Your Body Type, How To Dress for Balance
Instinctively, the human eye is drawn to proportion. Over the years fashion may bring focus to different areas of the body but a balanced “ideal” remains. Plato said “beauty resides in the proper measure and proper size of parts that fit harmoniously into a seamless whole.” That, my friend, is the goal of costuming the body to clothe our best self. When our eyes scan the body we are pleased with proportion. We notice disproportion. Unfortunately, as the human silhouette is exaggerated to unrealistic dimensions on the runway and in fashion magazines, a glance in the mirror of middle age can just plain shock the hell out of you. NOW what? At some point many of us just don’t look. The art of costuming the body is in the ability to draw the eye to our assets and away from – well, I was going to say it, but it’s too obvious. Strategic dressing creates the illusion our parts are in harmony. Isn’t that pretty? Harmonious parts. Strategic dressing balances your silhouette and makes you appear healthier, younger and simply more beautiful. That is the art and the fun of getting dressed. Though some of the fun in dressing may fall by the wayside as our bodies change, knowing how to manage that change with illusion dressing will help. Clothing can camouflage improving every silhouette. But the key to understanding how is in understanding what you are reshaping.
Your Horizontal Body Type
Your horizontal body type is the proportion of bust to waist to hips. In the ideal world, your bust and hips are equal in circumference; with a waist that is about 10 inches smaller (you know 36, 26, 36). Back to reality. As women age, unless they are genetic anomalies or maintain a strict diet and exercise program these proportions are difficult, at best, to attain. That’s where “creating the illusion” comes in. To create this illusion you must first understand how to counterbalance (create harmony) with clothing. Horizontal figures are typically described with visual shape cues such as hourglass, pear, apple, or rectangle. I like to use letters to describe them. For this book let’s use “X” for hourglass, “A” for triangle or pear shapes, “Y” for wedge or inverted triangle, and “I” for the rectangle.
The Four Basic Horizontal Body Types Let’s start this body rediscovery by examining the four basic horizontal body types (HBT). Remember there are several takes on body types, several names for each and not every woman fits into one exact type.
X – The Hourglass The Hourglass figure is the most balanced and proportionate of the four. No area is unusually disproportionate to the other. Considered the “ideal,” most clothing is designed around this form wreaking havoc for women everywhere whose hourglass sand is unevenly distributed. An extreme X is often as difficult to fit as other body types, however. An extreme X has a significantly smaller waist than bust and hips. This is more common now with the popularity of breast implants. As the hourglass ages, however, she tends to lose waist definition, gaining heavier breasts and more of a tummy.
Second Act Celebrity X: Rachel Welch
A – The Triangle If your hips are larger than your bust and waist you’re a figure type A. This is probably the most common horizontal figure. The goal is to add fullness to your upper body while minimizing your hips. The maturing triangle may continue to add heft in her hips, but is often frustrated to find she develops for the first time in her life a tummy and thicker waist. She may have to re-learn to dress for a maturing figure as those waist-accentuating styles no longer flatter.
Second Act Celebrity A: Kirstie Alley
Y – The Inverted Triangle If your bust and back is proportionally larger than your waist and hips you’re a figure type Y. One of the most difficult figure types to find clothes that fit, the goal is to add fullness to the hips while minimizing your bust. The aging Y shape finds fuel added to the fire. Her bust, waist and tummy continue to gain while her butt and legs continue to lose definition.
Second Act Celebrity Y: Stockard Channing
I – The Rectangle For the “I” type, the waist, bust and hips show little difference proportionately. The goal is to divert attention from the waist and only slightly define with shaping. As women age or gain weight they may become more round (O) shaped than rectangular. At this point it is best to avoid any attention drawn to the midriff.
Second Act Celebrity I: Sigourney Weaver