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This week, we discuss some of the lesser known body shapes, like the Banana and the Carrot, and some that are simply NOT body shapes…I’m looking at you, potato!
Also, Lessons from Linda shares the story of a Linda who loved getting things right, and how it sucked all the joy out of style!
Links & Resources From the Show
Today’s show is sponsored by Shape & Foster. Visit their site for your free 2 week trial.
Today’s show is also sponsored by EBY. Visit joineby.com and use code style20 for 20% off of your first purchase.
Not sure what your body shape is? Take our Quiz!
Make style easy once and for all by taking the Dress Your Body Shape (Like a Pro!) Masterclass.
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Read the full transcript below:
Hey friends! Today we are heading back to my roots and talking a little more about body shapes. Most of you know, but some of you may not, that when I started my styling business, It was Called Apple & Pear Wardrobe, yep, based on the body types. My mission was to work one on one with women, helping them understand how to dress their unique bodies best. It was a great business, and I loved working so closely with women, but in 2018 when we moved, and my business went completely online, I decided I wanted to talk about more than just body types and help women take a holistic view of style. The name Apple & Pear kind of implied all we talked about was body shapes. So, everyday style was born, and I took a break from body shapes for a bit, but it is still the challenge women share with me most often, so it’s time to get back into the body shape waters. If this is what you’re struggling with, it’s time for me to help you fix it once and for all. We’ve got our brand new class, Dressing Your Body Shape like a pro, which I’ll tell you more about later, we’ve got articles up on the blog, we’ve even got a quiz on our website to help you figure out what your shape is. Seriously, make this the year you stop struggling with something that honestly, isn’t all that difficult, but makes style so much easier.
We’ve done a whole series on body shapes, which I will link to in the show notes, but today, I’m going to be talking about some of the lesser-known body shapes. There are some crazy names out there, and I can’t wait to share them with you–they’re a trip, but first, today, I’ve got a lesson from Linda.
This Linda reached out to me, as lots of Lindas do because she was just overwhelmed and confused by style. She bought clothes she didn’t know what to do with, so they just hung in her closet. She never felt like her outfits came together to look finished, she was afraid to buy things she really loved because she was afraid she was going to look silly, but then she felt she looked boring all the time. Really, nothing noteworthy in her story. She just wanted the style to feel easier, which I think is a great goal.
She didn’t want to do the closet edit together, so our first experience was in stores. And as we shopped, and chatted, and especially spent time in the fitting room, I began to see why style was so darn difficult for Linda. Her coloring was super easy to figure out, so we did a quick color analysis, and figured out that softer, cooler colors were best for her. Every item she put on, she’d ask, is this the right shade of blue or is this gray too dark? Fair enough, colors can be a little tricky. She looked best open-necked tops, and every top she’d ask–is this open enough? Is this v deep enough? She looked great in longer tops and cardigans, and every stop, she’d ask, is this long enough, is this the right length? Every single time, every single garment came with multiple questions of whether or not she was getting it right. It came to a head when she asked me the right way to put on pants. Yep, you heard that right. Her question was, are you supposed to button, and then zip, or zip, and then button. I looked at her and said “Linda, how old are you?” She was in her mid-40’s. I said, “Linda, have your pants been successfully closed most days of your life?” and she admitted they had. I said, in that case, you’re doing it right. As we shopped, I asked her to focus more on how she felt in the clothes, and what she thought when she looked at herself in the mirror, rather than if she was getting it “perfectly right”. She tried, but this Linda loved a hard and fast rule. She left our session with a wardrobe that was perfect for her, but sadly, without understanding the principles of how we got there.
After I work with clients, they’ve got me for 2 weeks for follow-up. That way, if they had to order an item, or they wanted to see how what they bought worked in their wardrobes, they could reach out via email and get my feedback
Linda’s follow-up questions were, unsurprisingly, about getting things right. I had shared with her my favorite styling tip–that wearing ¾ length sleeves takes 3-6 inches of visual bulk out of your midsection. Seriously, try it. It is amazing. She sent me 3 pictures of her sleeves rolled up to different points and asked which one was right. They were all within 2-3 inches of each other. I could barely tell a difference. She emailed me to ask the exact length of tops that were right for her, so she could shop based on the measurements, and what to do if the length wasn’t listed in the clothing description. Honestly, by the end of our time together, I was exhausted and overwhelmed by style. This stuff is hard when you look at it through that lens.
