The Everyday Guide to Discerning Your Body Shape

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Looking and feeling your best is a lifelong journey. It’s adjusting to an altering figure, a new lifestyle, changing needs and an ever-evolving aesthetic. That’s part of the fun. There is no “one size fits all” solution. Change is the only constant in life.

One thing that does not change however, is our frame, our inherent shape. Our measurements may go up and down throughout our lifetime but our frames remain constant. 

Knowing one’s shape is a linchpin to creating a masterful wardrobe. If you don’t know your shape, today’s the day you figure it out. I’m going to teach you how to identify yours with the help of a full-length mirror. Then, I’ll briefly touch on a few ways to create balance based on what you discover.

What do I mean by balance?

Broadly speaking, balance in design refers to a visually pleasing distribution of elements. In fashion, balance is all about the upper body being somewhat in line with the lower body. 

This notion of upper and lower body alignment guides stylists to achieve visually pleasing reflections. They compose outfits with optics in mind. This is true balance in fashion.

Why is it important to know your shape?

1. Your shape is the primary building block of your reflection. Many women are stumped by how to dress themselves properly. If the visual goal is to achieve a balanced look, it’s important to understand what you’re working with and compose outfits accordingly. 

2. Shopping becomes easier. Understanding which visual principles and garments balance your shape and please your eye makes shopping straightforward. It narrows the possibilities. Fitting room dilemmas are few and far between. 

3. Your reflection can become your friend, not your foe. Confidence pours from a woman who embraces her shape and dresses to celebrate it. Once you understand your shape, you can effectively dress to love what you see in the mirror. 

The more you understand your shape and shop accordingly, the more you can dress with balance in mind. This is a major part of experiencing joy as you get dressed every day.

Ready? It’s time to crack the code.

What you need to identify your body shape

1. A full-length mirror

By now, it will come as no surprise that you MUST have a full-length mirror. And you’ll need to make friends with that mirror because it is your ally. It’s the only tool that will allow you to see your entire body at one time. 

To do this exercise properly, you need to see your reflection not as multiple parts but as a whole, as if you were a silhouette. The only way to master the art of balancing an outfit is to see your reflection in its entirety.

2. Kind eyes

As I mentioned in the 11 Strategic Style Solutions guide, I spent decades staring at my thighs with disappointed eyes. I was too caught up in what bothered me about my reflection that I failed to notice the things worth celebrating. Once I saw my shape with kind eyes, everything changed.

Every shape has its assets and you are beautiful just as you are. I’m challenging you right now to examine your reflection through a lens of love. No judgement, okay? Use kind eyes.

How to identify your shape

Now it’s time to stand in front of your full-length mirror. Shed everything but your bra and panties. Take an honest look at your frame and then read the descriptions below to identify your shape.


Do you always need a larger size on the bottom than on the top? Do you have a difficult time purchasing dresses and find that separates work better? When you look in the mirror, are your shoulders narrower than your hips? Do you tend to most often gain weight on the lower part of your body? If so, your body shape is a TRIANGLE.

Are your shoulders wider than your hips? Are you well endowed? Do you find that your jacket or blouse size is always larger than your skirts and pants? Do you have more of a straight rib cage, and feel like you don’t have a waist? If so, your body shape is an INVERTED TRIANGLE.

Do you have a relatively flat bottom, straight hips, and a small-ish bosom? Do you wear the same size on the top and bottom but have very little waist definition? If you answered yes and you’re on the slimmer side, you are a LEAN COLUMN.

Do you have flat hips and bottom, but little to no waist definition? Do you have shoulders and hips that are pretty much in line, but your weight always goes to your middle? Your shape is a RECTANGLE.

Do you have more rounded shoulders and some fullness in the tummy? Is one of your best assets your beautiful legs? Do you find it uncomfortable to tuck things in? Your shape is ROUND.

Are your shoulders and hips more equally set? Do you have a defined waist? If so, your shape is an HOURGLASS. (Please note, you can be a full-figured woman and be an hourglass. It’s all about the shoulders and hips being pretty much in line. The key to this shape is a defined waist.)


Principles to balance your shape

Our eyes intuitively prefer balance. My experience with women proves it. They stand taller and feel great in the balanced looks I compose for them, whether they understand the principles or not. My goal is to educate every woman so she can compose her own masterpiece wardrobe.

The trick is to master the theory behind how our eyes experience outfits. Three blogs in this 11-part series are devoted to the principles of vertical lines, embellishments, and shimmer. These articles are packed with useful information to help you balance your shape. I strongly suggest you read or revisit these to pick up specific tips.


There you have it! I hope you enjoyed this 11-part series as much as I did. What did you learn? Have you experienced any epiphanies? I’d love to hear from you.

xo,

Marilee