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The purpose of this study is to explore different body shapes of female figures. Female figures are identified with circumference measurements (bust, waist and hips) of the bodice. The ratio of their circumferences is used to define basic body shapes and the perception of choice of clothing preference for individuals. This study is conducted to determine the females' personal values attributed to garment fit and to identify the psychological appearance resulting from the perceptions of clothing in relation to their respective body shape.
BUFT Journal 2016, Volume 3: 69-76 Rita and Sultana 2016
A Study on Category of Female Body Shapes and their Clothing
Afroza Akter Rita1 and Summiya Sultana2
The purpose of this study is to explore different body shapes of female figures. Female figures are
identified with circumference measurements (bust, waist and hips) of the bodice. The ratio of their
circumferences is used to define basic body shapes and the perception of choice of clothing preference
for individuals. This study is conducted to determine the females’ personal values attributed to garment
fit and to identify the psychological appearance resulting from the perceptions of clothing in relation to
their respective body shape.
Key words: Body Shape, Clothing, Clothing Perception, Garment Fit.
1. Introduction
The characteristic of human is revealed by their outfit. It reflects the attitude and behavior of human.
There are no societies wherein individuals do not engage in dress (Hurlock, 1929). It can change the
perception of humans. It provides us both physical protection and psychological protection. Clothing is
the most essential part for fashion. Especially women are very particular about what to wear and like to
spend money on it. Social Ideology plays a vital role in today’s Fashion but depends on the individual
whether they want to consider it more important than their self-expression. Fashion creates difference
for one people to another. According to (Fan. et al, 2004), there are very few women that think they
have a perfect body, but in most cultures many would like to improve their appearance through the use
of clothing. Clothing is a broad term that focuses on the covering of the body, but is limited, as it does
not include physical modifications of the body (Roach-Higgins & Eicher, 1992). Clothing in general is
a highly symbolic and visible product resulting in assumptions to be made about individuals, purely on
the basis of their clothing” (Kasambala, J. et al, 2014). This paper accumulates the category of women’s
body shape through the ratio of body measurements and their clothing preferences.
2. Concepts for Women’s Clothing
Fashion has been women’s passion for decades. Females have proven to be more sensitive and
conscious about the image of the body than males (Furnham, A. et al, 1990). When it comes to be
looking good or attractive, it’s not about size or shape that matters, it’s the fit of clothes. A good fit
garment with a good body image looks very attractive also fashionable and feels comfortable and
confident. Wearing the right clothes shouldn’t be about following the latest fashion trends; it should be
about choosing what actually suits for the person and what makes feel happy. A well fitted garment is
an important criterion for every woman. So, knowing the right body shapes and understanding the types
of clothing that will fit and show good features.
Body image or shape is a multifaceted psychological experience relating to physical appearance and
self-perceptions and attitudes encompassing perceptual, affective, cognitive and behavioral aspects
(Cash, 2004; Cash & Pruzinsky, 1990). It is the picture we have in our minds of the size, shape and for
1 Lecturer, Fashion Design & Technology, BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology (BUFT), S.R. Tower, 105 Uttara Model Town,
Sector #7, Uttara, Dhaka-1230, Bangladesh. Email:
2 Lecturer, Fashion Design & Technology, BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology (BUFT), Uttara, Dhaka-1230, Bangladesh.
BUFT Journal 2016, Volume 3: 69-76 Rita and Sultana 2016
of our bodies and our feelings concerning these (Slade, P. D. 1994). Body image can influence by
historical, cultural, social, individual and biological factors.
Ideal body shape is dependent upon the time and space in which the body exists and can differ among
cultures (Lee, et al, 2007). The original conceptualization of body shape in western cultures was
established by the proportions of the Greek gods (Fan, et al, 2004). Historically, a woman’s beauty was
often influenced by the perception of women’s “reproductive potential” (Fan, et al, 2004, p. 5) and
therefore, the appearance of a larger bust and wider hips were often found to be most beautiful.
“Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions” – Coco Chanel, French Fashion Designer (Fischer,
A, 2009). Body shape is all about proportion, and fashion is all about dressing those proportions to look
everyone’s very best. A particular body type is not focus on height and weight, it is focus on shape. A
slender person can have the same body shape as a curvy person, as similar as a short woman can have
the same body shape as a taller woman. Everyone is as unique as others and their bodies also. Fashion is
all about dressing the body. If every woman know their individual body shape, it will be able to find
clothes that fit and flatter. Dressing for body shape is all about choosing clothes that flatter the body.
Flattering means makes everyone looks thinner, taller and curvier.
The circumference of bust, waist, and hips, and the ratios between them, was a widespread method for
defining women's body shape. Women's bodies occur in a range of shapes. Female figures are typically
narrower at the waist than at the bust and hips. The bust, waist, and hips are circumference measurement
of female body (Armstrong, H. J. 2011), and the ratios of their circumference are used to defining basic
body shapes (Bouguereau, W. A. 2006).
Waisthip ratio or waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of
the hips. Waist is the narrowest part of the body and hip is the widest part of the body. This is calculated
as waist measurement divided by hip measurement (W/H). For example, a person with a 25" waist and
38" hips has a waist-hip ratio of about 0.66.
BUFT Journal 2016, Volume 3: 69-76 Rita and Sultana 2016
3. Discussions
People always look for new fashion and fashion leaders create fashion. These fashion leaders constantly
look for interesting new styles, colors, fabrics and ways to accessories their clothes (Frings, G. S. 1987).
Their findings are which dress is for which fashion followers otherwise fashion followers are transferred
into fashion victims. “Fashion victims are people who blindly and stupidly follow a brand without any
discernment and without any analysis. As long as it’s the latest rage, they buy it without thinking about
adapting it to themselves” (Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier). Fashion figures are divided based on
circumference measurements of the bodice. Mainly there are three categories-
a) balanced; bust is equal to hip, ( Bust = Hip)
b) Hip is smaller than bust, ( Hip< Bust)
c) Bust is smaller than hip, ( Hip > Bust)
Fashion is not constant. It is cyclic or keeps changing and evolving. Independent of body fat, weight or
width, female body shapes are categorized in 6 basic body shapes:
Triangle ( sometimes considered as Pear)
Inverted Triangle
Rectangular ( sometimes considered as Column and straight or Banana)
Oval (sometimes considered as Apple and round)
Types of female body shape. This are-
BUFT Journal 2016, Volume 3: 69-76 Rita and Sultana 2016
3.1 Hourglass Characteristics: The most attractive female figure is hourglass. Hourglass body
shape’s women have curvy and balanced bust and hip. They have a beautifully
defined waist and gently rounded shoulders that align nicely with the hips. Shoulders
and hips are similar in proportion and set off by a tiny waist. Upper body is
proportionate in length to the legs which are shapely. From top to bottom, hour glass
body shape’s women have a picture of harmony and balanced figure.
Top and Bottom Hourglass
Top hourglass and Bottom hourglass body shape’s women also have curvy figure like Hourglass. There
are a difference between bust and hips. Top hourglass women’s have larger bust than hips and bottom
hourglass women’s hip is bigger than bust. Waist is defined in both top and bottom hourglass figure.
What to be worn: Hourglass body shape should dress up proportionately. They should wear fitted cloths.
Wide belts over shirts and dresses are a great way to show off their waist. They can create an even more
curvaceous effect by proportionally adding a bit of volume to upper and lower body.
3.2 Triangle/Pear
Characteristics: Triangle body shape is also called pear body shape. Triangle body
shape’s woman have smaller bust, larger hips and have well defined waist. Lower
body is wider than upper body. They have an elegant neck and proportionately slim
arms and shoulders. Narrow waist is focusing area of the triangle body shaped
What to be worn and what should not be worn: A triangle body shape is to enhance
and add volume to upper body while emphasizing waist and de-emphasizing lower
body. Light-colored tops and dark- colored bottoms for contrast is good for triangle
body shaped women. They should not be wearing horizontal or broad lines and
printed bottoms, vertical lines makes a person look taller as it creates an optical
illusion. They should avoid such dress that draws attention to hips and thighs.
