Hourglass figure – What to wear & how to dress best

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Hourglass figure – What to wear & how to dress best

Hourglass figure - What to wear & how to dress

If you look like a vintage goddess, you have an hourglass figure! Love those curves and show them off.

The hourglass figure is round and curvy with a well-defined waistline, fuller hips and chest and generous thighs. This means the hourglass figure is unlike the body shapes of most supermodels and consequently the pictures in the fashion magazines.

Unsure about your body shape or if you really are an hourglass figure? Just check with our body shape calculator or the body shape quiz!

Hourglass figure

The hourglass figure has defined curves.

Maybe due to the lack of curves of models today, some hourglass shaped women find that they should hide their curves or indeed have problems finding the right type of clothes for their curvaceous body type. Many clothes seem designed to fit ‘straight-up-and-down’ bodies instead of an hourglass figure.

Luckily, many men and women still consider the hourglass figure as the ideal feminine body type. Hourglass shaped women have chest and hips with about the same size, and their waist is narrow. This gives them a set of sexy, killer curves.

Famous hourglass body shape examples are Ava Gardner, Eva Longoria, Scarlett Johansson and Marilyn Monroe.

Hourglass figure pros and cons

The benefits of an hourglass figure are: sexy curvy proportions and defined waist.

The problem on the other hand is: tendency to look heavy and short (because of your broad hips). Defining the waist and lengthening your legs will do the trick.

All an hourglass woman needs to do, is dress in clothes that follow the curves of their body shape rather than hide it. Clothes that follow the curves of your hourglass body will make you appear balanced and feminine.

You can see that in the samples below. The pieces without a defined waistline (straight orange line) will hide your curves. To make sure your waistline is visible you have to make sure you wear tailored (form fitting) clothes! More details on this can be seen in the sections below.


One of the most important rules for an hourglass figure is to make sure the waistline is defined and not hidden! You can find some tips on how to work out to define your waist here.

If you want even more curves, add volume equivalently to your upper and lower body – but do not just add volume to either top or bottom, that would put your body out of balance.

Make sure your clothes are snug but not clingy. Rather go one size up in a form-fitting style than have your clothes pull at your figure.

Avoid tops, jackets and dresses with straight lines, since they cover your curves and will make you appear heavy.

Fabrics for hourglass figures

Textured, stiff and thick fabrics cannot follow the curves of your body, so avoid fabrics like structured linen, denim, chunky knits, corduroy, twill, thick jersey or Thai silk. Exception: Skirts in A-line are great in a structured fabric, as the fabric ensures that the skirt keeps its form. Make sure the skirt fits well in the waist.

Fabrics that are great for hourglass body shape women include denim with elastane, fine jersey, very fine cotton or cotton mixed with elastane / polyester, fine knits and fine silk.

Dress the beautiful hourglass body shape

hourglass shaped body v neckline

Rounded necklines will look great on you, though V necklines do the trick as well for you!

Neckline styles

Necklines that are slightly rounded look great on you, as the oval, deep oval, rounded or jewel neckline. You can also wear V-necks, sweethearts and scoop necks.

Avoid wide necklines like square and boat necks as well as high necklines and turtlenecks if you are busty; they will make you look top heavy.

Collar styles

Light ruffles are great for an hourglass figure. You can only wear big ruffles if you are small breasted, otherwise they would add too much volume.

Classic lapels are great, as are Chelsea and portrait collar.

hourlgass shaped body look your best

Go sleeveless to show off your beautiful rounded shoulders.

Sleeve styles

Your clothes should follow your natural curve, so go for set-in sleeves. They are perfect for your sloping shoulders. Shoulder seams should be precisely at the joint where the arm attaches.

You can dress in short sleeves to sleeves above the elbow. For long sleeves opt for fitted ones or flowing bishop sleeves. If you want to show some of your femininity, ensure that the sleeves do not cover the complete curve of the wrist.
Hourglass figures can wear small shoulder pads, but should avoid large ones.

