Body scanner that picks your perfect dress (…whatever your shape)
Could a 3D scan be the answer to all shopping dilemmas
Finding the perfect party dress to flatter your figure can be a daunting challenge, but a new 3D body scanner claims to have the solution.
You step into what looks like a photo-booth and, using digital white light, a scanner takes measurements from 16 angles to create a map of your body shape in seconds.
Using this profile, the customer’s figure falls into six categories, including triangle, hour-glass and apple.
An on-site stylist then uses this information to help pick the perfect frock for the shape the scanner has profiled.
So far, the technology has only been trialled at Manchester’s Arndale Shopping Centre.
But can a machine really beat a woman’s own intuition To find out, we sent five women — in their usual style of clothing — to submit themselves to the scanner and choose a new outfit with the help of stylist Deborah Hatfield.
Barbara Woolfstein, 46, an administrator, lives in Manchester with her husband Nigel, 47, a dentist and their four children Alex, 20, Jake, 19, Adam, 16, and Sophie, 13.
The scanner said: Petite shape. The stylist chose: A navy Monsoon dress (150).
Barbara Says:I was really surprised when the machine said I was petite because, while I’m naturally skinny, I’ve always thought of myself as more of a pear shape.
I hate the top of my legs, which seem disproportionately big and fleshy. When I was little, my brothers teased me about my bottom, which is why I’ve always believed it was bigger than it is.
I’mcareful with what I wear on my top because I think I look bony around the collarbone and shoulders and I haven’t got a bust.
Barbara Woolstein said: “I was really surprised when the machine said I was petite because, while I’m naturally skinny, I’ve always thought of myself as more of a pear shape” (the stylist chose a navy Monsoon dress, 150).
My best feature is definitely my flat stomach.
Once I’d got my reading, stylist Deborah chose this navy dress. I normally wear black but I was surprised to find that I really liked this because it’s smart, elegant and flatters my figure. If it hadn’t been picked for me, I’d have probably walked right by it.
Stylist Deborah says: Petite people like Barbara benefit from well-fitted dresses. Anything less structured and they are swamped. Slight women need a hemline above the knee to make the legs look longer. If you want to wear pattern, rely on vertical details to create height.
Sara Basso, 42, a freelance artist and stylist is married to Elliot, 48, a businessman. The couple have three teenage children, Louie, Georgia and Olivia.
The scanner said: Rectangle shape. The stylist chose: Red off-the-shoulder dress from Warehouse (75).
Sara Basso said: “I was quite flattered with the result. I always thought I was a pear-shape – that my bottom was much bigger than my bust” (the stylist chose a red off-the-shoulder dress from Warehouse, 75)
Sara says: I was quite flattered with the result. I always thought I was a pear-shape — that my bottom was much bigger than my bust. It’s a boost to be told I’m actually in proportion! My best assets are probably my 34D bust and my flat stomach whereas I hate my legs because although I am 5ft 9in tall I feel that they are a bit chunky.
I hated the look of the red lopsided dress when I first saw it. I thought it was way too short, too tight and would make me look flabby and tarty.
I’ve been dressing myself all my life, so I know what suits my shape. I’ve got a DKNY stretch-denim dress which is my favourite. It’s slim fitting, strapless and ankle length and I always feel great in it.
This dress was dreadful — and with its one-shoulder detail and over-complicated structure, there was far too much going on. I could hardly bear to wear it for the photo-shoot.
Stylist Deborah says: What struck me most about Sara was her height. I wanted to show off her legs and her shoulders because I thought her stature could take it. One thing rectangle shapes like her need is to accentuate curves, which is why I picked a dress that nipped in at the waist. I don’t think she was showing too much flesh — even if Sara does.
Sara Moran, 47, a former model, lives in Whitefield, Manchester. Married to John, 57, a businessman, she has three children, Rachael, 21, Elise, 19, Daniel, 15.
The scanner said: Triangle shape. The stylist chose: Red bandeau pleat pencil dress from Warehouse (50).
Sara Moran says: “I’ve always been shapely, even when I was modelling, but because I feel bottom-heavy, I invariably try to disguise the size of my behind by choosing floaty outfits, often with an empire line” (the stylist chose a red bandeau pleat pencil dress from Warehouse, 50)
Sara says: I’ve always been shapely, even when I was modelling, but because I feel bottom-heavy, I invariably try to disguise the size of my behind by choosing floaty outfits, often with an empire line.
