What Body Shape Am I?

Skittle body shape Trinny and Susannah

Like many women, Natasha struggles to define her body shape. She even went so far as to consult some expensive image consultants – and only ended up more confused! Natasha writes:

Hi T & S,

My deep question to you is: who do you believe after an image/body shape consultation? I am 40 years old and last year had a body shape and colour consultation. The consultant stated that I am definitely an “Hourglass with longer legs and a shorter torso”. Considering that I had always considered myself a Pear or Skittle by your Body Shape Bible, I struggled with this assessment. Not content, and eager to throw more money at someone, I recently had another assessment done. This consultant stated that I was a definite “Triangle with an equally balanced vertical body.”

So, who do I believe? And how does the uninformed person off the street know who to listen to when you are unsure of your own body shape? Both consultants apparently have international image training and charge quite a hefty sum… Anyway, excuse my dodgy photos – I’ll just tell myself you probably see worse!

Kind regards from stinky, hot Melbourne, Aus,

Natasha

Dear Natasha,

First of all, greetings from rainy, cold old Blighty. We all envy your sunny summer life in Melbourne!

You have hit upon a difficulty that many women have – an inability to define their own body shape. We have made over thousands of women around the world (more than any image consultant could ever dream of!) and we realised that understanding body shape is the cornerstone of dressing to flatter yourself. At the time, the standard body shape definitions numbered 5 (Hourglass, Apple, Pear, Triangle and Rectangle) but what we found was that these did not adequately describe the real bodies that we encountered. Hence we would come across such nonsense definitions such as “a long Hourglass”, or “a Triangle with a big bum”. We  did extensive research, sending questionnaires to more than 1,000 women, and as a result of that came up with our 12 basic body shapes. These take into account not only the shape of a woman’s bust, waist and hips but also her tummy, legs, shoulders and arms. Then we wrote The Body Shape Bible, a book that outlines very clearly and simply how to understand and dress your body shape – for only the cost of a book! We have yet to meet a woman whose body shape we cannot categorise.

However, we still find that many women have difficulty analysing their own body shape. This is not because they are freaks of nature, but because we all suffer from some degree of body dysmorphia – an inability to see ourselves clearly. This is a condition that is pronounced in, for example, an anorexia sufferer who see herself as fat when she is in fact a size 6 – but in our experience most of us display some degree of unreality when it comes to assessing our own bodies (and, for that matter, our faces)!

In The Body Shape Bible, we suggest that you strip down to your underwear and take a look at your body from every angle in a full-length mirror. Further, we recommend that you do this with a friend. The reason behind this is twofold: 1. (practical) your friend can see you properly from the side and back, and 2. (emotional) your friend is more capable of being objective about your body than you are.

We cannot tell you the number of women who ask, ‘what body shape am I?’  and send us photos of themselves showing us only what they see themselves, that is to say photos taken wearing some kind of cover-up outfit, blurry, out-of-focus and/or taken from the front only. You have only sent us your front view, so we cannot give you a definitive assessment, however, we give you huge KUDOS for sending it at all, so we are going to have a go.

From this photo, we would say that you are a Skittle!

Characteristics of a Skittle body shape:

  • Average tits
  • Slim waist
  • Big thighs
  • Chunky calves

Key principles for dressing your Skittle body shape:

  • Throw the focus away from your thighs and onto your neat bust and torso. Any kind of embellishment on the top half is helpful; think pussy bows, sparkly tops, chunky necklaces. Horizontal stripes on your top half will also help to create a balancing illusion.
  • Avoid skinny jeans like the plague. Look for trousers with wide legs that flow over your thighs. If necessary, buy trousers that fit your hips and thighs and then have them taken in to hug your waist.
  • A skinny belt will show off your little waist.
  • Choose dresses that cling to your torso and then flare out over your hips and thighs.
  • Chunky heeled shoes help to balance out the heft of your upper legs.

Never wear:

  • Spaghetti strap tops
  • Pencil skirts
  • Cropped trousers
  • Jackets that cut across your bum
  • Shoes with ankle straps

There is a lot more detailed information in The Body Shape Bible – but then you knew that already!

