I was asked the other day by a reader where are the defining points to figure out body shape. Is it bust, waist and hips, shoulders waist and hips and where are the hips defined from – the thigh or up on the buttock area? For me (and I’m sure there will be some out there who disagree), I use the width of the shoulders, the waist and the widest point of the hips (whether it be a high or low hip). The bust is what I call a ‘body variation’ large and small busts can appear on all sorts of body shapes, plus we may gain or lose fullness of the bust over our lifetime due to various reasons (breastfeeding, breast cancer, breast augmentation or reduction) but this does not change our body shape. The body shape is based on the skeletal structure – if we have wide shoulders, it is because our bones have the width usually, yes we can work out lots with weights and alter our body shape to a certain extent, but we can never move the pelvis further from the ribcage (without rib removal) no matter how hard we work out.
For example, here on this V shape body you can see that the outer edge of the shoulders is wider than the hips.
Here is an X shape with shoulders and hips similar in width.
Here you can see the waist is at the narrowest point on the torso, which is usually just under the end of the rib cage. The hip point – which is the widest point is up high for the 8 and down low on the top of the thighs for the A, X, and some other shapes. O shapes may have been Hs or 8s or even Vs, they are much less likely to have been an X shape. The best way to figure out your body shape is to look front on into a mirror in tight fitting clothing and see what the outline appears to most resemble, where your widest and narrowest points are and how different they are from each other. Any measurement guidelines are really just a suggestion, as some people are more round and others more elliptical which can affect the appearance of the body shape. Read up on the body shapes explained and see which you find most relevant to what you have found most flattering to wear in the past.