Morning flower! Over the coming weeks, my friend and colleague Zoe Lem, who also happens to be a super talented Stylist, will be sharing her wisdom on all matters concerning body shape.   The aim of this new series of posts is to help you, darling reader, to understand what shape you are, what shapes suit you and to help you develop a clear understanding of what make great shapes for brides, bridesmaids, mother of the bride and maybe even for the boys.  I really want for this series to be helpful and encourage your self confidence, so without further ado, I'll hand over to Zoe…

When it comes to getting dressed, shape matters. A lot.  It is so important to get the right shape to suit you.  My mission is to impart he wisdom I have gathered from many years as a fashion and celebrity stylist and designer.

its about shape, not size!

Image taken from the 'Why Size Doesn't Matter' feature on Love My Dress

It’s a shape, not a science

So, how do we get to finding out what shape you are?   There have been many  theories, ideas and  programmes about what the different body shapes and types are over the years and they seem to be getting more and more complicated as time goes by.  It’s not a science it is about understanding your body and identifying what works and what doesn’t, so that you can ensure that what you put on looks amazing and doesn’t end up wearing you.  The goal is to learn how to dress in a way that will enhance your personal confidence and give you the skill to identify what shaped clothes will best work, so that you don’t have to scale a whole department store trying to search for the right thing.

I have worked with so many bodies over the 15+years as a stylist and really still never see the same shape twice.  We are all such amazing unique individuals!   Though I make a career out of dressing people (which in its self seems crazy), it can sometimes be tough getting your wardrobe together, whereas I really feel it should be as enjoyable as possible!  Getting your wardrobe choices right based on shape is something that can actually change you life by boosting confidence, self esteem and self image, and of course this is such an important issue for so many brides.


Body Shape Categories and what they mean

As someone who worked with Trinny and Susannah for many years (I was their style advisor for their TV series and books) even I became confused by some of the terms they were using by the end to describe body shapes (skittle or brick, anyone?) so today I hope to demystify body shape categories and make it all a much simpler to identify which one you best fit.

After seeing and working with every body shape you can image over the years I have realised that all women fit, to a lesser or greater degree, in to just three categories: straight up and down, pear shape and hour glass.   These shapes have nothing to do with bust, bum or tummy – these are
body parts that you just take in to consideration when choosing what you
wear.  Bust, bums and tums do not dictate what shape you are!

are you a 'straight up and down'?
are you a 'pear' shape?

are you an 'hour glass' shape?
Working out which shape you are

OK, here’s the tough part.  If you’re  are unsure what shape you might be, you really need to be honest with yourself. And I mean really honest. Like, standing naked in front of a full length mirror kind of honest.  It’s a scary thought, I know, but it’s necessary in order to determine your shape.  From then on, it will all fall in to place.
And please note – it doesn’t matter a jot what shape you actually are – the great thing is that we can create illusions and tricks with the use of clothing, colour and choosing the right shapes to create balance and the perfect silhouette.  Whether it is through adding width to the shoulders or an a line skirt to cover hips there are always ways to make sure that you make the most of what you have and look amazing.

All Imagery of models on this page copyright Paul White Weddings



It is all about balance and the points that we need to balance are the shoulders and hips.  It is all about creating the perfect proportions and balancing shoulders and hips. 

Take a tape measure, belt or anything with a straight line and and line it up with your shoulders and hips, if the line is at 180 you are either straight up and down or hour glass.  If the line is at an angle, shoulders smaller than hips then you are pear shape.

Finding a shape that feels right

Finding the right dress is purely about understanding what you want to look like, more importantly feel like on the day. Though you may suit and look amazing in a slim fit corseted dress, strapless dress  – think about how you want that dress to feel – afterall, a dress like that will make you stand and breathe a certain way. If you actually want to be dancing the night away with a big knees up you need to consider this when choosing you perfect dress.



Shape, not Size!

