Guest Post – Real Life Dressing a Figure 8 Shape

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 I get so many requests about how to dress 8 shape bodies, probably because they are so ignored by most image and style books.  So I asked Aileen Lane of Nutri-Style in Singapore, who is an 8 shape if she’d share her experiences with you on how she dresses her shape.  Here is her post:

 
I am an image consultant and I have struggled with identifying my own figure for a long time.  I just didn’t quite fit into any of the main stream figure types of hourglass, pear, rectangle, inverted triangle or round. After much research and deliberation, the penny finally dropped about 3 years ago when I attended a talk by Carlas Mathis, one of the top image consultants in the world and a Certified Image Master. Her book ‘ The Triumph of Individual Style‘ is the bible for many image consultants around the world. She talked about a variation of the stereotypical hourglass called the Figure of Eight. The characteristic of the 8 figure are:
  • Shoulders are curved and are relatively as wide as your hips/thighs
  • Waist is distinctly narrower then shoulders and hips/thighs (8 -10 inches smaller)
  • Weight tends to accumulate on the high hip and tummy  just below the waist (Not so much on thighs/ low hip as happens with an hourglass)
  • Small waist and sudden jut out to high hip give a shelf like appearance to the waist
  • Waist tends to be short due to high hip – Gets shorter with weight gain as shelf gets higher
  • Legs can be long and slim (Not always the case)
I have seen this figure type called a Vase in some books. I used to think my figure type was rare but once I made the distinction, I realised it was much more common. The high hip and shelf can be found on other figures types as well as the 8.



Dressing a figure of eight:
Follow the rules for an hourglass except for the lower part of the body where the 8 does better with tapered designs in skirts and dresses.


Silouettes For Figure Of Eight

 

  • Soft drapable fabrics such as knit and jersey are key to working with your cuves. Wrap dresses are great especially those with a straight or tapered skirt.
  • Sharp tailoring such as the little jacket in the 2nd outfit are great for giving definition to curve. Peplum on jacket is especially great for a figure of 8 as it accommodates the high hip.
  • Jeans/ Pants with straight to mild bootcut are best.
  • V necks and scoop necks look best on big busted 8’s.
  • Make the most of your small waist with belts (Medium scale belts that tone with your outfit will minimise shortening your waist further).
  • You can also try belting at the low hip forming a V at the front with the belt to lengthen and slim your body. This will only work with fitted tops though. Baggy does not work on an 8.
  • You can wear a longer skirt but make sure that it does not flare until the knee or lower (See outfit 4).
  • Wear shapewear such as control vests and corsets to control tummy and midriff area’s as these tend to be the area’s of concern.
  • For accessories, try bangles and earrings and avoid too much detail at the neck especially if you have a shorter neck or bigger bust.
  • Avoid tucking in tops as this will shorten your waist further; instead opt for untucked and finish the look with a belt.
  • Try light fitted layers as these will cover a multitude of sins at the midriff and create a more interesting look – See outfits 2 & 3.
  • Opt for a look that’s clean and uncluttered as fuss and frill will add bulk/ weight to this curvy frame.

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47 Comments

  • Thank you! I read that the key is to create two triangles visually, the top one is inverted, of course. That summarizes your approach. An image consultant helped me enormously-I got rid of bags of boxy tops. Fitted v-necks are my secret weapon!

  • I always thought I was an hourglass and it wasn't until I found your site that I realized I was an 8. Being busty as well, I pretty quickly picked up on the kinds of tops I should be wearing (i.e. V-neck), but I could never figure out why A-line skirts made me feel and look big and frumpy, even though it was one of those things that was always recommended. I always had a big of a pooch in the tummy area and now after two kids it has become much more of a problem area for me. Thank so much for this! I am now better informed about what I should be wearing on the bottom!

  • This is fantastic!!! I always thought I was a funky hourglass, now I see I am an 8 🙂 I'm so excited to have seen this post on the daily brainstorm which me lead me here, to your site.

  • I definitely have the shelf hip and carry my weight around the high hip. But I sure wish I had her perky bottom instead of my flat one! Very helpful! Thanks!