With a sleeveless look you can show off your beautiful rounded shoulders.

Tops & Shirts

An hourglass figure has a beautiful waist; make sure your tops show off this great asset. Tops, blouses and shirts should be fitted. They should nip in at the waist without adding bulk to your chest.  Also avoid big ruffles, bows or any other embellishments that would add a lot of volume to you top (unless you add some volume to your hips to balance that out). Extra bulk on your chest will throw your proportions out of sync and extra bulk on your waist would hide your waist’s natural slimness.

Hourglass figure - What to wear & how to dress best turtleneck

If you wear a turtleneck, make sure the collar is pretty small. Otherwise you might look very busty.

Wrap tops are great as they show your waist without adding extra volume to your chest.

Opt for soft fabrics like jersey, silk, fine gabardine or cotton with elasthan. Stretchy materials are great if you have a flat stomach. Stiff fabrics like linen and Thai silk will not be able to follow your body’s natural curves and thus make you appear heavier. Lightly body-hugging sweaters in fine knits are great for hourglass silhouettes.

Soften or accentuate your curves?
If you want to downplay your curves, put on a top in dark or muted colors or in vertical stripes. The top should end just below your hipbone or past your thighs.
If you want to show off your curves, opt for a top in light or bright colors or big print. A top that stops just short of your waist is great for highlighting your feminine top half.

Tip: Always wear a bra to lift and tame your bust.

Vest styles

The vest for an hourglass body shape should be form-fitting. This accentuates your waist and should end at or above your hips.


jackets per body type

Check out our jacket per body type calculator to see if a jacket fits your hourglass figure!

Always go for jackets that follow your body line and draw in toward the waist. Look for form-fitting and belted jackets. If your jacket does not come with a belt, just add one around the waist. Short jackets that stop just above your hips accentuate your curves. Short jackets that stop just above your hips accentuate your curves in a flattering way.

Avoid straight and boxy styles as do not show your waist and thus make you appear heavier. A slim waistline is the defining feature of an hourglass figure so try and avoid anything that hides it!



Form-fitting coats are great, look for fitted A-line coats, trench-coats and long coachmen styles. If your coat has embellishments around your bust, make sure you have enough volume around your hips for balance. Puff-sleeves or epaulettes to emphasise your shoulders are great.

Hourglass figure - What to wear & how to dress best empire line

Empire lines do look great on you. Having the waist at your natural waistline will look even better though. Flaunt what you got!

Avoid empire or drop waist coats as they hide your natural waistline. Boxy and straight coat styles hide your waist, for some adding a belt works – for some coats that adds too much bulk around your waist.


Wrap dresses are perfect for hourglass figures as they show off their waistlines.

Dresses for an hourglass figure

Your best bet are dresses that draw the focus to your waist without adding extra volume to your bust. Wrap dresses do just that. Tailored sheaths, tank dresses, wrap, bias and strapless women are cute on hourglass shaped women.

If you want to appear more curvaceous, add volume both to bust and hip through ruffles, embellishments or pockets.

If you want to downplay your curves, look for a dress in dark colors or vertical stripes.


Skirts for an hourglass figure

Skirts are best high-waisted – low waisted ones only add bulk to your lower half. You can dress in A-line, full circle, pencil, tulip and gored skirts in medium and long; knee length skirts will be your best bet though. These skirts hug your hips and hang off them naturally. Short straight skirts will look great under a top or jacket. You probably

hourglass shaped body fitted dress

Do not hide your figure in shapeless dresses! It might take some courage to show off your sexy curves; if you are not sure, take some pictures before you leave the house or ask friends. PS: that is true for hourglasses in all sizes!

have great legs, so show them off. Show those rectangle fashion models what a real hourglass body shape can look like!
Look for skirt materials that stretch or drape. Stiff and thick materials make your hips look box and wider than they actually are. Only wear stiff materials with an A line skirt that shows your tiny waist.