There are actually 3 things I’d like you to take away from my time with this Linda,
- First, and most glaringly, don’t overcomplicate things. Longer tops can just mean longer tops. The difference between a 26” top and a 27” top is not the difference between looking hideous and looking like a supermodel. You can just know that tops that end at, or below, your hips are best, and start there. The difference between a ¾ length sleeve that is one inch closer to your elbow than it is to your wrist, doesn’t negate the effects of a shorter sleeve. Linda’s approach to her wardrobe sucked ALL the joy out of style because it was so complicated. If I could have given her a mathematical formula for style, she would have given me her firstborn, I am convinced of it. When you’re so focused on getting it right, there’s no room for trial and error, or having fun. Style becomes a thing you can get wrong, and who wants to be wrong? It’s better just not to try, which is where Linda was when she reached out to me.
- Second, how you feel in your clothes is a much better judge of if they’re right for you than a checklist of rules. Trust your intuition, that if you like what you see in the mirror, it looks good on you. And when you’re in that fitting room, or trying things on at home, if it isn’t an IMMEDIATE heck yes, it is an absolute heck no. Women do this thing where they say, well, if it were a little shorter, or if I wore a belt, or if the neckline was different…all the while, contemplating buying, or keeping that thing. Here’s the deal, It’s no different. It’s exactly how it is, and you don’t like it on you, so why are we having this conversation? Keep looking for the clothes that make you smile when you look in the mirror. Over the years, what I’ve found is that women know what looks good on them, they just don’t know why, or what to look for to find those things more easily. I’ve always thought my role was simply to teach women what to look for to make it easier. To help you take 10 things into the fitting room, instead of 50, to find 5 that are fabulous. That’s what style rules, and I use that term reluctantly, are for. In the end, you should look in the mirror and like what you see. Effortless style is about getting to that point easier.
- Finally, and I’ve actually found myself saying this more often lately, but if you don’t have a problem, you don’t have a problem. Linda’s pants were consistently buttoned and zipped. She did not have a problem. I’ve had people ask things like ‘should I dress up more” and I’ll ask, why and they’ll say, I don’t know, I just feel like I should. If you don’t have a problem with being super casual, you don’t have a problem. Now, If you’re walking around with your pants unzipped on the regular, or you’ve been written up at work for wearing jammies to the office, you have a problem that needs to be solved. But life has enough challenges on its own, without inventing some. If there are things that aren’t bothering you, leave them be, and focus on solving the things that actually are.
When we come back, we’re going to get into a discussion of some of the lesser-known body shapes.
I love when you send in your questions to be answered on the show, and I use as many of them as I can. Sometimes though, the question isn’t meaty enough to do a whole show on. It’s more of a one-sentence answer, which even those who love short podcasts might agree is too short.
Last year, I got an email from Karen, who asked “I’ve been told I have a banana body shape, how is that different from a rectangle? That’s what I always thought I was”. This is really a one paragraph answer at best, so it didn’t become a show.
A few months ago, someone wrote to see if I had any advice for dressing the carrot body shape, and frankly, I’d never heard that one, so it didn’t become a show.
Then a few weeks ago, I was doing some research for our newest Masterclass, Dress Your Body Shape, and came across one of those pictures of the 4 body shapes. Not like the outline one, like I have on my site for the Body Shape Quiz, but the kind that has drawings of women, with an actual image of an object superimposed over her body. I know you’ve seen these–if not, go to my Facebook page, and you can see the exact one I’m going to describe to you. I’ll link to the post in the show notes. It featured an apple, a pear, a banana, and a potato. For real, a potato. One of our Style Circle members pointed out that it was actually a sweet potato, which accurately described the vegetable, but not the body shape. You see, this sweet potato was bigger on the bottom, while the drawing featured a body that was bigger on the top. How is this helpful? Also, yams are really shaped inconsistent, which we’re going to talk about in a minute.
But first I want to answer Karen’s question about the banana shape since this graphic featured that as well. A banana body shape is the exact same as a rectangle body shape. Sometimes, people like to be clever with names, but in my opinion, that leads to confusion. The very first angry message I ever got after starting my business was from a woman who was mad that I was using the term rectangle. She said women weren’t shapes, and putting labels on women is wrong, and couldn’t I call them contoured columns instead. I didn’t point out in my response that Contoured column is both shapes, and a label, I merely said that I use common words that have established meanings so that women are less confused. Little sidebar, that was the moment like I felt I was really getting somewhere in the business. If everyone likes you, don’t know enough people–you know what I mean?