  • Thank you for this! I really enjoy the posts on how to make outfits. I can choose a piece here and there, but I have a really hard time making outfits.

    (And I'm also an figure 8!)

  • Thanks so much for this article and all the other body shape articles. I have thought I'm an X as well, but this morning as I came out of the shower and had a mirror in front of me, I clearly saw that shelf you are talking about in your 8 shape descriptions. So I read everything 8 shape related on your site and I'm quite convinced I am an 8. I do have one question though. I carry my weight at the high hip/tummy area and have a rounded bottom, like 8's have. However from the front the widest part of my hip is the lower hip, at the pubic bone. It's not much wider that my high hip and I still don't have that smooth curve from high hip to lower hip that X's have. My upper thighs are slim too. Am I still an 8?

    Thank you!

  • Brooke – can you email me and tell me what you find hard about creating an outfit so I can do a post?

    Maya – you can be slightly wider at the low hip, but have the 'shelf' to be an 8, usually the thighs are not larger though.

  • OMG. This article (plus the "Real Life Body Shapes: Figure 8" post) hit me like the pump water hitting Helen Keller. THAT's my body shape! I've been trying to figure that out for years. And suddenly… it's all here. The hip shelf. Why peplum jackets and V necks look so good on me and pleated pants and A-line skirts look so bad. How I can have so much fat around my belly & still look slim & curvy from behind. Why I thought I was an hourglass in my slim youth, and just became an undefineable blob after childbrearing. But no! There's hope! My style life is changed forever. Thank you so much.

    I do have one question: There's a lot of discussion here about the "size" of the shoulders as compared to the hips. Where does one count the shoulders, exactly? I always assumed that dimension was measured from the outside of your arm at the shoulder bone, but the video & the postings imply that that measurement is somewhere straight up from one's armpit…? Can you add some clarification, please?

  • The video was extremely helpful, as it allowed me to see the Figure 8 body type from the side as well as from the front.

    I'd appreciate more articles about this overlooked figure type, particularly for those of us Figure 8s who are short (under 5 ft. 3 in. tall). Thanks.

  • I’m so glad to know that I’m a figure 8. for so long, I was confused because my measurements didn’t meet the 10 by 10, or the 70 %. But I appear curvy. People think I’m an hourglass. I get compliments all the time, because I’m slim and curvy.

    I do have the weight in the belly issue though, lol. It’s not so bad though. I know whhen to stop eating because it get uncomfortable quick, especially if I’m wearing close fitting jeans. This is great because it makes me watch what I eat.

    So true about the short upper body. I have that too, and my legs are indeed long. They make me look taller than 5 ft 8. Having small boobs, it’s nice to have curves to make up for it, lol!

    Great article!! Thank you! Yeah the figure 8 clubs. We’ll have it easier than the hourglasses, especially when it comes to clothes and weight management. My one friend could never get a great pair of jeans without a tailor.

  • Oh and I have 8 inches difference between my waist and thighs, but 7 between waist and bust. My shoulders are the exact same with as my wide thigh part, but with a sharp defined shelf.

    36 28 37 and shoulders at 37, 145lbs and 5 ft 8.

    It is interesting that the figure 8 counts shoulders because I think that’s what really makes the figure 8 stand out, and confuse people into think it’s the hourglass. I don’t always go tapered, though wide leg pants don’t look good at all. I tend to look alright with flared skirts, but I definitely look better in pencils, lol.

  • This is super helpful! I thought I was a pear, and that didn’t feel quite right. And the hourglass suggestions about the flared skirts always looked horrible on me. I have always felt better in a pencil skirt.

    And there you have it, I am busty figure 8. Can’t wait to check out the tips! (And I saw the celeb shape, and I always thought I was a bit like a chubbier, bustier Beyonce….this totally makes sense now.)