If you want to emphasize your hip curves, you can go for a skirt with a peplum. But be aware, it might add too much volume.

Avoid skirts with big voluminous pockets, ruffles or other embellishments around your hip unless you balance them with details around your chest. Keep away from darts.


Pants that start above or below your stomach are great. Your best bet are wide-legged and loose fitting pants that go straight down to the floor. Hourglass types also look great in slightly tapered, boot-cut or flare out trousers. The flare retains the portion of your lower leg in balance with your hips.

Avoid pleats/darts in pants as your tummy curves tend to cause pleats to lay open. Also keep away from big voluminous pockets around your hip. You do not want to add extra volume here. Skip baggy pants, they are too bulky for your feminine curves.

Your trousers should have flat fronts and pockets without flaps or large buttons. You should also avoid decorative embellishments or other decorations at the hip. In case you have to wear them make sure you keep an hourglass figure. This means you have to add something to your top as well to avoid appearing unbalanced.


Look for high rise shorts with contoured waistbands. Combine with a tight top or blouse that you tuck in.

Avoid shorts that are cut straight up, darts and stiff fabrics.

Hourglass figure - What to wear & how to dress best jeans

Straight leg and boot-cut jeans will make a sporty look paired with a figure hugging shirt.


Hourglass silhouette.

An hourglass figure highlighted

Mid- or high rise pants are fabulous as they elongate your legs. They should lay flat on your belly. Jeans with wide waist-bands are great for hourglass shaped women. Wide-legged, loose fitting, slightly tapered, boot-cut and flared jeans styles are great.

Skinny jeans could make you look shorter, so pair them with a balanced top and high heels that add extra length to your leg.
Look for jeans with stretch denim as this fabric will be able to follow your curves.

Avoid low-rise pants. They make your hips look wider and your legs look shorter.



You can wear belted and form-fitting jumpsuit styles. Just make sure that the leg is not too tapered.

Avoid too many details at the hip as the biggest strength of an hourglass body shape is the even distribution on hip and shoulders. Putting too much attention on either hip or shoulderline will counter that effect and reduce the strength of your waistline.


Swimwear & Beachwear

You can sport a wide variety of one-piece and two-piece swimsuits.  Strapless and bandeau tops look great on hourglass shaped women. For a large bust, opt for halter tops, string bikinis with sufficient coverage and support. If you like to appear more curvaceous, buy one with ruffles, padding and embellishments. Bottoms should cut straight across your hips.

You can choose any color or pattern; just keep away from big differences in color between top and bottom as this will put your body out of balance.

hourglass body type dress your best hat

Have fun with accessories! Even better when they look feminine and rounded.

Accessories for an hourglass figure

Make sure belts follow the natural curve of your waistline. Small to medium size belts and soft belts are great for that. Be aware of wide belts, as they can make an hourglass body shape with a small torso look even smaller. Be careful with hip belts as they emphasize your bottom and might make it more voluminous.

Short necklaces that hug your neck or long necklaces in a V-form are great. Keep away from very angular necklaces and necklaces that hang too low and wide over your chest, especially if they hit just below the breast. Necklaces that reach your belly are fine.

Shoe styles for an hourglass body shape

Classic shoes like pumps with medium heel are great as well as kitten heels. For hot days, choose a sandal with closed-in toe and a simple strap around the heel. Pointy-toed or almond toe shoes with bottoms that are wide at the hem are great for hourglass shaped women because they elongate the leg line.  Round toed shoes are good as well, just wear your pants very long (almost skimming the ground).

Hourglass figure - What to wear & how to dress best shoe

Heels are made for you! Even if you wear just a little heel that will help to elongate your legs and show off your femininity.

Look for a boot with a medium heel that is snug to your thighs.

An hourglass figure should avoid straight leg boots as they cover the curves of your ankles as well as above-the-knees and calf-length boots.