I’d never have thought that something like this pleated dress would suit my figure, so it has made me think again about wearing clothes that accentuate my shape rather than simply hiding it.
All the same, putting on an outfit like this made me feel dramatically out of my comfort zone.
I took one look at myself in the mirror, packed tightly into this ultra-tight dress, and thought, ‘That can’t be me!’ I’ve not worn something so short and showing so much decolletage for years.
I loved the colour, which is something I’d definitely wear because it flatters my warm skin tone. But as I twirled in front of the mirror, I knew I’d never have the confidence to wear something so daring in public.
My friends, however, felt very differently — they loved the new look and told me I looked really sexy, which makes me wonder whether perhaps I should give it a go after all.
I’m trying to second-guess my husband’s reaction — he’ll either love it or hate it.
Stylist Deborah says: A triangle shape is pretty uncompromising, with a slight, slender build on top, but bigger around the hips and bottom.
It’s easy to dress the top half, you just have to work around the bottom.
Luckily for Sara, a J-Lo bottom is considered sexy, and she’s also lucky in that she balances a bigger backside with great legs — which is why I pulled the focus away from her bottom by drawing attention to her amazing pins.
Triangles need to work with their good bits, rather than worrying about their bad bits.
If you haven’t got nice legs, try drawing attention to slender arms, or the decolletage or upper body with a sleeveless or halter-neck design. Details on the top half will balance out any disproportion in the bottom half.
Tracy Capal, 49, is a speech writer. She is divorced and lives in Manchester.
The scanner said: Apple shape. The stylist chose: A raspberry coloured dress from Coast (160).
Tracy Capal said: “I’m a very confident person. I’m tall and fit, so I’ve always thought I was in proportion. Therefore, I was surprised to be described as apple-shaped” (The stylist chose: A raspberry coloured dress from Coast 160)
Tracey says: I’m a very confident person. I’m tall and fit, so I’ve always thought I was in proportion. Therefore, I was surprised to be described as apple-shaped.
I usually wear things that accentuate my best features — my shoulders and back. The dress that Deborah chose for me was extremely grown up and elegant — and nothing like the halternecks I usually pick.
Even the colour was a bit too demure for my normal taste. But I was so surprised when I tried it on. I felt shapely and elegant — and I could see how it suited me.
It’s what I’d call a ‘safe’ dress — pretty and not as frivolous as my usual style. Now I’ve discovered a very different look for me — one that’s classic and elegant. I might try it a more often!
Stylist Deborah says: Tracy has a slightly fuller middle, but her shoulders balance her hips.
Apple shapes need to draw the eye away from the waist.
Simple column and tunic dresses are more flattering than A-line shapes or those that make the middle section look larger.
Michal Maslin, 32, a company director, lives in Salford. She is married with four children aged ten months to eight years old.
The scanner said: Hour-glass shape. The stylist chose: Maxx cream and black lace dress, 49.99.
Michal Maslin said: “I’m not one of those women who likes to dress and behave like one of the boys and I don’t do power dressing. I just want to look soft, feminine and eye-catching” (The stylist chose a Maxx cream and black lace dress, 49.99)
Michal says: I’m fussy when it comes to clothes. I’m not one of those women who likes to dress and behave like one of the boys and I don’t do power dressing. I just want to look soft, feminine and eye-catching.
I thought the Maxx dress with black lace appliqu that Deborah chose was perfect since it fulfilled all those requirements. I felt elegant and the price was amazing.
I wouldn’t normally go for this kind of pattern or lace effect, which was a bit too fussy for me. I tend to choose bright colours because I love making a strong, bold statement. But I loved the dress all the same.
Stylist Deborah says: Michal is very lucky. Despite having had four children she’s hung on to her hour-glass shape, which means she’s totally in proportion and, in theory, can wear anything.
I went for a demure pattern that flattered her incredible figure and didn’t make her look any less slender.
Everything is perfectly balanced with an hour-glass figure so it’s best to concentrate on the cut of the dress.
Avoid heavier embellished styles — they can make you look heavier than you are. Strapless or off-the-shoulder styles are also flattering.