BUFT Journal 2016, Volume 3: 69-76 Rita and Sultana 2016
3.3 Inverted Triangle
Characteristics: Inverted triangle body shaped women have a proportionally larger
upper body than lower body. They have broad shoulders and large bust and a wide
back. Hips are slim and bottom may have a tendency towards the flat side. Their
waist is subtle and has a tendency to gain weight in belly and upper body.
What to be worn and what should not be worn: An inverted triangle body shape is to
balance broad shoulders, chest and back with their narrower lower body to them best.
This is achieved by choosing clothes that add curves to their hips and bottom while
creating a more defined waist. Lines may create an important role. Vertical lined tops
and horizontal lined bottoms can create illusions. They should try to avoid dresses
that emphasize shoulders, big collars, and boat neck and high necklines.
3.4 Rectangle/Column/Straight
Characteristics: Rectangle body shape also called column body shape. Rectangle
shaped women have straight body type. Rectangle shaped women’s bust, hip and
shoulder widths are similar and waist is undefined. Bottom is more flat than round.
These shaped women tend to gain weight torso first and then upper thighs and arms.
Lower legs are always in shape. Rectangle shaped women have athletic bodies.
What to be worn and what should not be worn: A straight body shape is to
proportionally dress the top and bottom of the body while enhancing waist. Semi
fitting clothes are best suited for straight body type. They should wear curvy dress
that shows fitted waist and to create a more curvaceous effect adds volume
proportionally to upper and lower body. They should not be wearing vertical lines, it
can create more straight body. They should avoid wearing tight fitted and narrow
dresses and low neckline dresses. They shouldn’t wear overwhelming style.
3.5 Oval/Apple/Rounded
Characteristics: Oval shaped is also called apple body shape and sometimes it’s also
called round. Apple shaped women have a large bust, narrow hips and a full
midsection. Have a tendency to gain weight in stomach, back and upper body and
waist is undefined and also has nice shaped legs. They are wider than other body
What to be worn and what should not be worn: An oval body type is to de-emphasize
body’s midsection and create a more defined waist. This is achieved by choosing
clothing that adds curves and fullness to lower body and tops that taper to a waist.
Vertical lines create an important role for oval shaped body. They should tend to
avoid wearing dresses that are fitted and high necklines. Because of fitted dresses are
show off their midsection of the body.
BUFT Journal 2016, Volume 3: 69-76 Rita and Sultana 2016
3.6 Diamond
Characteristics: Diamond body shaped women’s hip is boarder than the bust and
shoulder and have a full midsection. Waist is larger than bust and hips. These shaped
women have a tendency to gain weight in stomach, back, hips and buttocks. Waist is
undefined and the widest part of the full body. Upper legs may carry some weight but
lower legs are in nice shape and also have proportionately slender, shapely arms.
What to be worn and what should not be worn: A diamond body type is to balance
shoulder and bust with hips while creating a waist. This is achieved by choosing
clothing that adds curves and fullness to the upper body. Diamond shaped women
should wear dresses that are tight under the bust and loose enough to skim over the
tummy. Diamond shaped women should avoid wearing dresses that are fitted.
4. Changes to Body Shape
The shape of the female body has not remained constant in all the time. Sometimes, it is to re-evaluate
the shape and measurements of the body. According to Dr. Devendra Sing, “Body shape is determined
by the nature of body fat distribution that, in turn, is significantly correlated with women’s sex hormone
profile, risk for disease, and reproductive capability”. During and after pregnancy, a woman experiences
body shape changes. Female’s special body shape is pregnant shape.
4.1 Pregnant shape
Characteristics: Pregnant women can be any body shape. They have small to
medium bust. Mid sections are full also shoulders and hips that are the same width.
Tummy is bigger than bust and hips. Upper body is smaller than lower body. The
main focus point is bigger tummy. They have slender legs and arms.
