Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Shape and Style


I’ve been giving some thought lately to my personal style. You see, it’s more that I’m not sure whether the styles I wear are flattering for me. It’s a hard one to pick apart your personal preferences from objectivity. Aren’t we are all influenced, to some degree, by the latest trends which we see in the shops? Or do we “revert to type” and find our stylistic home with the fashions we grew up with and wore in our teenage years? Another influence that I think has affected me in the past is being restricted to clothes that fit. This meant that for many years I never bought a fitted blouse or a V-necked top. But could these styles fit into my new wardrobe where I am not limited in this way? I have without question stayed away from anything gathered at the waist. Does this fit in with my body type, or is it just a preference formed by habit? These are all questions that I’ve been mulling over.

I wondered if I could find some “objective” analysis using the various body type calculators on-line. The idea is that you enter your measurements (usually bust, waist and hips) and a choice of flattering styles is suggested. Here are a selection of online calculators I have tried:

The Body Type Calculator

With this calculator, you enter your three basic measurements and it suggests one of four body types; Apple, Banana or Straight, Pear, Hourglass.

My Calculated Body Shape: Banana or Straight

Suggested Styles: None, it’s not a style website

Star Rating: **


Marks and Spencer Style Advisor

There are several additional questions about your skin tone and eye colour, in addition to questions about your dress size. There are lots of questions relating to your personal style and colour preferences as well. A comprehensive style guide is available once you’ve created a personal profile.

My Calculated Body Shape: This website doesn’t provide a body shape such as one of the four body types, but did provide a flattering description: “You’re the ideal blank fashion canvas with your slender silhouette and balanced hip to shoulder proportions. Focus on creating a more defined waist and magic up some sexy curves. Tops and dresses with belts, ties or nipping at the waist are your best friends. Details at shoulder and bust create shapely volume. Look for fuller bottoms and skirts that create shape. Straight, baggy clothes are a waste of time.’

Suggested Styles: There are loads of suggestions, both general advice and specific example garments all obviously from Marks and Spencer’s stores, but it does show well what to go for and what to avoid. For example, for tops, I’m recommended slim fit blouses, fitted tops and slim fit t-shirt and told to avoid loose ft tops and blouses.

Star Rating: *****


Shop your shape

Again the three basic measurements are added and one of eight different body types is suggested; Straight, Pear, Spoon, Hourglass, Top Hourglass, Inverted Traingle, Oval, Diamond.

My Calculated Body Shape: This calculator must work a little differently from the others as it suggested my body shape was a Pear or a Spoon from the measurements. Since the description with these shapes doesn’t describe me and differs from the body shape as calculated by the other websites, I decided to ignore this calculation and look at the style advice for the Straight body shape.

Suggested Styles: The suggested styles were divided into Tops, Bottoms and Swimsuits with advice for each one. For example, for tops – find tops with belted or gathered waists with fullness around the bust and hips.

Star Rating: ***

Shope Your Shape

Prokerala Body Shape Calculator

Entering the three basic measurements, calculates your body type. This calculator uses five body types; Apple, Pear, Rectangle, Inverted Triangle and Hourglass.

My Calculated Body Shape: Rectangle

Suggested Styles: There was some limited style advice:

  • Create the illusion of a well defined waist and gentle curves
  • Show-off those wonderful shoulders and belt your waist to create more of an hourglass figure
  • Wear tops with necklines that accentuate your bust

Star Rating: **


Styling Up

This calculator suggests one of six body types; Hourglass, Pear, Inverted Triangle, Diamond, Oval or Straight. Three basic measurements are used for the calculation.

My Calculated Body Shape: This one calculated me as a pear, but with a 1 inch change in my hip measurement I become “Straight”.

Suggested Styles: Suggested styles are divided into Tops and Bottoms. There are also some links to suggested outfits that I could buy. Although, I did notice that these were repeated between the different body styles and in fact didn’t obey the style suggestions for my body type. It was probably best to ignore these.

The style advice included creating a more defined waist, wide V, U or off the shoulder tops and trousers with a moderate or full flared legs.

Star Rating: ***


BonPrix Shape Calculator

This site calculates your body shape from five possibles; Hourglass, Pear, Apple, Inverted Triangle, Athletic using three basic measurements.

My Calculated Body Shape: Athletic

Suggested Styles:

  • Create curves by wearing a wrap dress or add a skinny belt to a dress
  • Patterned trousers add femininity and softens your shape
  • Add detail such as ruffles, beading and studs to draw attention to one area of your body

There is also an option to “Shop your Style”, although I’m not so sure that it was useful for me. It heavily featured dresses and there weren’t any trousers featured at all. I also wasn’t 100% convinced that the selected garments followed the style advice.

Star Rating: ***

Shape Calculator

So Feminine Body Shape Calculator

This calculator asks for the usual three measurements and also your height.

My Calculated Body Shape: Boyish

Suggested Styles: Recommended styles include tailored, figure hugging tops, round or V-neck tops and narrow-cut trousers.  There is an option to look at recommended looks, such as casual, at work and in the evening. but I was rather disappointed with their styles. They really weren’t the looks I was after, with lots of pink girly stuff interspersed with tights (when were they dependent on body shape?)

Star Rating: **


The Marks and Spencer site was definitely my favourite. There was so much advice; there are recommendations for each garment type. I also liked the styles that they picked from their range. Of course, I’m not going to head out to Marks and Sparks for a spot of shopping, especially as their sizes run a bit too big for me anyway. I’m going to head to my sewing machine!

So how did the advice differ from the wardrobe I have? I think I may have found much of this style advice just by trial and error over the years. I do avoid things that are bulky around the waist, for example. Most of my skirts are either slim or A-line, never gathered. I prefer skinny or flared jeans and not baggy jeans. Perhaps my instinct has been good after all.

The next stage for me is to try a few recommended styles that I have found difficult in the past to wear, because of fit issues – V-neck tops and more fitted tops!

There’s quite a bit of advice out there if you want to explore new styles that suit your body type. Some indie pattern companies create styles with particularly body types in mind. For example, Sewaholic patterns specialise in pear shapes. Vogue patterns have figure flattery diagrams to help you decide whether a style suits you.


The Curvy Sewing Collective have a great article on finding patterns for your body type. Why not go and explore?


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

5 thoughts on “Shape and Style

  1. Great round-up of body type calculators! The Marks and Spencer one looks like a great place to start for people who are uncertain of what to wear.

    I’ve spent so much time watching shows such as What Not To Wear and anything Gok Wan does that I’ve gradually worked out what works and what doesn’t! The best bit is being able to make these clothes for yourself instead of relying on shops to stock the items you want. Have fun adding some new items to your wardrobe. 🙂

    • You’re right I didn’t mention Trinnie and Susannah and Gok Wan at all. Both great for style tips too. Definitely, one of the best things about making your own clothes is not being restricted by the sizing and the trend whims in shops.

      • Those shows were so long ago now, though; especially What Not To Wear. It looks as though online body type calculators are a lot better than they were in the past, back when we had to rely on books and such. 😀

  2. I do love plunking in numbers and getting ideas – thanks! It’s not just sewing something up, but also knowing what pattern, fabric, style will look good on you! These calculators give you a good start!

  3. I’d must check with you here. Which is not something I often do! I take pleasure in studying a post that may make people think. Additionally, thanks for allowing me to comment!

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