Thank you so much for having the courage to send your photo Natasha. You have opened up a discussion that will help so many other women.

Love,

T&S

Do you have something to say about the business of body shapes? Do you agree with us, or do you advocate another method? Have your say in the comments section, below.

 

29 Comments

  • Reply January 24, 2014

    kittentime

    Fantastic info, but I have a question for T & S:

    Natasha does not appear to have chunky calves or ankles. (Or am I blind?) I thought Skittles were thick all the way down. Also, still a bit confused about the difference between a Skittle and a Pear. Can you help clear up my confusion?

    Many thanks! I adore your website and posts!

    • Reply February 2, 2014

      Trinny and Susannah

      Yes, we can clear that up for you. The Pear tends to carry her weight more in the form of ‘saddlebags’, on the sides of her hips whereas the Skittle has chunkier thighs as well. The Pear has a long waist and a flat chest whilst the Skittle has a short, narrow waist and a small to average bust.

      You are right to say that Natasha has shapely calves. However it will still really suit her to choose footwear that will help to lengthen lengthen her legs and balance the size of her hips and thighs. Hence she would still be wise to avoid ankle straps and spindly stilettos. Chunky but curved heels (for example, a Louis heel) will look great on her.

      In general we find that most women fit into one of our twelve body shape categories with a few women falling between two of them.

  • Reply January 25, 2014

    Patricia

    Thanks T&S for the post! Thank a million, Natasha, for sharing your picture. I look pretty much like you; I think there are lots of women with a skittle figure who always thought they were pears (but pears can be tall and leggy); the problem with being a skittle is that everybody thinks you have a slim, feminine body (slender ankles and shoulders, long neck, small frame, girlish looks), until summer arrives and you are invited to a beach barbecue and decide to wear shorts. A skirt won’t do and cropped trousers are a no-go. You turn up in flats or (worse) barefoot and spend the day hiding, pulling at the hem of your shorts to avoid them from creeping up your thighs into your crotch. When sitting down, you are the same height as everybody else, but when you stand up it’s like you are made up of two different people stuck in the middle. The lower half belongs to a dwarf, the upper half to an elf. All eyes are on you.
    I have spent years avoiding any outdoor activities that involve taking off my flared trousers and chunky shoes: cycling, hiking, swimming… Obviously, a sedentary life does nothing to improve the shape of my thighs. My legs are never tanned because I never show them.
    Solutions? I like to wear a bikini made of two different prints to cheat the eye (I don’t know why it works, but it does). And you can get away with wearing shorts IF they are wide, really short to show as much leg as possible, and worn with a top that has a high waist (your real waist vanishes) and a high neck (shortens your actual neck). Wear flats if you must, but try to find a pair that shows as much foot as possible to lengthen the leg.
    Finally, I know it’s hard but I have taken up try jogging (I jog twice a week, 20 minutes each session) and do two or three yoga postures (e.g. warrior) to build up some thigh muscle. I have found that losing a pound or two makes a lot of difference because with skittles it really is all about the thighs.
    Sorry for this rambling comment. T & S, I love your work and I love your books! Your videos are just brilliant. Thanks again for sharing and greetings to Natasha from dreary, frozen East Germany :-)

  • Reply January 31, 2014

    Stella Sherman

    These body types are actually very confusing and not very useful. I’ve come across Kendall Farr’s 3 types and they just about cover anyone. Here they are : a – wider hips than shoulders; B – shoulders and hips about the same; C – wide shoulders, narrow hips. I’ve been noticing these types around me (I’m a B) and her suggestions on what to wear are excellent for all. Skittles, Pears and Hourglasses…..please.

    • Reply February 2, 2014

      Trinny and Susannah

      We have to disagree on this Stella. It is precisely because of these over-simplified descriptions of women’s body shapes that we found it necessary to devise our own method. We found that so many women were unable to find clothes to suit them because they did not understand the shape of their own body. The body shape analysis systems in use at the time only took account of the general proportions of a woman’s torso but made no allowance for, say, the size of her breasts, the proportions of her waist or the length or thickness of her legs.