Bag styles for an hourglass figure

To play down your curves, choose a bag with angles. E.g: a structured Satchel, a boxy Cigar Box, a classic Kelly bag or a geometric clutch. To celebrate your body shape, choose a bag with curves, e.g. soft Pouch, an oval bag, a soft and slouchy Hobo, a long and rounded Baguette, a semi-circular clutch,…
Shoulder straps on bags are uncomfortable for you because of your sloping shoulders. They will tend to slide off your shoulders.

The form of your bag is important, but size matters as well. As a petite hourglass, better choose a small bag. As a large hourglass figure, choose a bigger bag.

You have reached the end of our overview on how to dress as an hourglass figure. In case you have any remaining questions or want to share your insights please do not hesitate to contact us through the forum below.


  1. Anonymous 5. March 2014 at 17:11 - Reply

    I am really overwhelmed at reading this article.I have been worried about my dressing as I have the hourglass shape.Thank you so much for this useful advice and guide.

    • mar 31. March 2014 at 09:27 - Reply

      Hey there,

      glad to know we inspired you! Enjoy dressing your hourglass body!

  2. Anonymous 17. April 2014 at 11:01 - Reply

    haha i think i am dressing in the wrong wardrobe for an hourglass 🙁 thx for this overview it helps so much!!!

    • Verena 18. April 2014 at 19:35 - Reply

      You know, I am so happy to read this. This is why I am doing this. To help someone feel great with what he or she wears.
      I hope the article helped to to get you closer to your own style!

  3. Michelle 17. April 2014 at 11:09 - Reply


    I enjoyed reading your information Most informative and very easy to understand.

    I am starting my own Image consulting business after completing the course as an Image Consultant.

    Thank you for your interesting and informative input

    Kind regards

    • Verena 18. April 2014 at 19:34 - Reply

      Hi Michelle,
      happy to know that this is helpful!

  4. Ruth Carin 23. April 2014 at 10:59 - Reply

    I have been hiding in layers and baggy clothes. Will definitely overhaul my wardrobe. I’ve been from inverted triangle to hourglass shape. This will help with my adjustment.

    • Verena 2. August 2014 at 20:34 - Reply

      Great! Write us an update how you feel with your new wardrobe. And maybe try out a knee length wrap dress in your favorite color. It is a safe bet and you will look very feminine.. Best, Verena

  5. sammy 29. April 2014 at 11:14 - Reply

    I’m 15 and dressing for me is really hard. I’m really insecure and want to be able to dress like other girls without getting sent home because my body is “provocative.” What do I wear that is cute for me, appropriate for school, and will boost my confidence?

    • Verena 2. August 2014 at 20:43 - Reply

      Hi Sammy,
      as I do not know where you live it is hard to give advice on what is appropriate for your school. To play it safe, you can wear your skirts and short trousers knee length or just slightly shorter. Do not show too much cleavage.
      Wearing clothes in your colors and that fit your personality will help your confidence. (Here is more about the colors: http://www.styled247.com/category/women/style-guide/personal-colors/)
      Also don’t just go for the latest trends, make sure YOU look good in it.

  6. Fefe 29. April 2014 at 23:25 - Reply

    Thanks for the useful information. Is it possible to show us models wearing different clothes?

  7. Manda 30. May 2014 at 00:09 - Reply

    Do these rules apply to a larger hourglass lady i.e. size 16?
    great informative article 🙂

    • Verena 2. August 2014 at 21:42 - Reply

      Thank you. Yes, the rules apply. No matter your size, have fun with fashion!

  8. Amelia 17. June 2014 at 15:36 - Reply

    Wow, this is the most helpful and detailed guide on dressing hourglass figures I have found — and I’ve been reading on this online for over a week. I am definitely checking out this book, too. There is so much to digest here.

    The main problem I have is that I either look like a vampy knockout or a frumpy little girl dressed In the wrong size clothes. Monochromatic outfits of separates and wrap dresses work great, but if I wear those too many days I’ll start to look like a crazy person — but I may be too self conscious. This body type is not fashionable right now, so shopping for it takes forever (it seems to be all triangles and apples these days).

