What Does Knowing Your Body Shape Really Tell You?

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Given the number of people who contact me asking about identifying their body shape (if you’re not sure what body shape you have, do the Body Shape Quiz to find out!), it’s obviously something that is considered to be an important factor in the whole “finding flattering clothing” issue that many women face. I’m here to tell you that yes, it is important, but no, it’s not everything (in fact I wrote a post about how personality is 10 times more important than body shape when choosing outfits and garments). So today I’m going to share with you what knowing your body shape will tell you and how you can use some of my magicians toolbox of rules, to use these illusions to flatter your figure.

Body shape is your outline, from the front (pretty much) it’s your silhouette. We determine your shape based on the differences between shoulders (not bust), waist and hips/upper thigh.

It does not take into consideration your upper arms, your knees or calves, or your body proportions, whether you are petite or tall, the roundness or flatness of your bottom or all the other body variations.

When you are thinking about how to flatter your body shape (which you can find out about ‘diagnosing your body shape’ here, or if you’re still stuck and want more personal attention and my input, it’s part of my 7 Steps to Style program), you need to understand the rules of line and how we interpret and see lines.

how we see lines


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I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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  • good post, often the pear shape apple etc recommendations dont look at the individuals positives and a lot of the advice doesnt run true for all, so in so far as there is no such thing as a one size fits all – no style rule is absolute………………

    • Every body is unique and many generic recommendations are only that, you still, within that need to figure out which parts work for you and which to ignore.

  • I love all the knowledge you share here Imogen. The description of lines is amazing. Really helpful for women looking to accentuate the positives! I do agree that personality trumps body shape though.
    Bron x

    • Yes Understanding the principles of line is so important and we teach this and so much more in our personal stylist training as it tells you what suits each shape and how to create illusions. It amazes me that it is not taught more widely in fashion which is why there is so much bad design in the clothing marketplace.

  • Hi Imogen, I loved the article, it really is true that body shape is more than just waistline, tall or short height.
    I for example, am something of a slim 8 to H shape, so finding summer tops should be easy. It’s not. I love shopping, but I dread shopping for summer tops, since my upper arms are very full, which makes me look more like a V shape in most tops. The combination of crew necks or V-necks on most tops with short sleeves (which always end at the wrong point) or no sleeves at all makes me look like a linebacker. Neckholders and tube tops are even worse. I am quite flat-busted, so deep necklines look disappointing on me. It’s so complicated! I can’t be the only one with this problem?
    Maybe you could do a special just on T-shirts or tank tops? These are the most basic items of clothing but, I feel, they are also the most ifficult to choose.

    • Yes it’s tricky when we have body variations that take us out of the manufacturing standard – you may find that woven tops rather than knits work better for you.

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