THE BODY TYPES
a Fashion and Apparel graduate of NIFT, Gandhinagar in India will be our quarterly columnist. Having worked with a wide variety of women as a professional stylist, dressing them often from head to toe, she brings a deep understanding of diversity to the issue. Avishmita has worked with a range of brands that include BCBG Max Azria, Liz Claiborne, BEDO and Naot and most recently MyPhilosophy in Paris. She is currently delving deeper through a Fashion Marketing program in Montreal, Canada.
A lot has been written on the topic of dressing well. One of the most common tenets tends to reduce the body to base shapes, often comparing them to fruit and providing a set of rules based on which fruit you resemble the most. All ridicule aside, there is validity to this method. There is in-fact a certain amount of empowerment that comes with such a tactic. Fashion can often seem undecipherable to the uninitiated. It can seem like an arbitrary set of constantly changing rules put in place to keep the lay person confused and struggling to keep up.
However, with just a simple explanation of not much more than geometry, proportion and a few visual aids, I will be able to offer you a negotiating space between how you look and how you want to look. When tamed, fashion can offer a space for discovery, a playground to try on different aspects of your personality and in a pinch, perk you up long enough for it to become reality. “Fake it till you make it” is aided immensely by fashion. So here it is ladies, grab something fortifying because things are about to get real!
The first step in this process is to figure out what shape you are. Now remember, we’re talking reality, not what shape you would want to be! This is key to looking fabulous. Dress for your body as it is now! So, go on, take a deep breath and place yourself in front of a full length mirror. Wear something form fitting, or strip down to your birthday suit, because we want to know the actual shape of your body without clothes. This is the base from which we start. Remember that each and every body in this world is unique. There are so many differences that when it came to mass-manufacturing of clothing, companies simply could not handle the range. They simplified it to have a ‘model’ body type on which they based their clothing. The funny part is, the body form on which clothing is made is completely different from that on which it is modeled. Both of which, only represent a small percentage of what’s out there.
The ‘shape’ method is a touch more realistic, in my opinion, since it covers a wider range of body types. Keep in mind that these are categories and each and every one of you has a beautiful body so unique that it may be difficult to figure out exactly where you fall! A Google search will give you many sites where all you have to do is put in your measurements and an algorithm tells you what your body shape is. My favourites are:
• The Westfield Body Shape Calculator
It is very important to correctly identify your body shape. Stand in front of a mirror and wear something form fitting so that your natural figure will be accentuated. Study yourself well to recognize what shape from the four you fit into.
Apple: This shape is characterized by a thicker waist that is almost in the same proportion as the shoulders and hips.
Rectangle: Characterized by a lean figure where the waist, shoulders and hips are in roughly the same proportion.
Pear: This shape features narrow shoulders and fuller hips that are larger than them.
Hourglass: The hourglass figure is characterized with balanced shoulders and hips and a tucked in tummy line.
Inverted triangle: This body type is characterised either by shoulders that are wider than the hip mass or by breasts that are larger in relation to the hips.
To dive in, let’s talk ‘apple’
The apple shaped body is characterized by a thicker waist that is almost in the same proportion as the shoulders and hips. Our aim is to create more of an hourglass shape by visually broadening the shoulders and the hips, instead of trying to take in the waist. So, how do you wear the major trends this fall/winter? We’ll talk about the two that offer the most options for your shape.
Sharp Tailoring with Menswear Fabric
This trend brings traditional menswear fabric and tailoring into womenswear. Think crisply tailored suits, traditionally masculine elements and gorgeous suiting fabric.
- Pair fitted jackets with pencil skirts or flat fronted trousers to show off your curves.
- Creating outfits in monochrome will help elongate your silhouette as well. Bring focus to your neck and shoulder area with jackets and tops that have details at the collar and shoulders.
- Draw focus to your legs with skirts and dresses that end on or just below the knee. With trousers, a straight or wide leg will keep your proportions in balance. Patterned trousers and skirts will also help draw the eye to your legs.
- Fitted, structured clothing is perfect to give the impression of a defined waist and show off the assets of your body type. Embrace this trend while it lasts!
Combining rich textures and fabrics with eclectic patterns, this trend brings together bohemian styles with aristocratic elegance. Think layers, bold colours, lots of embellishment and fluid shapes.
- Empire lines, wrap tops and tie fastenings are your friend as they highlight the smallest part of your body, the area right under your bust.
- Embrace the styles that skim over your waist without being baggy. Embellishments around your neck and shoulders brings the focus up to your face as do deep V-necks and halter necks. Build up a collection of statement necklaces that you can have fun with.
- For trousers, flat front, with preferably no pockets will help provide a lean silhouette without adding bulk. Choose wider-leg trousers over skinny to keep your proportions in balance.
- Avoid skirts and dresses that contour the body as they will bring focus to your rounder shape.
As you can see, the apple shaped body gels beautifully with sharp lines, clean cuts that are sophisticated and empowering and with feminine elements that emphasise your assets. So if you’re a lady confused about what she should opt for, menswear and bohemian inspired styling are the two trends rocketing sky high right about now. You’d do best to go with them as long as they’re around! We will talk about another body shape in the next issue; the banana, so all you girls who fall into that category, stay ready to learn about what will work for you and make you look absolutely ravishing. Till then, mix and match, play with styles, and remember: different is beautiful.