Part 2: Designing For Common Body Types

Design going pear-shaped? Never fear: that might be exactly what you need.

There are several names, techniques and classification systems professionals use for body shapes that range from as little as four to as many as twelve types. The ideal is based on the balance of the hourglass. Two of the most common female body types, derived from varying horizontal proportions of bust, waist, and hip measurements are the following: The Rectangle and The Pear. Particularly if you’re making a custom piece, you’ll need to know how to complement the figure, and what cuts, techniques, and fabrics can give you the desired effect.



The Rectangle (46.12% of women) has shoulders that are nearly the same width and a waist that is the same or slightly narrower. The figure may be either broad or narrow, but the shape is generally consistent.

Goal: Here, the goal is to add or enhance curves and define a waist.

Key design features: Light and bright colors at shoulders and hems; diagonal lines at shoulders and hem to direct the eye toward the center front; vertical details (darts, princess seams, waistbands) at the center of the body/waist.

Avoid: Contrasting colors at the waist. 


The Pear (20.92% of women) has hips that are wider than the waist and the shoulders.

Goal: To balance the shoulders with the bottom half and draw the eye upwards.

Key design features: Horizontal necklines and lines in upper bodice; bright or lighter colors; texture and shine on top half; padded shoulders, cap sleeves with details; tailored tops and bodices with lots of detail; vertical lines and seams for lower body; inset pockets; contrasting colors and details at center front.

Avoid: Bands, yokes, and hemlines at the hips. 

Now you know how what to consider when you’re designing for two of the most common female body types. Stay tuned for more design guides!

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