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The Secret to Balancing Your Body’s Width Proportions

The Secret to Balancing Your Body’s Width Proportions

The secret to balancing your body with fashion lies in the knowledge of your frame’s proportions. In the last two articles, I explained the importance of knowing your upper and lower body lengths  and your waist placement, and today we are going to compare the width of your shoulders to your hips by lining them up at your side with the carpenter’s tape. If your shoulders and hips differ in width, certain sleeve styles and skirt/pant silhouettes can help them appear balanced.

Before we do this comparison, grab a carpenter’s tape and dress in workout clothes that are fitted to your body so you can clearly see your shoulder and hip widths.

Take a look at the illustration below showing how to measure your width proportions to see where the widest parts of your frame are located. Find the top, outermost part of your humerus (upper arm bone), called the greater tubercle. This is the structural point that defines your upper body width and moves when you rotate your arm.

Now locate the top, outermost point of your femur (upper leg bone) called the greater trochanter. This is the structural point that defines your lower body width. You can feel it moving when you rotate your leg.

Now we are ready to compare the width of your shoulders and hips. Extend the carpenter’s tape down from your widest shoulder point to the floor and anchor it between your legs with your foot. With a relaxed arm at your side, grasp hold of the tape and line it up against your widest shoulder and hip points. The tape will cross over your arm.

How did the tape line up? Is it vertically straight or is it at an angle? The model in the illustration has broader shoulders than hips. Her rib cage/shoulder blades are wide compared to her narrow pelvic girdle. How about you?

The Secret to Balancing Your Body’s Width Proportions
1. (Far left) My hips are wider than my shoulders. _____

2. (Center) My shoulders are wider than my hips. _____

3. (Far right) My shoulders and hips are even in width. _____



If you picked number 3 and your shoulder/hip widths are even, the key is to keep them balanced. If you wear a top with poofy sleeves, wear a full skirt. Inset sleeves that line up right at your shoulders are best worn with a pencil skirt or straight pants.

If your width proportions differ, the key is to mirror your widest proportion in the opposite part of the body. For example, broad shoulders are mirrored with an A-line skirt. Broad hips are mirrored by gathered, puffy sleeves. Here are some more suggestions:

To visually balance wide shoulders with small hips, wear:

a) A-line or full skirt with a fitted top
b) Full pants with fitted or tailored top
c) Halter or t-back tops
d) Raglan sleeves (baseball shirt style)


a) Poofy sleeves, epaulets, shoulder pads
b) Boat neck tops
c) Skinny pants with a full top or jacket
d) Fitted skirt with boxy top or jacket

To visually balance full hips with small shoulders, wear:

a) Shoulder pads, gathered and poofed sleeves, epaulets
b) Boat neck and off-shoulder tops, bertha collar
c) Paneled, gored or mermaid skirts


a) Raglan sleeves (baseball shirt style), strapless dresses or tops
b) Fitted tops and sleeves with full skirts and pants

If you would like to know more about how to dress for your individual proportions, click here for a free thirty-minute consultation. I would love to talk to you!

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