This is a refresher article on how to dress the hourglass body shape with some new shoppable options featuring the fall and winter 2023 trends.
In this part of dressing for your body type series we will have a look at the hourglass figure.

Characteristics of the hourglass body

  • Well defined (narrow) waist
  • Hip and bust tend to be almost the same and quite big

The hourglass is seen by many as the ideal body shape, although it may also present some challenges if you have a significant bust.

You may also have gathered some weight around the abdomen area in which case you will have some characteristics of the apple body type as well.

You can see tips here on how to dress the apple body shape.

Celebrities with the hourglass body shape

Some celebrities with this body shape include:

  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Raquel Welch
  • Nigella Lawson
  • Salma Hayek and
  • Christina Hendricks

So, if you have an hourglass figure, you’re certainly in good company!

Runway looks for inspiration on how to dress the hourglass

While many designers cater for the rectangle or inverted triangle because a lot of models are build this way, there are others who celebrate the hourglass shape and don’t shy away from dressing women with a larger bust and hips.

If you’re looking for inspiration on the catwalks on how to dress the hourglass, then the runways of Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior are good shows to look out for as they tend to design with curves in mind.

Designer inspiration on how to dress the hourglass |

Dolce & GabbanaAlexander McQueenChristian Dior

The aim of dressing for your hourglass body type

You will want to accentuate your very feminine body so fitted clothes (at the right places) are key. Another objective may be to elongate your legs.

You are lucky in that your body is already balanced. Your bust and hips are around the same size. Other body shapes will find that they need to add balance.

So you will want to keep the balance that you have and avoid adding any “bulk” with your clothing.

If you add ruffles or extra width to your bust, for example, you will lose your ideal hourglass shape and end up looking “top heavy”.

If you add extra width to your waist with boxy styles, you will look heavier than you really are because you will hide your lovely shape.

How to dress the hourglass body shape |

Adding a belt to your dress like Claudia above is a great idea if you’re an hourglass.

Recreate her outfit with this similar dress (another option here), loafers, handbag and belt.

How to dress the hourglass body shape

So, now we’ve looked at what you shouldn’t do – ie, not to add extra bulk, what should you do?

Upper body

  • You will want to wear mostly V-shaped tops or tops with a deep neckline. High necklines will just make your bust area look too bulky
  • Look for dresses that fit your boobs and elongate your waist. They should fit very snugly around that area.
  • If you have some weight around the abdomen then make sure your buy your dress in supportive fabric.
  • T-shirts look nicest when they fit your waist, have a V-neck and have some accents on the shoulders.
  • Get a coat that highlights your waist and features a V-neck.
  • Wear single-breasted jackets that are tailored. They will often look best when left open to create a nice vertical line, which elongates
  • Choose shirts that accentuate your boobs and that don’t have buttons all the way to the top.
  • Tops that flare just below the boob area and go to below your crutch can be very flattering with trousers.
  • Little fitted jackets that tuck in your boobs will look great on you.
  • Use light scarves in winter to cover your open V-neck.
  • Wear darker colors on top to make your boobs appear smaller, if you want to.
  • A good bra is essential for this body type. Make sure you get a good supportive bra that will thrust your bust forwards.
Wacoal Elevated Allure Full Coverage Underwire Bra |

Wacoal Elevated Allure Full Coverage Underwire Bra

Lower body

  • A pencil skirt is a good shape on you as it will go in and out with your curves.
  • Bootcut and flared styles will look great on you when it comes to pants as they compliment your curves.
Erica in green pants and a white blouse |

Erica @ericabunker above (read her style interview here) shows off a good pair of pants for the hourglass, as these will emphasize a slim waist before flaring out at the hem.

Check out this blouse (other options here and here) that you can wear with this similar pair of pants (another option here), sandals, necklace and earrings.

Top wardrobe tips for the hourglass:

  • Pencil skirts that fit well are ideal for the hourglass as they accentuate your wonderful curves.
  • Other skirts can work too but will usually look better when they end around the knee.
  • Opt for flat front boot cut trousers, preferably with stretch for a snug fit.
  • Choose shoes that accentuate your curves, such as shoes with rounded toes, peep toes or bows.

A fall capsule wardrobe for the hourglass

If you have an hourglass figure and want to put together all of the tips in one capsule wardrobe, read on for tops, pants, skirts, dresses, shoes and accessories, which are all flattering for your figure, as well as having a nod to this season’s trends.

Also take a look at how to create a capsule wardrobe.

Tops for the hourglass

When looking for tops, you will find that scoop neck styles look good on you as they will show off your collar bone, and the curve of the neck will mirror your own curves.

