So what’s up with Shop By Body Type?

by Kim Crow

We’ve had nice feedback on the new Shop-By-Body-Type feature on our website. This was an outgrowth of how we approach our in-store racks: Instead of grouping clothing by designer or by color story, we loosely group by fit and lifestyle, which is often brand-driven to start with.

Several customers have emailed us to ask how to figure out which body type they are. It inspired us to summarize some information about the basic body shapes and how best to dress them. (We’re also putting together a visual graphic that explains our thinking. We’ll let you know when we roll that out.)

Apple: This is a common shape indeed! These are women who carry their weight primarily in their midsection, mostly in the tummy, but they are often busty as well. Their arms and legs are slender in comparison, and they often have very slim hips and a flatter bottom. Brands such as Cut Loose, Fenini and Comfy USA are often go-to’s for women with this shape, but most brands have something in the right silhouette — easy in the midsection, but not so much fabric that pretty arms and legs are hidden.

Hourglass: Gals sporting this body type have full busts and hips, with proportionally smaller waistlines, and they look their most lusciously curvaceous when the waistline is emphasized. Prairie Underground, Aimee G, Babette and Rundholz clothing routinely do this well, but most of our brands offer silhouettes that do the trick — Skif’s Vertical sweaters, for instance, are often a must-have.

Inverted Triangle: In my opinion, this is the trickiest shape to dress. Women with this figure often have broad, powerful shoulders and arms, are often very busty and square through the midsection, and have slim hips and a small bottom. For this body type, we look for silhouettes that are roomy in the shoulder/bust and taper at the hem. For special occasions, slim pants with an interesting jacket often are more appealing than a basic dress. Niche does a good job with clothes for this shape, as do Prairie Underground and Veronique Miljkovitch. Equestrian pants, with their discreet elastic waistbands and slim legs, are often a go-to for this body type.

Longer & Leaner: While most of us sigh longingly at the thought of having this figure, it presents certain challenges — sleeves  and pants are often too short, and long-waisted women have a harder time with bias-cut garments and set-in waistbands. We love Prairie Underground for gals with this body type, as well as pas de calais, Porto’s stretch-twill collections and plenty of Rundholz pieces.

Pear: I’d estimate that fully 50 percent of our clientele falls into this category. This shape has narrow shoulders, a smaller bustline and carries weight more through the hips, rear and thighs. A-line silhouettes are the best friends of women with this figure. Comfy USA, Porto, Alembika, CP Shades and many other brands work well for it.

Petite: In our stores, we differentiate this body type more by slimness than by height. These are finely boned women who are small-busted, with slim hips and narrow shoulders. We find that Neesh by D.A.R. is often a terrific fit, as are Aimee G and gr.dano. Porto’s new size 00 in their stretch-twill fabric has been a blessing!

Short and Round: Well, this one is fairly obvious. Women whose figures fall into this category are under 5’2″ and carry their weight through the middle. This body type is an offshoot of the more well-known Apple shape, because these women’s short stature adds a layer to their wardrobe challenges. Successfully dressing this group is all about proportion. Our top brand for this shape is Niche, but many pieces from other lines, such as Sun Kim and Moyuru, routinely work well.

As time goes on, our shapes ebb and flow. I started out a petite hourglass, then have gradually morphed into something that defies easy categorization — a summer squash? Something thick through the middle, but also saddled with a giant ass, thunder thighs and beefy upper arms? Is that a cantaloupe? Hmmm…