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