This is a refresher article on how to dress the hourglass body type with some new shoppable options for summer.
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
- Charlotte Church.
So, if you have an hourglass figure, you’re certainly in good company!
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. So you will want to keep that balance and avoid adding any “bulk” with your clothing.
Julie (below) makes sure that her waist is accentuated with a fitted dress. She adds interest with the detailing on the neck and the sleeves.
You can read more about Julie’s style in this style interview.
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
- A good bra is essential for this body type. Make sure you get a good supportive bra that will thrust your bust forwards. 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 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.
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.
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.
Patricia (below) chooses a top which is perfect for the hourglass here, featuring both a v-neck and a tie waist.
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.
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.
Below Julie wears a duster coat which can be flattering on so many body shapes, but she makes sure it suits her hourglass figure by tying at the waist.
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 look for a classic trench style, a swing coat, a peplum jacket or a tailored blazer.
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!).
These have made a come back in recent seasons and have a band at the waistline which would also show off your slimmer waist.
Patricia (below) makes sure she shows off her curves by belting her jacket at the waist.
You can read more in Patricia’s style interview here.
If you love Patricia’s skirt, you will find a very similar skirt here.
dresses for the hourglass figure and jumpsuits
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.
The style worn by Stephanie (below) is a good one for the hourglass as it features a v-neck and a tie-waist style.
Caroline also shows off a flattering style for the hourglass here. It has a belt to tie at the waist, and she teams it with a retro-style cardigan.
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. Opt for a v-neck.
FruAppel (below) shows off a retro style which can work well for an hourglass figure.
best jeans for hourglass figure and pants
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.
Patricia (below) shows how using a belt over coats or cardigans can make an outfit ultra-flattering for the hourglass.
skirts for the hourglass
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.
Erica (below) shows off a pencil style dress which looks lovely if you have an hourglass body shape.
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.
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.
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. Instead, opt for a beautiful, slimline, silky retro-style scarf like the one worn by Patricia (below).
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.
Tory Burch tassel silk scarf – Something Navy silk scarf – Lafonn pendant necklace – Kendra Scott pendant necklace – Bourbon and Boweties bracelets – Versus Versace gold watch – Sole Society crossbody bag – Sole Society satchel – Malibu Skye satchel – Kate Spade suede belt – B-low the Belt leather belt – AllSaints leopard belt – Syuer retro cinch belt
Belts will be your favorite accessory as they draw attention to your waist.
If you do feel that a style looks a little bulky or boxy on you, you can wear a belt over the top.
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.
Jaye (below) shows how you can make a dress work better for you by adding a belt to show off your waist.
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 there then won’t look as if there is much space between your bust and your hips.
What not to wear if you have an hourglass figure
I’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
Here are 9 outfit ideas 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.
Here are some more expert tips from 40+Style stylist Ruth
How do you dress your hourglass shape? What are your favorite pieces and brands? Let us know!
P.S.: Please note that the guidelines above are for general guidance only. Everyone is different and you certainly don’t have to stick to the above guidelines to dress well.
If you want to find out about your own unique body type, figure priorities and how to create the perfect silhouette and style for YOU, you will love our unique style course!