The human body is a masterpiece of form, and understanding its shape is the first step towards establishing a personal style that accentuates its beauty.
Knowing your body shape is essential as it plays a pivotal role in your ability to make the right clothing choices. Moreover, your familiarity with your own body type will help greatly in developing a personal style that not only looks good on you but also feels comfortable and empowering.
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The Role of Body Shape in Clothing Choices and Personal Style
It’s no secret that your body shape helps to determine the kind of clothes you favour and sets the tone for your personal style (if not, then it definitely should!).
Understanding and embracing your body shape is essential for choosing flattering clothes that not only highlight your best features but also help you exude confidence and ensure your comfort.
Different female body types have unique proportions and features, and choosing clothing that complements these characteristics can enhance a person’s overall style.
- Body shape affects the fit and silhouette of clothing. For instance, if you have an hourglass figure with balanced bust and hip measurements and a defined waist, you may opt for form-fitting garments that accentuate your curves. On the other hand, if you have a rectangular body shape, where the waist, bust, and hips have similar measurements, you may choose clothing that creates the illusion of curves or adds definition to your waist.
- Body shape can influence your garment style choices. For example, someone who’s pear shaped (wider hips than shoulders) may prefer A-line skirts or dresses that cinch at the waist, as these styles create a balanced silhouette. Apple-shaped individuals, with extra weight around the midsection, may gravitate towards empire-waist tops or dresses that emphasise the bust and flow loosely over the midsection.
Understanding the different body shapes and yours in particular helps in highlighting the features one wishes to emphasise or minimise. For instance, individuals with broader shoulders may choose clothing with V-necks or scoop necklines to draw attention downward, while those with longer legs may opt for high-waisted bottoms to elongate their silhouette.
Your personal style is influenced by your body shape as it also determines the types of garments, patterns, and colours that you feel most comfortable and confident in.
Some individuals may prefer tailored and structured pieces to enhance their body’s natural lines, while others may embrace loose-fitting and flowy styles. Certain patterns and prints may flatter specific body shapes, such as vertical stripes elongating the body or diagonal patterns creating a slimming effect.
Activewear Advice for Specific Body Types
Interested to find the best activewear advice for your body shape?
By clicking on the links, you can skip to the body type that you’re interested in.
The Basics of Body Shapes
In essence, body shape refers to the distribution of body mass in the body. The factors influencing male and female body shapes are multifaceted, with genetics, lifestyle and age playing a significant role.
Just like with a person’s biological sex, genetics is a fundamental factor that determines the basic body shape and proportions we inherit from our parents.
Certain traits, such as the distribution of fat and muscle mass, bone structure, and body frame size, are influenced by our genetic makeup. For example, some individuals may have a naturally curvier hourglass shape, while others may have a more athletic or pear-shaped figure based on their genetic predispositions.
The lifestyle choices a person makes, including diet, exercise, and overall physical activity levels, can greatly influence their body shape.
Regular exercise can help build muscle and tone specific areas, contributing to a more defined and sculpted appearance. The type and intensity of exercise can also impact body shape—for instance, strength training exercises can help develop a more muscular and athletic physique, while cardio exercises may aid in weight loss and overall body fat reduction.
Diet and nutrition also play a crucial role in determining the body shapes of real people. Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet can help ensure a healthy body composition and weight management.
Conversely, poor dietary choices, such as excessive consumption of unhealthy foods or crash dieting, can lead to weight fluctuations and impact men’s and women’s body shapes over time.
It’s a known fact that as people grow older, changes in hormone levels, metabolism, and body composition can influence the shapes of both male and female bodies.
For women, shifts in body fat distribution may take place during menopause, resulting in a greater accumulation of fat around the midsection. Muscle mass also tends to decrease with age, leading to a decrease in overall muscle tone and potentially altering one’s body shape. This can happen to all people regardless of sex.
However, there are other factors, such as pregnancy and childbirth, that can also impact the female body shape. Pregnancy can result in temporary weight gain and changes in body proportions, particularly around the abdomen and hips. These changes may persist post-pregnancy, influencing female body builds.
The Different Body Types
The body types of women are quite varied. This is why taking a one-size fits all to your fashion choices is a huge no-no.
