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,
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.
- 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.
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.