What body type are you?

Your measurements -- as scary as they may be -- can help you determine your body type.
Your measurements -- as scary as they may be -- can help you determine your body type.
Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

It turns out architecture is important for more than building skyscrapers. The overall shape of your body creates the basic framework and contour of the clothes you wear. A big basement or modest mezzanine can have an impact on how you look in, say, a pencil skirt or V-necked sweater. Knowing where you shine or where you need some clever camouflage will help you choose more flattering clothes, and probably save you a little money and a few embarrassing missteps, too.

Nobody's perfect, and that's kind of comforting. Really. Those super skinny fashion models may look great, thanks in part to airbrushed photos and starving themselves until they have practically no shape to begin with, but the rest of us usually have at least a few body image issues to contend with. From pouchy tummies to butts that shift south a little further with each passing decade, our bodies are our ever-changing temples, where time, gravity and a genetic disposition to carry those few extra cookies around our hips can create dressing challenges. The good news is that clothes are great at accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative -- well, concealing it anyway.

Body typing maps the human form and offers practical wardrobe solutions for common problems. If you look like an avocado in those green tights or think you may have had a waist once but it probably took a train for the coast a couple of decades ago, keep reading. We'll share what you need to know to identify your current body shape and make the most of it -- or least of it -- depending.

For this little tutorial, you're going to need a full-length mirror, ideally a three-way mirror. What's with all the screaming in horror? This is important. Once you know your shape, you'll be able to recognize your fashion friends and enemies at 10 paces.

Before you start evaluating your physical flaws, take a second to remember who you really are first. You are a soldier in the trenches: You probably work, clean, cook and still try hard to do it all with good grace. You wash hundreds of loads of laundry a year, run errands and pay bills. You're a mother, lover, daughter and friend. You're a lady when it calls for it and a street fighter when things get tough and Superman is on a break. It's a brave new world, and you may just be the bravest part of it, so give yourself some credit.

Now, grab a measuring tape and meet us on the next page.