We all spend so much time feeling down about our shape and not looking the way that we want to look especially at wedding time and the pressure to look/feel slim or to be a certain way but actually if you know how to choose the right shape , shape not size! Then the pressure is really not there.
It is so important to remember that it is about shape not size.  There are so many occasions where a bride will come to see me about a wedding dress, and immediately start talking about loosing weight and wanting to cover this bit, that bit, etc etc.  Talking of which, this bride
featured on Love My Dress yesterday
has a refreshingly healthy attitude
towards body image and weight matters.
  You see,  no matter how many times someone tells you that you look amazing on your wedding day- you do actually need to feel as well as look amazing, so I would never encourage someone into a shape that I didn’t feel that they would be able to totally relax in.

Balancing shape and colour

When dressing yourself, be it for your wedding day or any other day you need to think about the balance of both shape and colour.
Instead of thinking ‘I must fit in to that size 10 dress’, you need to shift your way of thinking to ‘I need to find the right shape to balance my look, from head to toe’.  Let me explain.  Imagine yourself as a painting – you never look at a painting and just focus on one detail, you see that whole picture.  And that ‘whole picture’ is precisely what everyone else sees when they look at you.  They don’t just see the small imperfection that you are conscious of (the tummy, bum, arms or whichever bit you whole heartedly spend your time focusing on every time you dress).  They see the whole picture of you, from head to toe.



Your Homework! 

This week I want you to really try to determine which shape you are based on the information I have provided today.  If you are totally unsure, then please feel free to submit a full length photo to and I can advise you confidentially.

Unfortunately, whilst many bridal boutiques do a fantastic job, not all of them have the staff skilled to advise on shape – but if you are pre-armed with your key shape information, then this will vastly improve your chances of purchasing a wedding dress that will completely flatter your figure, whatever size and shape you are.  Every woman can dress to look and feel amazing – its just knowing how!

be your beautiful self
Image Via


Next up; how to find the perfect dress for your shap, and using accessories to balance your shape/look.

Please fee free to drop any questions regarding shape and size in the comments box below, I'd love to hear from you and will be as helpful as I can.




You can hear more advice and tips from Zoe at the 'Zoe Lem’s Vintage Wedding Fair', where Zoe will have a full vintage body shape fashion show with models from sizes 8-16. Each catwalk show is followed by a talk focussing on what vintage shapes suit which body shapes and why.  All the best suppliers will be exhibiting at Zoe's wedding fair – have you got your tickets?   Zoe  also has a vintage style collection of dresses that are designed to suit your shape

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8 thoughts on Your Perfect Shape Part 1 ~ How To Determine Your Body Shape

  1. This is a great post!I am a petite pear(!) and used to struggle with everyday fashion but I simply follow the dressing for your shape rules and Im a happy bunny!I would love to have worn a slinky 1930′s dress for my wedding but realised an A line nipped in waist was perfect for my shape!I balance my shape with detail on the shoulders and I avoid skinny jeans. Straight leg jeans I love and A line skirts are my friends!I hope readers will learn to appreciate their shape and dress and love themselves!

  2. It’s great idea to point out some beautiful celebs with a range of figures . . . my problem is . . .the names of each figure. Of course, the desirable would be hourglass. Sadly I’m not – I’m somewhere between pear and straight.
    Some of the names are just so insulting – ‘Brick’!!? That’s crazy!
    I want to make it my mission in life to make nice comparisons for body shapes . . . what about ‘stream-lined’, or ‘rain-drop’?

  3. I know very disheartening to be labelled a Skittle or a vase! The longer I worked with Trinny & Susannah the more titles they had and I have to say it totally confused me. All you need to use are the three above. It is fine to be pear shape or straight up and down as long as you balance your shape through clothing you can create an hour glass figure. zx

  4. Thank you. It really can make a huge diference to how you feel about yourself as much as how you look. Spreading the word would be fabulous thank you. zx

  5. That’s great news Poppy proof that it does work! As long as you understand what shape you are you can dress for it and thought there may be styles that we all like there is really no point unless they suit us.

  6. I am always confused on what to wear and what will fit on my body shape. And i think, as long as you understand what shape you are you can dress for it . Thanks

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