Anyway, A lot of body shape experts feel like we need to invent cuter names, and more shapes, but all it’s doing is confusing women. Take the carrot, for example. That’s an inverted triangle. While I stick to the basic 4 body types for a reason, I consider the inverted triangle as a valid shape, but a carrot? Nah.
I have a bunch of books on body shape, and one of them refers to the perfume bottle shape and the sunglasses shape. I can guarantee you right now, that you will not find a plethora of information on the internet about either one. If you walk into a store and say, I’m a perfume bottle, can you help me find clothes, they’re not going to know what you mean. Also, I have a few bottles of perfume and they look nothing alike. One is a rectangle, one is a tall cylinder, and one looks like a woman’s body. This is not helpful.
Then I have another book that has A LOT of body shapes in it, which should be more helpful, but it actually makes things more difficult. For example, it has the skittle, the pear, and the bell, which all describe a body that is smaller on top than on the bottom. By the way, it’s a book from the UK, so a skittle is really a bowling pin, not candy, in case you were confused. Each one of those shapes has somewhat different styling tips, but the differences between the shapes are small and need a bit of a trained eye to really notice. The other challenge is, within the big four body shapes, there isn’t a ton of shapeshifting. You gain a little weight, lose a little weight, have a baby, go through menopause, chances are you’re going to be the same shape. But when there are a lot more body shapes, it’s more likely that you’ll shift, which means you have to learn a whole new set of rules.
That book I just referred to features 12 body shapes, but why stop at 12? Remember how I said sweet potatoes are pretty shape inconsistent? Think about apples for a minute. Red Delicious apples, are kind of tall, and tapered at the bottom, while fuji apples are more rounded. Bodies are just as inconsistent as actual fruit. Just to cover apples, you’d need dozens of shapes to account for small differences in bust size, torso length, and so on. When you’re giving highly specific advice to super detailed body shapes, based on small differences, you’d have to have thousands of shapes to cover them all. And even then, some woman would be like, My body shape isn’t in here–and she’d be right!
That’s why I only use four basic body shapes. So women can get some basic, general principles that do apply to most women in the shape, and then they can start getting specific in dressing their own body. That’s why I offer quizzes, and blog posts, and podcast episodes on the 4 basic body shapes. Because the general advice in those bigger categories will help almost every woman who has that shape.
But the reality is, just knowing you are a banana, or a bowling pin or a perfume bottle is meaningless. So many women get hung up on figuring out what their shape is, that they never get to the part where they figure out how to dress their bodies. You don’t need a label, you need a strategy. You need to know how to create curves if you want to create curves, or how to make your bust look bigger, or your tummy looks smaller, or your body more balanced. Whatever your goals are.
When I set out to create a Body Shape class, I didn’t want to create something you could basically find by googling it. You can find all of that general information on my site or lots of others. I wanted to create something that went deeper and actually helped you figure how to dress your body best, without needing a label, or even a measuring tape. so that’s what I did.
In the class I do cover the 4 basic body shapes–and some common variations of the 4, sharing best necklines, dress styles, sleeve types, all that good stuff. If you just want someone to tell you what to wear, you’ll get that
But the bulk of the class is spent helping you figure out how to dress your unique body. Really taking a look at your shape to understand it in a meaningful way, and what your goals for dressing your body are. The class also covers foundational principles to make reaching those goals super easy. We’re talking about things like lines, proportion, volume, fabric choices, pattern–and how to USE those to dress your unique body best. I wanted a class that helped you understand the principles so that if your body changes, if your lifestyle changes, if trends or your style changes, you can always go back to these principles that never ever change.
Like I said earlier if dressing your body shape has always been a challenge for you, make this the year you fix it once and for all. It doesn’t have to be this hard. And if you’re one of those women who thinks her body shape is SO out there and different that no one’s ever been able to describe it using one of these labels, you’re probably right. Your shape is as unique as you are, and sometimes, no label will fit. So put down the label, and learn, once and for all, how to dress your body best, label or not.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Your homework is to describe your body shape to yourself–you can use the descriptions from our blog posts as a guide. You can give yourself a label if you want, but you don’t have to. Look at where your shape fits into the 4 core shapes, and where it differs. The first step to dressing your body well is to really understand it. Just Start there, you’ll be glad you did.