Are you a Ruler or an Apple?

Okay, because I didn't want anyone to miss La BellaDonna's great comment yesterday, here it is on the main page:

… The other body shapes can use illusion to achieve other proportions when they are in vogue. Consider:

The Ruler:
1) Can wear garments that suit her shape, when a 20's figure, "boyish" figure, or "waif" figure is in vogue (and the 70's, too, for that matter);
2) Can wear garments that emphasize her upper half, when a 30's Upside-Down Triangle is in vogue, and can extend it into the 40's;
3) Can emphasize her lower half, when the Pear-shape is in vogue (and really, it is sometimes – the A-line is one of those shapes);
4) Can wear garments that are loose on top, and flare at the bottom, and cinch her waist to achieve an Hourglass shape.

The Upside-Down Triangle
1) Can emphasize her natural shape, when the 30's and 40's clothing is in vogue – and the 80's, now that those are coming back; she can even wear the bellbottoms of the 70's successfully;
2) If she chooses judiciously, she can wear clothes that de-emphasize her bust when 20's styles are in vogue, approximating the Ruler;
3) She can easily balance her narrow lower half to create the illusion of the Hourglass shape.
It is very difficult for the Upside-Down Triangle to achieve a Pear, or A-Line, Shape. No A-Line dresses for you! And you may find that, without a good petticoat, an A-line skirt collapses at your hips. If you wear a good petticoat and an A-line skirt, it is one of the ways you will create an Hourglass shape for yourself – but you are not creating a Pear.

The Pear
1) With some work, depending on how extreme her figure is, the Pear can simulate the Ruler, to the extent that she can wear clothes from the 20’s if she is very, very careful in her choice of 20’s patterns (looking for 20’s patterns that have gores or pleats inserted in the skirt, rather than being straight up-and-down-);
2) She can, of course, dress for her own Pear shape – the A-line dress, anything described as “trapeze”-shaped, the balloon skirt – all these are silhouettes that deliberately create a Pear shape. (All of these ladies, BTW, have other historical periods available to them – this is just an overview of the 20th Century shapes/timelines). Anything that has a very small, fitted top and a full skirt is, by definition, a Pear shape. Many, many 50’s patterns, and a goodly number of early 60’s patterns, are shaped for the pear.
3) She can create the illusion of an Hourglass shape, by putting emphasis on the upper half, creating the illusion of more mass and broader shoulders. Again, 50’s patterns are very good for the Pear.
It is very difficult for the Pear to create an Upside-Down Triangle Shape. This means that if you love the clothes of the 30’s and 40’s, you will need to be very careful in your choice of pattern, because the silhouette is diametrically opposed to yours. The good news is that it’s not entirely impossible; look at the pattern measurements as they are listed on patterns from those periods. The Bust is usually six inches bigger than the Waist; the Hips are usually nine inches bigger than the Waist. And what is that shape? Why, a Pear, of course! It does mean looking for 30’s or 40’s patterns that put the emphasis on the upper body, but that actually have pattern features that leave room for the lower body, with gores, etc. Beware the skirt with pleats all around, if you are trying to de-emphasize the lower half of the body!