      The system that you describe obviously works for your body shape and will work for those women who are those three shapes. We would say that definition A describes the Pear, B the Column and C the Cornet. But we would definitely advise different dressing styles for a woman who is, for example shape B but with big boobs and a tiny waist (the Hourglass) and a woman who is shape B but with average breasts and no waist (the Brick).

      So we embarked on comprehensive research to find out what system of body shape definition would be helpful to the maximum number of women whilst still being simple enough to be useful. When we say comprehensive research we don’t mean chatting to a few women on our TV show. We gave detailed questionnaires to over a thousand women and analysed the results.

      On the one hand it is possible to say that all women are the same shape (i.e. arms, legs, a torso) or on the other hand that there are 3 billion women’s body shapes because each woman is different. Or one might ask, ‘why bother defining body shapes at all?’ It is important to understand that all fashion models and shop mannequins are basically a Cornet shape, or what, in the system you describe, is called shape C. In our research we found that fewer women fall into this shape category than any other. Hence, when buying clothes, the vast majority of women start with a problem – that when they get the garment on, it will probably not look anything like it does on the model. We find that once we help a woman to understand why this is the case she will be better able to choose clothes that flatter her, make her look great and thus boost her confidence, every time. And, ultimately, boosting confidence and helping women to feel better about themselves is what ALL of this is about.

  • Reply February 2, 2014

    Andrea

    A comment on body types: I’ve found that identifying that I have a short torso has helped me much more than trying to figure out whether I’m an apple or a pear or some other fruit… I’ve never quite felt like I fit into any of those traditional categories (I’m probably closest to an apple, but still not the perfect match). I haven’t read The Body Shape Bible but I might buy it after reading this!

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Leeanne

    I am just short 5′ 5″ and fat evenly all over. What body shape am i please?

    • Reply February 24, 2014

      Trinny and Susannah

      Hi Leeanne, If only it were that simple! There is a bit of an art to analysing and defining body shapes – we have written a whole book about it that will enable you to clearly understand your body shape and how to dress to flatter it. It’s called The Body Shape Bible. x

  • Reply February 25, 2014

    Alanna

    I have read and re-read The Body Shape Bible, and even seen the episode describing the 12 shapes, but still have trouble defining my body shape.

    I haven’t got a photo of myself, but I think I’m closest to a Cello, and definitely relate to all the things listed in the book for the Cello (eg always feel big, bum in a league of its own – “ghetto booty” one friend named it!), but I have short-average, chunky, stumpy legs and no ankle – like a Pear. But I can’t be a Pear because my shoulders are as broad as my hips and I’m a 32F.

    So then I think that I must be a Brick, but I get so confused about just how much waist a Brick should have – mine is short and narrow compared to my hips and shoulders, though definitely not “tiny”, and the extra weight I carry goes on the front of my waist (like Susannah’s), rather than on the curve of my waist.

    So I get confused and then despondent that I can’t neatly categorise myself – is it possible to be a Cello with heavy thighs and lower legs? Or would I more likely be the Brick?

    • Reply March 12, 2014

      Trinny and Susannah

      Hi Alanna, In the introduction to The Body Shape Bible we say, “If you feel that your shape falls between two silhouettes, then read them both.” Defining women’s body shapes is not a branch of mathematics, it’s more of an observational art. Your body shape is the sum of its parts. If you feel that you have the body of a Cello and the legs of a Brick than read both of those chapters paying attention to the principles of dressing the Cello for your body, hips and bottom and to the principles of dressing the Brick body for your lower legs.

      We apply our Body Shapes principles continuously around the world and we find that the vast majority of women fall closely into one of the twelve shapes. Some women fall between two shapes. We have never met a woman whose body falls between more than two definitions.

