Body types and fashion sense

Everyone has their own body type and apparently geneticists once arrowed us down to 3 body types: endomorph (soft, rounded), mesomorph (athletic), ectomorph (slim with curves).

different-body-types11-300x204Then there’s the fashion magazine view: apple, pear, and banana (what?). Apple is round in the middle, pears hold it in the hips and butt, and bananas are the lucky buggers who are pretty even all over. There was another shape that was omitted; it was a combination of all those types.

Then there’s the anatomist’s view of the four body types referring to metabolism:

Android Type – no this isn’t anything to do with technology brands. The android has broad SkirtsAppleShapeStyleHighSt.jpgshoulders and muscular limbs, without a waist. You have a anabolic metabolism, meaning body-building and weight gain happens fairly easily in the upper body. Your style should emphasize great gams (if you have them) so rocking  a skirt or flattering dress or capris is a good move. Separates are the most flattering on you but avoid dresses that cling to your middle.

Gynaeoid – think hour glass. You have a curvy shape with a small waist and the rest of us TopsBlousesCurvyHourglassWomen.jpgwant to hang you. You only gain weight on the thighs and lower butt which just adds to your curvy shape. Hour glasses do well in most styles and especially separates – .a loose, but form-fitting sweater or blouse and a skirt or pants are especially flattering. They emphasize the curves and de-emphasize the tummy. A look that would be flattering is an empire style (high-waisted) or the type A-line skirt with a fitted halter like Marilyn Monroe’s famous white sundress (except that’s not something you would wear in a formal business environment).

SkirtsPearShapeWomen.jpgThyroid Type –  overlaps with the internist perspective. Your physique resembles that of a model – you have a petite build and long, narrow limbs. You have a high metabolic rate. You can wear pretty much any style you want – body shape isn’t an issue.

Lymphatic Type – it’s all about the lymph nodes with this one. You have a cuddly baby doll appearance and gain weight all over your body. Your metabolic rate is low. This type should avoid one-piece dresses as possible unless you have a relatively narrow waist and flat tummy. Separates and blouses with an empire waistline are flattering on you.

TrousersBananaShapeWomenThen there’s the hormonal perspective:

The there’s the internist’s way of looking at your body that refers to internal organs to explain yourtype, and even helping you to understand why you eat what you eat. These include:

The Thyroid Type – obviously the thyroid gland plays a starring role in this one. It makes hormones that control your metabolism.

The Ovary Type – over productive ovaries dictate this body type. You end up with saddlebags, and an oversized gut.

The Adrenal Type – adrenal glands sit on the kidneys, triggering the hormone cortisol. Trying to lose weight leads to weight gain when you make a drastic cut in calories. Fat is found around your vital internal organs.

shapeThe Liver Type – the 3-pound organ underneath your right ribcage tends to exhibit heartburn morning moodiness, and gas. Your body tend to have a lower belly pooch.

There’s the mathematician’s view of geometric shapes, which naturally have the most categories: triangle, inverted triangle (I guess you stand on your head a lot) rectangle, hour glass, diamond and rounded.

There’s no such thing as a perfect body especially in a woman’s eyes. The woman with the hour glass figures envies the tall woman with the long legs. The leggy lady wants to be more petite and the petite woman wants to be more toned and muscular. It never ends. Cultural influence dictates our ideal body type to us (the video above nails it). That has an interesting history.

  1. The Renaissance woman was Rubenesque (named for Sir Peter Paul Rubens and his paintings of obese women).
  2. The Victorian Era saw the tiny waist with voluptuous breasts – a 12 inch waist to be precise.
  3. The roaring 20’s was a time to look as boyish as possible. It was the early feminist movement and feminine curves were out.
  4. The 1940s – 1950s were the bombshell era. Women wanted to emulate movie stars a la Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren.
  5. The 1960s were ushered in by fashion model Twiggy (who was later channeled in Kate Moss).
  6. The 1970s gave way to a healthier, yet svelte look when women’s bodies  weighed only 8% more than models and celebrities.
  7. The 1980s was all about skinny and proportioned. Spandex body suits and ballerina leggings were the rage in gyms and on television. Oh….and  shaggy hair.
  8. The 1990s was a new era of regular exercise – women were using weights more than ever.
  9. The 21st Century has returned the emphasis to super skinny however there’s room there for other body types, so long as they’re healthy and fit.

Diversity is making its mark as people immigrate around the world to get educated, find jobs and marry. Hopefully this will help women to be more accepting of their body types and not so determined to be perfect.

What has this got to do with business? Know your shape and dress for it. That will help you with determining your dress code and purchasing pieces for your wardrobe. One truism I find with women as they age is they often overlook the changes in their bodies and faces and somehow still see the teenaged or 20-something figure in the mirror and they dress for that long-gone decade. That type of approach to apparel just ages people and it makes you look like you don’t care about yourself.

At the other extreme are women who acknowledge that their bodies have aged and for those who have made a significant weight gain often wear baggy, shapeless clothes in an effort to hide their bodies. It doesn’t work. Shapeless clothes often make a person look worse. Outdated hair and makeup are also a no-no. People remember this stuff and unless you’re opening a construction business it’s probably wise to dress for a businesswoman’s success. Watch my Powerpoint slideshow on Dress Code and the Work place.





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