  • Hi has anyone any tips on how to disguise the shape 8 shelf with tops when wearing skirts as I feel having a top stop near my tummy can only highlight the shelf more as well as the fact skirts are always too lose around my waist too. I am also wider on my shoulders, a V shape so am a little confused as to what shape skirts to wear, A line to balance out my shoulder or straighter as I am an 8 shape from chest down? I am a UK 12/14 on my top and a UK 10 on the bottom.

    Thanks in anticipation of any tips.

  • 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! Imogen has kindly suggested peplum tops before, but unfortunately these aren’t me at all, a bit too girly. Any suggestions greatfully received. Thanks.

  • I disagree with some of these…. Fitted tops? Then I just look like I have massive handles. Not a slimming look at all. Baggy tops don’t make me look boxy; they make it look like there’s a slender waist hiding under there, in conjunction with my thin legs. Peplum tops are the BEST, though.

    I’m glad to see someone actually acknowledging this body type, though. But I think the defining aspect is the high hip and the “double bump” it creates. I don’t see why it’s necessary to associate that with particular shoulder and bust sizes.

    This is why I don’t get the body type classifications. They’re so arbitrary. It would make more sense to have names for hips that are shaped a certain way, torsos shaped a certain way, etc. so that you could “mix and match” for a truly accurate dress guide.

  • Some years ago I paid good money to have my figure analysed and a folder of suggested styles printed but I always believed the stylist got it wrong so continued to wear a small selection of styles that ‘felt right’. I’m a busty figure of eight, with way too much tummy, but even at my slimmest I’ve always had the characteristic hip shelf. At 5’4″ slim bootleg jeans or trousers with slightly pointy toed boots are staples, along with v neck tops that end below my tummy.

    I’m now going to experiment with some of your recommendations to provide a bit more variety of choice in my wardrobe.

    Thank you so much for your articles!

  • I used to think I was more of an X; but based on where I gain and lose weight, and based on the high waist, I think I may very well be an 8. My shoulders aren’t rounded, though, and I can’t wear shoulder pads. The clothes you recommend are most definitely things I would wear. My only comment about tops is that I find it best NOT to belt at the waist. I prefer to wear tops that are shaped to conform to my body lines, but are slightly loose. That way, I’m comfortable but my shape is still flattered. Sometimes I flat-out don’t care and choose to wear looser tops (but not TOO loose!) with slim-legged pants.

    I’m 5’2″ tall, with the following measurements:
    Shoulders = 38″
    Bust = 36″ (this measurement never changes)
    Waist = 27″ (increases when I gain weight)
    Hips = 36″ (increases when I gain weight)

      • Thanks, Imogen. I looked at the H shape defined, and the only thing in that picture that resembles my body type is the shoulders. My waist has a noticeable definition, especially when viewed from the front, which is what I believe your body shape categories are based on. That said, I do seem to get away with wearing some tops that don’t have waist definition AS LONG AS they fit fairly close to the body (skim my silouette but don’t cling or fit snugly). Anything too voluminous or boxy is a complete disaster. I’ve always been able to rock the peplum style, particularly when paired with a straight skirt.

          • I think my body shape is a varation on a theme lol – in this case a variation of the figure 8. All I know is that all the clothing suggestions for Figure 8 work well for me. I can wear small shoulder pads without looking like a linebacker, but not the shoulder pads that were all the rage in the ’80s that were a blessing to small-shouldered women.

          • Thanks, Imogen, for recognizing this type. I am definitely busty but petite (that is, 5′ 2″), high waisted Figure 8. I have the high hip “shelf” but then my low hips taper in. My legs are relatively long for my short height. However, my shoulders are sloped and very narrow—really, they are narrower than my hips, would puts me more in the direction of a pear. Overall, though, I think that Figure 8 best describes me.

            I have one area of style disagreement: because my torso is soo incredibly short and I am as busty as I am (34H), and because my shoulders are soo narrow and sloped, my torso honestly looks more elongated in modest tops that come up higher, as opposed to “V” necks or plunging necklines that are almost always recommended for busty women. I feel I really break all the rules in this regard!!!! I DON’T look too busty in turtle necks (as long as they are cut full enough) and boat necks are actually very balancing to my frame! Same with the dreaded “horizontal stripe” I also do well with cowl necks, ballet necklines, modest scoops, portrait collars, and tops with shoulder interest…In contrast, most wrap styling appears to collapse on my body! I am tempted to write a blog about this particular variation of the “busty” body type….I have yet to see any expert address the issues I’ve just discussed….

