Depending on whom you speak with, there are between four and eight basic body female body shapes. Most women are a combination of different shapes, but almost everyone falls more into one category than the other. Knowing your body shape is useful because it helps you to determine what clothing styles will be most flattering. Knowing your body shape can also help you be more conscious of what modesty pitfalls you as an individual may have.
In this post, I am going to go over the basics of each body shape, as well as break down the modesty issues each shape may have. In future posts, I will go into more depth about each separate shape and put together outfit examples for you to see.
Here, I am going to refer to the four most basic body shapes: ruler, apple, pear, and hourglass.
The ruler (also know as rectangular, banana, or straight) is the most common female body shape. According to a study done by North Carolina State University, about 46% of women have a rectangular body shape.
Women with ruler body shapes generally have flatter busts and have shoulders and hips that are approximately the same width. They also have little waist definition — 1″ to 8″ smaller than their bust. Singer/songwriter Taylor Swift is a good example of this body shape.
The ruler body shape lends itself to modesty more easily than others. Women who have this shape typically have smaller/flat chests, and therefore do not have to worry quite as much about how low their neckline is. I would however, recommend to girls with this shape, to use prudence when deciding if a neckline is too low. Cleavage or not, navel grazing necklines are definitely still immodest. As a general rule of thumb, I would suggest that any shirt or blouse that is made to be cleavage baring, is probably inappropriate without a camisole or something similar.
The pear is the second most common body shape, coming in at around 20% of the female population. This body shape is best characterized by the fruit from which it takes its name. Pears have a smaller bust, and slim arms and shoulders. Pears also have a well defined waist, full hips, and larger thighs. Good celebrity examples of the pear body shape include Beyonce, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez.
The biggest modesty challenge for pear shaped women is probably their curvy lower body. Pear shaped women should take extra care to draw attention away from their bottom and towards their face. This can be done using the lines, cuts, patterns, and colors of their clothing — a topic I will cover in another post. Pear shaped women who are focusing on modesty should also be extra careful with pants made from stretchy material. I would argue that leggings are immodest regardless of body shape, but any stretchy pants in general can be a problem for pear shaped ladies.
Approximately 14% of women have an apple body shape — also known as the inverted triangle. Women with an apple body typically have shapely legs and arms, a larger bust, and smaller hips. The apple shape is also characterized by having a larger tummy and not much — if any — waist definition. Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Oprah Winfrey are all considered to have an apple body shape.
The apple shaped woman’s largest modesty challenge is generally her larger bust, if she has one. An apple shaped woman should take special care to wear tops with higher necklines, or cover up with a camisole worn beneath their lower-necked tops. As with the pear, apple shaped women can also use their clothing to draw attention away from their upper halves. Scarves also work great!
The hourglass body is the least common among women, accounting for around 8% of the population. Hourglass bodies have shoulders and hips that are the same width (or up to an inch different), and a well-defined waist. Hourglasses are identified by having a waist circumference that is 9″-10″ smaller than their bust/hip circumference. Women with hourglass figures typically have a fuller bust, small wrists and ankles, rounded shoulders, larger thighs, shapely calves, and a short waist. Scarlett Johansson and Sophia Vergara are two examples of celebrity women with the hourglass body shape.
I would argue that women with an hourglass body shape have the hardest time dressing in a way that is both modest and attractive. Women with an hourglass body shape have the same modesty challenges as both pear and apple shaped women. I myself have an hourglass body shape, so I have more experience with this shape than any other. Therefore, both because of my experience and the difficulties that face hourglass figured women, I will spend the most time on this particular body shape in future posts.
Let’s talk! Which body shape do you have? What struggles and blessings do you find comes with that shape?