The Hourglass
This gets very tough. Anything that obliterates the waist of the Hourglass turns her into a cylinder.
It is very difficult for the Hourglass to create a Ruler Shape. Mostly, you will manage to create an overall look of Largeness without Shapeliness. The New Look of the 1950’s is a godsend to the Hourglass. Some of the clothes of the 80’s are also wearable, because the jackets that flare over the hips give us some place to put those hips. Some of the outfits from the 40’s can be flattering also – the Hourglass needs to look for a shaped waist, and she should look for gored, rather than straight, skirts in 40’s patterns; this is a style feature that will help her keep the look “40’s.” If she tries to wear a straight skirt, her full hips will pop the silhouette over into “1950’s wiggle skirt.” It is very difficult for the Hourglass to create a Pear Shape. The A-Line tent dress is an abomination on the Hourglass; it will not work. The reason it will not work is because the A-Line is supposed to start out narrow, then flare; since the bust of the Hourglass is as wide as her hips, it means that the top of the dress is now at the widest, rather than the narrowest, part of her body (the A-Line tent skims the waist, so the waist measurement doesn’t count here). It will look miserable. Period. The Hourglass, when she wears a jacket, must wear a fitted jacket; she will otherwise look the same width all the way down, and it will be the width of her widest part. There are a lot advice books that tell the hourglass, or the bosomy female, or the wide-hipped female, to avoid double-breasted jackets. I have three, and they look fierce on me. They look good because they are tailored to go in at the waist. The Hourglass looks good in a fitted bolero-length jacket (despite what some “experts” have said about bolero jackets not being appropriate because they “emphasize the bust”). A fitted bolero jacket will show off the trim waist of the Hourglass, and help de-emphasize the hips a bit. Many, many coats will look like hell on the Hourglass, who will stare at her reflection while trying them on and wonder where the Hindenburg came from. All the “steamer” style, all the “reefer” style, all the “man-tailored” overcoats will make her look like a great big block. Any coats that hug the top of the figure and flare out to the hem in an A-line will make her look like a great big block.

The Apple
The Apple is a body shape that is not that easy to categorize, curiously. It is a shape that results from having enough excess padding accumulated around the middle so that the original body shape has been distorted. This is not a value judgment; this is an explanation, assessment, and analysis of the physical build. Part of dressing an Apple is seeing what the optimum shape of the body will be; as I said in an earlier post, seeking out quality maternity wear is a good option for the Apple, because it is the only time that the Apple shape is considered the “norm.” It is possible, depending on the individual Apple, to create an illusion of a Pear shape; it is possible to define a high “waist” below the bosom, and then flare out. It is possible, even, to create a straighter line through judicious cuts and layered garments. Diagonal lines help to break up the mass, and can even create the illusion of a waist (think wrap dress). The worst silhouette for the Apple is the T-Shirt and Leggings – which is, fairly often, the choice that many Apples make. The tight lower garments emphasize the narrowness of the lower body, and the baggy upper garment emphasizes the bulk of upper body. This is why the Apple is better off not trying to create the silhouette of the Upside-Down Triangle – even if it was her original body shape. In point of fact, it is often the Upside-Down Triangle who may become something of an Apple as she gains weight; the Upside-Down Triangle is the body type least likely to accumulate weight on her lower body, which pretty much leaves the upper part of the body and the middle of the body (i.e., the waist) as the area where weight accumulates, and – voila! The Apple is the result. When the Ruler puts weight on, if she puts weight on all over, she remains a Ruler; she’s just a larger version. The Ruler is, in fact, more likely to put weight
on evenly, or to put it on at her waist, than she is likely to accumulate it all in her bust, or all in her hips. If the Ruler puts the weight on at her middle, she dresses “as if” she were a Pear – fitted where she is narrow (upper body), and flaring out. The Apple has more trial-and-error going for her than the others; she needs to experiment with the shapes from the 20’s, and the A-Line shapes that have been suggested for the Pear. The Salwar Kameez, in fact, is a good direction for the Apple to explore, as is the Empire Line suggested to Well-Rounded Dresser in my comment on November 9, 2006. It is very, very important for the Apple to have her clothes fit her well through the shoulders and upper body.

Thanks so much to La BellaDonna for writing this all out! I think I'm an hourglass with Golden Delicious tendencies …

0 thoughts on “Are you a Ruler or an Apple?

  1. Melanie, English is a wonderful language. You say your hips are non-existent, and your waist is tiny, and your shoulders are narrow. It sounds as if you may, in fact, be a small-framed person. I should ask, how wide are your shoulders in relation to your non-existent hips, as you look at yourself in a mirror? Are they narrower than your hips? As wide as your hips? Wider than your hips? It is possible for them to be quite narrow, in and of themselves, and still be wider than your hips – which would still make you an Upside-Down Triangle. What is your bust/waist/hip difference? It’s possible for your waist to be much smaller than your bust – again, an Upside-Down Triangle. If your shoulders are the same width as your hips, and your hips are not much bigger than your waist (6 inches or less), you’re still going to appear as if you’re an Upside-Down Triangle, since your bust is so big. Yes, Townshop is definitely a mecca to long for, and to visit, if possible; not just for the hard-to-fit, but for anyone who wants whatever bra is best for her shape.

