Easy Style Guide to the Best Pants for Your Body Shape


best pants for your body shapeSo when I’m talking pants here I’m not talking about your underpants (panties or knickers, whatever you call them).  I’m talking the best shape of trousers for your body shape!

Best pant for your body shape

I shape – you are straight and may describe your shape as boyish, so create some curves with pleats at the waist and hips, or hip detail.  Wear light or patterned trousers if you like them!

V shape – you have broaders shoulders than hips, so balance your shoulders with a wide leg shape and add in hip detail if you want to make them look more curvaceous.

H shape – you have a similar width shoulders to hips but don’t have a defined waist, so follow your shape with a straight leg pant.  You may find fabrics with stretch fit you better as if you have a flat bottom you will get sagging fabric under the bottom (in fact, you may prefer to wear skirts and dresses or jeans with stretch and trousers are hard to fit).

A shape – your hips/thighs are broader than your shoulders but you have a defined waist.  Look for shapes that have a little bootcut or flare to balance your hips.  Wear in a darker colour with a lighter coloured or patterned top to draw attention upwards.  A wide waistband can be great to help you get a better fit. You may find that pants are hard to fit and that skirts are an easier option!

X shape – your shoulders and  hips are balanced and you have a defined waist.  Styles with wide waistbands will make fitting easier, you may find that you have to have the waist on trousers taken in.  Straight or bootcut or a little flare all suit.

O shape – your tummy protrudes and is the widest feature on your upper body.  You will find that slim leg styles are the most flattering as you can wear them with longer tunic tops and not look overwhelmed by fabric.  Consider purchasing pants in the maternity section as they will have less fabric through the thighs and bottom, but not cut in at your waist.  As you’re wearing a longer top (and maternity styles have really improved in recent years) nobody will know that is your secret.

8 shape – your hips and shoulders are fairly balanced with a defined waist, but you have the high ‘shelf’ hip.  Again a wider waistband can help with fit issues, look for straight and trouser cut styles or a bootcut.

Petite – no matter what your shape, a slimmer leg and the longest length (without dragging on the ground) will flatter your stature and make your legs look longer.  Too much fabric is your enemy, so be careful of the volume.


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  • Very helpful, but could you also address variations in leg shape which may be relevant? Thick calves, knock knees, etc. Thanks for all the wonderful info you share!

  • Imogene, I have read that to have a V shaped body, not only would one’s shoulders be broad but breasts would be large as well. My shoulders are broader than my hips, my breasts are small and I have a very defined waist. Am having a difficult time landing on which shape to land on. Feed back?

    • Bust has nothing to do with body shape. Many V shapes have small busts. How much broader are your shoulders than hips? If it’s only a small amount then you could be an X shape with square/wide shoulders. Or if it’s a lot, then go with V shape but play with elements that allow you to define your small waist. Remember that body shapes are just guidelines and people are unique.

  • Once again Imogen, you have given the PERFECT advice.
    Maternity pants are the only ones I have ever found comfortable for my O shape. As you point out, no one knows, and I feel SO good. Thanks for sharing the secret. I used to feel a bit silly about wearing maternity pants but now I call them Happy Pants!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one. I have such a weird hip/waist ratio that it is impossible for me to find pants that fit right through both the hips and the waist. Maternity pants really are the best option. Plus, I really like not having red marks around my belly at the end of the day from pants that are too tight.

  • Hi this is great, can you do the same for dresses, skirts, jackets etc for each shape too going forward??

  • Thanks for the advice, but I am confused when my body is a V shape with an apple stuck in the middle! Sadly, Gone are the days of buying off the rack, which shape do I prdominately buy for? Or is there a magic formulae for this combination?

  • Hi Imogen,

    wonderful post – what about V-shape trousers – sometimes I read that they are good for A-shapes. What do you think about that?

    All the best,


  • I’m currently an O post baby, but usually an H. I’ve tried maternity pants but they always fall down because of my flat bum and lack of hips. Any tips?

    • Then you are probably not O enough to wear maternity – look for brands that are straighter – Levis make a jean for straight shapes in their “curve” range. Brands such as Uniglo are straights, as is Jag.

      • Thanks! My other problem is a high hip – so even straight pants fall down too. I’ve tried mens ones, and same problem. I really need braces.

  • Just wondering if you have advice on which brands work best with each shape. I believe I’m an H according to your site. I saw a few that you mentioned, but gosh, pants are hard!!

    • Yes they are if you don’t have a curved bottom but a flat one. Depends where you are in the world – different brands exist all over the world. For jeans Uniqlo can be good for a straighter shape.

  • Hi, Imogen, I just wanted to thank you for being honest about the O type. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of wearing maternity pants, but I have found them the best, most comfortable option for me.

  • Hi Imogen i am petite and V shape so which trousers are best? wide to make shoulders smaller or slimmer style being petite.

  • Imogen, love your blog and found this article helpful! I am wondering what your thoughts on V shapes and skinny jeans are? I am a very typical V shape in that I pretty much tick all the boxes for that shape! My hips are very straight, and my legs are muscular so they are not really all that slim or straight…anyway…I have tried and tried the skinny thing, and just never seem to feel comfortable in them. Like unfinished…? Same with straight leg, they feel frumpy in some way…like I don’t feel cute or attractive. Is this due to my shape? Should I really just stick with a bootcut or flare? I do feel sexier in a bootcut, as it seems they give me actual curves on my bum and lower half lol! Thanks 🙂

  • Can you help me out…? I am kind of stuck finding pants that fit. I am an X shape that borders on tall at 5’6.5″, so I have learned that I can buy tall pants and the rise will usually work out even if there is an inch or two extra on the pant length. My recent problem is this, I am a weight lifter and have thick, but toned thighs and behind, which sound great, but now I have trouble fitting my butt and legs into the pants that fit my waist. My Levi 501s are screaming at the seams on my thighs. I have also tried New York and Co Tall Trousers in Bootcut. The 4 fits my waist, but the six is a better fit on the legs and bum, but too big in the waist by quite a bit. I also really hate the way stretch denim feels and I am beginning to feel so lost! I need at least on good pair of slack and jeans. Skirts are not always and option.

    • I would try and find a dressmaker who can make you pants to fit! It can be super hard – I find in Australia that some of the specialist jeans stores have lots of different shapes and styles you can try – ask their staff.

  • I have a very large tummy after having multiple sets of multiples. My hips are huge and nearly half again as wide as my shoulders. I have no chest to speak of and no waist line. My thighs are very thick and I narrow at the knee. I do not see any body shape here that fits my profile. I get the most compliments from palazzo pant outfits with tunics and vests, so what would this say about my body type?

    • Body shape is just one small piece of the puzzle – and many of us don’t fit exactly into any shape – it sounds like you are more A shape, but don’t want to define your waist as you are wider in the bottom than your shoulders. Look too to body variations as they impact on your choices greatly!

  • Hi Imogen, I am Petite in frame. Weigh 53 kg and am 5ft 4in tall. I am very fit and toned, but have a short waist and my bottom is becoming flatter as I age. I love wearing pants with heels and as I am going to a wedding soon, I wish to wear high waisted pants in black with a white organza shirt tucked in. Should the pants be flared and cover the shoe or is it ok to wear pants that finish at the base of the ankle with a cuff? Please advise me.

    Cheers, Jillian.

    • If you’Re petite I’d be careful about too flared a pant, plus a cuff will shorten the appearance of your legs. The wider the pant hem the longer the pant should be

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