The other style to look out for is a v-neck. This cuts the width of your top half visually in half by drawing the eye down instead of across.

If you aren’t keen on your upper arms, then look for tops which have slanted sleeves, or where the sleeve ends at a slim part of your arm rather than the widest part.

Peplums, fitted waist styles, wrap tops and belted styles will also look great on you.

Tops to wear for the hourglass body shape |

& Other Stories Fitted Soft Square-Neck T-ShirtLoveappella Faux Wrap TopLoveappella Flutter Sleeve Jersey Wrap TopASTR the Label Floral Puff Sleeve Lace-Up Corset Crop Top

Nikki wears a wrap top and jeans |

Nikki @40notfrumpy above wears a wrap top with ties at the waist. Wrap styles tend to be flattering for hourglass shapes.

Steal her look with this similar top (another option here), jeans, sandals and handbag.

Jackets and coats for the hourglass

As with the rest of your clothing, your jacket or coat should show off your waist.

Boxy styles won’t do you any favors as they will actually make you look larger than you are, and they will hide your lovely waistline.

The most flattering shapes for you will be those which either go in at the waist which are tailored, or which are belted at the waist.

You could also think about the kind of retro-style bomber jackets that were popular in the 50s (seen on the Pink Ladies in the movie Grease!).

You could look for a classic trench style, a swing coat, a peplum jacket or a tailored blazer. Trench coats featured heavily on the fall and winter catwalks this year.

Jackets to wear for the hourglass body shape |

Ted Baker London Philiya Two-Button Peplum BlazerKaren Millen Drape Detail Belted Soft BlazerUlla Johnson Talie Cotton & Linen Blend Peplum BlazerCHARTOU Double Breasted Wool Belted Coat

Blazer and jumpsuit outfit |

Ted Baker London Philiya Two-Button Peplum BlazerTAHARI ASL Side Knot Crop Wide Leg JumpsuitPaul Green Samona PumpOlga Berg Marbled Oval ClutchKarine Sultan Alice Statement Necklace

Dresses and jumpsuits for the hourglass figure

As a general rule, hourglass shapes look fantastic in dresses. A wrap style in a knee-length or midi length is a very good shape for you.

A wrap dress has a flattering v-neck as well as coming in at the waist and then flaring out over your hips.

Choose a style with a tie or a belt so you can draw attention to your waist. Retro styles tend to be a good option too. Fifties-style dresses are made to flatter the hourglass figure.

You could also opt for a jumpsuit. Choose a style which is either fitted at the waist, or which you can draw in with a belt. Look for a v-neck or a wider neck style like a boat neck.

Dresses and jumpsuit to wear for the hourglass body |

ZOE AND CLAIRE Pleated Wrap Midi DressFraiche by J Wrap Front Long Sleeve DressTAHARI ASL Polka Dot Hammered Satin Faux Wrap DressTAHARI ASL Side Knot Crop Wide Leg Jumpsuit

Julie wears a yellow maxi dress |

Julie @stylishparadox above (read her style interview here) chooses a beautiful yellow off-the-shoulder maxi dress.

Recreate her outfit with this similar dress (another option here), sandals and hoop earrings.

Best jeans, pants and skirts for hourglass figures

A slightly flared or bootcut style will be the most flattering for your figure as it balances out your curves. Look out for a stretch denim with a high waist.

You can also wear skinny jeans if you want to show off your curves. But make sure to get a stretch denim for a better fit.

Pants, jeans and skirts for the hourglass body shape |

PAIGE Gemma High Waist Slim Straight Leg Jeans1822 Denim Flare JeansWit & Wisdom ‘Ab’Solution Itty Bitty Bootcut JeansVFSHOW Pleated Buttons Pencil Skirt

A pencil skirt is the best shape for an hourglass as, even though it is straight in style, it will go in and out in all the right places with your curves.

Choose a knee-length to show off your shapely calves. Or, you could opt for a midi-style.

But if you do go for the longer option, you are likely to look best if you choose to wear a little heel with your pencil skirt, whether you opt for a pump or a bootie, because hourglasses, as a general rule, can be shorter in the leg than other body shapes.

Take a look at the most comfortable heels to wear.

Red coat and jeans outfit |

CHARTOU Double Breasted Wool Belted CoatASTR the Label Floral Puff Sleeve Lace-Up Corset Crop Top1822 Denim Flare JeansNaturalizer Morrison 2.0 SneakerTory Burch Perry Triple Compartment Leather ToteDeepa Gurnani Aria Oval Crystal Stud Earrings

Shoes for the hourglass

If you are an hourglass body shape, you are all about beautiful curves. Look out for shoes which mirror your curves.

