OPINION

Horizontal Body Shape

June 30, 2017 by John Quinn - Product Owner - mPort

Horizontal Body Shape is the relationship between your chest, (narrow) waist and hips.  Understanding these proportions will help you to identify clothing styles that suit you best.

Every aspect of figure and style analysis is based on balance and proportion. If one part of the body is narrow and another wide, widening the narrowest area will provide balance, and restore visual proportion. The relative proportion of your chest, waist and hips and the silhouette they create is more important than their actual size. The study of these proportions has resulted in several horizontal body shape classifications.

The fashion industry is ignoring the changing shapes of women’s bodies, a study claims today. Designers and manufacturers still insist on making clothes that fit the traditional hourglass figure, when women’s shapes are more likely to be top-heavy, rectangular or pear-shaped.

The research found that although only 8 per cent of women now had the sort of hourglass figure flaunted by curvaceous 1950s film stars such as Sophia Loren, designers and manufacturers continued to make clothes to fit a slim-line version of that figure.

Extract from The Independent (Helen McCormick):The shape of things to wear: scientists identify how women’s figures have changed in 50 years“.

Combine this information with that for your vertical body shape, but be aware that other factors should be taken into consideration when deciding on clothing styles. Your face shape, neck length, shoulder size and slope, musculature, and prominent features all play a part.

Where to measure

All measurements should be taken level/flat from front to back to measure your horizontal body shape.

Chest/Bust: Circumference around the fullest of your chest/bust.

Waist: Circumference around the smallest (narrowest) part of your natural waist, above your belly button.

Hips: Circumference around the fullest (widest) part of the hips, below the hip bone.

How many different horizontal body shapes are there?

Unlike vertical body shape, horizontal body shape is gender specific. There are 6 widely recognised female horizontal body shapes, including 2 variations of ‘Apple’, and 5 for men. Some might even go further and have more sub-categories, but we’ll try to keep things simple for now.

 

A study of more than 6,000 women conducted at North Carolina State University in 2005 revealed that 4 body shapes were the most common:

  • 46% of women were rectangle-shaped;
  • just over 20% were pear-shaped;
  • just under 14% were apple-shaped;
  • and only 8% were hourglass-shaped.

These numbers are just a rough indication of body shape distribution but don’t expect them to hold up for different demographics. Gender, age, lifestyle and genetics are all important factors that impact an individual’s body shape as they grow and develop.

Female Horizontal Body Shape Categories

Click on the thumbnails below to view more detailed style advice for each horizontal body shape.

female hourglass body shape

The Hourglass Body Shape

Notable traits: Your bust and hips are around the same size, with a very defined waistline.

It’s considered by many to be the most desirable shape. The bust and hips are within 5% of each other and the waist measurement is at least 25% smaller than the bust/hips. Women with this shape are genetically lucky. Weight gain or loss tends to be evenly distributed and clothing is easy to find. You want to highlight your curves by emphasizing your waist.

 

Female inverted triangle body shape

The Inverted Triangle Body Shape

Notable traits: Your bust is larger than your hips.

Another desirable body shape that is common among women with long legs and short torsos. The bust is at least 5% larger than the hips. The Inverted Triangle Body Shape is the most athletic looking silhouette, and is defined by broad shoulders, chest and back, with a narrower lower body.

 

female pear body shape

The (Triangle) Pear Body Shape

Notable traits: The widest part of your body is around your hips.

One of the more common body shapes. It’s typically found in women who have short legs and a long torso, or a balanced vertical body. The hips are at least 5% larger than the bust. Your lower body (hips, thighs and behind) are more noticable, and your shoulders will appear narrower and sloped. Your goal is to elongate and balance your figure by highlighting the smallest part of your waist and drawing the eye upwards to your top half.

 

female rectangle mobile

The Rectangle Body Shape

Notable traits: Your bust and hips are around the same size, with no defined waistline.

This is also a common figure shape. Your bust and hips are within 5% of each other but your waistline is not as defined as an hourglass. You may also have a curvy bottom or wide chest. Some hourglass figures may become rectangle shaped with weight gain and/or maturity. Your goal is to highlight the thinnest part of your waist so your hips and bust appear larger and more proportional.