What to be worn and what should not be worn: A pregnant body type is to balance
shoulder and bust than hips. This is achieved by choosing clothing that adds fullness
to the midsection. They should wear dresses that are tight under the bust and loose
enough to skim over the tummy. Loose fitting garments are very essential for
pregnant shaped women. Vertical lines and diagonal lines can create optical
illusions in pregnant shaped body. They should avoid wearing dresses that are fitted
in mid-section. Fitted dresses are not comfortable for them. They should wear
comfortable and loose dress.
5. Alteration of Body Shape
Body shape can be altering for many ways. Various strategies are sometimes employed to
temporarily or permanently alter the shape of the body. The most popular technique follow by women is
dieting and exercise. Through dieting and exercise percentage of fat could be reduced and women can
alter one body shape to another body shape. Another way of alteration is surgery. Using the modern
BUFT Journal 2016, Volume 3: 69-76 Rita and Sultana 2016
technology of surgical system, bodice measurement can be change and women can easily change their
desirable body shape.
6. Conclusion
The style of clothing or functions of the garment as well as the fit preferences of individuals is
very essential for every aspects of daily life. Through dress or garments in a right body shape becomes a
form of self-expression of personal values to others. A fitted garment provides psychological satisfaction
for every woman. A well fitted garment enables the wearer to move freely without any restriction in the
garment (Laitala, et al, 2011). And it’s only possible when the right body shapes wear the right clothes.
Based on bodice circumference measurement we can easily find out our right body shapes. Apart from
these aspects wearing right clothes greatly influence the society such as the way of thinking, showing
feelings & emotions, behavior and enhance confidence. There are illustrations of different body shapes
and individuals clothing perceptions on interpretation of sensory information of individuals.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude towards my colleagues, BGMEA university of Fashion and
Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am highly acknowledged to my co-author for consistent support and
guidance in correct direction.
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Full-text available
When female consumers encounter garment fit problems as a result of their body shape, an emotional experience may result due to the failure to attain the personal values they are aiming to achieve. Very little research has been conducted in South Africa focusing on the emotional impact on female consumers or the role personal values play in their shopping experience of ready-to-wear garment fit. This study was conducted to determine the female consumers' personal values attributed to garment fit and to identify the emotions resulting from the perceptions of garment fit in relation to their perceived body shape. This study used the Means-ends chain theory approach through the application of the hard laddering technique. The findings from the data collected from a purposeful and convenient sample of 62 female consumers showed that the majority of the participants in this study failed to attain their personal values through the proper fitting of the garments which are currently available in the clothing retailer stores due to their varied body shapes. This resulted in mainly negative emotions being expressed by the participants. It is, therefore, extremely important for South African clothing manufacturers and retailers to consider the various body shapes in their garment design and attempt to understand the specific needs of their target market if they want to be successful.
Full-text available
Body image is the mental picture we have of our bodies, has both perceptual and affective components, affects how we interact with clothes, and affects how that clothed appearance is presented publicly. The purpose of this article is to theoretically justify the inclusion of body image in textiles and clothing subject matter in institutions of higher education. Although pioneering efforts have addressed the body from aesthetic and social psychological standpoints, no theoretical justification integrates both aesthetic theory and social psychological concepts as applied to body image. We present discussions of both aesthetic and social psychological theories and concepts related to body image, make suggestions for curricular strategies at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and provide links to various stakeholders. We argue that textiles and clothing educators have a significant role to play in research, education, and outreach efforts related to body image and appearance-related behaviors and can address important quality of life issues.
