Just like clothing fashion, body shapes also come in and out of popular design. From the masculine style of ancient Greece to the current body positivity movement, everyone gets to have their time in the sun. The beauty of today’s fashion is that all body types are accepted. Diversity is on the rise (though not as quickly as it should be), and that includes diverse body types. Hashtags like #effyourbeautystandards and #bodypositivity have done huge wonders to spread acceptance and awareness about whatever your body type might be. However, the past was always a little more rigid. Before body acceptance became a movement, the iconic body type of each decade seemed to pervade all the media that was out there; we see it in the types of icons we’ve retained of those decades. People like Twiggy and Marilyn Monroe offer a glimpse into what the idealized body type was like in their respective decades. We’ve used that to decide which decade you belong to, based on your body type. Are you a riotous, righteous 70s gal? What about a flirty, give-no-effs flapper? Find your body type, and then see which decade you should time travel back to. Keep in mind that this is America-centric. Other cultures and communities have their own beauty standards, and their own stars to look up to. We’ve focused on America because it’s the most readily accessible to us.
13. “Pear” Shaped
This typically means a woman who has wider hips than she does shoulders or chest. Wider (and usually thicker) at her bottom half than her top. The pear shape is flattered by A-line dresses, and other more structured cuts of the 60s. If this is your body type you can rest well knowing that you’re part of a long-standing tradition of breaking down traditionalism. You don’t need to get suckered into the mistaken belief that the way things have always been done is the way they should always be done. You know to support equality of all people’s rights, to tear down gender issues, and to start recycling to try and save the world. Your body gave you two strong legs to stand on, and you’ll use them to stand up for the things you believe in… And all in a cute, flirty A-line skirt and button up. Bravo, 60s chick!
Also known as the gentle hourglass, this figure looks hot in high-waisted jeans and t-shirts. In the late 40s, this was the style many women hoped to achieve. While LIFE magazine in the 30s talked about the ideal woman, it’s easy to see how this translated into the 40s fashion. By the late 30s, times were changing, and women who were a precursor of the 50s hourglass started to come into style. Trim waists, rounded hips, and large, high chests were the popular markers of a women’s body in the late 30s/early 40s. A step away from the “boyish” style that was featured in many magazines, this focused more on the feminine. Dresses were softer, chiffon was in, and the feminine ruled women’s style. You belong to this beautiful decade if this is your body type, and we’re absolutely a little jealous. You look good in soft pinks and other pastels and can wear anything easily. Take a look at some of the fashion from the 40s for more inspiration!
While Marilyn Monroe has often been touted as the plus size model many women look up to, she wasn’t actually the size 12 that today calls “size 12”. Because women’s clothing sizes have changed so much, it’s misleading to call her a standard of today’s plus size beauty. However, she did impact the 1950s ways of looking at the world. She was still larger than the average model/movie star, and her gorgeous curves opened doors for other women. The sexy hourglass became a popular body style, and many women gained new confidence through watching her rise to stardom. If you have a small waist, round hips, and a large chest, you get the distinction “voluptuous” You also get bragging rights of following in the footsteps of beautiful stars like Marilyn Monroe. Take advantage of that beautiful body and invest in some good pencil skirts and tailored tops. Or, if you prefer, rock the single men’s dress shirt look. A little bit sexy, and way, way easy.
10. Fit and slender
No, we are not talking about today’s #gains look… That is much later on in this list. We are talking about the aerobics emphasis of the 1980s! Spandex, neon, and dancing your fabulous self away was the emphasis of aerobics instructors from the 80s. If you’ve got that toned, do-a-lot-of-cardio-and-bodyweight-workouts, you’re an 80s gal. You’ve been rocking the athleisure look forever, and you aren’t ashamed to wear your yoga pants everywhere from yoga class to a movie date with your bae. We bet you’re probably rocking a headband right now even! You have all the energy of a barre class instructor, and probably aspire to run a marathon… Or at least a half of one. We support you and your fitness goals and suggest you check out some of the workout music of the time. There are some real gems out there to help you rock your next workout.
9. Tall and evenly proportioned
That 70s show? More like that 70s woman. You like to take elements of hippy chic and throw them into the melting pot that is your wardrobe. You fit in with this decade because you are standing tall and proud, bursting with self-love and wanting to improve the world. You have a great attitude and it comes through in your smile, openness, and joy. The 70s was all about the love (and shag carpet), as well as colors, conversation, and heart to hearts. Many women were too busy fighting for justice or exploring the deep edges of their minds to put too much worry into how they look, which we totally support. If you’re being true to yourself, your natural beauty will shine through. Take this as a hint to leave all those body worries behind, and let yourself breathe easier knowing that you’re great… Just the way you are!
8. Tall and skinny
Coming out of the 90s, the era of Heroin Chic (which appears later in this list), tall and skinny became the new ideal for women in America. Pop music started to take over, and girl band groups brought about a new brand of girl power. It also brought a new style of body into the American media, where heroin chic was replaced with just plain pretty. Tall and skinny, but not emaciated, women were all the rage. Pop stars were slender and danced in heels in order to achieve the perky-glam look on stage. The early 2000s had the music video still popular, showing us all these gorgeous women all the time, at our fingertips. If your body shape is popstar perky, then you need to get back to the 2000s, stat! Dip dyed hair was all the rage, and the perfect accessory to those heels and wide-bottomed jeans. Crop tops were also popular, as was bright pinks and other hot colors. If you can stand it, take a glance through all those teen magazines from the early 2000s. It might give you some inspiration for your next shopping spree!