 

female oval body shape

The (Apple) Oval Body Shape

Notable traits: You have a fuller figure with a round shape and a low stomach.

Your (abdominal) waist to hip ratio is above 0.85. Slim limbs and wide shoulders a a common feature of this body shape. Try to minimise your midsection by highlighting your shoulders and legs. You don’t have to have a very large belly to be Apple shaped, it’s just where your weight gains typically reside.

 

female diamond body shape

The (Apple) Diamond Body Shape

Notable traits: Similar to the Oval Body Shape, except you have a high stomach that causes a diamond-like appearance.

Your (abdominal) waist to hip ratio is above 0.85 and the hips are at least 5% larger than the bust.

 

Male Horizontal Body Shape Categories

Click on the thumbnails below to view more detailed style advice for each horizontal body shape.

male trapezoid body shape

The Trapezoid Body Shape

Notable traits: You have wide chest with medium-narrow waist and hips. Known as the perfect male body shape and easy to dress.

Your chest is at more than 5% larger than your hips although your waist is not as defined as the Inverted Triangle body shape. The Trapezoid Body Shape is seen as the perfect male body shape. With broad shoulders, bulky arms and narrow hips the body is nicely proportioned and is commonly found in athletes.

 

Male Inverted Triangle Body Shape

The Inverted Triangle Body Shape

Notable traits: You have a large chest with narrow waist and hips. Another desirable male body shape, typically with well developed upper body musculature.

Your chest is at more than 5% larger than your hips and your waist is very defined (less than 20% of your chest). The male Inverted Triangle Body Shape is a slightly exaggerated form of the trapezoid. It’s defined by wide shoulders and harrow hips and tends to be found in more muscular men.

 

Male Rectangle Body Shape

The Rectangle Body Shape

Notable traits: Your chest and hips are around the same size, with no defined waistline. Males with this shape should try to emphasise their shoulders to create the illusion of a trapezoid shape.

Your chest and hips are within 5% of each other. The Male Rectangle Body Shape is like a ruler, straight from top to bottom with the chest, hips and waist all around the same size.

 

male triangle body shape

The (Triangle) Pear Body Shape

Notable traits: Your hips are wider than your chest. The lower body is heavier than the upper body and you probably have a sloping shoulder line.

Your hips are more than 5% larger than your chest. The male Triangle Body Shape is found in men with a heavier lower body. They tend to have an Ectomorph’s body classification, which is often a slim athletic look with a narrow chest.

 

Male Oval Body Shape

The (Apple) Oval Body Shape

Notable traits: You have an overall round appearance with a large stomach. Males with this shape should attempt to visually elongate the torso to create a slimmer appearance.

Your (abdominal) waist to hip ratio is above 0.9. The Oval Body Shape is one of the most common male body shapes. It’s found in men with a rounder appearance that carry excess weight in their upper body.

 

Horizontal Body Shape as an Indicator of Abdominal Obesity, Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Research suggests that apple-shaped men and women have the highest risk of heart disease, while hourglass-shaped women or inverted-triangle shaped men have the lowest. Diabetes professionals say that women with a waist measurement of over 88cm (35 inches), and men with waist measurement of over 102cm (40 inches), have a higher risk of heart disease due to body fat buildup around the waist, which poses a higher health risk than fat buildup at the hips.

Know your body shape with mPort

Get to know your body with an mPort 3D body map. It’s the easiest way to see your measurements and track your health. Find your nearest body mapping pod at mPort.com.

 

Related Articles

Related Articles:

Why does body fat distribution matter?

Know your body type (somatotype)

Why is Waist-to-Height Ratio important?

Sources

  1. Definition of Abdominal Obesity from harvard.edu: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-definition/abdominal-obesity/
  2. http://alvanon.warkulwiz.com/news/2005_11_17_NC_Uni.html
  3. Body type percentages taken from a two-year study by the North Carolina State University, based on data of American body types. It was commissioned by Alva Products, a manufacturer of designers’ mannequins determined to the force the industry to design clothes for the majority rather than the minority of women.
  4. The Independent (Helen McCormick): “The shape of things to wear: scientists identify how women’s figures have changed in 50 years“.
  5. http://www.thechicfashionista.com/