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  2. I work for a software company that is developing new sewing software that is really and truly based on your measurements, and it has been very educational to really see the incredible spectrum women’s bodies come in. It’s too bad that such a small range is considered fashionable at any one time, and the rest of us beat ourselves up for not fitting that “norm”. I am a larger ruler with definite apple tendencies, I’ll call myself an Ida Red.

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  3. Wow Le BelleDonna thanks for the information. I know that I am a classic hourglass with a high bust. I also buy my bras from Fredrick’s since I am a 34 F (DDD). I used to be a 36B in High School but fate laughed and made me keep growing till its time for my ten year and I have huge tracks of land according to my hubby. I keep praying they will stop growing. I have not even had kids so it might get really interesting at that point.Your information will also help me make suggestions for my friends who love how stylish I dress but I am clueless about what they would look good in. I do constantly recommend to them to get a style guide from http://www.missussmartypants.com/ for the price of a cheap pair of jeans. She even will help you classify yourself if you are unsure. I like getting the style guide since it lets me know I have been on the right track and sends me places to buy the right stuff.

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  4. if any of you sew savvy ladies/gents have a suggestion for a good look for an hourglass figure (classic: shoulders equal to hips, 11-12 inch difference between bust and waist, etc)with a long torso — i’d love to hear ’em. my crotch to shoulder measurement is 71″. a fitted waist does not work for me because the waist is always 3-4 inches above where my waist actually is, which is just above my hips. you can even email me directly, rather than clogging up erin’s comments column. blynchblack_at_yahoo.com. thanks.

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  5. I have an hourglass figure. It’s a pain when shopping because more high-street stores (in the UK at any rate) assume all women have no bust, no hips or no waist-hip ratio – just because their models do .It’s been a while since I’ve bought off-the-peg that didn’t need altering and I’ve given up trying to find a winter coat that doesn’t make my look like I can walk through walls!I can pull off 1950 or 1890s styles well tho ;o)

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  6. Le Belladonna,Please, please, please start your own blog, I loved reading your comments in this one. I have never known what my body type is, but thanks to your comments I think I’m close. My hips are big, waist 9 inches less, small busted (34B) and big shoulders (as in wider than my hips). I decided from you comments that I would be an upside down triangle crossed with an hourglass, and should dress accordingly. This kind of makes sense, my favourite clothes are fitted waists and flared skirts.I really thought I was either ruler or pear, to I guess that’s why I never liked dressing according to my ‘supposed’ bodytype.thanks,mbeeza

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  7. If you start your own blog, I would absolutely read it. I always thought I was an hourglass. (at 36C, 30, 41)But reading your post, I took a second , harder look and really, I have wider shoulders than I thought. Which explains why I never like myself in high cut tops since they just make the line of my shoulders even wider. I hourglass it up with tank tops and low-rise jeans, usually. Hmmm…now I know why I’ve been so frustrated with every cute 50’s pattern that has a collar. Cool. Now if I could only figure a better way to compensate for my obscenely long torso…

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  8. Can you tell me what shape I am. I have 40″ shoulders, 37″ bust, 30″ waist and 40″ hips. I have a bit of a tummy due to excess weight and I have a behind. I would like to know what shape I am so I can buy clothes that fit and suit me. Thank you and I have enjoyed reading all the comments. They have really helped.

