• Joan Kosmachuk

Body Signature Series: Identifying Your Body Shape

Your Body Signature is a combination of your Body Shape (illustrated above); your Body Type; your Body Proportions; your Body Lines; and your Body Particulars.

Your Body's Shape is a good place to start in identifying your Body Signature.

The width of your shoulders (bust) relative to the width of your waist and hips determines your body's natural silhouette.

Left to Right: Reese Witherspoon (Hourglass); Nicole Kidman (Rectangle); Kate Winslet (Triangle); Renee Zellweger (Inverted Triangle).

If your shoulders and hips are the same width, you might be an hour-glass or a rectangle, depending on your waist measurement. If your waist is at least 10" smaller than your hip/waist measurement, you are an hourglass figure. If your waist is less than that (or equal to the width of your shoulder/hip) you are a rectangle.

Left to Right: Elizabeth Hurley, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Hudson, Oprah Winfrey all share an oval body shape

If your waist appears as wide (or wider) than your shoulders and hips, and from the side view does not indent, you are an oval shape.

If your shoulders are narrower than your hips you are a triangle (a.k.a pear) shape.

If your shoulder circumference is wider than your hip, you are an inverted triangle.

Style Boards often provide you with basic "rules" for dressing your body shape. However, there's a LOT more to your Body Signature than just your body's shape so not every rule will apply.

It is generally said that your body shape will remain the same throughout your adult life. But with significant weight gain or loss there can be some changes.

During menopause, for example, many women begin to store fat in the mid-section creating changes in their Shape.

If styles that were once flattering no longer work for you, it is possible your Body Shape has changed.

Style Boards often assume that you want to camouflage your natural shape and create the illusion of a more balanced (Hourglass) shape. But what if you don't?

And did you know that it's possible to have 2 visually different Body Shapes (front view and back view)? Yes, some body particulars can alter the appearance of your waist making it appear narrower when viewed from the back.

So, now that you understand Body Shapes and how to identify them, it's your turn to pull out your measuring tape to see what shape you are.

Measure the circumference of your shoulders, bust, natural waist and hips. Check your measurements against the guidelines above to determine your personal Body Shape.

Now look at yourself in a full-length mirror to make sure that your visual appearance supports the shape that your measurements reveal. (Sometimes, certain body particulars create the illusion of a different shape and it's important to dress the shape that is seen). You can consult a photo of your back view to determine if you have 2 visually different body silhouettes.

And remember, every Body Shape is beautiful in it's own way. Every Shape has challenges when you dress it. But you've been given yours because it is in complete harmony with the rest of you. Embrace it, enjoy it, enhance it!

Joan Kosmachuk

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