      Hope this helps x

      • Reply March 13, 2014

        Alanna

        Very helpful. :)

        I have read the part that says to follow both guides if one feels one falls between two types … but it is hard for me to be objective about my own body, and so a little guidance and reassurance is always nice. To be honest I feel immodest claiming to be a Cello shape – don’t know why, but it just makes me uncomfortable, though I do think my body shape (sans legs) definitely is a Cello.

        I have been trying to follow the principles for body and legs of the two different shapes, and do feel that this seems to work best for me. It is a work in progress, and I have been caught out paying more than I should for things that end up looking awful, but I’m learning and am for more discriminating now.

        Thanks to both of you for your wonderful help!

        • Reply March 13, 2014

          Trinny and Susannah

          The beauty of understanding your body shape Allana – not only does it boost confidence, it saves you loads of money, and time!

          Another thing that we encounter time and again is that many women find it nearly impossible to be realistic about their own body. We believe that this is a mild – but very common – form of body dysmorphia. So we strongly suggest that you do your body shape analysis with a friend. There are two reasons for this: 1. she can see you from all angles, including behind, and 2. she is likely to be more objective about your body shape than you are. x

  • Reply March 9, 2014

    Tanika

    I’ve noticed that I look very similar to Natasha’s body shape, however your list of what to wear confused me. This is because skinny jeans and a longer top looks good on me. I wear thongs/sandals everywhere. I look terrible in wide legged pants and so I go for the straighter legs and a chunky belt under my breasts looks gorgeous (almost hourglass figure). So I’m thinking I have my body shape wrong as well, however I do try to look good everyday (and always get the hubby’s opinion). I also find a confidence in myself goes a long way too :)

    Tanika

    P.S. I just wish I could help my mum out more then anything (she lost heaps of weight over 5 years ago and STILL wears my dads ratty old shirts…everywhere! so I have no idea what her body shape is even if I showed her your body bible)

    • Reply March 12, 2014

      Trinny and Susannah

      Hi Tanika. When it comes to dressing there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, only what makes you look and feel fabulous – or doesn’t. All our tips and methods are aimed at helping women who lack confidence and feel fearful and confused about the way that they dress. If the clothes that you are wearing make you feel great and look fabulous in your own and in your husband’s eyes, then we encourage you to carry on. There are no fashion police! x

  • Reply March 13, 2014

    kittentime

    Great info, T&S!

    My initial belief after reading the Body Shape Bible (two seconds after it was published!) was that I’m a cello ir hourglass. Thanks to your advice here, I’m understanding the concepts even better.

    Questions:

    1. Does the cello HAVE to be a plus size? Would it be possible to be a small cello?

    2. Is it possible to be a slightly hippy hourglass?

    3. What is the essential difference between a cello and an hourglass?

    Thanks! I love you guys so much!

  • Reply March 21, 2014

    paul jenkins

    hey im trying to get something for my cousin but she is very hard to shop for clothes wise as she is 4ft something and pretty roung on top with quite broad shoulders since i moved in with her shes lost 3 stone which has slightly come off her waist but mostly off her legs i need advice on tops and blouses for her if you could help id appreciate it as she is slowly getting more confident and its her birthday soon

  • Reply April 3, 2014

    Atreyu

    Okay so what shape are you if you are petite (short), you have a long waist, are widest at the lower hip area (but don’t have thighs that are all that big) and a big bum, a very small ribcage measurement but decent/average bust, and shoulders that are a little too wide to be considered a pair or skittle (a little wider than hips), and a tummy that could use toning but isn’t really pronounced?

  • Reply May 7, 2014

    Suzanne kinneavy

    Hi Ladies, I looking at the picture above.( very similar to my shape ) ..not sure if I agree with avoiding skinnies..I’m a curvy size 12 – chunky/ muscly thighs, standing on 5′ 5″, and I know I look great in dark skinnies, I certainly wouldn’t be as daring to challenge brighter summer tones, but love my black & navy’s…and nothing that a nice heel wouldn’t sort in height!

    Many thanks,
    Suzanne.

