Thursday, September 24, 2015

my fall 2015 capsule wardrobe: part 2 - pear or banana?

On Monday, when I said I would be back tomorrow with the next post, it turns out I really meant I will be back on Thursday after I come down with a (totally annoying, sleepless nights, makes me ache from head to toe) head cold that my loving children so generously shared with me ;)  I read somewhere that as you get older it's very rare to actually get a cold since you've already been exposed to most of the common cold viruses.  Someone should tell my body that, since I seem to get more colds now than I did when I was younger.  Again, I'm going to blame it on my kids, since they seem to bring home every single virus from the cesspool that is called school.

I have to give a quick shout-out to Becca for providing a lot of information related to building a capsule wardrobe both on her blog Free Motion and in the Facebook group Capsule Wardrobe Sew Along.

Now that I'm mostly recovered from my illness, I'm ready to write about the process of choosing the correct clothing for my body type.  First I need to determine exactly what body type I have.  There are several ways of doing this including everything from calculated methods involving body measurements to the most simple method ever - looking in a mirror.  I'll start with the calculators that use measurements.

My measurements are 42 - 35 - 45.  When I plug these exact same measurements in to various calculators (there are a ton more, but these are the first few that came up in a search) I got the following results:
  • banana or rectangle (from here)
  • pear (from here)
  • rectangle (from here)
  • pear (from here
Honestly, what girl doesn't love being referred to as a banana?  Ignoring that little gem, the calculators appear to be evenly split between rectangle and pear.  While I have no problems with the rectangle result (aside from the fact that I don't really want to be a rectangle!) the pear classification truly has me stumped.  A pear if defined as a person with relatively larger hips/thighs and smaller upper body including bust that tends to gain weight in the lower half and have slimmer arms and shoulders.  So not me!  I have a large bust with an almost 5" difference between upper and full bust. Also, pretty much every pattern with sleeves requires a full bicep adjustment because I carry a lot of weight in my arms.  Even when I was a skinny little thing many moons ago, I still had large arms and a full bust for my size.  After these results, I decided to move on to a new method of determining my body type while keeping the rectangle result in mind as a starting point.

Rather than simply looking in a mirror, I went slightly more technical and got out the camera and took pictures of myself from the front, back and the side.  The results were interesting, at least to me.  I'm not sure that anyone else will read this far down into the post, so this might well remain interesting only to me ;)  From the front, I do indeed look quite a bit like a rectangle, although a fairly wide rectangle.  My shoulders and hips are approximately the same width, and my waist, although not perfectly straight, is not necessarily well defined either.  I appear to carry my weight evenly distributed from head to ankle.  Although even excess weight does nothing to improve my skinny, bony feet!  When I look at the pictures taken from the back, I can see where the pear results come from.  I have a fairly narrow back for my size, and my hips do indeed look wider that my shoulders when viewed from behind.  But the side view is what really throws me off.  From the side, I am distinctly top heavy.  As previously stated I have a large bust, and when you combine that with the fact that I have a somewhat flat butt and I don't carry a lot of weight in my stomach, I look like an inverted triangle.

So one question really stands out for me.  How exactly am I supposed to dress for my body shape if I can't truly determine what it is?  The answer: screw the body types :)  Seriously, stop focusing on overall shape, and start focusing on individual attributes.  For example, I've never been a fan of being full busted.  It was, quite frankly, the bane of my existence while running high school track!  I swear there wasn't a good sports bra (remember this was pre-internet) made for someone wearing a 32DD bra.  It's possible there might be now, but since I no longer wear that size, and I'm sure I never will again, I really haven't taken the time to look!  Although I no longer care as much about my bust size as I did then, I still out of habit tend to dress to minimize my bust, avoiding ruffles or anything else that adds volume on top.

On the flip side, I don't carry a lot of weight in my stomach.  Sure, it's not as flat as it once was pre-kids, but it's still flat enough.  As a result, I tend to wear more fitted clothes and avoid wearing empire waistlines which fall straight from my big boobs and tend to make me look pregnant.  I've done the pregnancy thing enough, thank you very much!

I just realized that this post is kind of long already, and I haven't even gotten to the kind of clothes that flatter my shape, so I'm going to mix that info in to the post with the patterns I've chosen for my capsule wardrobe.   I'm not making any promises about when I'll post, although I'm sure it will be fairly soon.  Barring a plague or anything of the sort ;)

In the mean time, if you want to read more about dressing various body types or individual attributes, here are some good websites:
  • Gala Darling - choosing appropriate pieces for each attribute organized by clothing item (i.e. choosing dresses for large calves or trousers for short legs, etc.)
  • Joy of Clothes - overview of each body type, relationships between them and clothes that flatter each
  • youolookfab - lots of articles about body type and fashion
  • Style Makeover HQ - An interesting approach to body shapes that includes vertical body shapes.  Just in case you were wondering, I am short (5'4") but with long legs and a short torso according to the site.  I agree with the short torso thing, but I'm not too sure about the long legs!
  • Shop Your Shape - Slightly different classification of body types, but good visuals for what flatters each type


  1. I read the whole thing. Very interesting! My measurements are almost exactly the same as yours at the moment, and it's interesting because no one would ever classify me as a rectangle. I feel like I definitely look a lot more like the full hourglass on your diagram chart than I do a rectangle (or banana - HA) or a pear. But I haven't taken pictures from the back.

  2. Looking forward to your next posts, this was a nice read and I would easily kept on going, I have a different body type, but surely learn some of your choices.

    1. Thanks! I hope that everyone will find the thought process (and the links!) helpful regardless of body shape :)