    I was beginning to throw in the towel and accept I’d have to get everything tailored, but your site gives me hope…and may save me hundreds of dollars if I don’t need to pay a tailor. Thanks very much!

    • Verena 3. August 2014 at 12:18 - Reply

      Loved to read your feedback. This is why we set up this website! By the way, there are tons of clothes for hourglasses out there. Your probably have to get used to your curves though. No matter what your size is, an hourglass woman has a curvier body than the typical inverted triangle or rectangle you would find in fashion magazines these days. Once you feel more comfortable with that, you dare to wear a wider range. In the meantime, you can get some diversification for your outfits with scarves, jewellery shoes.

  9. Michelle 10. July 2014 at 05:27 - Reply

    This website is so good for what im looking for so thank you

    • mar 2. August 2014 at 22:00 - Reply

      You are welcome Michelle!

  10. Megan 12. July 2014 at 19:04 - Reply

    Oh my goodness! I just stumbled upon this article as I was researching what kind shirts and coats would work best for my body. I love how the author provides information for both petite and busty women. Very helpful indeed! Thanks!

    • Verena 3. August 2014 at 12:11 - Reply

      Thanks! We are happy that the info was helpful.

  11. Michelle 25. January 2015 at 06:21 - Reply

    At 45, I (finally) know what looks good on me and I kept nodding and nodding while reading through this article. Wrap dresses are definites. Bang on about the necklines, sleeves and fabrics as well. And you’re right .. I DO have great legs! 😉

    To Sammy, the 15 year old. Understand that others are _reacting_ to you – you’re not responsible for how other people feel when they look at you. You have a right to education – make sure those rights are respected and not threatened by how other people feel. My advice would be to try to concentrate less on others and more on what makes you feel good about yourself. Have fun with what you wear – now’s the time to enjoy trying things out. Don’t be a slave to fashion and to what your friends are wearing – wear what you feel good in first and foremost. Respecting and pleasing yourself first is the best gift you can give you yourself and to those who love you, no matter how old you are. Enjoy! All the best to you.

    • Verena 27. January 2015 at 07:25 - Reply

      Hi Michelle,

      I am happy for you that you know what looks good on you. And I am even happier that you appreciate your legs!

      And you are right: women (and men) should wear what makes them feel good about themselves and do not be slaves to fashion or what their friends wear. The same is true with style guidelines: we write them down to help people, not to box them. If they do not work for you, don’t use them!

      Have a great one,

  12. Katie 1. February 2015 at 21:34 - Reply

    I’m so glad I found this! I definitely am dressing all wrong- which is why I always feel so frumpy, short (even though I am 5′ 8) , & like I have mammoth hips. I guess all my flowy tops are not working out for me.

    • mar 2. February 2015 at 12:37 - Reply

      Hello Katie,

      Glad to have inspired you! Just apply some of the new ideas to your next shopping trip and let us know how you liked your look. And the most important thing anyway that you feel comfortable in the clothes….



      • Moo 13. February 2015 at 15:46 - Reply

        Great read!!! Going to send to my mom as well ! And re read a few times. Instill instill instill. 🙂

        • mar 18. February 2015 at 09:56 - Reply

          Hello Moo,

          glad to be able to help! Let us know if you or your mom have some questions 🙂

  13. everything about iphone 5c 9. April 2015 at 18:53 - Reply

    While most retailers give you honest answers, you may want to take the glasses to more than one retailer . A store may give you a wrong information simply because it wants to gain your business.

