16 Aug 2018

How To Dress: Which Shape Are You?

How To Dress: Which Shape Are You on vickiarcher.com

My shape has always been the same.

Bigger and smaller, but basically the same.

Each morning we wake up and decide what to wear and hopefully a quick decision and one that feels good. Knowing our individual body shape makes the job of dressing that much easier.

Sometimes I forget that I am not a tall willowy creature with legs to rival Naomi Campbell, but rather a medium build with a tendency to the pear shape. Like many fashion decisions; shape determines what styles we wear and how we adopt them. We can work the styles, it is simply a question of know how.

Which Shape?

Pear Shape
Your waist is wider than your bust and your hips are fuller in comparison to your narrow shoulders. ✔  that’s me.

I can:

* Wear round and V-necks; also statement, bell-sleeves to emphasise shoulders.
* Fitted and structured dresses or fuller skirts to draw attention to a smaller waist.
* A mid-length hemline to elongate.

Hourglass Shape
You have a well-defined waistline with a fuller bust, hips and thighs.

You can:
*Highlight your neckline and draw attention to your waist.
*Wear wrap or fitting dresses and tops.
*Avoid loose-fitting items that make your shape look too boxy. Belt it up to cinch your waist.

Apple Shape
Your body is well proportioned, with shoulders that are broader than your hips.

She can:

*Try relaxed and floaty pieces.
*Wear looser styles on top and slim pants or pencil skirts on the bottom.
*Work any hemline and more often than not, show off the legs.

Athletic Shape 
Your shoulders and hips are very similar in build and your weight is evenly balanced throughout your body.

I would:

*Choose draped/cinched fabric styles to give the impression of a more hourglass shape.
*Tuck in by adding a belt to draw attention to the waist.
*Wear sleeves to make the shoulder line look wider and the hips and waist narrower.

All shapes are wonderful and workable and that’s what we must see in the mirror. Acceptance and being happy with what we have goes a long way to the perfect outfit. Plus a bit of know how.xv

Another Great Dress: Either Or

pear and apple aliceolivia fitted lace dress  ||  hourglass and athletic  eileen fisher wrap dress

illustration, fashion is a bitch

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Linda B

This is an interesting analysis! I have of course read others before. But you’ve got it more in a nutshell–and I love your wisdom on accepting where your natural shape is at and dressing it in beautiful ways. Personally, I am really a hybrid–probably more of an hourglass but also a bit of a slender-ish pear. Nope, you can’t change the width of your hip bones! When I look at those two lovely leopard dresses, I know for sure that the wrap would look better on me, so that tells me I should go more with the advice for the hourglass shape. You helped me to clarify that! Thank you!


It’s funny how we know when someone “paints” the picture for us, isn’t it, Linda?
I’m def the first dress.. although my hips will be look round the top .. I have come to terms with this … and sleeves will make up for that hopefully ;)


Thank you Vicki,
Inherently we know our shape but like Linda I feel more hybrid too and the dress shape definitely clarifies things. Please do more of this for us.


From one pear to another, thank you for the interesting article. LOVE the leopard print dress!


I agree, interesting analysis–although I personally don’t agree with the analysis for athletic. Because I am very athletic and have worked hard to do so, my figure is completely balanced and I don’t want to wear drapey things that hide my shape! The balance of my figure speaks for itself as both my hips and bust are exactly the same measurement so I am not sure what draping would achieve other than to hide all of that hard work! I do however agree with the tuck at the waist. I swear by it!

Vicki Ford

You could line up 10 pear shapes or 10 athletics – and each one would have individual strengths. One might have a long neck and be able to wear glamorous chains, another might have beautiful calves and feet and be able to flaunt amazing shoes. Another might have special feature colour hair or eyes, someone could be gloriously copper skinned or could be an english rose or even an exotic asian white cherry blossom. Not only shape but then colour on top of/with shape makes for the most wonderful variety of the female gender. No matter what, if you know how to dress for your shape and personal style you will be a) beautiful b) timeless. Its so exciting to see women “get” who they are. They then step out and make the world a better place. And I love the discussions around it all. I love both dresses. I am athletic of sorts and would probably try both styles.


Another wonderful and personable post. I am an athletic pear-shape. Everything about me is small and muscular EXCEPT MY HIPS! Oh how that has not just frustrated me in my younger days, but it has helped me be creative in my older years, with good results. I LOVE wearing flared skirts and dresses. If I feel bold, I will wear jeans with a tight t-shirt tucked in. Yes, I look like a skinny pear, but I feel good, showing my muscular arms. We eventually give up the unrealistic expectations and embrace our own realities and because of the latter, we shine.

Michelle à Détroit

There is also the inverted triangle shape. This is when the shoulders are broader than the hips and the waist is not very defined. I suppose that would fit under “athletic.” I think that the shoulder measurement is far more important than the bust measurement in determining shape. Your bust and hips can be exactly the same and you can still be an inverted teiangle if your shoulders are wider than your hips.

To make things complicated ;-), I have found that the absolute best way to determine one’s shape and get your true proportions is to hold either a yardstick or a tape measure straight and flat across your shoulders bust, waist and and hips. Take that measurement, then figure out the ratios. Going around your body with a tape measure can give deceptive results. If for example, you have a protruding backside, your hips can still be narrower than your shoulders. An all around measurement can give you a false sense of your proportions.

Michelle à Détroit

Most gymnasts are a perfect example of the inverted triangle. ITs sometimes have a defined waist.

Dawn Solich

My shape definitely changed in the past five years. I have morphed into the cliche of how a woman takes shape as she ages–gaining in the middle. As an apple, one of the tricks that I use to flatter is the line down the center, with length. So I love a long, open duster cardigan. Under that, I show my waist by tucking in, and blousing over, my top. After all, with aging comes being ever-more resourceful too! ;)


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