You belong in the beat poet era. A fluid time between the 40s-60s, this was when all the young writers were crashing motels, staying up all night reading poetry from their drug trips, and living large on the meager funds their artistic lifestyle gained them. Maybe you never quite grew out of your awkward teenage phase, or people usually describe you as “interesting”. Either way, you tend to be more of the visually intriguing ilk than the classic 40s/50s/60s model. If you were living in those decades, you would have been the one to start the underground poetry slams or hang out with Andy Warhol in his Factory. It’s a fun crowd and one that never leaves you wondering when the next exciting moment is going to come along… You’re all going to create the next exciting moment. This also means you don’t ever have to worry about your looks. If you do look at yourself and see an awkward teenager, remember: you’re the inspiration for three whole decades of beautiful artwork.
6. Top heavy
When has this body type ever gone out of fashion? Everyone from the 1890s to today is looking for a large chest, and there are many, many different ways to get one. With a rise in cosmetic surgery came a rise in chests. The push-up bra has always been popular, right back to all the corseting that paneled women’s closets back in the day. While we wish we could give you a decade, you can feel proud knowing that you’re one of the few folks who can work with any style! Whether you want to play up your chest, like in 1950s fashion, or play it down, like in the 60s/70s, we believe that you can do whatever you want. You’ll fit in no matter what decade you time travel to, and that’s a skill not many people have. While most folks believe in the power of having a fashion style, we say to throw caution to the wind: you can dress however you want, whenever you want. Go for it!
5. Short and sturdy
On the topic of the 1890s, let’s go back to that decade. Women were nowhere near as tall as they are now, and much of the emphasis was on plump sleeves and exaggerated waists. The shape of a woman was helped by corsets and dresses that cinched women in at their midsections, giving a very dramatic standard for the “hourglass” shape. In fact, well-rounded hips and large bosoms was the goal. While most of us have opted out of the corsets, there’s still a huge push for women to have these exaggerated figures. If you’re lucky enough to be shorter and are rocking the hourglass figure (corset-level or not), your decade is the 1890s. You turn heads in romantic styles, with light skirts and soft colors accentuating your figure. While you might prefer to wear heels, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the classic booties from the 1890s. Most of them even have a small heel, much to the rejoicing of short ladies everywhere!
4. “Heroin Chic”
Anyone familiar with the grunge music movement of the 1990s will be at least a little familiar with the phrase “heroin chic”. This is the look that was popularized by people like Kurt Cobain (with the help of the real thing), and fashion models (probably without the help of the real thing). The look is a desiccated body, thin but not attractively so. The emphasis was on bones here, with ribs and sunken eyes being attractive features. The red around the eyes was also popular, and we see it in the 90s throwback looks people do today. A rusty red sort of color that encircles the eyes like a raccoon mask. Originally achieved by lack of sleep, drug use, and improper nutrition, the look is now more commonly achieved through makeup. While it’s not one to emulate, it’s certainly a style. If you have that I-just-smoked-a-pack-of-cigarettes-during-a-mosh-pit look going on, it’s safe to say that you’re probably a 90s rocker.
3. “Boyish” and toned
The late 20s/early 30s saw a rise in women in the sports world. While some countries had allowed women to compete as professional athletes, 1928 was the first year that the Olympics allowed women in their track and field competitions. Because of the popularity of women athletes on the rise, so did the popular figure change again. Before the subtle, gentle hourglass of the 1930s/40s appeared, the boyish look was popular. Slim, flat, and boxy, this was a step further than the flappers of the 20s. Many women aspired for the look that’s affectionately called the 12-year-old-boy look. Toned and slim, height was less important than weight. Many women didn’t want hips or boob, and considered lumps and bumps unfashionable. If your body has that slim tightness that many people envy, or if you play a lot of sports, this is the decade for you. You’d be happiest here, and (we like to think) would feel the sexiest too!
2. Short and slim
Prior to the boyish look taking over, women were fond of the boxy style. Waists weren’t defined, or if they were they were far, far down the body. Legs were slim and straight and didn’t make any weird curving shapes at the hips. If you can imagine those shimmery, fringed dresses seen in the movies set in the 20s, that’s a good indicator of the shape of the body most women were looking for. While height wasn’t a huge factor, it was more common for women to be shorter and smaller; even their hair was short and tight, often curled against the head. While you might be hard pressed to find a flapper dress now, we recommend styles that structured and have a dropped waist. Unlike your more curvaceous counterparts, you’ll be able to get away with a dropped waist. It’ll also make you look taller, especially if you pair it with a set of high heels. Check out some of the popular movies set in this time period to get an idea of the type of fancy clothes that work for you.
We had to include at least one contemporary body movement in here. This one is a popular one on Instagram, with women’s pictures often being used as “fitspiration”. That means fitness inspiration. We love the way these bodies are pushed to the limit, and often feature women of all backgrounds and races. The Instagram world means more and more people are able to represent themselves, which means we’re seeing more niches pop up and body types represented. One of them is the push (literally) from women who workout, power lift, and train to build their muscles. More and more women are building up their butts, carving out their abs, and chiseling their arms through active working out. The gym is no longer just for the boys. We’re happy to see women taking over the weight racks. Even if it’s not for you, it’s a popular body type that’s gained popularity over the years and has come to a head right now. Keep the fitspo coming, ladies!
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