[Module 2] Capsule Design | 7. Defining Body Shapes

Updated: Jul 13, 2018

Now can I just say that I have agonised over this module (infact the whole website) to try to not make it gender specific. The garments I am making are for the female body, as this is my experience. The patterns to draft are done so with the view that there will be mounds to plan around like breasts, hips, bottoms and generally females do have more curves than men. I know that breasts come in various sizes and some women do not have breasts at all for whatever reason, and lots of men have breasts and some people prefer to not be situated in any gender type with or without breasts. So I will try my best to make everyone comfortable but I apologise in advance if I have not worked hard enough on this.


I also want the process to work on a body regardless of size so regardless of if you have a very skinny body or a very large body with big breasts then you will be able to continue and get great results - unlike working with manufactured patterns that tend to come in 'average' shapes and sizes.

Throughout the years in fashion there has been a view that creating an hour glass shape or giving the illusion of one will give the best and most attractive shape to assist with a better overall silhouette and there is something to be said in this. However there have also been opposing views to this and it is really down to personal preference. So I suppose you can take what you need out of this idea and define how you want to do it.

The British readers may know about Trinny and Suzanna who have a good basic book about ‘What not to wear’ for your body shape. Also the high-street guru Gok points out you need to be making an hourglass shape no matter what your body shape is. All of the style gurus have something interesting to say, but some of them contradict each other so it’s a good idea I think to understand the theme of what they are selling but don’t forget to think for yourself.

At the end of the day lots of people are aiming for an hourglass figure and to enhance where they are lacking and try to optically trick the eye into looking away from problem area that detract from the hourglass vision. If you are not wanting to portray an hour glass figure then you may prefer to skip through this section.

There are 5 basic body shapes;

  • The Hourglass where the body naturally goes in at the waist by 25% from the size at the bust and the hips so fitted clothes, shirts tucked in, belts etc. will enhance this shape.

  • The Rectangle shape is where the measurement at the bust, waist and the hips are similar with less than 5% difference, filling out the shoulders and hips will take this closer to the hourglass shape but also breaking up the shape with some asymmetrical cuts, curved lines, flaps, cap sleeves and flairs will give some more visual interest.

  • The Triangle is where the hips are more than 5% bigger than the shoulders, to get an hourglass shape the upper body will need to be increased and optically reduce the lower part of the body, e.g. wide collar, bows at the neck, irregular hem, curved hem.

  • The Inverted Triangle is where the shoulders or bust are more that 5% larger than the hips, so optically minimising the upper body by using clothes that that skim over this area and draw attention to the lower body maybe with a print.

  • The Oval shape is where the waist is not naturally defined, this shape could be styled up by enhancing the shoulders skimming the centre of the body, perhaps using layers and having a focus at the upper area to lift the eye up.

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