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  9. OMYGOSH. this was an incredible post…however, i’m still confused as to how i should be dressing for my body type – i’m doing alright (i wear stylish clothes and all) but i have a hunch i could still be doing better.i would consider myself a very skinny pear with a relatively big bust. i am actually a 30DDD(F)similar to a 34D (i work at victoria’s secret and wear their bras), i have a very defined waist, and i wear about a 4 or a 6 in pants (gap, express, etc). my butt is about average. my shoulders are very bony and small. also throw in the fact that 5’4″ and short-waisted. if i’m not careful, i run the risk of looking two ways: 1) pear-shaped, or 2) blocky.i follow very closely to fashion – but it’s hard to know whether or not to follow a pear’s advice, or if i can get away wearing “hourglassy” clothes. i know it depends on the seams and material, but i haven’t figured out EXACTLY what works so i spend forever in dressing rooms playing around with different things. it’s extremely difficult.is there anyone here who is built similarly to me and can offer advice?

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  10. I realize that this post is pretty dang old, but i am still going to ask in the hopes that this’ll be answered. I have equal measurements in my shoulders and hips which are 36, but then I have a 32 bust and a 26 waist. Am I a pear or a strange ruler-pear hybrid? thanks

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  11. I am waiting also, lol. Accorind to http://www.myshape.com I am an M shape, and yes I have a flat tush -glad to know my body type exists on others. My measurements also are 32 26 36 , my shoulders measures 38 around.Underbust measurement is 26,over bust 32, I have 4 boobs in size 32 A bra, or spllis on the sides and 32 b’s fit perfectly in the store, when I go home and the fabric stretches, there is some room up at the top, In skirts I wear size 2, In blue jeans size 3 or 26, and dresses I have to try them on, a lot of times a size 2/4 fits in the rear and the top is so baggy without a gel/padded bra. A regular small is always too big, I have to find something in xs or 0/2 to look nice, and not like I’m wearing my mothers top/dress. I want to start buying higher quality tops/blouses in size 2 or xs, that don’t look cheap, or too trendy, but tailored and classy. *I always find pants and skirts on clearance, but never tops in XS/2.

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  12. Good things come to those who wait.All you ladies who “know” what your shoulder measurements are, what are you doing?? Are you measuring “around” your shoulders for the measurement in inches? That’s NOT what you need to do, and I do believe I specifically mentioned it in a response to another poster! It’s also why I suggested that you have a photograph taken from behind so that you could see how wide your shoulders are from side to side compared to how wide your hips are from side to side without being distracted by your busts! It is a linear measurement, from side to side, not around! Another way to find out is to tape a piece of wide paper running from your head to your knees; have someone else mark, on the paper, where your shoulders are (one dot, each side) and where the widest part of your hips are, regardless of how high or low those hips are, one dot on each side. Connect the right shoulder dot to the right hip dot by drawing a straight line. Connect the left shoulder dot to the left hip dot by drawing a straight line. You should then either see: parallel lines: || – shoulders and hips the same distance apart; /-shaped lines – shoulders farther apart than hips; or / shaped lines – hips wider apart than shoulders.Anonymous at April 1, 2007 1:59:00 AM (ladies, a name helps!): You have a 32″ bust, a 26″ waist, and 36″ hips. Your hips are 4″ smaller than your bust; unless you have truly broad shoulders (and no, whatever measurement you took for your shoulders isn’t helping), you are, in fact, a classic pear.Anonymous at Apr 22, 2007 4:33:00 PM: Buy your bras in a 32B. Everything should fit properly to start, at least! Stop buying knit cups/stretchy fabric cups, and look for non-stretch cups. If you have absolutely no choice, then either buy new bras, because the old ones no longer are doing their jobs, or make a dart in the cup to take up the slack fabric, so they fit again and support you. I also suggest you try on some bras in a size 30, not a 32; you may find you need a 30C. Your measurements are 32 26 36; your bust is 4″ smaller than your hips. You are a classic pear according to those measurements. No, the measurements “around your shoulders” do not help. If you are truly very broad-shouldered, you may be an hourglass with a little more sand in the bottom than the top. You would still dress as a pear would. I suspect, though, that you are actually a slightly full-busted pear, even though “32” doesn’t sound big – you have quite a small ribcage, and because bras with a 30 band are hard to find, you’ve been wearing 32s. Do at least try a 30. WITHOUT stretch cups!Anonymous at Feb 11, 2007 11:40:00 PM: Give me some more actual numbers, and I’ll do what I can to help; bust, waist, and hip. Also, if possible, have someone photograph you from behind, to see how broad your shoulders are FROM SIDE TO SIDE in relation to your hips (unless you already know you are very narrow-shouldered). “Small waist” and “size 6 in pants” are both emotional and relative sizes; numbers let me help you. If you “run the risk of looking pear-shaped”, you may very well be a very bosomy pear. A 34D suggests a bust measurement of approximately 38″, and size 6 pants suggest smallish hips, but it’s all just “suggestions”. And yes, being short-waisted CAN easily make you look blocky, if you’re not careful.Precyse, you know by now your “shoulder measurements” didn’t help much. By measurement alone, your 37 bust, 30 waist and 40 hips would indicate you are a pear; however, it sounds as if you may have more of you behind than from side to side, so you have slightly more/different flexibility than a standard pear. You need to double-check the hems on the skirts and dresses you buy off the rack, if you have a substantial rear end, because they will be shorter in the back than in the front and side. Just shorten the front and side hems to match! If you choose to wear a straight skirt – and unlike classic pears, if the weight is in the butt, it’s possible to look just fine in a straight skirt – make sure it’s big enough to fit that rear comfortably, and take in the waist. Don’t jam a big backside into a skirt that “fits at the waist”! It will look horrible, and wreck the skirt.Christina, I would say you sound like an hourglass with a little more sand in the bottom. 36C is usually a 39″ bust, which is smaller than 41″ hips; this would normally say “pear” to us, but you say you have broad shoulders. If they are as broad as your hips, that moves you into the “hourglass with a little more sand in the bottom” category. It’s possible, too, that you may have very square shoulders – which is DIFFERENT from having “very broad” shoulders! It is possible to have broad, but sloping shoulders; it is possible to have narrow, but very square, shoulders.More answers will follow!*Ladies, I do beg of you; if at all possible, have someone take your photographs from the back, in clothes that fit you snugly, so you can really see where your shoulders and hips are! Sleeveless would be great, but anything, really, would help – except measuring around your shoulders. That doesn’t help.

