Women who shape up to the ideal include the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Racquel Welsh and Marilyn Monroe.
"We found that shorter, slimmer females with long slender legs, a curvy figure and larger breasts are more attractive," said lead researcher Dr William Brown of Brunel University.
Conversely tall men with broad shoulders and relatively short legs in comparison to the length of their upper body are the most attractive to women, say the researchers.
Examples include the record-breaking Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who is 6' 4 ins and yet is said to benefit from having relatively short legs in comparison to the length of his powerful upper body, as well as the British actors Christian Bale and Clive Owen.
Scientists report today that symmetry is important to attractiveness in the body as well as the face, as had previously been shown.
But the new work shows that we do not detect symmetry directly but by looking for a much more obvious turn on, dubbed "body masculinity," a composite measure of greater height, wider shoulders, smaller breasts, and stouter legs of the kind that propelled Mr Phelps to eight golds.
The pioneering research project used highly accurate three dimensional scans of body shape for the first time.
Dr Brown and colleagues used a 3D optical scanner to create a detailed image of the body shape of 77 people, half male, then asked volunteers to assess how attractive the bodies of the opposite sex were, using a colour-neutral, computer-rendered form minus the head.
Both men and women found symmetrical bodies were more attractive than lopsided, asymmetric ones, they report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Through their research, Dr Brown and a team of scientists identified the key factor was body masculinity, a mathematical fusion of traits including wider shoulders, smaller breasts and shorter legs, though not of the Ronnie Corbett kind because they must be accompanied by a tall body.
The volunteers rated men with high body masculinity most attractive, while evenly proportioned women with low body masculinity were deemed the most beautiful. They were also the most symmetrical too.
Dr. Brown explains: "It is widely believed that human beings are attracted to one another as a result of their prospect as a mate who will yield higher quality offspring for the chooser."
Although much work has shown symmetry is a signal of good genes, and thus a desirable reproductive partner, Dr Brown's work found that symmetry is not in the eye of the beholder and that there are more obvious signals of what is good looking and what is not.
In earlier work, Dr Brown found that good dancers tend to have more symmetrical bodies. Now he has found that body masculinity signals a symmetrical male, while low body masculinity, an hourglass figure with long legs, signal a symmetrical female. "Larger breasts are quite conspicuous and this is what males are attending to, rather than symmetry."
"Because bodily asymmetries are too subtle to be seen with the naked eye, evolution has instead engineered more conspicuous signals and displays, such as broad shoulders, curvy waist lines or smooth dance moves to indicate mate quality."
Previous studies of this kind relied on callipers to measure body shape, which are prone to human error and can only measure up to a maximum of nine inches, thus missing important 3D aspects of size and shape.
Instead, the study used Brunel's high-tech 3D body scanner to accurately measure human body proportions. Co-author, Dr Jinsheng Kang says: "The 3D body scanner accurately extracts hundreds of measurements of the human body, including volume, in six seconds and removes a potential source of measurement error."
In his next study, Dr Brown plans to probe how attractively tall men with short legs are able to dance.