on me in that setting, and not knowing what colours look good on me. I have quite a few pics of my ‘attempts'(!), and I’d be more comfortable emailing them to you (rather than posting them publically), since a lot of them are personal. You can then feel free to use particular pics if you need to. I think your knowledge is immense and you’re fab. I still have these queries/issues after reading everything though. Is there a way I can email you?

  • Tulip skirts are great for this body type as well. I love anything that gives my hips a wider look and makes me feel more balanced out. I feel like this can be a hard body type because lacking hips always makes me feel like I look masculine. But all these tips are wonderful!

  • Most helpful info. I am a v shape but have butt and thick thighs thats why i love pencil skirt jus below my nee..i feel chunky in a line skirt. One question though i thought v shapes dont look good in skinny leggings or jeans. U disagree or it depends on your top..

    • Peaches – generally you want to balance out your top and bottom, so if you are significantly wider in the shoulders to hips, you need some sort of extra down the bottom to balance, so you can wear skinnies with either a long thigh length top (tunic) or knee high boots will also balance.

  • Hi, I am loving this great website and am amazed how supportive everyone is to each other.
    I am after some tips as I am an ‘8’ but with broader shoulders, I have read on many different posts that I should be wearing dresses but I struggle to find dresses to fit as my top half is 2 sizes bigger than my bottom half because of my shoulders, so now I am thinking I need to wear separates and am grateful to have read that boot leg jeans are still in fashion as these are what suit me best. But I am stuck as to what to wear on top to balance out my shoulders and disguise my stomach/shelf with a short waist. Skirts are ok to a point but the waist bands are always baggy and if they button up at the front they make my stomah look even bigger, aggghhh help! Any suggestions greatfully received. Thanks.

  • Hi

    I’m a little V shaped but also have scoliosis and because of this, my spine is not the right shape causing me to have no waist definition onn my left side but proper definition on my right. It’s like being half a boy-shape. I also have a very short torso so none of the tips for definiing my waist look good. I love the tips for ythe V shape body but was wonderig if you have any ideas for me asI’m almost a cross between contradicting body shapes!

    • I have the same thing going for me, my scoliosis keeps gradually increasing now one hip is higher than the other. mine is slightly balanced though. It’s on the brink of severe now :/ Let me know if you want to talk.

  • I know that this is a late post, but Im wondering:
    Does this type lapels on jackets/coats make shoulders broader? (not sure if the links are working so Im showing to ones)

    I notice alot of wool pea and trench coats has this feauture so thats why Im wondering because I plan to buy a new coat for fall/winter, a medium long wool belted and double breasted peacoat (Ive a mix of V and X shape with medium bust, so I prefer my jackets to be waist cinched).
    I prefer high collar ones better because Ive a long neck and long decollace but like to find a coat without any high collar so I can wear scarves with it.

      • Thanks! There were somebody who told me they were “Slimming” so I got confused.
        Because Ive plum colored puffy coat where the collar is “sweeped to the side” (I dont know what its called, its looks similare to a double breasted jacket but with one zipper only. Leather jackets usually have them) which reminds me of that kind of collar on trench/pea coats, Its made me look “boxy” on top. :S

        • Sometimes they can be slimming – as the wider collar makes the shoulders broader and makes the waist slimmer. But if you are already broader there and the coat is shorter, it can make you look more boxy

  • I’m not sure i’ll get a reply since this is pretty late but I was wondering how do you dress a petite, busty, short-waisted, figure 8 body shape but with slightly wider shoulders like the V body shape. Especially since the figure 8 body shape is supposed to avoid flared skirts because while it makes our waists looks smaller it makes our hips look huge.
    I thought I finally had my body shape figured out but then while I was trying on clothes I noticed that my shoulders were slightly wider than my hips.

  • The style advice regarding this body shape almost described my entire wardrobe! I have been told forever that I look “athletic” or I have the body of a gymnast or a swimmer. I did both sports as a teen oddly enough, and I was so self conscious about my upper body, but I loved my legs. I am only 5 feet tall, and there is about an inch of space between my ribs and the top for my hip bone, so having a short waist, a wider ribcage, and athletic arms, shoulders, even my back, has always made me feel out of place. I am so pleased to see that dressing to highlight my lower half is something I’ve been doing right! As for my pants wiggling down all day, That describes my frustration with clothing! I feel better about my body now that I understand how to dress myself. Thank you for making sense out of the many shapes of a woman using real examples. I always felt like the 4 categories commonly used in magazines were too limiting.

  • Hello… i love your site! Seriously.. i love how you’ve used real human beings to explain body shapes unlike google who used cartoonish images to explain body shapes! I’m still confused to which body shape I am. My measurements are like of a pear, I gain weight like an apple but I look like a hybrid of an hourglass and an inverted triangle! May I privately send you some pictures so you can find out for me?

  • Hi there!
    I really love your blog, I’ve read every single of your styling tips and tried to use them. However I’m still struggling with finding my own body shape. My measurements are quite proportional: shoulders 91cm, bust 85, waist 63cm, hips 89 cm, I’m 1.57m tall. According to every single body shape calculator I’m an hourglass but to be honest I can’t see it. My shoulders are quite broad and square. Is is possible that I’m an inverted triangle with my measurements?

  • Thanks for the helpful info. Perhaps I am mistaken, but to me the second V shaped example (the woman wearing jeans) is a much more pronounced V than the woman wearing the bike shorts, who has hips just slightly narrower than her shoulders. Were the photo captions by chanced reversed?

  • Thanks for the helpful info. Perhaps I am mistaken, but to me the second V shaped example (the woman wearing jeans) is a much more pronounced V than the woman wearing the bike shorts, who has hips just slightly narrower than her shoulders.

  • Hi Imogen,

    Thank you for creating these helpful shape guides.

    My shoulders are very wide, so I’m V-shaped. I think I have secondary I-shape influence though, what do you think?

    I’ve always hated my body shape and looking very masculine with disproportionately large shoulders and back. Still for whatever reason I wear same size top and bottom (probably due to small bust).

    • I would say you are more X shape with broader/square shoulders as you have a very pronounced waist. You can always dress with two body shapes in mind for the different parts of your body.

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