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  13. La Bella Donna, please type my body (if it’s not too late)!I am under the impression that I am a skinny flat-chested hourglass. I have curvy, but fairly narrow, hips and thighs; my shoulders are broad and square, and my waist is tiny. Unless I wear form-fitting clothes that emphasize my waist and butt, I look rather masculine.Shoulders are 15″ across the front. Hips are 12″ across the front. From the front, my shoulders are noticably wider than my hips. From behind though, I look quite balenced as I have full round hips and a generous butt. I have very slim arms and legs, and no fat at all in the saddlebag area. My legs are thnner than average compared to my hips (it’s hard to find pants that fit my hips without gaping in the waist and bagging in the thigh).My bust is 31.5″, underbust just barely 27″ (I am an AA/nearly A cup), waist is 23″, hips almost 35″ at the widest.

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  14. Oh, and I have a flat stomach. When I gain weight I gain it fairly evenly (I recently gained 12 lbs – went from 29-23-32.5 to current measurements) and gained 1″ in upper arms and 2″ in thighs. But I always have the most muscle and fat in my hips and legs.

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  15. AS A MATTER OF FACT YOU NEED TO GET YOUR INFO RIGHT. AN HOURGLASS HAS BROAD SHOULDERS BUT IT IS THE BUST AND HIPS THAT ARE EQUAL, NOT SHOULDERS. HENCE 36, 26, 36.

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  16. Well, I always knew I was an hourglass, but that certainly explains why I look so awful in coats! (I was never quite dumb enough to try anything A-line.) I loved the princess dresses of the 80s, those were great…I only just found this, but thanks for the great explanations.

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  17. I have been confused for a long time about what type of body I have. Here are my measurements, hopefully someone can shed some light on my confusion:Shoulder: 39Bust: 36Waist: 28Hips:36PS. I am slightly over the ideal weight.I guess I could argue for a hourglass with broad shoulders? Or a inverted triangle with larger hips? Or just a plain apple?

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