          • You need to ensure that you have some sleeve on your tops. You may be an exception to the rules – remember rules are just guidelines. An 8 shape is more about the bottom half than the top half, so you might find looking at other variations and the like better. V necks aren’t great with sloping shoulders, that’s why your boat neck is better as it broadens your shoulders. you can use necklaces to give you the illusion of a lower neckline. There are so many variations of bodies in the world that everyone has to pick and choose the bits of information that work for them.

  • Hello Imoen!First of all i just want to let you know that i love your blog!and i discovered that im an 8 thanks to you!:) i just want to ask you smething (i know that maybe its a stupid question) but do you know if the 8 body shape its more uncommon than X body shape?or its actually more common?Thank you:)

          • Thank you for your answer:) Only one last question please, is it Marilyn Monroe an X or 8?because i think i read in one comment you said not directly but answering someone, that she is an 8, so i was wondering, cause i thought she was an X. Thank you!:) i love your blog!

          • Probably depends which pictures you look at of her – I see 8 in the ones I just googled – more a higher hip that then straightened out at the upper thigh rather than keeping on getting wider there. She did wear a lot of shapewear (girdles of her day) which could also influence her shape.

  • Love this site.I just discovered my body shape is 8 from this site i think and i already wear peplum tops and wrap dresses.I also have a drawstring shirt dress that fits great.Love cargo capris,excited to get the pants.I love the belting coat info i found.I also love and wear mermaid shaped skirts&dresses.Thanks so much.I love ruching&corset styles .I’m so excited to have more info about dressing to flatter my shape.

  • Hello Imogen, thank you for sharing us all this usefull information. But one question please, i mean i’m an 8, but why A line or flared skirts doesn’t look THAT good as X body shapes?ii mean i know the differences between an X and an 8, but i don’t get it, if we also have a small waist, why it wouldnt look good?is it because our hips are higher?It’s just, i have a very slim legs and i’d love to show them in skirts and i love flared skirts, and i think its such a shame. Thank you so much 🙂

    • If you like the flared skirt then wear them – remember these are guidelines not hard and fast rules and some things may work for you. A general flared skirt can be too tight over the high hip on an 8 shape, but you could wear a 1950s style gather waist flare if you like that style.

      • Thank you so much for answer me!!:) Would you mind to answer me another question, please?i’m sorry, it’s just i have a lot of questions now that i just found out that i’m an 8. In case i would wear a shapewear, would it look good if i would tucking in tops?also, wich kind of tshirts are the perfect ones for us?:) (sorry for my english, i’m from spain so probably i did some mistakes, but i hope you can understand) Thank you!

  • I think a small figure 8. I look good in V-neck, scooped necks and knits but I have quite small hips so I look a little straight in tapered skirts. I also look weird in A line skirts but great in 50s flare dresses. Am I a figure 8?

      • Thank you Imogen! I actually kept looking and learned I am pretty much spot on for an X shape. The widest part of my hip is the upper thigh not the upper hip. I thought the X had a larger bust to match the hip, which in not true in my case. I have a three inch difference from hip measurement of 40″ to bust measurement of 37″ 32D, but I realized you said that was not a factor and my shoulders make up what my chest does not, being even with my hips.

    • If you feel that your bust is larger than average for your frame – then you’d class it as a large bust. There isn’t a particular size as such!

  • I am so excited!!! After weeks of researching and watching youtube clips on style and what to do and what not to do with fashion, I always had the question of “yeah it looks good on her, but will it look good on me?” Now, after coming across your website and discovering I am a figure 8, I’m pumped and ready to hit the shops!! I have a print out on what suits me and can’t believe it, but I’m actually looking forward to shopping for a change!!! Thank you!

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