But, do you know your own body type or shape?
If not, here’s a list of the common types of body shapes among women. Hopefully, reading through the different women’s body shapes will lead you to find your own.
- Hourglass: Characterised by balanced bust and hips with a well-defined waist, the hourglass is often considered the ideal or perfect body for females.
- Pear (Triangle): Women with pear body types have wider hips than busts.
- Apple (Inverted Triangle): The apple or inverted triangle body type is marked by a wider bust than hips.
- Rectangle (Straight): The rectangle body shape features (nearly) similar bust, waist, and hip measurements.
- Oval: Someone with an oval (or round) body shape typically has a larger bust and a full midsection.
- Spoon: The spoon body type features hips that are larger than the bust and a defined waist.
- Top Hourglass: The top hourglass body shape is characterised by a bust that’s larger than the hips.
- Bottom Hourglass: With a bottom hourglass body shape, the hips are larger than the bust.
- Diamond: People with diamond body types have narrow shoulders and busts, wider hips, and a fuller midsection.
- Athletic: Women with an athletic body type have a well-toned, muscular build with little differentiation between the measurements of the bust, waist, and hips.
Now that you already have a fair idea of the different body shapes, it’s crucial to remember that these are general guidelines, and personal clothing or style preferences should always be considered.
Other Body Shape Considerations
Body types are not limited to the common or classic shapes, and the considerations for petite, tall, plus-size, and combination body shapes are unique and worth discussing separately.
Each of these categories has distinct characteristics and requires styling tips that help accentuate the natural form in the most flattering manner.
Petite and Tall Body Types
Women with petite body types are generally 5’4” in height and under, while those with tall body types are typically around 5’9” and above.
Styling petite body types often involves creating an illusion of height, using vertical lines, high-waisted styles, and monochrome dressing.
For tall body types, it’s about embracing height while ensuring clothes are the right length. Layering, using horizontal lines, and playing with proportions can help create a balanced look.
Plus-Size Body Shapes
Plus-size body shapes are as diverse as any other category, with the same range of body types.
Understanding your body shape within the plus-size category can help you choose styles that highlight your best attributes. Focus on fit, not size, and embrace styles that highlight your favourite features and offer comfort and confidence.
Combination Body Shapes
Many people may find that they don’t neatly fit into one category.
Combination body shapes mix elements from different body types. Identifying a combination body shape requires a discerning eye, and styling involves balancing various aspects of different body shapes to create a harmonious silhouette.
How to Determine Your Body Shape
Determining your body shape involves both measuring techniques and visual assessment.
Taking measurements of your bust, waist, and hip circumference can provide a numerical basis for identifying your body shape.
However, visual assessment is equally important to consider other factors like the width of your shoulders, the fullness of your bust, and the overall distribution of weight on your body.
Shopping for the Right Activewear for Your Body Shape
Dressing for your body shape is all about understanding the importance of fit and proportion. Clothes should fit well, not too tight or too loose, and the proportion of your outfits should complement your body’s natural proportions.
Finding the right activewear or fitness attire is crucial for both comfort and confidence during workouts. Understanding your body shape and type can help you choose activewear that flatters your figure, enhances performance, and makes you feel great while exercising.
Below are some tips to consider when selecting activewear based on different body shapes and types:
1. Hourglass Body Shape
For women with hourglass figures, the aim is to find activewear that accentuates their defined waist.
High-waisted leggings or shorts can highlight your curves and provide a secure fit during movements. Look for fitted activewear tops that highlight your curves or ones that cinch at the waist or have built-in waistbands for a flattering silhouette.
Matching sets can create a cohesive look that celebrates your proportionate figure.
Avoid: Overly loose or baggy exercise clothing that’ll hide your waistline.
2. Pear Body Shape
If you have a pear-shaped body, focus on balancing your proportions. Opt for bottoms with darker colours and a wider waistband to minimise the hip area. Look for leggings or shorts with a slight flare at the bottom to create symmetry with your shoulders.
Choose tops with eye-catching details or patterns to draw attention upward or balance your silhouette with light-coloured or detailed tops. A supportive sports bra with a little padding can enhance your bust.
Avoid: Light-coloured bottoms that will highlight the hip area.