  14. Anonymous 13. April 2015 at 01:25 - Reply

    It is possible to be thin and also have this body type, chief . I just came here for wardrobe advice, not for somebody to make me feel like I’m not curvy unless I have a fucking DD cup-size and a huge ass. My bone structure is proportioned this way, and so My curves may be much smaller than everybody else’s, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. What’s up with everybody trying to knock down eachothers self-esteem? Big or small: let people feel beautiful and fuck off

  15. Shana 8. May 2015 at 01:13 - Reply

    I am a 5’9″ 220lb hourglass. I’ve found that swing dresses that end right at my knee caps look awesome on me. I like the 50s look and the rockabilly look and those work very well. I wear super high heels making me well over 6′ tall and I wear a waist cincher to exaggerate my shape. Nylons and garters yes please. Tight sweaters and a line skirts yep. Round toe shoes make my feet disappear and I look off balance. Knee high boots only look good IF they form fit my calves, and have a heel. Kitten heels do not look good on anyone over 12 years old or under 65 years old in my opinion. This was an awesome article, thanks!

    • root 9. June 2016 at 13:18 - Reply

      Hello Shana,
      I´m glad you liked the articles.

      Have a lovely day,
      yours Abigail

  16. michelle 18. May 2015 at 04:23 - Reply

    Yeap! This was really helpful, i had doubt about skirts, thank you!

    • root 9. June 2016 at 13:22 - Reply

      Hello Michelle,

      glad you enjoyed your readings,

      hava a great day,
      yours Verena

  17. Kate 21. May 2015 at 13:01 - Reply

    Wow Wow and Wow! I have always tried to hide my body under layers and loose tops. I am 5’8 like Katie and feel the same way! frumpy. Looking forward to dressing to my style instead of trying to fit in. Thank you for putting the time in for a great article!

    • root 9. June 2016 at 13:25 - Reply

      Hello Kate,

      I love your euphoric answer. Love your body and it´s shape. You´ll find plenty of fitting wear that will make you feel comfortable and amazing.

      Yours Abigail


  18. Hours of glasses 22. May 2015 at 19:48 - Reply

    Thanks a million. I usually don’t comment on these, just get the information. But I want you to know you give people confidence.

    • root 9. June 2016 at 13:27 - Reply

      Tthanks for sharing !


  19. Ria 18. June 2015 at 22:06 - Reply

    Hey, thanks for including details that differentiate hourglasses with small instead of large busts (detailing with small or large ruffles, etc.). I would mention that strapless styles on smaller busted hg’s doesn’t actually work so well though for swimwear, from experience. And swim bottoms look better if they’re boyshort-cut instead of bikini-brief style, as that’s more flattering to the hips/booty. Bikini-briefs make the butt look longer and even saggy while the boycuts make it look perkier and fuller in a curvaceous way. You might make a note on that section clarifying.

    Otherwise, your page is one of the most helpful ones I’ve come across.

    • root 9. June 2016 at 13:40 - Reply

      Hello Ria, Thank your very much for your comment and feedback!

  20. Kaitlin 31. July 2015 at 05:17 - Reply

    This is great! I never knew to measure my shoulders, I always measure my ribs. I never thought of myself as an hourglass. I am very into fashion, and half of this I already knew…but just didn’t understand why I liked these things on me lol. Makes SO much sense now! Thank you!

    • root 9. June 2016 at 13:48 - Reply

      Hello Kaitlin,

      happy to hear this. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Ceciliacarrick 4. August 2015 at 17:31 - Reply

    I can’t believe. I’ve been dressing wrong for the last 30years.. Thank you so much for putting this together . So detailed .lets hope I get it right from here on in:)))

    • root 9. June 2016 at 13:50 - Reply

      Enjoy yourself!


  22. Ceciliacarrick 4. August 2015 at 17:33 - Reply

    Let’s hope I have an hourglass figure too..lol

  23. Ceciliacarrick 6. August 2015 at 19:48 - Reply

    I can’t believe I’ve been dressing wrong all throught my life. Your style tips mean a lot to me…that’s if I have an hour glass figure.:))

  24. Loui 23. August 2015 at 07:27 - Reply

    For the longest time, I’ve been a fan of vintage clothes.Those high waisted- skirt or dress with full skirt. In fact, I’ve been raiding my mom’s closet because her clothes look fabulous on me and I can’t explain why. It is only when I came across your article that everything made sense.Thank you.

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