Pathogen prevalence can affect human mate selection because pathogen severity limits the number of high-quality pathogen-resistant mates. This creates a selection pressure to fashion mechanisms to identify and select pathogen-resistant mates. Gangestad and Buss have suggested that attractiveness indicates pathogen resistance. Humans in many instances enhance their attractiveness by using permanent body markings, such as tattooing and scarification. We hypothesized that as pathogen severity increases, so should permanent marking of body areas that are attended to for evaluating attractiveness and mate quality. Females were predicted to scarify their breasts and stomachs (due to the stomach being a component of waist-to-hip ratio), both indicative of youthfulness and fertility. Males were predicted to scarify those body parts indicative of sexual maturity and strength, such as the face, shoulders, and arms. Cross-cultural data revealed that pathogen prevalence predicts female stomach scarification independent of polygyny, famine, and social class stratification. The relationship between scarification of body parts and pathogen prevalence was not evident for males. These findings, based upon between-society comparisons, suggest that stomach scarification could act as a signal of female mate quality in societies that encounter a high prevalence of pathogens.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to compare body shape between USA and Korean women. It aims to analyze the distribution and proportion of body shapes of two countries and compare the differences of body shape according to age. Design/methodology/approach SizeUSA and SizeKorea measurement data were evaluated using the Female Figure Identification Technique for apparel system developed at North Carolina State University. Once the samples were defined by shape, comparisons were made of the distribution according to age and country through statistical analysis. Findings The paper finds that the largest shape category was the rectangle shape in both countries, but the distribution within each shape category for Korean women was different from that of USA women. More body shape categories were found in the USA women than in Korean women. In addition, most body shape categories had different body proportions when comparing the USA women and Korean women. The USA women had the higher measurements in the waist, high hip, and hips height and the larger measurements in the bust, waist, high hip, and hips circumference. Research limitations/implications Of the over 6,300 US female subjects in this study, only five failed to be identified by the seven shapes identified. These subjects had over 50.2 in. of hip circumference, over 10 in. larger hips than bust circumference, and over 15.5 in. larger hips than waist circumference. Further refinement of the mathematical definitions or a second group of criteria may be required for sorting the women that have no shape as defined by this study. Originality/value The opportunity to compare the body shapes between two very different countries, using national anthropometric survey data, is very rare, indeed. This comparison allows the opportunity to discover ways to improve the sizing systems of each country, as well as impact the development of international sizing standards that could have a significant impact on brands producing product for a variety of international consumers.
This volume reviews and elucidates diverse concepts of body image, body-image development, psychosocially dysfunctional deviations from normal appearance, and methods of facilitating body-image change. The major questions addressed by the book are these: What are the meaningful parameters or components of the body-image construct and how are they best measured? What are the physical, developmental, social, and cultural determinants of the unfolding of these facets of body image? How do gender and objective attributes of appearance influence the subjective experience of the body? What are the roles of body images in the development and change of personality and psychopathology? How do deleterious changes in physical appearance and physical competence affect body images? How can one promote adaptive body-image change through the self-management of physical aesthetics, through medical-surgical procedures, and through various psychotherapeutic and somatopsychic interventions? (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The purpose of this study was to examine the somatic preferences of males and females for detailed anatomical drawings of female stimulus figures to examine their ability to predict the preferences for members of the opposite sex. The figures were systematically varied on three dimensions (bust, waist, and hips), with three sizes of each (small, medium, and large). The 12 figures were rated by 100 male and female subjects on a 7-point bipolar construct scale, ranging from extremely attractive to extremely unattractive. This was done both for the subjects' personal perceptions and for their predicted ratings of the opposite sex. Multivariate and univariate analyses yielded several sex, rating-perceptive (self vs. other), figure shape differences and interactions. Male subjects displayed a preference for large busts and hourglass shapes, which are accurately predicted by the females. Males predicted that females would rate slimmer figure highly, and females predicted that males would rate larger figures highly. The results are considered in light of related research in this area.
This brief editorial article introduces the new scientific journal, Body Image: An International Journal of Research, and describes its rationale and mission in relation to the history and future of the study of body image and human appearance.
Patternmaking for fashion design, Pearson Higher
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Armstrong, H. J. (2011). Patternmaking for fashion design, Pearson Higher Ed. 5 th edition, chapter 2, p 33.
Clothing appearance and fit: Science and technology
  • J Fan
  • W Yu
  • L Hunter
Fan, J., Yu, W., & Hunter, L. (2004). Clothing appearance and fit: Science and technology. Elsevier.