Patternmaking and Tailoring Wiki

The body shape in measurement is usually used to refer to the various types of body shape which can occur in women. These shapes refer to changes in the outline shape of the hips and chest, and are generally referred to with specific names which refer to simple shapes, such as diamond, heart, and so on.


As with previous articles, the term "traditional" term is used to refer to those shapes which are shown as distinct from those which are standards-based. These types are usually refer to either primitive shapes, or to shapes such as fruits. Common types used are:

Fruit types

  • Pear
  • Apple
  • Pencil / Banana

Shape types

  • Hourglass
  • Diamond / Oval
  • Square
  • Triangle

As a personal opinion, I refrain from using these as a way of describing body type as they are in many senses, fairly offensive to those who are being measured. The partly-scientific standards-based measurements give a more accurate view as they are based on anthropometric data which is current; these measurements tend to be based on older measurements.


The standards-based ways of determining body shape seem to have met with more objective and specific types of body shape. The most recent effort was undertaken in several efforts to improve current standards. The most recent was an article published in the Journal of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management which suggested revision of U.S. sizing standards.

This article outlined three standards which had been outlined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for the fit of clothing, which the study claimed to be based on outdated anthropometric data. These three standards were Junior, Missy and Over 55. Most of the information on this was based on an unpublished thesis by a graduate of North Carolina University, Priya Devarajan on the software of the same name.

The way that these measurements were determined using a technique called "Female Figure Identification", and a computer program which incorporated that method. This computer program was developed in 2002, which was able to take 3-dimensional information from pre-existing study data and determine which primitive shape it most closely resembled. The shapes that were found, in order of commonality, were:

  1. Rectangle
  2. Hourglass
  3. Bottom hourglass
  4. Spoon
  5. Oval
  6. Top hourglass
  7. Triangle
  8. Diamond
  9. Inverted triangle

These shapes have often been recreated in terms of fruits, and other shapes, however, the original study that this was based on, and the subsequent, are not based on fruits.


  1. Devajaran, P., 2004. Validation of 'Female Figure Identification Technique (FFIT) for Apparel' Methodology. PhD. North Carolina State University. Available at: [Accessed 15.10.2013]
  2. Newcomb, B. 2004. A Case For The Revision of US Standards. Journal of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management. 4 (1) [e-journal] Available from: [Accessed 15.10.2013]