Where to End Your Tops


People always ask me where the best point is to end their tops and jackets.  As the hem of a top creates a horizontal line, the best place is on a narrow point, rather than a wide point.

Where to end tops


If you are a body shape that has wider hips/thighs than waist, A, X, H, 8 (or just below the waist) it’s best to end it around your hip bone (the bone that juts out at the front).

If you are a body shape that has proportionally narrow hips/thighs V, I, O you can end either at the hip bone or lower down onto the thighs.

If you are an 8 shape you may find that you end at your waist which is narrower, or down between high hip and low hip  (also dependent on your proportions and the shape of the garment).

And don’t forget the principles of volume – if you’re wearing a longer more voluminous top, then your bottoms need to be slimmer and fitted.


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  • I still am very confused by my body shape, despite all your explanations, but since I am tall and all legs and arms, I feel best in a top which comes quite low and narrows low. I like the tulip shape in tops and dresses. Per moment, I am tired of belts; they only cut me in two irregular halves; )

  • Nice One Imogen. A nice and simple explanation. I am an 8 and find my top looks best when it ends at my hip bone or longer, fitted and ending mid thigh (This elongates my very short body and makes me look slimmer).

  • These pictures clearly make your point. Does the same principle hold true for ending tops with skirts? Also, I've heard or seen
    illustrations showing cutting the backside in 2 to give the illusion of decreasing the overall area.
    (8 shape) In a sense it works however this would be the widest point for the 8 shape. I'm not confused but it's an area that I pay special attention to.

  • I've been thinking about this question for a while, so thanks for the very useful post, Imogen. The video is a bonus – you show clearly the effects of two different options; so I'm hoping you will post a few more of this type of "2 scenarios" demonstration videos. I think it's a great way to apply your point to a real-life styling situation.

  • I'm still a bit confused about my body shape (H or a "skinny" O), but it seems to me that your recommendation for the H shape (high hip) works for me only when I'm wearing bootcut pants. I wear most of my tops and cardigans on the mid-high thigh (your recommended length for O shape) because for the most part, skinny jeans, leggings and miniskirts-and-tights are my uniform.

  • Dear Imogen,

    This post is very helpful as always. What do you think about tunics or dresses over pants? Always considering the different body shapes… I'm an 8 (I know this thanks to you) and I'm tempted to wear a beautiful pair of Indian pants I got as a gift with a tunic over it but I never know what should be the length of the top.
    Greetings from Argentina

  • Oh, another Sigrid here…Not used to that! Extremely informative visual. My impression is that tops now should be a little longer – should they still end at the hip bone for me, who is an X?

  • Oh! Great suggestion. Now I know why things look "off" when I dress in non-monochromatic colors (my tops are too long, creating a line at my widest point). Thanks for this info!!!!

  • I second the question about lengths of tops with skirt vs with pants. I've always heard that a suite jacket for skirt should be shorter than ones for pants, but does that hold true with other tops and sweaters as well? And why should the suit jacket be shorter for skirts anyway?

  • I really appreciate this explanation— I'm an X, and I wore a waist-length shirt with slim black pants today. I felt like I was all rump and thigh. Now I know better.

  • Hi Imogen —

    Enjoyed the visual (as always) but am a little sad not to see a close up of that gorgeous necklace you're wearing!

    I'll have to make do with how glow-y you are looking as you instruct…and FWIW, I do think the 3-d is even more helpful than the 2-d polyvores.

  • I have SO been struggling with this lately. I have some tops in my closet that I was thinking were too short. I carry most of my extra weight in my hips so in reality, these tops are the right length! I just ran to my mirror and noticed the top I have on was pulled way too low. Subconsciously trying to cover but in reality actually shining a spotlight on trouble areas!

  • Sigrid – yes around your hip bone as an X, too long and you'll draw a big line across your hips (widest point for the X)

    Mafuchi – when it is a long tunic, it should fall mid-thigh

    Petite Pear – the reason they say that jackets should be shorter for skirts is about proportions -I'll do a post on it.

  • I’m an exaggerated pear shape and would never wear a top that ends at the high hip. I always cover my rear.

  • I’ve discovered this post almost 10 years after its publishing and cannot but wholeheartedly agree with this timeless advice!

    IMHO it’s one of the key rules if not _the_ #1 rule how to dress best for your proportions and so easy to follow as most tops can be shortened if they are too long.

    I found that for me, a short-waisted full “8”, the shape of the hem can further trick the eye: A noticeably dipping hem at center front (either curved or a sharper peak but no handkerchief hem) elongates the upper torso _and_ the legs. 🙂 Most RTW tops can be altered to achieve this look.
    If the top features a vertical line at center front (e.g. CF seam, embellishment, long & narrow ties from the neckline), the effect is even better.

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