This post covers the basic outline shape of a woman’s body; her silhouette. There is a lot of debate about hour-glass, figure of eight, pears, apples, inverted V etc, much of which can be confusing and rather restrictive. The best analysis I have seen fits all female bodies fit into one of two types – a shaped body line or a basically straight body line, (although some would say there is an in-between semi-shaped too). Either of these two body types may be fatter or slimmer. It’s the underlying shape that you will have had since you were a teenager that it is important to identify.
A straight outline includes straight and/or broad shoulders, a wide and/or straight ribcage, no obvious indentation at the waist, low and flatter hips and thighs, and flattish calves.
Here is a great straight body. Although Diana walks with her slim arm across her body to provide the semblance of a waist it is clear that her shoulders are wider than her hips. This is the key feature of the straight body. Many models have this look, which is slightly masculine. Tall, thin or athletic women, carry their clothes well especially if they keep to straight, elegant lines.
The sheath dress is a very good look for women with a straight bodyline (outline shape). The long blue dress below has a similar, body skimming shape, and this allows us to see how narrow Princess Diana’s hips are compared to her wide shoulders, substantial rib cage and ill-defined waist. The one shoulder dress that Diana often chose breaks up the strong horizontal line of the shoulders very effectively.
In the early days Diana was a little heavier, but the transformation to super model occurred when she started to wear clothes that suited her shape. In this pink and white dress Princess Diana looks amazing as she is making the most of her angular look with a structured, boxy, cropped top, attached to a sinewy washed silk skirt that skims her flattish rear and slender hips.
On another occasion she gets it right with a very different look. This lovely light blue dress she exposes her large, squarish shoulders but breaks up the line with a high scarf. The waist is created by the crossed chiffon at the front of the dress, and fullness occurs at the hip level.
If you have a similar outline shape (even if you are shorter or fatter than Princess Diana) you can follow the same rules, perhaps with some adjustments for proportion which I will deal with on another occasion. Here are some dress shapes that work well for the Straight bodyline.
- 1960s style shift dress, where there is no obvious waist shaping and the dress appears rectangular. A lovely, easy to wear style that flatters the slim legs and ankles that usually go with this shape.
- 1920s style dropped waist. Although this particular pattern borders on the Am Dram, the shape is nice and would work well without the under skirt. Cap sleeves and lots of strong emphasis at thehemline adds interest
- 1980s pullover dress. A nice comfortable jumper dress, best made up in a firm jersey fabric. The stretch fabric flatters slim hips, and can be worn with a low slung belt, or a firm wide belt with an angular buckle.
- The shirtwaister is a great shape on the straight body – a smart neat look that works well for work, looking smart and sophisticated. Pockets, cuffs and belts provide subtle detailing.
- dress with over blouse gives a bit of shape to the straight body line, creating a waist line where it is less well-defined.
- column dress – a lovely dress on a long, straight body with slim hips. This is the sort of dress that Victoria Beckham often features in her collections.
If you have a straight body shape one of the good blogs to follow is Thornberry. She is a prolific seamstress and knows how to dress her figure well. And if you want an idea of what not to wear with a straight body, wear a full-skirted, shiny, mauve evening dress.