3. Apple Body Shape
For apple-shaped bodies, the goal is to create a balanced look by highlighting your legs and drawing attention away from the midsection.
Choose high-waisted leggings or shorts that provide support and coverage around the waist. Look for tops with a looser fit around the midsection but are fitted at the shoulders and bust. A V-neckline or scoop neck can help elongate the torso.
Look for loose, flowy tops or tunics that provide comfort around the waist. Pair these with fitted leggings or yoga pants to show off your legs.
Avoid: Sizing up as doing this will only make you look bulkier.
4. Rectangle Body Shape
If you have a rectangular body shape, focus on creating curves and adding dimension. Go for activewear with ruching, gathering, or cut-outs that enhance your shape.
Look for tops that create the illusion of a defined waist, such as wrap-style activewear tops. Choose bottoms with patterns, details, or mesh panels to add visual interest.
Create curves with colour-blocked leggings or pants with side stripes. Tops with details like ruffles or prints can add volume to your bust and hips.
Avoid: Straight lines from top to toe and boxy styles.
5. Oval Body Shape
Shop for activewear with high-waisted bottoms to provide support and coverage around the midsection if you have an oval shape.
Choose tops with a looser fit around the waist but are fitted at the shoulders and bust. Look for V-neck or scoop necklines to create the illusion of a longer torso, or tops with ruching to flatter your midsection. Pair with leggings that highlight your legs.
Avoid: Crop tops that’ll emphasise an already full waist.
6. Spoon Body Shape
If you have a spoon-shaped body, work on emphasising the waist with fitted tops and high-waisted bottoms.
Look for bottoms with wider waistbands to minimise the hip area. Choose A-line or flared leggings to create balance. High-waisted leggings can help accentuate your waist and balance your hips. Pair with a fitted top with eye-catching details to draw attention upward and maintain proportions.
Avoid: Loose tops that add volume to your midsection.
7. Top Hourglass
With a top hourglass shape, focus on highlighting the defined waist with fitted activewear.
Look for supportive sports bras and tops. Look for tops with a tailored or cinched design to enhance the hourglass silhouette. Embrace form-fitting styles that showcase your figure and high-waisted leggings or gym shorts that accentuate your curves.
You may also balance your lower body with patterned or slightly flared pants.
Avoid: High necklines that can be unflattering if you’re naturally busty.
8. Bottom Hourglass
To balance proportions in a bottom hourglass figure, focus on accentuating the waist. Wear high-waisted bottoms that provide support and enhance your curves.
A padded or push-up sports bra can enhance your bust, while darker, slimming bottoms can balance your lower body. Look for tops that highlight the shoulders and cinch at the waist, and other designs that enhance your natural hourglass shape.
Avoid: Light-coloured bottoms that will maximise your hips.
9. Diamond Body Shape
Activewear that creates balance by highlighting the shoulders and adding definition at the waist is recommended for women with a diamond shape.
Look for tops with V-necks or scoop necklines to elongate the torso. Choose bottoms with wide waistbands to accentuate the waist. Embrace patterns and details that draw attention upward and downward.
Avoid: Vertical patterns and big prints as well as highly embellished tops.
10. Athletic Body Type
Athletic body types can embrace their strong and toned physique with fitted activewear that showcases their hard work.
Wear high-waisted leggings or shorts that accentuate your sculpted legs. Shop for tops that highlight your arms and shoulders, such as racerback tanks or sleeveless styles. Experiment with bold patterns and vibrant colours to add flair.
Compression leggings and fitted tops can highlight your toned body.
Avoid: Tops with halter necks and gaudy embellishments.
11. Petite Body Type
If you have a petite frame, consider wearing activewear with shorter inseams, fitted styles or cropped lengths to avoid overwhelming your figure.
High-waisted leggings and crop tops can create the illusion of longer legs. Look for tops with shorter hemlines to elongate your legs visually. Opt for monochromatic or tonal outfits to create a streamlined look.
Avoid: Oversized or baggy styles that can make you appear smaller.
12. Tall Body Type
Being tall can sometimes pose a challenge when shopping for activewear, but many brands now offer tall sizes or have styles with longer lengths. These typically have a longer inseam to accommodate your height.
