Athletic Body Types: How to Choose Clothing for Banana or Rectangle Body Shapes

    Published 08 April 2020
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    Usually lean and straight with long limbs, the rectangle body shape is common among women, particularly those who exercise often or carry the genes for it. Next, Flo explains how to play up the best features of athletic body types with the right outfits and accessories.

    What is a banana body shape?

    There are countless female body types, but knowing which of the conventional categories you fall into helps you make more informed decisions regarding fashion.

    A banana body shape is one where the waist is barely narrower than the bust or hips. Furthermore, the bust and hip measurements will be nearly identical, producing a characteristically ruler-shaped figure.

    Women displaying a rectangle body shape tend to have a small bust, undefined waist, and narrow hips. The banana or straight body shape also features long limbs and a thin frame that won’t store a lot of fat or show obvious curves.

    Individuals with a rectangle-shaped body often enjoy faster metabolism and have a tough time putting on weight. When they do gain weight, however, it’s either distributed evenly throughout or accumulates a little more around the stomach.

    For the most part, the factors that contribute to a rectangle body shape cannot be controlled. During and after puberty, specific hormonal changes alter breast size, hip width, and waist circumference. They’re further influenced by genetics, age, weight, and lifestyle. 

    It’s totally normal to observe evolution in overall body shape as we age. For example, a teenage girl with a straighter, leaner body in puberty could develop a curvier shape over time.

    Note that rectangle body shapes, as well as triangular ones, appear more often in athletic women. Certain forms of exercise, such as heavy-bag workouts, may encourage the development of a banana body shape.

    In recent decades, athletic body types have become associated with thin celebrities, including many models and actresses. Popular celebrities with banana bodies include:

    • Cameron Diaz
    • Gwyneth Paltrow
    • Nicole Kidman
    • Kate Middleton
    • Keira Knightley
    • Anne Hathaway
    • Uma Thurman
    • Kate Hudson
    • Sarah Jessica Parker
    • Kate Moss

    Picking clothes for a rectangle body shape

    First and foremost, remember that every body is beautiful, whether it’s lean and straight, or curvy and voluptuous.

    But understanding the wide array of female body types is super helpful when you’re shopping for new clothes to flaunt what Mother Nature gave you. Fortunately, it’s possible to find a huge assortment of clothing that enhances a rectangle-shaped body. Boost the sex appeal of a banana body shape by keeping the following rules in mind:

    Accentuate the positive

    If you have a rectangle body shape, that probably means you’re tall, lean, and elegant. So rather than trying to hide your assets, draw attention to them by:

    • Wearing long layers, such as vests, jackets, scarfs, or lengthy tops to highlight a billowy figure
    • Tucking in blouses to accentuate the waistline and showcase a small bust
    • Choosing pretty much any kind of pants you like ‒ when it comes to athletic body types, you simply can’t go wrong here
    • Opting for halter tops which spotlight petite arms and shoulders
    • Buying custom-tailored clothing that won’t create a dull, shapeless silhouette 
    • Relying on high necklines (e.g., turtlenecks) to add beauty and grace to a longer neck
    • Draping flowy, boxy outfits, such as drop-waist dresses, on a banana body shape
    • Colorfully accessorizing with long, dangly earrings or necklaces
    • Using color-block garments to clearly define each part of the body

    Create lots of curves

    Try simulating a fuller, curvier figure with:

    • Peplum tops and dresses that generate the illusion of wider hips and a narrower waist
    • Pieces featuring extra detailing or fabric around the bust or hips to mimic an hourglass figure
    • Boat necklines which make the bust appear bigger than it really is
    • Belts and belted tops or dresses designed to break up straight lines and focus attention on the waist
    • A-line or flared skirts that cleverly disguise narrow hips

    Lastly, never underestimate the importance of choosing the right underwear. Rectangle body shapes benefit greatly from curve-enhancing bras which maximize your assets.

    Avoid certain kinds of clothing

    Unfortunately, there are likely just as many unflattering ensembles as there are flattering ones on the market for a rectangle-shaped body. However, don’t let this stop you from buying something you truly love ‒ after all, there are no rules when it comes to fashion! Pretty much anything goes as long as it makes you feel gorgeous and confident.

    But if you still prefer to downplay specific features of a banana shape body, then try to avoid:

    • Overly tight clothing
    • Tops or dresses with a very deep V-neck
    • Bottoms with extra detailing (e.g., pleats or ruffles) around the waist

    Bring out the best in a rectangle body shape

    Everyone has something they wish they could change about their bodies, and that’s perfectly natural. For example, women born with a rectangle body shape might wish for a bigger bust or rounder hips. But it’s nearly impossible to completely modify your body type without cosmetic procedures, and staying fit and active is a much healthier goal to strive for. 

    Consider slimming down your waistline to transition from a banana body shape to a slightly more hourglass-like figure by performing bodyweight exercises. Or, select any of the above-mentioned clothing items to show everyone just how fabulous a rectangle body shape can really be!

    History of updates

    Current version (08 April 2020)

    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant

    Published (08 April 2020)

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