Body Shape Bible: Understanding How to Dress H Shape Bodies


Understanding how to dress your H shape body


As I discussed here when I explained how lines work, body shape tells us:

  • Where to put the verticals
  • Where to put the horizontals to balance, broaden or highlight
  • Where to place detail
  • Where to keep boring/dull/plain/no detail

That’s it!  So let’s look at the H Shape (commonly called the rectangular or brick shape)


how to dress the H shape body
Let’s look at a dress and what features to look for

H shape guide


Detail above the bust but no detail at the waist except for vertical details and seams.


When you look at a jeans, top, jacket outfit you want to keep the waist free of horizontal detail, but look for tops that have some waist shaping built in.

H Shape jeans


Be careful of pocket detail on jackets. Look for jet pockets that are in the same colour as the jacket which don’t emphasise the horizontal effect that pockets can create.


Let’s look at a skirt and top combination

H Shape Guide skirt and top


You want to keep your waist free of detail or pattern, ending tops around your hip bone (but probably not down on your upper thigh). Skirts that are straighter in shape follow your bodies straighter lines.

Jackets that don’t have obvious waist horizontals are good, and look for ones with vertical seaming or plackets and remember that detail goes above the bust.

More posts on dressing your H shape body:

Body Shapes Explained – H Shape

Don’t waste your money – H Shape

How to wear a column of colour for your body shape

Download this Body Shape Bible – H Shape guide

Not sure of your body shape? Then take my Body Shape Calculator Quiz and discover what flatters your figure.


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  • Thanks for the wonderful post! Have you ever done a post on the effect of pockets on blazers, jackets?

    All the best,


  • Hi Imogen,
    I was wondering if you could help me. In my life I think I fluctuated a lot between body shapes – X/A in puberty (I’m not sure if my butt was that big or if I just thought it was), V during the times I worked out more, then several years back in my 20’s when I started to discover my own style I was an X/V (I thought I was an X, but realized some V tips worked for me as well, like lighter bottoms or not much detail above the waist.)
    Pregnancy was a real challenge for me, as I just couldn’t belt any more and had no idea what to do with myself not to look like a walking box 🙂 After I gave birth to my lovely son 1,5 ago I started to lose weight quickly and purchased quite a lot of clothes. I was very slim, yet my waist was not what it used to be, so I kind of went for the I shape and bought some (baggier) tunics, pants gathered at the waist and such. Well, unfortunately, the weight loss was a symptom of a developing type 1 diabetes. Since I got diagnosed, I started to work out a lot and gained about 7 kg. I managed to build some muscle on my shoulders and thighs and lose my hips. And so far gained a few centimeters at the waist (that I am still hoping to get rid of), so I became an H.
    My question, after this elaborate story of my body, is is there any way I can transition from X or I to H without replacing everything in my wardrobe? Can I just use my clothes in a different way until I either lose the belly and love handles or come to terms with my new body shape? I can sew, so alterations are not a problem. Thank you so much!

    • To a certain extent you can just modify how you wear the clothes – read the information on both body shapes and then you will find adding waist detail through belts and then not using them is a way of working with your changing shape

  • Hi Imogen – can you do a post on peplums? I get conflicting information on this style, but I guess it’s like the empire waist – you have to be careful it’s flattering, not emphasizing, a stomach? I’m a petite H shape with a bit of a tummy.

  • This is great!! While reading through this, and seeing the clothes examples you show, I realize they are exactly what think look the best on me, and own pieces just like them.. So I guess I am an H!! Thanks for the info!

  • Would I be and I or H shape or can I be a little of both? I had a boyish shape(I-shape), but after 4 kids now have a boyish shape with a big tummy (H-shape?). Thin arms, legs and flat on top. Clothes that look good on an I-shape used to look good on me, but not so much anymore. Help!

  • Thank you for your post, Imogen! Do you have any style tips (or perhaps you have already written one, in which case can you please direct me to it) for H shapes who are short, with a big bust? Or perhaps, tips for incorporating several style features? I feel like style tips out there are only catered to one aspect (e.g. how to dress a big bust, how to dress for H shapes, how to dress if you’re petite) without trying to put it together – women are not just one particular trait, after all. For example, this post suggests diverting attention away from the waist, up to the bust instead. However, one who already has a big bust is not going to want to do this.
    Thanks, Imogen!

    • Hi Claire, Divert attention above the bust (not to the bust), for many years I was a short waisted H shape with a super large bust – so have a look at all the posts on “big bust” and “large bust” which abound here (just type them into the search bar at the top of the blog.

  • Thanks for this… these are all styles I love. Additionally, I love the long, flowy coats and tunic tops – preferably with the princess cut, so now I know those will work too. Also the straighter ones. I’m 168cm, so I can usually carry those off. 🙂

    Thanks again for this.

  • Thanks for this… these are all styles I love. Additionally, I love the long, flowy coats and tunic tops – preferably with the princess cut, so now I know those will work too. Also the straighter ones. I’m 168cm, so I can usually carry those off. 🙂

    Thanks again for this.

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