Navigating the straights and the curves: body shape essentials

Every woman wants to look her best; however, what suits one woman might not look good on another and some women just always seem to look great!
Body shape plays a part in this, with the key being knowing how to recognise the shape and then how to dress it. Women fall into one of five body shapes: triangle (or sometimes pear); inverted triangle; rectangle; oval (or sometimes apple); and hourglass, seen by many as the most attractive and desirable due to its balanced proportions and perceived lack of problem areas.

Navigating the straights and the curves

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The most athletic-looking female body shape is easily spotted, with wider shoulders than hips and little or no waist definition. Great legs often accompany a triangle.

Inverted triangle

An inverted triangle is when the hips are wider than the shoulders and weight-gain tends to go on the lower half. There is still a very definite waist.


This is a well-proportioned body shape, easily identified by the same full hip measurement as full bust measurement and a clearly-defined waist, which is at least 8” smaller. Any weight gain is likely to be distributed evenly. You may also like to read:


Similar to the hourglass, with balanced hips and bust, the rectangle has a less-defined waist with less than an 8” difference.


An oval will share the lack of waist definition of a rectangle but will carry weight around the mid-section rather than distributed evenly. An oval might have a big bust and/or tummy. The right underwear will make a huge difference and a well-fitting, full-cup bra, such as the Prima Donna Deauville bra from is a good place to start.

To understand your body shape better, imagine a line from your shoulders to your hips via your waist. If the shape is not immediately obvious, it might worth standing in front of a full-length mirror and tracing the outline with a lipstick or eyeliner to make it more visible. Your overall body shape will not necessarily dictate your problem areas, as all body shapes have them.

Once you have established your body shape, learn how to look after it and how to dress it. Women’s Health has some ideas for exercising, while the Joy of Clothes offers some excellent style pointers.

Whatever your shape, healthy eating is key to maintaining a positive body image. Find out more fashion related ideas.

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