A round toe is likely to be most flattering for you. Think about ballet flats and pumps you can wear with jeans and pencil skirts.

You are likely to have lovely shapely ankles, so you could draw attention to them with an ankle strap, but if you do have shorter legs, be aware that a strap across your ankle can make your legs look even shorter.

Shoes for the hourglass body shape |

Jeffrey Campbell Envious Ankle Strap PumpPaul Green Samona PumpSteve Madden Blair Cap Toe Ballet FlatNaturalizer Morrison 2.0 Sneaker

Patricia wears a pleated skirt and bomber jacket |

Patricia @patriciaafricaiglesias above (read her style interview here) shows off a style that is ideal for the hourglass, showing off the waist while having a nod to retro style thanks to the bomber jacket.

Get her look with this similar tee, jacket, skirt, pumps, handbag, belt, necklace, cap and sunglasses.

For more style inspiration, see our article on how to wear short dresses with pants.

Accessories for the hourglass

When it comes to accessories, retro style scarves will flatter your style. But, as hourglasses do tend to be busty, you probably won’t want to add too much bulk to your top half.

As with your shoes, look out for jewelry and handbags which have a rounded shape. This will flatter your figure rather than working against it (as can happen if you choose more angular shapes).

When you choose a handbag, look out for the strap length. If you opt for a style which sits at your bust, you will end up adding width there. Instead, choose a bag which either ends at your slim waist to draw attention there, or a bag which you hold so that it ends on your shapely legs.

If you do feel that a style looks a little bulky or boxy on you, you can wear a belt over the top.

Belts will be your favorite accessory as they draw attention to your waist.

You can simply pop a belt over a coat, a cardigan, a dress or a top to show off your shapely waist. Look out for stretchy styles so you have the flexibility to wear your belt over anything.

Accessories the hourglass body shape |

Tory Burch Perry Triple Compartment Leather ToteThe Drop Helen Saddle Crossbody BagOlga Berg Marbled Oval ClutchKarine Sultan Alice Statement NecklaceBocar Multi Layer Seed Beads NecklaceTory Burch Pavé Logo Pendant NecklaceKarine Sultan Medallion Drop EarringsDeepa Gurnani Aria Oval Crystal Stud EarringsQuay Australia It’s My Way 53mm Gradient Cat Eye Sunglassesrag & bone Hookup Leather BeltKate Spade New York Polka Dot Silk Skinny Scarf

Belted blazer and jeans outfit |

Karen Millen Drape Detail Belted Soft BlazerPAIGE Gemma High Waist Slim Straight Leg JeansSteve Madden Blair Cap Toe Ballet FlatThe Drop Helen Saddle Crossbody BagTory Burch Pavé Logo Pendant NecklaceKarine Sultan Medallion Drop Earrings

What not to wear if you have an hourglass figure

Also, take into account the width of your belt. If you are fairly short-waisted, don’t choose a style which is too wide as this will reduce the space between your bust and your hips.

We’ve looked at what you SHOULD wear to fit and flatter your lovely curves. But, how about what not to wear?

Here are a few tips on what to stay away from.

  • Avoid too many frills on your clothes as they will add extra bulk to places where you don’t need it.
  • Avoid excess fabric for the same reason.
  • It can sometimes be best to stay away from obvious waistbands or belts. Instead, you can let your clothes accentuate your small waist.
  • Flat lace-up shoes can be unflattering to your shapely legs.
  • Be careful when choosing casual clothes as they can make you look boxy.

9 outfits for the hourglass shape using the pieces above

Below are 9 outfit ideas on how to dress the hourglass for you using the pieces from above.

But, there are obviously lots more ways you could mix and match all of these pieces to create dozens more outfits. You could wear any of the tops with any of the bottoms and change the shoes to make your outfit more casual or formal.

Read our ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe that works best for you.

A capsule wardrobe for the hourglass body shape |

SHOP the pieces perfect for the hourglass shaped body here:

More hourglass inspiration for you

Below is an earlier hourglass capsule we created. You can see that all of the items may be past season but they are timeless so should still provide you with plenty of inspiration.

A capsule wardrobe for the hourglass body shape |

How do you dress your hourglass shape? What are your favorite pieces and brands when it comes to how to dress the hourglass? Let us know!

Continue reading:

  1. How To Determine Your Body Shape
  2. How To Dress The Apple Body Shape
  3. How To Dress A Pear Shaped Body

P.S.: Please note that the guidelines for the hourglass body shape above are for general guidance only. Everyone is different and you certainly don’t have to stick to the above guidelines on how to dress the hourglass to dress well.

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How to dress the hourglass body shape |

Feature image by Claudia

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