Looking good in your clothes includes understanding that you have two body shapes – a vertical one and a  horizontal one.

Most people are familiar with the horizontal one, you know…the “X”/Hourglass, the Oval/Apple, the Triangle/Pear, the Inverted Triangle/Strawberry and of course, the Rectangle/Banana. Obviously, there are variations within each of these shapes – smaller versions and larger versions. Labels aside, your horizontal body type is simply about where your body is narrower and wider.

The less understood body shape is the vertical one.
Vertical means your overall height and how you are proportioned from head to toe. Some women are shorter (under 5’4″), some are average (5’5″ – 5’7″) and some are tall (5’8″ and above). Some women are high waisted while others have a short mid-body (bust to knees). Some have long legs with a shorter torso while others have shorter legs with a long torso. Some women can have slightly different lengths on one side vs. the other.

When choosing clothes, you need to dress with both shapes in mind.

For example, let’s say your horizontal shape is a Pear (your hips are wider than your bust and you have a defined waist with thicker thighs). Now, let’ say you’re vertical shape is shorter with a short mid-body and you’re slightly overweight for your size. Your goal with your clothes would be to create the illusion of narrower hips/thighs and a wider bust along with a longer mid-section so you have a more slender, balanced look. This would be achieved by:

  • Wearing colorful tops with horizontal lines (boat neck, off-the-shoulder styles or wide V-necks or U-shapes)
  • Wearing your tops outside of your pants, landing near your hip bones
  • Wearing straight-leg, solid, darker pants that button at your natural waist (vs. low rise or high-rise)
  • You would also want to wear shoes that matched your pant color so your legs appeared longer

By contrast, let’s say you were a Pear shape of average height, say 5’7″, and had a long torso. In this case, you would still create those horizontal lines in your tops and wear pants that were straight, but you would have the following changes:

  • The pants would be high-waisted styles, and could include an accent belt
  • Tops would be tucked inside pants or worn above your natural waistline.
  • You could wear lighter colored pants because of your slimmer weight
  • Shoes could be a pop of color vs. matching the pants because height is not a concern
    (though matching your shoes to your pants is always a good look).

Take a look at the three women below.

In each case, the style of the clothes and jewelry were selected because it works for their face and horizontal body shapes as well as their skin, hair and eye coloring (another topic!).

However, as you can see, clothing color and style alone are not enough. When the outfits and jewelry lengths are altered to fit their vertical body shape, they achieve that proportional, more attractive appearance. The neckline shape and length (including necklaces), the top style and length and your pants/skirt shape and length all make a difference in how you look in your clothes.

Simply changing the length of a garment and neckline can make a massive difference – an outfit can go from frumpy to fabulous!

Learning to Dress for Your Vertical Body Shape

Most of us were never taught how to dress for our unique shape, especially our vertical one. I see women all the time in beautiful clothes that just look “blah” on them because the garment’s length or accessories are off for their bodies, just as the “before” women do above.

Determining your best lengths for your clothing involves getting a professional measurement. If you are unable to be to do this, or just want to know your general shape, you can check out our step-by-step measuring guide.


Want More Specifics on Dressing for Your Body?

Our Perfect Clothing Fit service includes measuring your vertical body from 12 different points as well as doing seven horizontal body measurements, resulting in a customized style portfolio that gives you clothing styles and lengths for your specific proportions, including accessories. Contact us today to learn more!