If these aren’t available, you might find that capri-style pants fit you like regular-length pants. You may also consider longer-length tops, tunics, or those with a curved or dropped hem for extra coverage.
If you have a long torso, look for sports bras with a longer line or ones that come in bra sizes (as opposed to just small, medium, large) for a more precise fit.
Remember, the key is to feel comfortable and unrestricted in your activewear. If you’re constantly tugging on your clothes or feel restricted during workouts, it might be worth investing in pieces designed specifically for your body type.
Avoid: Generic-size exercise clothes.
13. Plus Size Body Type
For plus-size bodies, prioritise activewear that offers support, coverage, and confidence.
Look for high-waisted leggings or bottoms with wide waistbands to provide a secure and comfortable fit that’s supportive and ensures mobility. Shop for tops with a longer length or built-in shaping for extra coverage.
For best results, seek out activewear brands that specialise in inclusive sizing and offer a wide range of options.
Avoid: Loose, unflattering styles.
Choosing the Right Colours and Patterns
Colours and patterns play a significant role in creating a balanced look.
You can use colours and patterns strategically to accentuate your best features and create the illusion of balance where needed. This is why understanding the effects of different colours and patterns can help you make informed choices that flatter your body shape.
Dark colours, such as black, navy, and deep shades of brown or grey, have a visually slimming effect. They create the illusion of a more streamlined silhouette by minimising or downplaying the appearance of curves or bulges in critical areas, such as the waist, hips or thighs.
Lighter colours like white, pastels, or soft neutrals, tend to draw attention and can create the illusion of volume. They can be used strategically to add fullness or highlight specific areas. For example, wearing a light-coloured top can draw attention to the upper body or bust area.
Colour blocking entails wearing contrasting colours in specific areas to create visual interest and shape.
By strategically placing darker colours on areas one wishes to downplay and lighter colours on areas one wishes to emphasise, colour blocking can help create the illusion of a more balanced and proportionate figure.
There are many kinds of patterns used in textile, including activewear, with each one having a distinct effect on the silhouettes of different body shapes.
- Vertical stripes have an elongating effect, making the body appear taller and slimmer.
- Diagonal patterns, such as chevron or diagonal stripes, can create the illusion of a slimmer waist or a more hourglass-like shape.
- Small-scale prints, like polka dots or small florals, tend to be more versatile and can be flattering on different body shapes.
- Strategically placed patterns can be used to enhance or downplay certain areas. For example, patterns placed at the waist can create the illusion of a more defined waistline, while patterns at the shoulders can draw attention upward.
Of course, personal preference and style should always be considered when choosing activewear colours and patterns. These tips only serve as a starting point to help you make choices that flatter your body shape.
After all, fashion is a form of self-expression, and you should feel free to wear what you love and what makes you feel comfortable and confident. Experimentation and finding what works best for your unique features, body shape and personal style is key.
Important Notes When Shopping for the Right Activewear
Regardless of your body shape, certain features are universally important in activewear.
Look for moisture-wicking and breathable fabrics that keep you comfortable during workouts. Always consider the type of activity you’ll be engaged in; for high-impact activities, opt for supportive sports bras and leggings with compression features.
Pay attention to your personal preferences and choose colours, patterns, and styles that align with your taste and make you excited to move your body.
With the right activewear, you can enhance your performance and enjoy your fitness journey to the fullest.
Can I Change My Body Shape?
While you can tone your body and alter your weight through diet and exercise, your basic body shape, determined by your skeletal structure and genetic distribution of fat and muscle, cannot be changed naturally.
This is where your fashion choices come in—including choosing the right activewear for your physique.
Embracing Your Unique Body Shape
Every body shape is beautiful, and the key to looking good is not to fit into a specific category but to understand and embrace your unique body shape.
Knowing how to dress for your body type is about highlighting your natural shape, accentuating your best features, and, above all, feeling good in your skin.
This comprehensive guide to understanding body shapes and choosing the right activewear that fits you perfectly aims to help you to not only identify your unique body shape but also guide you in making style choices that make you feel confident, strong and beautiful.
Remember, fashion rules are merely guidelines.
It’s your body, your style, and you make the rules.
Be comfortable, be confident, and let your personal style shine.