The Problem with Body Shape Labels…

We’ve all heard that the best way to dress is to dress for our body shape, but our body shapes have been defined by random objects such as hourglasses, pears, and lollipops. While they can be helpful as they can determine which styles of clothing suit us the best, it doesn’t necessarily tell us how to dress for our specific needs and lifestyles.

Take the hourglass shape, for example, it’s often referred to as the ‘Marilyn Monroe figure,’ and the ‘Ultimate Feminine Shape.’ These names make it seem like the ideal shape for the Feminine Style Personality, but body shapes shouldn’t define your style, YOU should define your style.

Hourglass shapes are told to draw attention to their waist as it achieves a proportionate illusion. They are told to look for figure-hugging clothes and v-necks, clothes that can require a large degree of body confidence in the wearer. Pear shapes are told to draw attention to their bust, which can mean wearing shirts with ruffles, v-necks or crop tops. Whereas Apple shapes are told to draw attention away from their bust by focusing on their legs by wearing clothes with an A-line. Rectangle Shapes are told to emphasize their arms and legs. Finally, inverted triangle shapes are told to add definition to their hips by wearing figure-hugging bottoms.

The fact is that many people who fit these different shapes may feel that these clothes don’t suit their personal style. I am of the belief that any person can wear any piece of clothing or color, you just have to be strategic about it. While it is true that certain pieces of clothing suit certain body types to different degrees, most people are incredibly intuitive about what suits them best.

Imagine two inverted triangle shapes, the inverted triangle shape is the most athletic looking body shape, their hips are narrower than their shoulders and they tend to have average to larger breasts. V-necks are often recommended as they break up the chest and shoulder area making it look smaller. However, deep v-necks can be very revealing and for this reason, they aren’t preferred by everyone.

Now if we go back to our little thought experiment with the two women who are both inverted triangle shapes. Imagine that both of them are the same size and height as well, however, one is incredibly feminine, likes pastel colors, dresses, makeup, and floral prints, and the other one is drawn to natural styles, loose clothes that aren’t form-fitting, and neutral color palettes.

Immediately what we notice is that each woman has different aspirations of what they want their style to be. The first example is someone who wants to emphasize their femininity, as such they may wish to create the illusion of an hourglass shape. The second example prefers to have a low key and practical style, as such they are drawn to more shapeless styles and don’t wish to create the illusion of shapeliness.

Kim Kardashian, arguably the most famous pear shape right now, has no problem flaunting her curves, but this doesn’t mean that every pear shape has that innate desire to flaunt their curves. Flaunting and concealing are two very different things and while some pear shapes may want to enhance the appearance of their bust in order to appear more like the typical hourglass shape, some others may want to wear baggy clothes in order to diminish their shapeliness.

The fashion advice given to the various body shapes can be useful in determining the styles of clothes that can suit you and the types of clothes that you should avoid. However, a lot of this advice is given with the intent of creating a proportional figure and even if every woman in the world loved the clothes that suited their body shape, it doesn’t change the fact that the body shape labels themselves are quite simplistic.

People of the same shape may be of different heights and weights, they may have a short waist or a long waist, or even long legs or short legs. One scoop-necked A-line dress may look great on one hourglass figure and terrible on another, this may be due to a multitude of reasons such as arm size, leg size or waist size. Point is if you want to appear proportional just knowing your body shape is not enough to effectively achieve proportion.

What suits us and what we want to suit us is dependant on many different factors. The fact is that body shape labels simplify this process and can be limiting our style capabilities. It can also ignore how each of us has different lives that require different styles of clothing to suit us or the fact that we each have different style personalities. The point is that our body types shouldn’t be the only thing that defines our fashion choices.

 

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