  • Reply May 10, 2014

    Maria

    Thank you for this! I have the exact same body shape but have never been able to figure out what to focus on when i dress. Unfortunately, I wear both skinny trousers and pencil skirts because first, that’s all there is to buy unless you want to sew it yourself and second, I always thought my body shape looked fine in pencil skirts (tight waist and wide hips). But I guess I’d better throw away half my wardrobe now. :)

  • Reply July 12, 2014

    dymphna

    Im short. Under five feet and have a big ole butt plus valkyrie breasts and I have a short torso, no waist really. I used to think I was an apple but I dont have little legs.

  • Reply July 13, 2014

    Tara

    To what email adress can I send pictures of me to? But I can describe it. I’m not sure what I think of my “shape”. I am on the shorter side of average for my country at about 5’4”.

    I have broad shoulders, quite big boobs for my frame (UK 30F), a slight squareish waist with just som hip bones, a square non-existent bum, slimmer side of medium-thick legs, tiny ankles and I guess a balanced torso to leg ratio.

    When I have tried to determine the upper to lower body ratio, it says that I’ve got a short torso?maybe I have but my legs really aren’t long to me…

  • Reply August 14, 2014

    Andrea

    Help!!!!
    I’m 5′ 2.5” I have a 36f bust, usually wear a 14, although could wear 12 on my bottom half. I struggle to wear blouses/shirts generally anything with buttons or fastenings at the front/chest area. I have a wedding guest outfit to purchase and am feeling physically sick at the thought of hitting the shops! Please advise!!! I have shapely legs, I don’t mind showing my arms, my skin tone is olive and I have dark hair and eyes. I struggle with heels, preferring a wedge or mid heel. I don’t have a defined waist line, and tend to wear straight up n down or very loose dresses to cover everything up!
    ANY advice re where to shop, what to look for would be soooo gratefully appreciated xxxx

    • Reply November 1, 2014

      Sarah

      Hi Andrea,

      I’m not sure where you live, but if it is in the UK then Pepperberry is a good starting point (http://www.bravissimo.com/pepperberry/). Even if you aren’t sure of your body shape, at least their dresses will fit you in the bust. Biu Biu is a Polish company that also makes clothes for women with larger busts (http://www.biubiu.pl/lang/en), but that would mean mail order.

      I am pretty sure the salespeople at Pepperberry will be nice – explain that you hate shopping and ask for their help.

      Finally, get some of Trinny and Susannah’s books. Look for hints on how to define your waist and find out your body type.

      Good luck!
      Sarah

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  • Reply May 6, 2015

    Katrina

    Hey T & S!

    I’ve been driving myself mad trying to determine my body shape! I have broad shoulders/back like a goblet or cornet, however I do have somewhat of a defined waist – measurements being underbust: 36in waist: 31.5in hips: 38in. I have small breasts, a bit of a short and soft middle, a large bum, and longer/toned legs. What category would you say I am in?

    Thanks!

    Kat xx

  • Reply August 11, 2015

    khush

    hi i m 5 feet 35 27 35 what kind of dress suits me pls suggest

  • Reply February 21, 2016

    Zhea

    Hello, T & S! I was wondering where can I send photos to you like Natasha? I would like to consult you for my body type as well, if it’s alright with you. 😊☺

    Here’s my public e-mail if you want to contact me directly:
    dnldsnzhea@gmail.com

    I really hope this would reach you sooner because it would really mean a lot to me. Thank you!

  • Reply February 24, 2016

    Sunmuna Wahid

    My bust , hips and waist 34-28-38 but sholder is 40. so what tyoe of body am i?pear or hourglass

  • Reply April 6, 2016

    Jeannie

    Hi Trinny and Susannah. I loved you TV show when it was on here in Melbourne years ago. Since then I have collected a number of your books and consult them on a regular basis. However, like so many women in the post-menopausal stage of life, I am struggling to determine what my body shape actually is. I have a 101cm bust, 95cm waist and 113cm hips. I have been told I look good in pencil skirts and dresses with some gathering across the waist. Can you please put me in the picture as to what I actually am? Hopefully, you will come up with a shape that will allow me to utilize what is in my wardrobe already.

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